Château de chillon en été

Castle of Chillon

Switzerland’s most visited historic monument

The majestic Castle of Chillon on the shores of Lake Geneva offers an immersion in history and a lovely winetouristic moment.

Built on a rocky islet, the 12th-century Castle of Chillon near Montreux seems to be floating on Lake Geneva. It’s Switzerland’s most visited historical monument that regularly offers exhibitions and cultural events.

Suddenly it appears before you during a stroll, a train ride or a CGN cruise, whose ships land nearby. The Castle of Chillon, a medieval gem in Veytaux near Montreux,  seems to float on the waters of Lake Geneva. In summer, the palm trees and flowers along the lakeside promenades from Clarens to Chillon heighten the impression of being in an exotic location. The rocky islet on which the Castle was built used to be a natural protection and a strategic place to control the passage between northern and southern Europe. This exceptional geographical location between the lake and the mountains surrounds the castle with a mystical and enchanting air. A true invitation to immerse yourself in its history! Looking at the fortress and the idyllic scenery, you may start to imagine what life was like in the 12th century when the castle was built.

A modern museography, constantly renewed temporary exhibitions and cultural events enliven the castle. In addition to an individual visit or one with an audio guide, the guided tour reveals the musts of Chillon Castle. Leading you along the way through the courtyard and impressive halls with thick stone walls, the expert guide explains the three eras that mark its history. There is the Savoy period (12th century to 1536), the Bernese period (1536 to 1798) and the Vaudois period (from 1798 to today). The underground passages and the food and weapons storage place that was transformed into a prison around 1290 will send shivers down your spine. Other highlights are guides wearing period costume to represent medieval figures. They take you on an authentic “travel in time” or to a sensorial workshop. Specially adapted holiday or birthday workshops show children what life was like in medieval times. From the end of November to mid-December, the castle is decorated in seasonal green and red colours. It is filled with the joyful atmosphere of yesteryear Christmas celebrations and offers workshops, games and dance activities.

Gourmets will be happy to round off their visit with a pleasant winetasting moment: Clos de Chillon, a subtle wine of the Lavaux AOC designation that is matured and bottled at the castle. Around forty barrels have been put in place in the first underground hall. This is where the Clos de Chillon whites and reds are produced under the supervision of the famous wine producer Badoux.

Incidentally, the Castle of Chillon Foundation, which offers these gourmet moments, is certified by Vaud Œnotourisme (Vaud Wine Tourism). A place called La Verrée Vaudoise is ideal to taste the wines of Clos de Chillon and other regional delights.

The lakeside “Bazar du Château”, which has been on the premises for more than a hundred years, sells postcards of the site and other articles related to the medieval fortress.

Chillon Castle

A source of inspiration for artists

This idyllic landscape has been a feast for the eyes since the 12th century. Surrounded by Lake Geneva and the Alpine mountains, the imposing fortress of Chillon Castle nestles in one of the most beautiful spots. It is not surprising that this romantic setting has been the Muse of many artists for centuries. It was Jean-Jacques Rousseau who made the Castle of Chillon famous in his 18th-century novel “Julie, or the New Heloise”. In later years, the castle attracted Lord Byron. Inspired by a true story (that of François Bonivard), the English poet wrote his most famous poem “The Prisoner of Chillon”, which was illustrated by Eugène Delacroix. Other famous writers such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Gustave Flaubert also fell under the spell of Chillon when they visited Switzerland. The painter Gustave Courbet painted the castle several times. The Walk of Fame on the Vaudois Riviera invites you to walk in the footsteps of several of these world-famous personalities.

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