Chateau de Chillon
After spending our first full day in Switzerland visiting Santa high atop a mountain, I was a bit worried that we would fail to capture everyone’s attention again for the remainder of the trip. Fortunately, I underestimated Chateau de Chillon. After breakfast in our apartment, we headed down to the lakeshore to walk to this fairytale castle and inspiration behind Prince Eric’s home in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. This simple walk along the wide trail took us about twenty minutes, and was one of my most favorite memories from the entire trip. It provided some of the most beautiful views of my life. We passed few others out walking at that hour, and so we had it to ourselves to soak in and skip along and stop to admire swans. And for once we did not seek to fill the silence. The awesome majesty of this place had us all a bit mesmerized.
Upon arriving at the chateau, we used our Swiss Travel Pass for “free” admission and began our exploration of this amazing castle. The chateau is actually built on a rock island just off of the shore of Lake Geneva, and the floors were built around giant slabs of rock jutting up through the surface. This just had to be one of the most interesting features of any castle yet. There were great exhibits throughout, and a special interactive children’s exhibit sprinkled in various rooms that truly captured the kids’ attention as they learned all about food in the Middle Ages. They also listened intently to all of the videos. And when the stories were of prisoners in the dungeon and old, stone toilets, I can understand why they were so fascinated. For once, Dennis and I had to wait on them to be ready to leave a room.
Unlike some castles that provide a fun, yet empty shell for exploration, the Chateau de Chillon was a hands-on learning environment full of intrigue and magic. From their website, it seems as if they do many fun learning experiences, and a fantastic medieval Christmas market on one December weekend. While we missed these extras on our off-season Thursday, we ran into few others, which also has its perks. They also produce their own wine, which you can purchase onsite. If the weather had been more favorable, I would have purchased some for a light-hearted picnic on the small beach right outside the walls. Next time.