Les Alpes Vaudoises

At the eastern tip of Lac Léman, the Alps on the French and Swiss sides close in on the Rhône, and the lakefront highways begin a gradual, ear-popping ascent as the scenery looms larger and the mountains rise around you. Most sightseers head to two destinations: Aigle, famed for its storybook chateau, and Château-d'Oex, a mountain-aerie favorite of hot-air balloonists. Here you are in the midst of the Pays-d'Enhaut, a rustic, lower-altitude region surrounded by rocky ridges and velvet hillsides sprinkled with ancient carved-wood chalets. You can make a beeline from one to another, but rail connections are cumbersome and driving often challenging; you'd do well to choose one dreamy spot and stay put—by the fireplace or on the balcony—for as many days as your itinerary allows.

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