My favorite activity in Montreux is to spend time along the 11 km flowered lakeside promenade that runs from Clarens to Villeneuve, then resumes again in La Tour-de-Peilz and runs through Vevey. For me, there are four distinct portions.
The first portion runs from Clarens to Montreux, passing the five-star hotels Royal Plaza and the Montreux Palace across the street, the Auditorium Stravinsky, the resturant/inn Ermitage, and the Mai Thai restaurant with its gorgeious dock on the lake. This area has moderate foot traffic, and is a nice, relaxing area for people-watching. My favorite spot is the Cafe au Lac at the Royal Plaze.
The next portion of the promenade runs from the high-rise Eurotel Riviera to the Hotel Eden Palace au Lac, and this is the most crowded section. It includes the Forum (with its many restaurants, shops, and stores, and its underground parking), the Casino, the Tourist Office kiosk, many sidewalk vendors, and the central Place du Marche. This area is always bustling with crowds, with everyone on vacation from all over the world. Here you find Europeans, Asians, Americans, and Arabs, all rubbing shoulders and mingling easily; you see every style, from punked-out youth to edgy hip-hop artists to old-money-matrons in Chanel walking their pugs. This is a great area for people-watching and for getting energized.
The third section runs from the Hotel Eden Palace au Lac to the little dock in Territet, and this is probably my favorite part. It's relatively deserted, peopled usually by residents or frequent visitors on bicycles or on foot with their pets or their children. People walk slower here, savoring the views across the lake to the mountains or to Chillon. This is where you'll see folks sitting on benches or on rocks at the lake's edge, reading newspapers, having picnics, sunning themselves, or gazing quietly over the lake.
The fourth section runs from Territet past Chillon to Villeneuve. This part is practically deserted except for the part at Chillon, where you'll be mobbed by tourists biding their time between the tour of the castle and the departure of the bus. There are usually 5-7 tourist busses parked at the castle whenever it's open. Besides these tourists, you'll usually only see the odd dog-walker or scuba diver on this part.
The city's gardeners make the promenade even more entertaining by creating sculptures with flowers or with branches and leaves. They change the sculptures every few monthes, and I always look forward to seeing what new art they're up to.
If you make it all the way to Villeneueve, top off your long walk with a wonderful pizza & beer lunch at a lakeside café in Villeneuve, then take the ferry back to Montreux (I think the ferry has a reduced schedule starting in late Sep/Oct). Ferry schedules at (---).
An alternate way to see the promenade is to rent bicycles at the train station and pass it on wheels. You can take bicycles on the ferries.
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