Belle Epoque & GoldenPass Panoramic train Journey
Belle Epoque and GoldenPass Panoramic train journey is one of those hard to forget and definitely to add to your bucket list
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Switzerland? Well, this picturesque country with a rich history is known for many reasons, but for us, it’s surely the natural beauty, the picture-perfect snow-capped Alps mountains, its crystal clear, gleaming lakes, and mesmerizing views all around, that makes to the top of the list.
There is arguably no better way to explore these fantastic vistas than taking a train ride. You just sit and relax as the massive windows reveal all the majestic glory of mother nature. The ride between Montreux and Zweisimmen is considered to be one of the most spectacular journeys in Switzerland as the train takes you through some of the most scenic areas of the country.
If you take the train from Montreux, the journey starts not far from the shores of the grand Lake Leman. The train passes through the town dominated by traditional French architecture. If that along with the shimmering waters of Lake Leman were not enough, the majestic and towering Alps all around make it into an ideal romantic destination. As the train ascends constantly you pass through the beautiful houses scattered around between wine yards. Before you know, you find yourself in the Alps forest with the melting snow getting thicker the higher you get.
There are two ways to undertake this unforgettable journey, both unique and fabulous in their own ways. Luckily, you do not have to choose one or the other. You can absolutely have the best of both.
If you are a fan of Hogwarts express or the good old glamour of orient express, you will definitely love Belle Epoque. Its comfortable, classy sofas, wooden interior with golden details, and the carpets remind you of a grand hotel. Belle Epoque transports you to a golden era long gone. The moment you step inside it, it feels like walking into a movie set from the black-and-white cinema era. The passing villages and small towns with their lovingly cared for and preserved wooden architecture accentuate this whole aura of traveling back in time. Well, you can’t be teleported to the past via time machine but you certainly can get on board a Belle Epoque.
If unobstructed views of all that mother nature has bestowed upon Switzerland, is what you are interested in then it can’t get any better than the GoldenPass Panoramic train journey. They were introduced in the 60s and their popularity has not diminished. It makes perfect sense to have panoramic windows in a landscape dominated by soaring mountains all around. However, rest assured that it does not mean you are giving up on any luxury and comfort.
We left Montreux via Belle Epoque in the morning on a clear sunny day in early February. These carriages are new but have been designed on the pattern of their century-old predecessors with meticulous attention to detail. It’s like riding on a close relative of the legendary Orient-Express. The train ascended higher and higher as it passed by the Mediterranean style wine-yards scattered among houses and buildings. We left the lake Leman further and further below until we started to see snow around. Now the landscape changed as we entered the thick alpine forests. We passed through small sleepy villages and got off at Gstaad as recommended by our guides and train staff.
Our stay in Gstaad was quite short but this town certainly deserves a lot more time and attention. It is the playground for the high society for a long time just as it is now. The very well-kept wooden traditional buildings all around are a feast for the eyes. The high-end designer shops housed in elegant century-old wooden buildings remind you of the town’s upper-class clientele. There is plenty to do here all year round which gives you another reason to come back here.
We headed back to the station to take the Panoramic train this time to continue our journey. The train passed through several small towns nestled among the giant mountains. Sometimes, the hype of a place or a journey pushes your expectations so high that the experience itself becomes a little underwhelming. That certainly was not the case for us. Switzerland managed to surpass all our expectations.
The train finally dropped us off at its final destination, Zweisimmen. It’s a rather small town and seemed far less touristic. It does not take long to get out of the village. The beautiful building of the station itself sits on the edge of the town. We did a short walk by the local river and passed through a small village. An old man strolling outside his house waved at us with a smile. We wondered how would it feel like to live in this distant part of the country. Distant it might be yet it’s very well connected through the efficient trains that leave the platform at regular intervals.
We headed back to Montreux as the train took us once again through the breath-taking beauty of Switzerland. Some young teenagers got off the train at a stop that did not seem to have a lot of habitation around. We saw them laughing and joking around as they walked away from the train.
As we disembarked from the train back in Montreux, we felt grateful to have done this journey. It was one of the most unforgettable train journeys we have done and we are sure that this will be a hard one to top. A must-do if you ever get a chance to be in Switzerland.