It was a cold, wet and miserable Sunday morning as we headed out into Lausanne to see how we could amuse ourselves for the day. Lausanne on a Sunday is a fairly quiet affair, with few shops open and on a wet and cold day, even a stroll along the lovely Ouchy lakeside promenade didn’t hold much appeal. Luckily, nearby Chateau de Chillon was open and ready for intrepid tourists wiling to brave the weather.
Chateau de Chillon happens to be the most visited monument in Switzerland (even besting the famous covered bridge and Lion of Lucerne) and is a short and easy train journey from Lausanne. A 30 franc package available from the train station includes the return journey to the Chateau and entry. You can either catch a train all the way to Chillon, or else get off at Montreaux and take the bus. We decided to train it all the way Chillon and then stop in Montreaux for lunch on the way back.
The chateau is built out over the lake on a rocky island and offers lovely views across the lake to France, or would have done on a fine day. It started life in the 12th century and since then has been extended and adapted into the impressive sight it is today.
Even though the weather was socked in, it was actually quite suited to exploring a medieval fortress, particularly as many of the displays were centred on the witch trails of the day. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be female in those days!! I didn’t realise that Switzerland was one of the most prolific executioners of witches, far outstripping her neighbours. It’s a wonder any women ever decided to become midwives as it seems that any mishaps during birth were blamed on the midwife being a witch. The trials these poor women (and some men) were subjected to were barbaric and made me wonder if they had nothing better to do.
A visit to the chateau is not for those short on time. Following the numbered rooms around the chateau leads you down into cellars and dungeons,
At every turn is another glimpse into the lives of the various dukes, counts and their hangers-on, in addition to lovely lake and mountain views. There is even a medieval bathroom to marvel at – obviously the forerunner to the modern day ‘drop’ toilet. I can’t imagine sitting on one of those loos with a chill winter wind whistling up my jaxie! Particularly amusing was the doorknob for the bathroom…
All up we must have spent at least 2 hours exploring the chateau but we could easily have spent much longer watching the various audiovisual displays, however hunger and cold drove us back out into the elements in search of lunch (which incidentally was fantastic pizzas at La Rouvenaz, just off the Grand Rue in Montreaux). Chateau de Chillon is definitely an all weather must for anyone visiting the region!