A very fine spring day in Switzerland deserves a fine outing. For me, that meant taking the train to Montreux, a destination town on the shores of Lake Geneva especially known for its annual jazz festival. There, I could not only see the mountains come practically to the shore on the other side of the lake, I could also visit the château of Chillon. An added bonus of the train ride was seeing the swirling, fierce white peaks of Mont Blanc.
Chillon has inspired many Romantic era writers and artists, including Lord Byron, and as I came upon the castle, it was easy to see why. The massive structure is perched on an island just off the shores of Lake Geneva, with clear views of blue water, majestic mountains, and surrounding lands. Picking one’s way over the boulders that make up the castle foundations allow the imagination to conjure up all kinds of swashbuckling stories—the cellars have served as prisons, execution rooms, armories, and food storage spaces in their lifetime. Walking through the decorated feast rooms, bedrooms, and antechambers upstairs, it is easy to get lost in the veritable labyrinth of the château. Much work has been done to restore the castle, and the details, from the hand-painted coats-of-arms in the baroque-era Coat of Arms Room, to original thirteenth-century carved wood pillars, are exquisite. It is well worth a visit, and the exceptional weather made a climb to the top of the keep all the more rewarding.
After my visit, I strolled along the shores of the lake back to Montreux, and soaked in the sun and flowers as much as I could. We just don’t have seasonal changes like this in San Francisco! I hadn’t realized how much I missed the shift. One local restaurant, La Rouvenaz, had been highly recommended to me, so off I went. Morilles, or morel mushrooms, are in season right now, and so is asparagus. I love both, so an asparagus/morel feuilleté provided the perfect lunch!
With that, exhausted and still jet-lagged, I made my way back to the train station, and said goodbye to this pristine lakeside city.