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Charming Swiss town near Geneva?

Old Mar 16th, 2016, 12:43 PM
  #1  
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Charming Swiss town near Geneva?

I will be traveling solo to the French Alps in early October and after a very busy week there, I'll be dropped off in Geneva on a Saturday morning. I am now thinking of spending 4 nights in Switzerland before I return home to Canada on the Wednesday morning. I am not too excited about staying in Geneva, and would love a small town nearby to mainly relax and take in some of the lovely scenery.

Here are the facts:
- Traveling solo
- 4 nights (arrive Geneva Saturday around noon, depart Geneva Wednesday am)
- Traveling by train and will need to be able to get to the Geneva airport by Wednesday 10:30 am. Flights are NOT booked yet, so I would be open to leaving from Zurich, but this seems a bit further than I want to go.

I am OK switching after 2 nights, and I am looking for a place that is cozy and pretty, which I imagine is most of Switzerland. I would be OK sitting with a good book in front of a magnificent view, eating good food and doing a bit of shopping. Not into hiking. Max budget around $400 per night.

Any suggestions? I'm well traveled in Europe (13 countries so far) and am usually up for fast paced and lots of major sites and activities, but for this leg of the trip I'm looking mainly for relaxation. If anyone has specific hotels or resorts they stayed at and loved, I'd appreciate if you shared.

Thanks in advance!
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 12:51 PM
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Not Switzerland, but Annecy in France would hit all your objectives. Gorgeous, way less expensive than Geneva, and easy connections to the Geneva airport.
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 01:02 PM
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I liked Montreux very much. There's a train from there to Geneva airport that takes as little time as 1 hr. 16 minutes. There would be enough there and nearby to keep you busy during your stay.

While not in Switzerland but still on Lake Geneva, Yvoire in France is an adorable medieval town but I'd not find enough to do there for the amount of time you have. So maybe a night or two there with a visit to Evian Les Bains, and then move onto Montreux?
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 01:08 PM
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Gardyloo, thanks for the suggestion... While in the French Alps in week 1, I will be spending a full day in Annecy. Since I've been to France 7 times, I thought I'd venture into Switzerland for something different.

joannyc, I am thinking Montreux would be ideal... would 4 days be too much if I do 1 or 2 day trips? Will check Yvoire too, thanks!
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 01:30 PM
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Many Fodorites rave about Montreux and even more about neighboring Vevey - both smallish towns on Lake Geneva. You can relax or do any of many easy day trips like to Gruyeres, a perfectly walled town and to the Cailler Nestle factory in Broc - trains take you right to the front door. For lots on trains in this area and where to go on them check www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

both Montreux and Vevey are probably about an hour or so from Geneva - you can go right to the airport by train.
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 03:38 PM
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Vevey would seem to match your interests -- that or Montreux, as others have said. I would think 4 days there, to include a few day trips, would be quite lovely.
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 04:49 PM
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Thank you, PalenQ and kja Hopefully by this weekend, I will have firm dates and be able to book my hotel. Pretty sure I'll be picking Vevey !

Thanks again, can always count on my fellow Fodorites!
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 04:56 PM
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4 days wouldn't be too much in Montreux with some day trips.

As mentioned above, go to Gruyeres for the castle and great fondue, the Callier chocolate factory for the tour and a tasting room with unlimited free samples! Yum!

Chateau de Chillon in Montreux is also well worth a visit. Lord Byron, medieval castle on the lake, etc. Nice walk from town along the lake or take a steamboat or the bus.

You can visit Vevey and Lausanne easily by train.

And, I loved Yvoire. You can visit for a half day or so.
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 05:07 PM
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And the Rochers-de-Naye, steamer boat on Lake Geneva, walk through the vineyards of Lavaux, see the sites in Lausanne.... Plenty to do!
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 05:13 PM
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I would book a return flight fromZurich and go spend the time in Lucerne. (Train from Lucerne to the RR station underneath Zurich airport takes an hour.)

This is a lovely town with several fascinating sights and a bunch of good restaurants, on a great lake with steamers visiting a bunch of small quaint towns. Also if you want you could ascend one or more of the local mountains: Pilatus, Titlus, and Rigi - by cog railway of cable car.
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 10:09 PM
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Hi Ruby99,

I spend two weeks in Montreux every year or every other year, so I can confirm that there is plenty to see/do for 4 days! I will be going again this October as well.

Here are a few suggestions --

Walk along the flowered lakeside path from Montreux to Chillon, about 45 minutes, admiring the plantings and sculptures and the walking circus on the pathway. After seeing Chillon (takes about 2h), continue walking in the same direction until you come to Villeneuve (another 45 minutes), a lakeside town with a very pretty but very short main street. I've always found nicer and better priced restaurants in Villeneuve than in Montreux, so it may be worthwhile to time your arrival for lunchtime. Then take bus #201 back to Montreux (free with the Riviera Pass your hosts will give you).

Spend the day in Morges, a very, very pretty town between Lausanne & Geneva (you could actually do this on arrival day, just store your suitcases in a luggage locker, then head off to see the town). It has a lovely lakefront promenade and a nice castle situated right on the lake as well. Again, a nice place for lunch in one of the lakeside restaurants. I've heart that it's possible to walk from Morges to Lausanne along the lake the whole way, and that it takes about 3h, but I haven't done this yet. Will aim to (finally) try it out on this trip. Possible to bike it as well.

Spend the day in the vineyards of the Corniche Lavaux, which should be spectacular in October -- if the conditions are right. You can do a tasting of all the wines in the region at the Vinorama in Rivaz, or you can pop into one of the many cellars in the towns of the Lavaux (Lutry, Cully, Grandvaux, Epesses, St Saphorin . . .). Many people favor Lutry (as I do) because it's just a beautiful little town. Lutry has a sign-posted walk along its medieval buildings, has a very pretty lakeside area, has a very cute tangled little old town, and is next to the vineyards. A friend of mine says that Lutry has the best red wine caves.

Spend at least a few hours in Vevey's old town, with its tangled streets and shops and cafes and boutiques, all next to the lake. Wonderful place to get lost in, and again, better restaurants in general than I've found in Montreux.

If you take a day to see Gruyeres (extremely touristy but a worthwhile stop) and the Cailler factory at Broc-Fabrique, consider spending some time also in one of the actual towns in the area -- Rougemont (probably the prettiest of the bunch, but awfully small and not much to see outside of the pretty buildings), Chateau d'Oex (big center of hot-air ballooning), or Gstaad. There are some wonderful walks above Gstaad if you'll have a few hours to spend.

There are also some great walks above the lake -- from Sonloup to Les Avants, from Jaman to Caux,
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 10:12 PM
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Ooops, sorry, hit "send" by mistake.

. . . . and from Les Pleiades to Lally. I haven't taken any of these walks yet (have a difficult time tearing myself away from the edge of the lake), but hope to get at least one done this year.

In addition, if you are interested in ancient history, there is a cave in the vineyards above Villeneuve that was occupied about 10,000 years ago by the human settlers in the area. It's fascinating.

Anyway, have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 10:14 PM
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Oh, forgot to mention that your Riviera Card will give you free transport to Vevey by either train or the #201 bus -- I've always found the bus to be more interesting, as it weaves in & out of interesting neighborhoods.

s
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 01:45 AM
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There are tons of charming small towns in the Lake Geneva area, all with excellent public transport. Choose one of them in accordance with the places you paln to visit.
http://www.region-du-leman.ch/en/
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 05:02 AM
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Awesome replies, thank you! Something to research this weekend

I won't be venturing deeper into Switzerland as this is an add-on to another trip and I want to visit again in the neat future with my sister ( and cut my travel expenses in half that way lol)
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 11:57 AM
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Be sure to take a leisurely stroll from Montreux to the Chateau Chillon, Lord Byron's one-time lakeside den- lovely walk- take all day coming and going - right along the coast- could also go by bus or boat or train.
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 01:25 PM
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Count me in on the Montreaux recommendation; take day trip to Lausanne & Vevey; take the ferry on the lake to Chateau Chillon. Lots of options from there. Geneva is nice for a one-day stroll and its direct airport access.
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 02:28 PM
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Max budget around $400 per night.> For a hotel? You can get plenty of nice hotels for much less than that even in Switzerland, the most expensive country in Europe perhaps. Get a hotel with a balcony with a lake view -you can see Mt Blanc in the distance on a clear day - awesome!
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 02:31 PM
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swandav2000 is an absolute expert on the lake area and Montreux area in particular - I believe she lived there for a while studying and as she says spends 2 weeks there many years - take her advice to heart! A great great resource on practically everything in the Montreux area!
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 10:43 PM
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Hi again,

Ok, for hotels --

Even though the Montreux Palace is within your budget, it sits across the (very busy) main street from the lake. I'm sure the windows are sound-proofed, but I personally wouldn't want to be seeing all that traffic whenever I looked over to the lake. In addition, there are some buildings on the lake that might obscure the views for those on the lower floors of the hotel.

The 5-star Royal Plaza does sit right on the lake, but its lakefront rooms are about 700 chf on its website. However, I checked booking.com, and they are offering lake-view rooms for 200-245 chf. I did stay here for a week once, and I loved its location right next to the Auditorium Stravinski. It's very quiet. The hotel restaurants are great; in fact, its lakeside cafe is where I usually head for a champagne and snack when I first get to town.

The 4-star Hotel Eden Palace au Lac (I stayed there a few times before they added the "Palace" to the name) sits right on the lake in a great spot in the center of town just about a block from the Casino. Their rooms are also about 600 - 700 chf on their website, but again, I looked at booking.com, and they are offering a lakeview room for under 200 chf.

There is a new hotel in town, the Hotel Au fil de l'eau -- it used to be the L'Hermitage (known more for its restaurant than for its 7 rooms), and I stayed there with my mom one time before it was sold and re-done. I didn't like the decor then, but the pictures on the website look better now. According to booking.com, lakeview rooms are under 200 chf. The hotel is in a great spot, directly on the lake in a quiet part of town almost in neighboring Clarens. It's being listed as a B&B. When I stayed there with my mom, we were kept awake until past midnight because the rooms are directly over the outside restaurant, and we could hear every bite, gulp, comment, and clatter of the diners below.

But for my money, the very best hotel in Montreux is actually in Glion, above Montreux -- the Hotel Victoria. The views from the hotel terrace sweep from France to Montreux under your feet and almost to Lausanne. It is now part of the Relais & Chateaux group, but I've stayed there a number of times before it was. The staff was always perfect, and the hotel restaurant is one of the best around. You can get there 2 ways -- the train from the Montreux station to Glion runs about 1x/hour, or you can take the funicular from Territet to Glion, and it runs every 15 minutes (you take bus #201 from anywhere in Villeneuve, Montreux, or Vevey to Territet). The funicular and the bus are free with the Riviera Card. You can also, of course, walk along the lake to Territet (about 15 minutes from Montreux). Or you can walk from Montreux up to Glion -- it's something else I normally do at least once when I'm in town. It's a fun, steep ascent and takes about an hour.

Another benefit of staying in Glion is that one of my all-time favorite restaurants in the area is also in Glion -- Le Jaman. It has a more formal restaurant space as well as an informal "Pinte" (pub) area. I am always the lone tourist/foreigner in the place, and the Pinte usually fills up with workmen during lunchtime.

Well, I hope you can find just the right place for you!

PalQ -- thank you for your kind words!

s
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