Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Visit to the Christmas Market in Montreux, Switzerland

My visit to Montreux, an easy day trip away from Geneva, was a fun and fantastic day of extremes.  

In addition to a wonderful christmas market, there was a visit to a medieval castle and a trip to a casino housing Freddie Mercury's recording studio and memorabilia. More about those next month. For now, let's visit this lovely lakeside Christmas market.

The train trip from Geneva to Montreux takes a little over an hour. This market, a short downhill journey from the central train station is a collection of 500 vendors clustered around Lake Geneva under a picturesque backdrop of the snow capped mountains. 

A charming event among gorgeous scenery.

My train ticket included a special coupon redeemable at a number of the stands at the market for a hot mulled wine (vin chaud) or a soft pretzel. Guess which one I chose? Didn't even care it was 11AM. Not. One. Bit.

As a matter of fact, I'm officially putting the NYC transit authority on notice. Everyone's nightmare holiday time commute would be a LOT easier if they put this practice into place.

There were lot's of cozy places within the market to stop, sit and sip your hot wine. Those windows have a lake view, btw.

The vast market also includes stalls on the other side of the street and has a very large covered section in the center. More on those further on in this post.

As you enter the market, there is the required roasted chestnut stand. 

However, I had never seen them prepared in such an unusual and ancient manner. 

This stand was roasting salmon on sticks over an open fire.

As I said before, Vin Chaud (mulled wine) stands are abundant. Most offering only one variety. This one, larger than most,  billed itself as offering " Potions and Elixirs"  had many different varieties, both with and without alcohol and also sold spices to make your own at home. 

The entire market is accented by festive light sculptures. Frosty, and Santa are well represented. 

However my my favorite was these multi colored star lights floating in the lake. Wow.

There was so much to see, taste and experience at this market, I walked it several times between dusk and darkness. Like most Christmas markets, the ambience changed significantly between. During the day, the lake and mountains view was the star. During the evening, the beautiful lights were the focus.

Most European Christmas markets sell much of the same wares. In every one I visit,  I look for something special that I have not seen before. I found that unique object in this stand showcasing handmade, lovely metal bookmarks. Like jewelry for your books. 

In addition to this stand hawking all things silicon for the kitchen,

This hut was selling beautiful handmade ceramic items for the kitchen, like these sweet retro style butter dishes and jigsaw fashioned trivets. 

Collecting little houses to create a Christmas village at home is common. My mother-in-law has several pieces and takes care to display them every Christmas. What made me stop at this hut selling then was the "real" fireplaces in the display.

It was hard to bypass this sweetapolooza triple sized stand. However, I was searching for a more savory option to take the edge off of the mulled wine I had just consumed.

I was rewarded by this clever cheese fondue stand. Carving out a space in the baguette to pour the cheese inside made an easy grab and go snack.

Very tempted to buy this very reasonably priced fondue pot, but was discouraged by the thought of lugging it around with me for the rest of the day.

Hunger was stated but who could resist this nougat palace?  There were so many lovely candies made from a family recipes to choose from. The friendly and funny vendor was generous in handing out samples. 

Those little morsels satisfied my post fondue sweet craving and inspired me to buy a few pieces in different flavors to take home. Pistachio, rose, banana and violet flavors among them.

Every single one was delicious. I couldn't pick a favorite. 

Those of you who read this blog for some time will know why I nearly lost my mind at this French Macaron stand.

I resisted buying any but couldn't help some serious ogling of all the adorable shapes and flavors. 

Equally mesmerizing was this glass blowing demonstration, creating all sort of beautiful tree ornaments.

I am not ashamed to admit I pestered some strangers to take a picture of this lovely food platter sporting local meats and cheeses. 

A few other countries were well represented at this market. Canada had maple products and ready made dishes on offer. There was even a yurt selling handicrafts as well as hand made Hungarian items.

This Russian stand had a questionable and puzzling decor,

but offered some interest alternative, like Siberian grog, vodka shots and toast with caviar and salmon.

A couple of lovely young guys from Hungry were selling a variety of homemade honeys at this stand where I scored a jar of rosehip flavor. 

On the other side of the street, I was stopped dead in my tracks by this colorful and fun display of marzipan fruits.

Upon closer inspection, I saw beyond the fruits to the marzipan sandwiches which made me laugh. 

Like many of the food stands, this one was giving out samples. Not the the marzipan but of luscious, chewy almond cookies in different flavors. 

After nibbling on a vanilla almond version of the cookie. I spotted the green version. Admittedly, pistachio flavor is my weakness. I bought a vanilla and two pistachio cookies.

As I was chatting with the vendor, he offered me my choice of one of these flavored coconut confections. I chose the orange one and, exercising some restraint, brought it back to my husband who loved it. I had a bite as well. Dreamy.

Another stand on the side of the street included this great chocolate chocolate kisses stand. A lump of marshmallow with different types of chocolate coatings. In Germany these used to be called a horrible, very politically incorrect name which started with an N and the packages used to have all sorts of recist branding. Thankfully, the name is no longer in use. So many great flavors here. 

Next door were stands selling soft goods and organic treats.

Back across the street by the lake, it was time to eat again. I reluctantly passed up this cozy place selling artisanal pizza.

Even though I had a cheese fondue snack, I can never pass up raclette.

This hut had indoor seating so I had my raclette with a view. Not too shabby. As I mentioned in my Geneva Christmas market post, the raclette (traditional version) at the markets in this area are served with potatoes, marinated pearl onions and cornichons. 

It was time to explore the lovely, vast covered section of the market which contained mostly food stalls. 

A lot of them.

Truffles, Cheese and foie gras were all on display.

Pretty cakes and lovely jams.

and lots of French gingerbread.

Time for a hot chocolate stop. I selected the salted caramel flavor. 

Sadly, it was time to make my way back to the train station.

A last look at the lovely lights of the Montreux Christmas market. 

Like this post? 
Check out some of the other Christmas markets I have visited over the years:

Aachen, Germany Christmas Market
Basel, Switzerland Christmas Market
Colmar, France Christmas Market
Cologne, Germany Christmas Market
Freiburg, Germany Christmas Markets
Geneva, Switzerland Christmas Market
Hamburg, The Sexiest Christmas Market in Germany
Maastricht, Holland Christmas Market
Munich Christmas Market
Strasbourg, France Christmas Markets
Valkenburg Holland Christmas Market in the Caves

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