Singing Santa, Swiss Treats and Mountains: The Christmas Market at Montreux

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Montreux Christmas Market, Montreux Noël, Montreux, Switzerland

I am the hugest fan of Christmas markets and for the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to visit at least one each season.  Two years ago we visited the one in Basel, which was pleasant. Last year we went to Zurich, which I assumed would be more Germanic, but I found it depressing.  I didn’t even want to write about it because it would come across as so negative.  Then, the day before Christmas, on a whim, we went to the market in Montreux and loved it.

So we returned this year.  And loved it again.

The thing is, for a Christmas market to be good it has to have that perfect balance between eateries and shopping.  The products shouldn’t be obscenely expensive (though since being in Switzerland my concept of expensive has changed), there should be a nice mix of locally-made products that work for both locals and foreigners, lots of lights… and good mulled wine.

Montreux is tick, tick, tick all the way.

And its advantage is that it’s at a wonderful spot on Lake Geneva.

The vin chaud, mulled red wine, is served in special Montreux market plastic cups, which you can keep or return, and get back your 2CHF deposit.  There are also various Christmas mugs you can get which are more expensive.  The wine itself is nicely alcoholic, but so well spiced that you’ve already downed half the cup before realising that it was stronger than it appeared.

Fortunately, there are lots of food options to soak up the alcohol.  Traditional Swiss fare is served along with the more universal stuff, like crepes and burgers.  There is a sweet-stand opposite the ferris wheel which also serves fun candy floss, which you can get on a flashing light stick which looks awesome through the candy floss on a dark night.  It looks even more awesome after a glass of vin chaud.

There are loads of traditional Swiss goodies to buy too, including the wonderful paper-cuts.  If you can’t afford to buy a beautiful handmade paper-cut, then you can maybe splash out on some jewellery and for 20/25 CHF get hold of a Swiss alpine scene as a necklace pendant.  But there are 172 little chalet stalls, so you’re bound to find something you like – whether it’s chocolate or handmade decorations.

Perhaps the highlight of the market – and actually, a unique feature – is the arrival of Santa, hourly after nightfall.  He flies through the air, and pausing opposite the ferris wheel, he sings a little song, and then reverses back to his garage.  It’s very cute.

So In Summary

Even though it doesn’t photograph in a way to look that impressive, Montreux’s Christmas market has a lovely atmosphere.  It’s relaxed, and very charming, and visitors of all ages can find something to enjoy.  I wouldn’t say that it was worth traveling to Switzerland for by itself, but if you are in the country already, and you want a lovely market to help you enjoy the holidays, then this is a fine and quirky place to spend a few hours.

Further Information

To find out what’s happening in Montreux for Christmas, you can check out their website (naturally in English):

Each year, the market partners up with a ‘guest of honour’ to host relevant events.  In 2019, this was with Russia, and folk music and dances were to be performed, mainly at the weekends.

There is also the chance for little ones to visit Santa in his grotto in Rocher-de-Naye, which is a train ride into the hills outside Montreux.   To find out about that, you can get information here:

How To Get There

Montreux is a small town, and to get to the market, you literally just follow the crowds down to the lake.  The market basically runs alongside the lake for quite a way – it’s a deceptively large event.  However, on the map below, I’ve marked the main market place, which is where the ferris wheel is, and where the stalls really start to go along the lakeside.

Montreux is also easy to get to from most points in Switzerland thanks to the awesome railway network:


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