On our Switzerland trip. High Street in Gstaad on a Sunday afternoon.

Our Switzerland Itinerary

In September 2018 we decided do a little trip to Switzerland. The plan was to get together with a friend who lives in Switzerland and do a bit of exploring. Taking our time, as always, we were not in a rush to see the whole country in a week. Here’s our Switzerland itinerary. Not the usual well trodden tourist path, but our way.

Our Switzerland Trip

To Geneva

Luton airport always seems to be in a state of chaos when I have been there. Once we had negotiated that and waited in the inevitable budget airline queue, we were on our way, landing in Geneva 1 hour and 40 minutes later.

The approach to Geneva was directly over Lake Geneva, giving us some tantalising glimpses of the lake.

If you are heading to Geneva, consider taking a train. Catch the Eurostar at London St Pancras and you can be in Geneva in around 7 hours. Maybe not as quick as a jet but possibly more comfortable.

The train trip goes via Paris, which brings thoughts of maybe doing a stopover on future trips.

We only though of the train after we had booked our flights, otherwise that may well have been our route to Geneva.

Plage de Perroy

Switzerland. Refreshment at Plage de Perroy with a view over Lake Geneva.

All this traveling is thirsty work! Having met our friend in Geneva we took a short drive to Plage de Perroy and stopped off for a bit of refreshment.

This was our first view of Lake Geneva. Very tantalising on this warm and sunny Saturday. I posted some photos from this spot about this in a previous post: Perroy – Hello Switzerland!.

And so to Les Moulins

Suitably refreshed we headed along the A9 motorway, heading towards Les Moulins. The motorway takes you through very pretty farmlands, dotted with the odd village or hamlet. The mountains, of course, are always in view.

Exit the A9 towards Bulle. At this point the roads are typical mountain roads. Well surfaced but twisty, with low speed limits, and vertical drops off the side. I’m sure you need special training for these roads!

Les Moulins is a village in the Chateau D’Oex municipal area. Both are situated in the Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut Regional Nature Park. The area has a rich history and is essentially an agricultural area and cheese producer. Gruyere and L’Etivaz cheeses come from this area.

This is an area known for hiking and outdoor activities. If you enjoy hiking, follow the ancient cheese trails.

With little of that in mind, we arrived quite late and took our time unpacking and enjoying a glass of wine.

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We ended the day with a dinner of excellent pizza, using local cheese of course, at the local restaurant, Pizzeria de la Croix d’or.

Our base in the mountains in Switzerland at Les Moulins.
Our base in the mountains in Switzerland at Les Moulins.

Switzerland Itinerary Evolves – Gstaad

Gstaad. An Alpine building with the luxry Gstaad Palace hotel in the background

Truth be told, our itinerary at the start of our Swiss trip was basically Luton to Geneva to Les Moulins and home. We always develop the itinerary as we go. And so, we spent a Sunday afternoon wandering around Gstaad.

Gstaad is very much an upmarket tourist destination which offers all year round activities. Most popular in the winter, Gstaad offers one of the largest Alpine skiing areas in the Alps.

Summer activities in the area include hiking and mountain biking.

As this was the first full day of our holiday we just wanted chill out and enjoy the mountain air and ambience of this pretty town. As it was a Sunday the supermarkets were closed, but that didn’t stop a number of shops from opening. The hotels and cafes were doing great business.

And no, we didn’t see any celebrities. The area is popular with many celebrities and Royalty do visit from time to time.

It was great to just walk and sit and drink coffee and try some local beer. At this point we really came face to face with the costs of eating and drinking out in Switzerland. CHF 28 bought us an iced coffee, a fruit juice and a couple of sparkling waters – that’s about US$28 or £22.

Chateau de Gruyeres

Since the 12th century the town of Gruyeres has been producing Gruyere cheese, starting to export it in the 17th century.

Gruyeres Castle (Chateau de Gruyeres) was built in the 13th century and has an interesting history. It is a site of national significance and is one of the most famous castles in Switzerland.

We enjoyed simply strolling around the castle an seeing the sights. it is located on top of a hill with a great view.

Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.
Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.

Of course, lunch at the castle could only be a glorious cheese fondue. Take your pick of a number of restaurants, some with a fantastic view.

One bar not to miss is the Giger bar, all designed in the style of the Alien movies. A swiss painter, HR Giger was part of the special effects design team for the Alien movies. Opposite the bar is a museum to his art. Definitely a must if you are into Sci-Fi.

View from the chateau at Gruyeres.
View from the chateau at Gruyeres.

Bern – Catching the Train

Bern - old city street view. A contrast of old and new.

An impulsive decision, when we found we had a day free. We decided to go to Bern and see the Bern bears. Why? It seemed like a good idea at the time!

Starting with a walk past the impressive Parliament building, we headed back under the clock tower and towards the Bear Park. Bern is a beautiful city, though we were fascinated by the contrasts. Walk down a street of well maintained old buildings, with fountains in the street. Just make sure you stay out of the way of the trams!

As efficient as the Swiss rail service is, it still takes a couple of hours to travel from Gstaad to Bern, leaving us just the afternoon in Bern. We decided to take a walk through the old city, ending up at the bears.

Heading back, we were just in time to see the show as the mechanical clock marked the hour.

The Montreux Shore

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline

Words from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” which have always stuck in my mind. Leaving late in the morning we took the drive down to the Lake Geneva shoreline at Montreux.

Indeed, we didn’t move from the shoreline, but spent a relaxing afternoon walking and chilling out.

Freddy Mercury’s statue overlooks the lake, and absolutely needed a photo or two. A small tourist train runs along the shoreline. Fascinating to ride the train and see the sights.

One trip was missed was the boat trip on the lake. Definitely one for next time.

The Montreux shore. Looking at Montreux from the waterfront.
The Montreux shore. Looking at Montreux from the waterfront.

Vevey

The big fork in Lake Geneva at Vevey.
The big fork in Lake Geneva at Vevey.

Vevey is probably not on most tourist itineraries. The town is marked by an 18m stainless steel fork embedded in Lake Geneva.

The actor and comedian Charlie Chaplin lived in Vevey. He is commemorated by a statue on the waterfront and a museum. Our time was tight so we didn’t have time to visit the museum or nearby Vevey Castle which houses a museum. Vevey was, in fact, the place where milk chocolate was invented in 1867.

We visited Vevey to attend a small birthday party, which gave us an opportunity to see the sunset over Lake Geneva. A fitting end to our trip as we were heading home the next day.

Sunset over Lake Geneva at Vevey

Heading Home

Every autumn the Alpine farmers bring the cattle down from the high pastures for the winter. The procession is known as Desalpe. Many of the cattle are dressed up with cow bells and flowers and the procession is quite an occasion.

Just one problem. The day of Desalpe was the day we were leaving. Of course the cattle take priority on the road and our friends talked of having taken 5 hours to get to Geneva. We decided to catch the train!

And so we headed home, saying goodbye to the mountains and heading back to the UK via Easyjet.

Cows walking through Les Moulins, ready for the annual Desalpes.
Cows walking through Les Moulins, ready for the annual Desalpes.



Your Switzerland Itinerary

Switzerland is known for its mountains and cheese and snow and skiing. But Switzerland in autumn is well worth a visit, especially if you get off the beaten tourist track. It was very much a green and pleasant land.

The weather is mild, though you need to keep a light coat or jersey handy, particularly in the evenings.

Eating out is costly. We found ourselves paying approximately $30 for a light meal and wine (pasta, pizza, and even a burger), but the food was good. Think about self-catering.

We can’t comment much on accommodation as we stayed with friends. From what we could see, most hotels seemed to start at around $110 for a 3 star room.

Our friends took us to most places we visited by car. The roads are good, but speed limits seemed lower than we are used to in the UK. Our train rides were last-minute decisions. The Swiss rail system is excellent, and we wouldn’t hesitate to travel by train again. I would definitely consider a Swiss Rail Pass or similar. Here’s a handy guide on deciding the value of the Swiss Rail Pass, found on Travel? Yes Please.

We traveled to Geneva by Easyjet from Luton in the UK. I would seriously consider using the Eurostar for a future trip, possible with a stopover in Paris.

Whichever way you do it, take a trip to Switzerland in autumn.

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The Hairy One

Call us silver surfers or empty nesters if you will. Our kids call us hippies. Our friends just accept us as we are.
Juggling jobs and travels, eating good food, and taking photos. We are living our lives our way. Life is a journey!

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