Snow in May, on the shores of Lake Geneva? At least, that’s what it looks like when thousands of daffodils turn the hills above Montreux into a white sea of flowers. Let your gaze sweep across Lake Geneva as you walk past pastures and forests.
This thematic walk should be done in the spring (May to June). That’s when blossoming daffodils turn the hillsides above Vevey and Montreux into a white sea of flowers. The area looks as if it had just snowed. As a result, locals also call this rare phenomenon “Neige de Mai” or May Snow. It draws large numbers of visitors to the shores of Lake Geneva every year. A nature trail on the subject of daffodils starts at Les Avants. The village with its air of Belle Epoque is one of Switzerland’s oldest winter sports resorts. Along the path you'll find signs explaining what's around you. This way, hikers can better understand the geology, flora and fauna of the scenery they're passing through.
Start walking uphill, listening as you go for the rattling of the Belle Époque funicular in the background. From Sonloup, the route alternates between forests and meadows, and the views change constantly. One moment you're walking under the Dent de Jaman, next you're going across a meadow looking towards Les Pléiades and then a meadow overlooking Les Avants, before reaching a summit from where you can see out over Caux and its palace. There's also a bench from where you can admire the Dents du Midi and Lake Geneva. Half-way through the loop you'll find the Cubly viewpoint, which takes in all these views to offer a 360° panorama from the Jura to the Chablais, with Lake Geneva below. Of course, you will also pass several meadows covered with daffodils on this circular trail. Sometimes only a few of them are scattered across the fields. On other parcels of land, they grow more densely.
During the Belle Epoque, daffodils were a symbol of the Vaud Riviera, marking the end of every tourist season. Between 1897 and 1957, this was celebrated with a grandiose daffodil festival, which saw international orchestras performing and flower parades with decorated floats moving through the streets. The festival was one of the first major cultural events in Montreux. Well-heeled winter spa guests and day-trippers would take home boxes full of daffodils. Such a thing would be unthinkable today because there are fewer daffodil meadows. Compared to the 1960s, there has been a 70-80% decrease; as a result, wildflowers are protected.