Discover the delights of the Swiss Riviera and the spectacular French Alps on this late summer tour.
Explore Europe’s largest lake and highest mountain by vintage transport against a backdrop of terraced vineyards, alluring châteaux and natural beaches. You’ll have one base for the entire tour: the elegant, centrally located Hotel Astra in Vevey. From here you’ll traverse land and lake in comfort on mighty paddle steamers and privately chartered steam trains. Journey over the famed Golden Pass in classic Pullman coaches, and savour exclusive travel on the streamlined 1930s ‘Blue Arrow’ railcar. ‘Peak Hop’ to impressive summits and beautiful vantage points and enjoy unrestricted travel throughout the country courtesy of your included Swiss Travel Pass national rover ticket. This special tour to one of Europe’s great destinations is definitely not to be missed!
Monday 2nd September
London to Vevey
You travel on Eurostar and TGV via Paris to Geneva, then by SBB train to Vevey. There you check in to the 4-star Hotel Astra, your base for the entire tour.
Tuesday 3rd September
Steam on Lake Geneva and a visit to the Swiss Vapeur Parc
Today’s highlight is a paddle steamer cruise on Lake Geneva, with views of the stunning French and Swiss Alps, the famous island Chateau of Chillon and lakeside vineyards. There’s also a scheduled visit to Swiss Vapeur Parc in Le Bouveret, Switzerland’s largest miniature railway, with its exceptional steam locomotives and intricately engineered layout right next to the lake. During the afternoon there’s plenty of free time for you to see more of the lake or the surrounding region using your complimentary Swiss Travel pass rover. Dinner this evening will be at the Hotel Astra. (B D)
Wednesday 4th September
Mountain magnificence at Rochers de Naye and Mont Pelerin; freedom to explore Western Switzerland with complimentary rover ticket
After breakfast you ascend Rochers de Naye by rack railway from nearby Montreux. Rising 2042 metres above sea level, it is the highest panoramic peak at Lake Geneva. You’ll have reserved seats on the mountain railway and upon reaching the summit may enjoy sweeping 360 degree views of the lake and the Alps. You return to Montreux before mid-day and then have the rest of the afternoon to spend at leisure on the Swiss Riviera or anywhere you wish to go with your complimentary national network rover ticket. One attractive option is the funicular to Mont Pelerin, which is located near our hotel and leads through the terraced vineyards above Vevey. Your tour manager will be pleased to advise you of all the other opportunities too. (B)
Thursday 5th September
Glacier Express route to Zermatt, Gornergrat Railway and Matterhorn
Today you cap your highlight in fine style by visiting the famed resort town of Zermatt and seeing Switzerland’s most famous mountain, the majestic Matterhorn. Towering 4478 metres above sea level, this magnificent, pyramid shaped pinnacle is surrounded by glaciers and a sea of ice. From Vevey you first take the IC service through the scenic Rhone Valley to Visp, before changing onto an MGB narrow gauge train and travelling on the spectacular route of the famed Glacier Express to Zermatt. This car-free resort is lined by classic chalets and stone churches. You then take the impressively engineered Gornergrat rack railway up to the namesake terminus at an elevation of 3089 metres. From the Gornergrat summit lodge you can enjoy an incredible 360 degree panorama, including views over to Italy. You may spend as much time at the summit as you like and also on the downhill trip have the option of alighting at the intermediate calling point Riffelalp, to travel on the short, local tramway (Europe’s highest) and sample some of the different viewpoints there. By late afternoon you return by MGB and SBB trains from Zermatt via Visp to Vevey, having enjoyed another (literal) high point of the holiday. (B)
Friday 6th September
Over the Golden Pass in Pullman coaches; legendary Blue Arrow railcar; Bern steam tram
A tour highlight awaits today as you travel in sumptuous style on the iconic ‘Golden Pass Classic’ train in elegant ‘Belle Epoque’ Pullman coaches over the route of the same name. From Montreux via Gstaad to Zweisimmen, the train climbs to the highest point of the entire Golden Pass line, near Saanenmöser, at 1279 metres. In Zweisimmen you make an exclusive connection onto the BLS ‘Blue Arrow’, a 1930s streamlined railcar. This private charter takes you through the scenic Simmental Valley to Spiez, then along Lake Thun to Bern. There’ll be several photo stops and you can also sit next to the driver in the cab of the ‘Blue Arrow’, with total VIP access from the front and back vestibules. You reach the Swiss capital city of Bern in early afternoon and have time to enjoy refreshments and sightseeing at your own leisure before enjoying a private charter journey on the iconic 1894 Bern steam tram. The green tramway locomotive hauls an open balcony coach on a relaxing sightseeing tour of the city’s most famous landmarks. More photo opportunities and a stop at the local depot are included. In the late afternoon you return to Vevey by SBB service train on the scenic route via the Lavaux vineyards. (B)
Saturday 7th September
Steam at the Blonay-Chamby heritage railway and Les Pleiades Mountain Railway
Today you’ll visit the outstanding railway museum at Blonay-Chamby, one of the largest private collections of historic rolling stock in Switzerland. You enjoy a private steam charter over the entire Blonay-Chamby heritage line, with numerous photo stops and run-pasts, including the curved, stone-arched viaduct, Switzerland’s equivalent of Glenfinnan. Then a First Class private electric railcar takes you via Cornaux back to Blonay, where you take the steeply graded rack railway to the summit of Les Pleiades, for lunch at a typical Swiss chalet, replete with magnificent views down onto Lake Geneva. After returning to Vevey by mid afternoon there is more free time to use your Swiss Pass rover ticket for local or countrywide discovery or to take the paddle steamer for a sunset cruise. (B L)
Sunday 8th September
French Alpine Railways and Mont Blanc
The grandeur of Europe’s highest peak awaits you today, as you travel via Martigny and Vallorcine to Chamonix, the Alpine capital of France and host city of the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924. In Chamonix you change onto the famed ‘Little Red Train’ and climb up to the Montenvers-Mer de Glace, overcoming no less than 1000 metres in altitude differential in just about 20 minutes. At the glacier station you’ll have breath-taking views of the French Alps. After lunchtime refreshments at the top, you return back to Chamonix, where there’ll be free time to explore the town before you return to Vevey on the Mont Blanc Express through the Trient Valley. (B)
Monday 9th September
Mountain Railway to Les Diablerets and Glacier 3000
After breakfast you’ll travel by privately chartered 1914 vintage train on the superb Aigle – Le Sépey – Les Diablerets (ASD) line. Marvel at the amazing scenery in the heart of the Swiss Alps as you go off the beaten path, and journey through terraced hills and past the impressive Aigle Castle before ascending the mountains on the narrow-gauge branch line and crossing two major viaducts. Along the way your train will stop for scenic photo and film opportunities. Upon arrival at the mountain village of Les Diablerets you transfer the short distance to Col-du-Pillon. There you join the amazing Glacier 3000 cable car to take you up to a spectacular world of snow and ice. You can make the unique peak walk on the world’s first suspension footbridge spanning two summits or simply relax at the comfortable lodge and enjoy the grand panorama. In the early afternoon you descend back to Les Diablerets and then take the private vintage train back to Aigle. Upon arrival at Aigle, you might also want to take the local rack railway up Leysin, for another spectacular journey through vineyards and over stone-arched viaducts. It all provides a fitting conclusion to a tour of many (literal) high points. (B)
Tuesday 10th September
Return to London
You return to London on TGV and Eurostar via Geneva and Paris. (B)
All prices shown are per person.
Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner