Naturally Gifted: An Artistic Guide to Lausanne & Montreux Riviera

Both the Montreux Riviera and university town of Lausanne have inspired artistic minds for centuries. Today, music, winemaking and gastronomy merge to make this lakeside idyll a must for pleasure-seekers.

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Ask any music obsessive which gigs they wish they could travel back in time and attend, and you'll inevitably hear the word "Montreux", whispered in hallowed tones. Montreux Jazz Festival was founded in June 1967 by Claude Nobs, a jazz lover and Montreux Tourism Office worker. The festival soon became a cultural phenomenon: Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Soft Machine, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald delivered legendary performances at the lakeside casino venue in the early years. By the Seventies, the festival had expanded into blues, soul and rock, bringing in Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa and Deep Purple.

It's hard to imagine the small, spotless and serene town of Montreux playing host to some of the most radical and raucous jazz and rock 'n' roll gigs of the 20th century. In 1973, Led Zeppelin were playing to rapturous crowds of 49,000 in Atlanta and Florida, more than twice the entire population of Montreux. The fact that today Montreux Jazz Festival is the second-biggest annual festival of its kind in the world (after Canada's Montreal) speaks volumes about just how persuasive and passionate the Swiss can be when it comes to pursuing, and manifesting, pleasure.

Street life in Lausanne
A group conversation above the vineyards of Domaine Wannaz

Conversations between the vineyards in the region, left, and street life in Lausanne. | Photo credit: Kevin Faingnaert

The Montreux Riviera, also known as the Dolce Riviera for its commitment to la dolce vita, is not short of plucky tales like this, either, with proud locals determined to preserve what is special and spotlight what is pleasurable about their region. In 2007, after decades of tireless campaigning by the environmental activist Franz Weber and his daughter Vera, the vineyards of Lavaux were granted Unesco status, saving this 830-hectare expanse of steeply terraced vineyards from redevelopment into holiday homes. Today, exploring the sun-kissed, south-facing vineyards, cellar rooms and wine bars of Lavaux is a highlight of any visit to this area.

Meanwhile, the refined university town of Lausanne feels liveable - in 2019, Monocle ranked Lausanne the best small city in the world in its much-vaunted liveability index. The city's elegant Belle Époque apartments would be perfect for writing poetry or painting watercolours - or maybe launching a tech start-up or fashion label. Here, we find students, writers, artists and designers chatting over fondue at the Café de Grancy and natural wines at the Café des Philosophes.

This is a community passionate about the joys of music, nature, food, wine and art. Striking as this region's scenery may be, it's the spirit of savouring life's sweetness that makes it so special.

Lausanne & Montreux Riviera unpacked: the region's address book

Where to stay

The impressive exterior of Chateau D'Ouchy
Photo credit: Kevin Faingnaert


Château D'Ouchy

This is the most modern of a quartet of Lausanne hotels under the same ownership, including Hotel Angleterre & Résidence, Beau-Rivage Palace and Lausanne Palace. Château d'Ouchy has a fabulous lakefront terrace, with craft cocktails to match.


Place du Port, 1006 Lausanne

The front of Trois Couronnnes Hotel


Hôtel des Trois Couronnes

One of two ravishing Belle Époque hotels on the lakefront promenade in Vevey, this elegant 71-room beauty affords views of Lake Geneva and the Alps. It has a dreamy, cinematic ambience that makes you feel as if you're in an F Scott Fitzgerald novel.


Rue d’Italie 49 CH-1800 Vevey

Hôtel Masson Veytaux in Switzerland


Hôtel Masson Veytaux

A more affordable but no less atmospheric option is this gorgeous family-run hotel, also a Belle Époque architectural delight and located only 10 minutes' walk from medieval must-visit Château de Chillon.


Simona & Frank Laves, Rue Bonivard 5, CH - 1820 Veytaux

The Lowdown

Seeking more recommendations for hotels in Lausanne and Montreux Riviera? Head to Or, purchase Volume 37: Craft today and receive A Creative's Guide to Switzerland, an 80-page SUITCASE travel companion to Zurich, Geneva, Basel, and Lausanne and Montreux Riviera.

Main photo credit: Kevin Faingnaert