The Swiss city Montreux annually hosts one of the most romantic Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) in Europe. The Montreux Marché de Noël is beautifully located on the shores of Lake Geneva with the snow-covered Alps in both Switzerland and France as backdrop. Father Christmas has his Santa Claus house a stunning train ride away on an Alpine peak while Chillon Castle arranges a medieval market within its historic walls.
The Christmas Market in Montreux, Switzerland
Montreux Marché de Noël does not have the centuries of Christmas market tradition that many a German Weihnachtsmarkt can muster but over the past decade and a half it has developed into one of the best-known Christmas events in Switzerland.
The main part of the Montreux Christmas market has a beautiful setting along the quays of Lake Geneva where the lake and snow-covered Alpine peaks on the horizon help to form the setting of arguably the most picturesque Christmas town in Switzerland. In addition to regular open-air stalls, Montreux also has a covered market with Santa’s workshop and sit-down restaurants.
Romantic market stalls sell the usual array of mostly handmade Christmas decorations and food. Mulled wine (Glühwein) is served in special souvenir mugs while chestnuts are roasted by the pot full. Many cultural events are scheduled during advent while demonstrations of Christmas-related items such as candle making and gingerbread decorating are also popular. A few rides are available for children.
In contrast to German Weihnachtsmärkte, the Montreux Marché de Noël continues until a few days past Christmas. The market generally operates from November 27 to December 28 and only closes on December 25. Stalls are open from 11 am to 8 pm (10 pm on Friday and Saturday) and are busiest and most romantic late afternoon and early evening.
Further Christmas Markets and Events in Montreux, Switzerland
In addition to the main market, more Christmas theme events are hosted further away from the downtown Montreux area:
Montreux Casino changes its park into an enchanted garden for the holiday season.
The romantically located Chateau de Chillon Castle has a medieval market on weekends with demonstrations and actors dressed in period costume. Chillon Castle is on a Lake Geneva island – connected to the mainland by bridge – just to the south of Montreux.
Father Christmas takes up residence for most of December on Rochers-de-Naye mountain. It is a beautiful hour-long cog-wheel funicular train ride on the Santa Claus Express from downtown Montreux to near the top of this Alpine peak. (Reservations are essential.)
Transportation to the Montreux Christmas Market
The Montreux Marché de Noël is very close to Montreux railway station making arrivals by train by far the most sensible transportation option. Taking the train is especially convenient on weekends when the market gets very crowded and parking becomes problematic.
Frequent trains to Montreux take around 20 minutes from Lausanne, an hour from Geneva, and 90 minutes from Bern or Gstaad.
Montreux has good highway links to other parts of Switzerland, France, and Italy. During the week, it is possible to park in underground parking lots in Montreux and simply stroll to the nearby market. On weekends, however, cars are forced to park outside Montreux. Although parking here is free, the shuttle buses to the Christmas market are not.
The Montreux Marché de Noël may not have the history of German Christmas markets but it does have a magical setting. Further attractions that remain open year round in the immediate region of Montreux include the romantic castles of Chillon and Gruyères, numerous Alpine peaks, and the Olympic city of Lausanne.