Nestled between Swiss & French mountain tops and the crisp sparkles of Lake Geneva, lies the elegant Montreux Christmas Market. 148 icicle covered, red roofed chalets line the stunning lakefront promenade – it’s a sensory overload as your eyes beam towards the vineyard covered hills and nose pulls you towards the aromas of cinnamon and cloves roasting in barrels of Vin Rouge (the French version of Glühwein).
Escape Zurich from dawn to dusk or plan a winter weekend in the lovely village of Montreux with a few helpful hints from Zuri Girl.
When to Go
Over 400,000 visitors attend annually and weekends are extremely crowded so if possible opt to visit during the week.
How to Get There
From Zurich, Montreux is an easy day trip. 2.5 hours each way with 1 stop in Lausanne and trains departing every 30 minutes. The market is a 2 minute walk from the train station.
What to Expect
148 chalets line the Lake Promenade and Grand Rue (Grand Rue also happens to be a Boulevard of Boutiques so if you need a break from the cold weather, step into the warm and cozy love of a high end boutique).
The chalets offers the usual suspects of Christmas Markets with winter-weather gear, loose-leaf teas, scented candles and oils, holiday ornaments and stocking stuffers.
Check off your shopping list with Zuri Girl’s recommendations:
– For the young at heart, add a bit of childhood to Absinth with a train locomotive decanter.
– Let skiers cherish their moments with a 5-photo wooden frame featuring a 4-ft ski & pole set.
– Sentimental hearts will love the cute “look alike” weeble people matched with personalized photo frames.
– Arts & Crafters can be impressed by the glass blown ornaments and even have their photo taken with the flames of the craftsman in the background.
Where to Dine
Food and drinks are never more than a step away with an abundance of lakefront dining options, market built food tents and outdoor lodge-themed bars.
– At Chalet la Poya expect a loud, casual atmosphere of beer-lovers and locals. It’s been a crowd pleaser for years.
– The Lumberjack Village is happening with wine barreled tables and family style meat platters. The energy from the outdoor buzz is contagious and ski-village scene is eye-catching, but don’t be shy about warming your hands over the open fire at their pizza serving Log Cabin.
– Located in the Covered Market and cooked in a gigantic wok, try the Papet Vaudois, a Montreux speciality with potatoes, cabbage and leeks.
– Don’t forget to try the local favorites: cinnamon and salty waffles, flavorful crepes, foie gras, truffles and wines from La Cave Vevey Montreux.
Zuri Girl Franc Savvy Tips
– Chalet drinks are served in Montreux 2012 themed Mugs. Return yours and receive CHF 2 back or keep it and you have a memorable souvenir.
– Opt for Rum Tea instead of Gluewhein. It’s only CHF 3 and sparks your body with warmth (and liquor).
– Through the 24th of December, the SBB is offering a 30% discount on train tickets.
Zuri Girl Insider Tips
– An excellent photo spot is across from the Covered Market. An icicle covered tree sits out on the lake and offers gorgeous views of the mountains, lake and Christmas market chalets.
– The Info Center, centrally located on the Promenade, offers city walking tours in English Wednesday – Saturday for only CHF 10 / person.
– Months with the letter “R” = good Oyster months so sit lakeside at the elegant Eden Palace or take a few steps off the main promenade to La Rouvenaz, a Montreux favorite and enjoy an Oyster lunch.
Eager for More
Journey 30 minutes past Montreux to the Christmas Village and 30 more minutes to Santa’s Home. Both are family friendly activities entertaining visitors with a reindeer park, Santa’s post office, games, workshops, entertainment, face painting and a photo with Santa. Both are free to visit, but the trains sell out very fast so book ahead.
Photo copyright Switzerland Tourism: swiss-image.ch/Christof Schuerpf