While planning our holiday in the Alps, Mr. Dodo and I originally did not plan to go and visit Château Chillon. While I was browsing the internet looking for interesting places to visit en route, I came across this castle. I thought it looked quite nice, made a screenshot and thought I’d save this tip for another trip. But when we found ourselves in Annecy (France) on our way to Bern (Switzerland) with some time to kill, we had the chance to visit Chillon after all. And am I glad we did!
What is most beautiful about Château Chillon is definitely its looks. For to be honest: it is actually not that big and there is not so much interior left inside. Nevertheless, it has some nice perks: the château offers a very extensive audio tour, the view from and to the castle is stunning, you can eat original medieval quiche and last but not least: the castle has been making it own wine for hundreds of years. And for those of you who know their English literature: it is the setting of Lord Byron’s famous poem the prisoner of Chillon. And yes, the good Lord has indeed visited the castle himself and left his mark.
The prison-section actually looks a lot like the one the Count of Monte Christo could have enjoyed (except for the tourists of course):
But let me tell you a little more about the castle. which actually started out as a nice little summer house of the Dukes of Savoy. It was built a long long time ago, because the first time someone wrote about is was in 1150, which would make the castle itself even older. Later on during the ‘Berner Periode’, the castle was used for 260 years as a fortress, arsenal and a prison. Since then, time has taken its toll and not much of the original interior is left:
There is one thing left I haven’t told you yet about this multi-functional castle and that is that they have also been making wine for centuries. The château used to have its own wine press and wine cellar and in 2011 the wine business got a reboot. A small vineyard of around 1,5 hectare lies only a 5 minute walk away from the castle. The train track is directly above it, which makes the scenery look a lot like a model train display.
You can buy two wines at the Château: a white chasselas and a red wine which is a combination of Gamaret, Garanoir and Merlot. I still haven’t opened the red one yet, so I will tell you something about the Chasselas. Before I came here I had actually never heard of the ‘Chasselas’ before, but that was clearly an omission on my side since it is in fact the most widely planted white wine grape variety in Switzerland. There are stories of its origin going back to ancient Egypt, because some people recognized the specifics of the Chasselas grape on ancient Egyptian drawings. Recent DNA-research however has proven that the grape actually originates form right here: the shores of Lake Geneva.
Some people may tell you that Chasselas is not that interesting a wine to drink. That may actually be true of some varieties, but not of Clos de Chillon Grand Cru. It is a very rich and fruity white wine, with lots of aromas that definitely tastes good even without the traditional Swiss cheese fondue!
The Château is located on the other end of Lake Geneva, right next to Montreux. The castle has a very informative website, where you can buy tickets and book tours in advance: https://www.chillon.ch/en/
In case you arrive by car: there is only a very small parking lot next to the castle and not enough parking spaces on the side. So either take the bus or be prepared to park uphill and walk your way back to the castle – on the upside: this does give you the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery!