PLACES TO VISIT IN SUMMER


SION

Just 15km, approx. 15 minutes drive from the apartment is Sion, the capital of Valais and the oldest town in Switzerland. Steeped with history, the old town attracts attention with its cathedral, churches, castles, historic houses, narrow streets, shops and museums. Go on one of the many guided tours, take a little train called 'P'tit Sedunois' or explore by yourself.

The twin castles can be seen from afar - Chateau de Valere is the more interesting and complete of the two. Inside the church interior, high on the back wall, is the oldest playable organ in the world (1390).

The Chateau de Tourbillon on the opposite hill dates from 1294. It was ruined by fire in 1788 and today little remains apart from the external walls.

From Springtime to the end of Autumn, you can stroll and meander the bisses - canals dug out along the vineyard hillsides. From here the view down to the Rhone Valley is ever changing and beautiful. There are many trails to discover especially along the banks of the Rhone itself.

THE VINEYARDS OF THE VALAIS

The region has been a centre for growing vines and wine making(viticulture) since before Roman times. The vineyards of the Valais are to be found between Loeche and Martigny, on the Right Bank of the Rhone. The Valais has an ideal climate for growing vines, given that it is warm with sultry periods and an almost complete absence of mist.

The area actually under vines at the present time is more than 12,500 acres - almost 40% of the total area of vineyards in Switzerland. In the Valais itself, the vineyards cover 13% of the productive agricultural land. Every true Valasian has his little vine plot; thus the 12,500 acres of vineyard are shared between almost 20,000 owners.

Wine tastings are held all year round.

ZERMATT & THE MATTERHORN

Within two hours by car you can visit the beautiful Matterhorn. This mountain stands alone above Zermatt village, (altitude 1620m) which is open all year round and one of Switzerland's most visited sites. Excellent for photo opportunities.

Zermatt village itself is interesting as it has managed to cling on to its old original chalets and atmospheric twisting alleys. The main street is crammed with shops, electric taxis and horse-drawn carriages. The atmosphere is lively as Zermatt has no off-season, it's crowded all year round. The small area around Zermatt features 36 mountains over 4000m, enticing to summer hikers and winter skiers alike.

CHATEAU DE CHILLON ON LAKE GENEVA

A beautiful thirteenth-century medieval castle among the best-preserved in Europe, located 3km south of Montreux. Visited by the poet Byron in 1816, it inspired his poem 'Prisoner of Chillon'. His name was cut into the third pillar of the dungeon and is still visible today.

The castle retains many of its original features: the dungeons, grand knights halls, secret twisting passages, wooden ceilings, oak pillars, fireplace, wall paintings and much more.

At the ticket office you will get a numbered pamphlet that guides you around the extensive rooms where you could easily spend a half-day soaking up the atmosphere.

LAKE GENEVA

Lake Geneva is the largest freshwater lake in Western Europe and the bluest of the Swiss lakes. Croissant-shaped, it is ringed with villages, castles and lots of gorgeous walks.Relaxing on one of the boats which cross the lake beneath the looming presence of the Savoy Alps is another alternative.

Swiss families earn their living on the water and can be seen fishing for perch, pike, trout and more. They sell the majority of their catch directly to restaurants and supermarkets in the shore side towns.

A lakeside stroll can let you experience unspoilt beauty.

MONTREUX

Montreux has attracted some of the world's wealthiest people and the shores around the jet set playground of Montreux are lined with opulent villas. Soak up the atmosphere, enjoy window-shopping or take a stroll along the flowered promenades.

The Montreux Jazz Festival takes place over two weeks in early July. Street parties and free entertainment spring up on the lakefront at this time.

Backing onto the Place du Marche, with impressive views across the water stands the town's most popular statue of long-time resident Freddie Mercury. Queen first recorded an album in Montreux in 1978 and Deep Purple's lead singer Ian Gillan was inspired during a stay to write his rock classic 'Smoke on the water' following a fire at the concert.

There is a two-hour walking tour of the town which will take you up the mountainous slopes into the old town and down again. Alternatively the tourist office has a brochure 'Poets Ramble' outlining a long route from bench to bench across hilly Montreux. Each bench is dedicated to a particular writer or philosopher with some connection either to Montreux or to that particular location. At each one you can press a button to hear a short extract of their writings while enjoying the view. Allow three to five hours to do this.


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