Switzerland, France · 7 Days · 16 Moments · April 2017

Leah's Alpine Adventure

8 April 2017

On our way to Geneva!

7 April 2017

DAY 6 Today, some time to explore Chamonix on our own, so we decided to hop on board the famous little red railway train. Taking about 20 minutes to climb the 1000 metres up to the Montenvers-Mer de Glace attraction. The track climbs the mountainside, running through the forest, tunnels cut through the rock and over viaducts. We hopped off at an altitude of 1913m. A stunning panorama opened up in front of us, with the glacier below. We even enjoyed a hot chocolate with a view!!

6 April 2017

DAY 5 - continued.... Once at the top there are a number of things for visitors to do. If you find yourself hungry you can dine in the restaurant or cafe. Another attraction is the Musee de L'Alpnisme Pointe - based on the theme of mountaineering and pays tribute to many famous climbers. The most recent addition is the 'step into the void' where you can stand over a 1000m drop in a glass box....CRAZY but I highly recommend it! The average visiting time to the station is 2-3 hours. Be warned, even in the Summer months temperatures can be as low as -10 C, so make sure you rug up!!
DAY 5 - continued.... Time for an adrenalin rush....we made our way from our hotel by foot to the base of the Chamonix valley...our destination....the Aiguille du Midi...the highest point that can be accessed by cable car. The mountain lies to the south-east of Chamonix and when viewed from in front of the church it indicates that it is noon when the sun passes over its summit. The station stands 3842m and is situated directly across from Mont Blanc. The Aiguille du Midi cable car holds the world record for the highest vertical ascent: 2807m (from 1035m to 3842m). This is the closest you can get to Mont Blanc on a lift system. From here there is no cable car to the summit of Mont Blanc. The two stage cable car takes passengers from the valley floor to its dizzy heights in 20 minutes. From here we took in the stunning panoramic views of the French, Italian and Swiss Alps from the station's terraces.
DAY 5 As we leave the stunning landscape of Montreux, we make our way to our next destination...Chamonix in the French Alps. But first, a quick stop at Evian to fill up our water bottles. Our home for the next two nights, Hotel Le Prieure, Chamonix is a 2 minute walk from the main street with its shops and restaurants. The view from our balcony is breathtaking!

5 April 2017

DAY 4 - continued.... One of the best ways to see the real beauty of Montreux's surroundings is on foot. We walked along the flower-lined lakeshore promenade to take in the local atmosphere. Montreux is a grand, arisocratic 19th century resort town with a balmy micoclimate and extraordinary lake and mountain scenery. There's a statue of one-time Montreux resident Freddie Mercury prominently on the lakefront. Queen recorded seven albums here in Montreux.
DAY 4 - continued.... Did someone say Swiss chocolate??? Cailler....the oldest Swiss chocolate brand.
DAY 4 - continued.... Next stop Gruyeres! A quaint little village known not only for its cheese but its meringue with a dollop of double cream!
DAY 4 This morning we stopped off at Chillon Castle. In its current form Chillon Castle is the result of several centuries of different constructions and alterations. The small rocky island on which the castle was built acted both as natural protection and a strategic location to control movement between the north and south of Europe.

4 April 2017

DAY 3 - continued.... This evening we took a short drive to Domaine Bovy....a stunning vineyard opening onto the grand spectacle of the terraced vineyards of Lavaux. How could we go wrong....wine and cheese!! Yum.
DAY 3 - continued... We checked into the Suisse Majestic Grand Hotel Montreux - WOW! What a stunning property!!! This is definitely my favourite so far!
DAY 3 This morning we left Lucerne behind and made our way to Bern....first stop the Bear Pits, then to the Cathedral of St Vincent, the Federal Palace and floral displays. At midday we gathered at the clock tower to watch the mechanical procession of painted figures before viewing the Ogre Fountain. We had some free time so thought it would be nice to experience some local Swiss cuisine. I had lasagne....what a treat! We then continued to Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline. Montreux is known for its Jazz Festival, Chillion Castle (we visit tomorrow) and lakeside living.

3 April 2017

DAY 2 - continued.... Our final stop for the day was the Lion Monument. The dying lion of Lucerne, carved into natural rock, was created in 1820/1821 in memory of the Swiss heroes who gave their lives at the Tuileries in Paris in 1792.
DAY 2 This morning we headed to Mount Pilatus...regularly listed as one of the best places to propose in all of Europe. It certainly made for a memorable experience; the peak is traversed via the steepest cog railway track in the world...we took the gondola due to weather conditions. Once at the top, the panoramic view takes in 73 peaks and stretches on forever. Our next stop...Engelberg...a typical rural community where we met local farmers for a delightful horse-drawn carriage ride. We clip clopped our way through the bright green pastures, where the angular spire of a traditional white church shoots skyward and rickety old wooden storehouses still dot the landscape. We called into a local farm where we had a lovely spread of homemade snacks including cheese pie and apple strudel.

2 April 2017

DAY 1 - continued... Out and about...you absolutely cannot leave Lucerne without having seen the Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge). It's impossible to miss it given its prominent position snaking across the River Ruess. We spent an hour or so cruising Lake Lucerne. Bounding four cantons and shadowed by Mount Rigi and Pilatus in the Swiss Alps, 114 square kilometre Lake Lucerne is the principal lake of Central Switzerland. We caught glimpses of villas, castles and mountains. A lovely way to see the area. The afternoon was spent strolling the cobbled streets of the Old Town. With its narrow side streets, we found ourselves stopping often to fully take in the architecture and exquisite painted murals that adorn many of the buildings.
DAY 1 Today we arrived in Lucerne after a long journey flying with Etihad Airways. We were lucky enough to experience the Dreamliner aircraft between Abu Dhabi and Zurich. A very modern plane which felt quite spacious in comparison to the previous flight. With all the mod-cons; large interactive seat back screens, usb connectivity and wifi access, all making for a comfortable flight. Upon arrival in Zurich we met up with our Insight Vacations Tour Director and Driver for our transfer to Lucerne. Lucerne, also referred to as the City of Lights, with 60,000 inhabitants the city is the capital of the canton of the same name. Centrally located in the heart of Europe, Lucerne is one of the world's six most frequently visited cities. Our hotel, the Astoria located in the heart of the city, a perfect location to wander this picturesque place. Restaurants, shops and city sights all within walking distance.