Don’t you think that we hardly notice our surroundings, or that we don’t value them as much as we should? That happens to me in the natural paradise in which I’ve had the luxury of living for the past 18 years. It turns out that I live in a beautiful country but rarely mention it on my blog.
I always realize how privileged we are when friends come to visit us or when we see Switzerland through the eyes of someone who doesn’t live here. Recently, Vicky (@misslittlec) and her family spent a few days in our mountain apartment and I realized that it would be great to share what I know about Switzerland with our visitors. With this in mind, I started a series of articles on Switzerland and I hope you’ll like them.
Our little private paradise
In Switzerland, the number of homeowners is relatively low compared to other countries (in recent years, their proportion has increased greatly – by more than 30%, due to cheap mortgages). More than ten years ago, we thought we could never afford to buy a house in Switzerland, so we decided to buy a small apartment in the mountains as an investment and to have a place we could call our own. The Alps are huge. In fact, many villages have their own ski slopes, so with a little guidance we started to look at the areas that had been recommended to us, taking into account the distance to Geneva (so as to be able to go there regularly) and the price.
Searching on ImmoStreet.ch with these criteria in mind, we found our apartment. The very first one we visited became our little corner in the Alps. Admittedly, you normally don’t buy the first place you visit, but we fell in love with it as soon as we saw it. We showed it to my husband’s parents who fell in love with it too, and that’s how we came to settle in the region which I would like to introduce you to today.
Gryon is a small village in the Alps, situated in the canton of Vaud. It’s well-known in Switzerland (as it’s part of the Villars-Gryon-Diablerets skiing area), but much less abroad. This makes Gryon a unique place because it isn’t overcrowded and has kept all its natural beauty.
It’s worth spending several days or even a week of vacation in the region, especially if you enjoy hiking. In this post, I’ll be introducing you to its highlights and giving you some tips on what to do in the summer months. Winter activities deserve a separate post!
The village of Gryon
I’ll start with the village where our apartment is located, because Heidi could have lived there. Gryon is full of typical Swiss chalets decorated with flowers and cute fountains. It boasts a very nice protestant temple and impressive views wherever you look. It’s worth walking around the village to look at the chalets, their engravings, the paintings, etc.
Taveyanne is a village without electricity which is lost up in the mountains. It’s the starting point of many beautiful mountain walks. During the summer, a refuge restaurant serves a delicious fondue.
One of the places I like most in this area is Solalex. You can drive up almost to the top when there’s no snow. From there you can contemplate the “Miroir d’Argentine”, a mountain that looks like a mirror and changes color during the day and at sunset. A refuge restaurant serves typical Swiss dishes (I recommend the raclette). From there, you can go on a lovely hike of about an hour which will take you to another refuge where you can eat and even stay the night.
A mountain river flows through Solalex (imagine the temperature of the water…). It’s a lovely place to stop by, let the children play by the water and soak your feet in the smooth current amidst a spectacular scenery.
To get to Bretaye, take the zipper train (it’s free in summer if you pick up a free pass at the Tourist Office). It will take you to one of the areas where you can ski in winter. In summer, the slopes are full of flowers and cows.
From there, a very easy walk (very flat and short, 30 minutes) will take you to Lake Bretaye, where you can even swim and fish in summer. Of course, you’ll also find a refuge where you can try Swiss specialties (have you noticed that we love eating?).
The glacier Les Diablerets
This 3000-meters high glacier can be reached by cable car. You can ski all year round at Les Diablerets. The glacier is worth a visit, be it only to admire the views of the snowy Alps.
Fondation Barry (Martigny)
This is the St Bernard dog museum. It’s really worth going if you have kidsbecause you can see and even touch the dogs!
The Foundation Barry organizes summer and winter walks in the mountains with dogs. Here’s their website if you’re interested: https://fondation-barry.ch/FR/.
The baths of Lavey
They’re the most beautiful hot springs you’ll ever find, with hot outdoor pools and amazing views. Lavey also has a spa with sensory experiences, saunas of different temperatures, a Turkish bath…
The coolest thing is to go when it’s dark (they close late) and the pools are illuminated. It’s a highly recommended place to visit, both in summer and in winter.
These are just some of my recommendations, but I have many more depending on how you like to enjoy the mountains. In any case, do not hesitate to contact me if you come to Switzerland!