Château de Chillon
Château de Chillon information
From the waterfront in Montreux, the fairy-tale Chemin Fleuri (Flower Path) – a silky smooth promenade framed by flowerbeds positively tropical in colour and vivacity – snakes dreamily along the lake for 4km to the magnificent stone hulk of lakeside Château de Chillon. Occupying a stunning position on Lake Geneva, this oval-shaped 13th-century fortress is a maze of courtyards, towers and halls filled with arms, period furniture and artwork. The landward side is heavily fortified, but lakeside it presents a gentler face.
Chillon was largely built by the House of Savoy and taken over by Bern’s governors after Vaud fell to Bern. Don’t miss the medieval frescos in the Chapelle St Georges and the spooky Gothic dungeons .
The fortress gained fame in 1816 when Byron wrote The Prisoner of Chillon, a poem about François Bonivard, thrown into the dungeon for his seditious ideas and freed by Bernese forces in 1536. Byron carved his name into the pillar to which Bonivard was supposedly chained. Painters William Turner and Gustave Courbet subsequently immortalised the castle’s silhouette on canvas, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexandre Dumas and Mary Shelley all wrote about it.
Count 45 minutes to walk from Montreux to Chillon, or take trolley bus 1. CGN boats and steamers – a wonderful way to arrive – call at Château de Chillon from Lausanne (adult return Sfr53, 1¾ hours), Vevey (Sfr23, 50 minutes) and Montreux (Sfr17, 15 minutes).