Montreux and Lausanne, Switzerland
Getting to Montreux from Cheltenham proved to be a bit of a challenge. We left Cheltenham on the train at 8:30 in the morning and after a change of stations from Paddington to St. Pancras International in London, we boarded the TGV for Paris. Traveling at speeds up to 200 mph, the TGV is quiet and luxurious. We arrived at Paris Nord station on time and our transfer driver was waiting to take us to Paris Lyon Gare. In London, we had been subject to a rigorous screening process prior to boarding, not so in Paris. No screening whatsoever! We finally made it on our next train after a bit of confusion in Paris and headed for Geneva. We arrived in Geneva on time, but unfortunately, we had missed the last connection to Montreux. The next connection was at 5 am. We couldn’t get a hotel room at any price in Geneva, but a kindly clerk in a nearby hotel allowed us to spend the time before our train in the hotel lobby. We boarded the 5am train and arrived in Montreux at 6am. Our room was ready and the nice man at reception allowed us to have it early. We were exhausted and needed a few hours sleep to recover. We later discovered that a United Nations meeting in Geneva was the reason there were no rooms available.
Our hotel, the Eden Palace au Lac, was very elegant and our balcony provided a great view of Lake Geneva, the Alps, and even Mont Blanc. We took a long walk along the lake front and then headed into town to find some lunch. Our first meal was at a small local Italian restaurant, Le Globe Cafe. The food was authentic and the local atmosphere very homey. We walked around town and window shopped for awhile then headed back to our hotel. We toured the Chateau de Chillon, ate at a restaurant, The Brasserie, that served an interesting black rice paella, had several breakfasts at a wonderful tea room/coffee shop, Zurcher, just around the corner from our hotel and generally just enjoyed being in the beautiful lakeside resort of Montreux.
We rode the train to Lausanne one day and toured the Notre Dame Cathedral, consecrated by Pope Gregory X in 1275. The Protestant Reformation, a movement which originated in Zurich, significantly affected the Cathedral. The Cathedral, the capital of French-speaking Switzerland, is viewed as one of the most beautiful gothic art monuments in Europe and attracts nearly half a million visitors annually. After visiting the Cathedral, we took the Metro, the underground subway, to the lakefront where I took photos of the marina area before re-boarding the Metro for the train station to return to Montreux. Buddy remained in Lausanne to shop.
One morning after breakfast, we strolled through the area adjacent to our hotel, where preparations for the Christmas Market were underway. The Christmas Market was going to be huge, stretching for almost a mile along the lakefront. Too bad, we were leaving for Lucerne the next day and would miss the festivities.