The Château de Chillon is a famous castle in Switzerland. Located just outside of Montreux, the first written record of its existence is in 1150. At the time, it was controlled by the Counts of Savoy.
In 1536, it was conquered by the Bernese, who later abandoned it for “comfier” lodgings.
It became the property of the Canton of Vaud upon its foundation in 1803.
The castle is perhaps best known for the visit Lord Byron paid in 1816 and the resulting poem, The Prisoner of Chillon, inspired by inmate François Bonivard (1496-1570).
But I didn’t care about any of that.
Disney used it as the inspiration for Prince Eric’s Castle in The Little Mermaid.
And because The Little Mermaid was my favorite childhood film (and if you put me on the spot, I’d say it still is), visiting this castle has been a lifelong goal of mine – if by lifelong goal, I’m allowed to mean since I found out about the castle last summer.
Meaning, I wanted to stretch out our arrival and time there to the longest amount of time possible.
We took the train into Montreux, and from there you can take the local S-Bahn train, a boat, a bus, or, my preferred method, on foot. Four kilometers from Montreux (45 minutes), you can follow a lake-side “flower path” the whole way to the castle.
Beautiful weather and stunning scenery – this definitely felt like the right way to travel.
Despite the castle’s famous interior, my favorite views were of the outer defenses, the inner courtyards, and the underground (where François Bonivard was imprisoned and where they now make their own wine!).
Only the castle’s exterior was used in The Little Mermaid.
We extended our time at the castle by buying a bottle of Clos de Chillon and enjoying it in the nearby park. We also wandered a ways past the castle, toward Villeneuve to get the true Little Mermaid angle.
There’s a lovely dock a short walk away with perfect views of the castle.
Afterward, we dipped our toes in mermaid water and made our way back to Montreux for some free music and expensive street food – it is the Montreux Jazz Festival after all!