One of the most exciting excursions on my last trip to Switzerland was a cog wheel train ride to the top of Rochers de Naye, a beautifully rugged 7,000-foot peak overlooking Lake Geneva and both the Swiss and French Alps.
Rochers de Naye, which is French for “rocks of Naye,” are a mountain grouping of the Swiss Alps, overlooking Lake Geneva near Montreux and Villeneuve, in the canton of Vaud. They lie on the range separating the basin of Lake Geneva from the valley of the Sarine, on the watershed between the Rhone and the Rhine. Rochers de Naye is easily accessible from Montreux, where the highest railway in the canton, the Montreux–Glion–Rochers-de-Naye, starts.
My getaway to the rocky mountain top began at the train station in the city of Montreux, on the shores of Lake Geneva. Here a friend and I showed our Swiss Travel Passes and got 50 percent off the ticket price and then boarded a blue and white electric cog wheel for a memorable hour-long journey up the mountainside. As the train chugged up the steep slopes, we were given incredible views of Lake Geneva and the town of Montreux. We could also see the Alps on all sides of us.
Once the train departs the station in Montreux, it immediately enters a tunnel and starts climbing. After about 15 minutes, the train reaches the village of Glion, about 1,000 feet above Montreux. The position of this village above Montreux and the Chauderon Gorge made it a favorite tourist destination in the 19th century. Glion is known for the Glion Institute of Higher Education, a premier Swiss hotel school offering accredited hospitality management degrees, sports and event management degrees, and graduate programs.
Soon after Glion, the train leaves the urbanized areas of Montreux behind and enters beautiful, forested slopes. There are several stops along the way, with little villages, charming chateaus, endless hiking trails and mountain vistas from every angle.
When the train pulled into the 6,500-foot Rochers-de-Naye station, we disembarked and found a wonderful mountain world. Since the weather was still mild, we were able to hike an additional 500 ft to the observation platform on the mountain peak. From this majestic vantage point, we stood in the clouds and enjoyed memorable views of Lake Geneva as far as Jura, and the Savoy Alps.
The summit also features two restaurants, a hotel and seven white Mongolian yurts lining the mountain cliffs, overlooking a giant valley below and the Alps beyond. The yurts are for rent and can accommodate up to eight people.
In summer, there is a Marmot Paradise where different kinds of mountain marmots can be viewed up close, and an alpine garden “Rambertia” where many different mountain flowers can be admired. And for hikers, Rochers-de-Naye is an excellent start or end point for several beautiful routes to and from Montreux.
While on the mountain, we had lunch at the Alpine Restaurant, located next to the train station. With big windows overlooking the postcard landscape we had sandwiches and hot tea and got a free French lesson from some fellow travelers.
Steam trains have been running up to the Rochers-de-Naye since 1892.The railway up to Rochers-de-Naye operates year-round – even during winter. If coming during Christmas, visitors can expect to see Father Christmas himself, as he resides on the summit in December. For more information on Rochers-de-Naye, visit www.myswitzerland.com.
For more information on the Swiss Travel Pass, www.swisstravelsystem.com; For flying to Switzerland visit: www.swiss.com; For more travel information, visit: www.myswitzerland.com/ or www.lake-geneva-region.ch.