I may have mentioned before that I love castles so when I saw Chillon Castle on the banks of Lake Geneva or Lac Léman I knew we had to visit. We took the train to Montreaux, which is famous for its summer jazz festival as well as having a recording studio for Queen. If you get off the train at Montreaux you have to walk at least 2 km in order to get to the castle. Yes, it was a long way, but the walk is beautiful. It is right along the lake and when we were there they were constructing buildings for a Christmas festival. I wish we could go back and experience when all those places were open. There were even constructing a stage area. As we walked, we watched the birds along the shore and marveled at the houses that are right on the lake. A dog even poked his head through the hedges in order to get some petting attention!
We decided to pay for the audio guide even though they give you a pamphlet to read about as you explore the castle. We were really happy we had the audio guide because we learned a lot more about the castle than they included in the writing. The castle is built on a rock that is surrounded by water. In the basement area, you can really see the structure of the rock. Lord Byron visited in his time and even carved his name into a column. The castle inspired him to write the poem, The Prisoner of Chillon.
The castle is filled with giant halls that were used for dining and some now have displays of ancient trunks, or modern art, and others smell as if they had just stoked the fire. There are walkways that connect the upper areas to each other that are all made of wood and you can walk along them and explore from above. The tower itself is quite a climb, but has floors with weapon displays and the top affords generous views of the lake. You can also climb a slightly smaller tower and see a small beach right next to the castle. While we were there they were scuba diving in the area. There is a bedroom with a bed that is true to the time period and looks extremely small. In the master bedroom you can still tell what animals were painted on the walls. It’s one of those castles that you can easily imagine filled with people in medieval times.
The castle also has its own winery, which you will pass if you take the lake walk. They sell their wine in the gift shop and they store some of it in the basement. We bought small bottles of both the red and white wines and tried them back at the hotel. Swiss red wine has a very distinct flavor and they don’t export much of their wine, so definitely try some while you are there!