Christmas Time in Switzerland: Lindsay on Location

Christmas in Switzerland/Geneva 

Lindsay on Location has seen the summer side of Switzerland with its rolling green hills and cows grazing on the green Alps. But, now it is time to see the winter wonderland of snowy mountain tops and sprawling Christmas markets.

It has always been a dream to travel and experience a winter wonderland for the holidays. Switzerland is at the top of the list for Americans. This country is in the top 3 for Americans wanting to visit during the Holiday season. And, I cannot disagree. What is more holiday than a great Christmas market? Mulled wine, Christmas music, flying Santa and mountains that never seem to end – nothing could be more special than enjoying the magical run-up to one of the most beautiful Christmas markets.

Experiencing holiday markets in Europe should be on everyone’s list. It’s been at the top of mine for years. I hope my family likes what I bought from the markets this year because it is where all my shopping is done!

Montreux Noel

Have you ever wanted to visit Santa on top of the Swiss Alps? Now is your chance to take a train straight up a mountain side. 

“A visit to the home and office of Santa Claus himself, perched on the mountaintop at Rochers-de-Naye (altitude: 2,042 m), is a must for families with young children. The ride by cogwheel railway up to see him is an unforgettable experience in itself.”

Have a chat with Santa, take a tour of his workshop and take in those views from the mountaintop. Seeing the joy on the faces of the little ones is worth the trip alone.

Montreux Christmas Market

This beautiful market is made up of 150 chalet stalls. But, don’t forget to look up, you just might get to see Santa Claus and his sleigh famously flying over the Market.

“In this enchanting setting, part of which is covered, extending for more than one kilometer along Lake Geneva’s shoreline, you will find crafts, tastings of local specialities, mulled wine and thousands of gift ideas.”

Geneva Christmas Market

Magic is in the air. This market is set at Jardin Anglais, meaning English Garden. home to Geneva’s unmissable flower clock. This famous clocks  made up of more than 20,000 flowers and is the world’s longest second hand. Every week, stallholders in small wooden chalets change and offer new discoveries each time you visit. Local creators and designers will be delighted to share their passion with you and give you lots of ideas for Christmas gifts for you and your loved ones.

Chillon Castle

This historic castle is located on a rock on the banks of Lake Geneva. The water castle is the most visited historic building in Switzerland. 

One of my favorite things during this holiday season is mulled wine. Some call it hot wine, but here in Switzerland we call it Vin Chaud (which literally means hot wine in French). But, there is nothing like making Vin Chaud in a castle that dates back to Roman times. 

Vin Chaud is a staple and the star at Christmas markets all over Europe. It’s also perfect for entertaining around the holidays. 

Recipe

  • 750 ml bottle red wine
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 navel orage, sliced
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 5 whole cloves

Glacier 3000

First on the adventure in Les Diablerets is dog sledding in the Alps-“On four paws through the snow: The Huskies are at home in the white splendor. The whole pack enjoys moving around in the snow – and this joy is contagious and felt by everyone watching them play in the snow. Even better is a romantic ride on a dogsled through the unique alpine area of Glacier 3000. The Huskies pull you through the beautiful glacier landscape and allow you to have a very special experience.” 

Peak Walk By Tissot

After you get your fill of those playful Huskies, take a walk on the Peak Walk. There is only one suspension bridge in the world that connects two mountain peaks. It is called Peak Walk by Tissot. It can be found at Glacier 3000. And, it invites you to an adventure that you will not easily forget. Two tips: don’t look down and keep walking towards that Swiss flag at the other side. I promise you once you get to the other side every step will be worth it. You can see endless Swiss alps for days.

Fondue

The term “fondue” comes from the French word “fondre” which means “to melt,” We had the amazing experience of trying fondue making. Cheese fondue is said to have originated on Alpine farms as a way to feed a family inexpensively; the original version was simply stale bread dipped in melted Gruyère. 

What an experience making fondue in Switzerland, and it was an amazing surprise that you can make it with sparkling wine, champagne, white wine and beer. No matter your preference you can find Fondue in almost every restaurant in Switzerland.

Eat the cheese, dipping accompaniments like cubed bread, cooked potatoes, sliced apples, pears, cornichons, pickled pearl onions, and salami into the pot. Be careful when dipping: The person who loses their garnish in the pot usually has to pay a penalty to the rest of the people at the table, like buying a round of drinks, or cleaning up after the meal.

And in the words of Mario Lopez, “You could dip cardboard in this and it would be delicious.”

Recipe 

  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 pound Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 1/2 pound Emmentaler cheese or other Swiss cheese, grated
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kirsch (clear brandy)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Swiss watchmaking

Who would have thought you could make your own watches in Switzerland? The Swiss watchmaking industry was born in Geneva in the second half of the 16th century. It is as hard as you think it is. There are pins, screws and bolts the size of a flea. So, your eyes and hands will be challenged as you try to disassemble and reassemble some luxurious watches. 

We tried our best at Initium watchmaking in Geneva. You will definitely have a new appreciation of all the love and talent that goes into each watch. This is such a great, once in a lifetime, way to create an experience for yourself or a loved one. They even have a workshop where you learn the history and create a luxury watch for yourself from start to finish.

Gin Making

Gin is the drink to have in your hand all over Europe and that holds true in the Alps. Here I had some fun designing my own gin flavors at La Distillerie bar lab. The Gin masters ask you what flavors and notes usually inspire your gin cocktails. I wanted to experience a smokey, flavorful Christmas adventure. We picked out all the ingredients to infuse within the gin and saw the magic happening. After a wink and a nod, the gin was beginning to infuse and we were well on our way to enjoy our gin at the bar. We got to custom create a gin to our exact liking. And, we got a bottle of it to take home. I created my very own smokey Swann Lake gin that I can share with friends and family.

Where to Stay

Fairmont Palace Montreux

From the moment you set eyes on this palace you know you are staying somewhere special. This beautiful palace is overlooking Lake Geneva in Montreux. Created in 1906 and staying true to its Belle Epoque style architecture there is beauty in every corner.

Do not miss out on their Jazz cafe restaurant that serves some incredible dishes.

Swiss Historic Hotel Du Pillon

This family-run guest house hotel in Les Diablerets started in 1880 and was love at first sight. The hotel has 14 rooms and is located just outside town. In a few minutes of chatting with the owner you understand that this is much more than a hotel, but more of a home. As the owner lives on property and takes such care in every detail. Sit by the fire, grab a drink and look out the window. The view is of endless Christmas trees perched on the alps.

Hotel Rotary Geneva

Located in the heart of Geneva and steps away from the lake, this hotel has you in the middle of it all. With a perfect mix of modern and classic style, the hotel thinks of all the amenities. Gorgeous breakfast, gym, sauna, and Swiss chocolate on our pillow every night. This is a perfect go to hotel in the heart of it all.

After a day of spinning around the city, make sure to wind down with one of their signature cocktails in the lobby bar.

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