Villages of Gstaad valley (Saanenland, Pays d'Enhaut):
The economic and cultural centre of the whole area is world
known and has a magic attraction on everybody. The lovely
village offers an open-air shopping experience with an attractive
offer for all budgets. Since autumn 1997, a bypass allowed
to establish a large pedestrian zone and take out traffic
from the village centre and thus make it even more attractive.
is the capital of the district, seat of the administration
and marketplace. Wise laws and the typical Bernese slowness
have always put qualitative increase
before mass tourism and construction excesses. The church of St.Mauritius
from the 16th century became world famous as an ideal set-up for the classical
concerts of the musical summer. In the last few years many small and attractive
art studios, galleries and other handicraft artists have opened a business
in the well preserved village centre with its beautiful houses.
These two villages are considered the "sun deck" and "panoramic
terrace" of the region. They are located on about 1200
meters above sea level and are an ideal departure point for
the beautiful hiking network in summer and winter. Ski runs
and cross-country slopes are located in front of the doors.
Since summer 1995 there is a summer tobogganing run on Mount
Feutersoey and Gsteig
These two villages are located along the road to the Pillon-Pass ("Col du
Pillon") and have an impressive and terrific scenery in the background.
They are departure point for many long hikes in the area of the Sanetsch Pass
and the romantic Lake of Arnen ("Arnensee"). The nearby Diablerets-Glacier
attracts skiers and hikers both in winter and in summer. The centre of the village
of Gsteig with its church was put under protection. Gsteig and Feutersoey are
ideal places for people that are looking mainly for peace, rest and cosiness.
This mountain village is located in a wide valley 7 km from Gstaad. It
has a village centre with old wooden buildings and with a church of the
16th century. The natural reserve around the Lake of Lauenen (Lauenensee)
with its ponds, waterfalls and glaciers offers excellent rest in an intact
This village is already located in the French speaking canton of Vaud. It is
very sunny. Monks of the abbey of Cluny have founded a monastery and influenced
during more than 500 years the daily life of the inhabitants. Today the castle
and the beautiful church are a part of the picturesque village as well as the
wonderful old chalets. Rougemont has no through-traffic due to the bypass road
and is connected to the skiing area of Gstaad with the Videmanette gondola cabins.
This village is the capital of the French speaking district of Pays-d'Enhaut.
It is a mountain village where cosiness and old costumes are carefully preserved.
The local museum offers a wide range of art and daily utensils. The Hot Air Ballooning
Week in January has made the place known beyond the Swiss borders and attract
every year about 80 teams from all over the world for a peaceful competition.
The bypass road takes out of the village most traffic.
Besides the described major villages there are several other intact and idyllic
hamlets and settlements in the Saanenland and Pays d'Enhaut region: Bissen, Gruben,
Turbach, Kalberhöni, Flendruz, Rossinière and Grund. These places
often are departure points for hiking.
The vacation area of Gstaad - Saanenland including Pays d'Enhaut is located
at the German-French language border between Lake of Geneva and Lake
of Thun in an altitude of 900 to 3200 meters above sea level (2800 to
10000 feet). The villages of the area are all located on an ideal elevation
of 900 to 1200 meters.
Superb landscape, a mild climate, hardly any fog, major international events,
prominent guests from all four corners of the earth and an unbelievable variety
of leisure opportunities - no wonder that Gstaad and its neighbouring areas are
so well known far beyond Switzerland's borders. Thanks to excellent means of
transportation, the area can be reached in less than 2 hours from all major cities
and airports in the country both by road or by train. In Saanen there is even
an airport with customs services and where medium sized aircraft may land.
Despite the fact that the inhabitants of the Saanenland are German-speaking
Swiss, their mentality is much closer to Switzerland's French-speaking population.
There are historical reasons for this phenomenon. The Saanen area was once
part of the county of Gruyères, and was only passed on to the canton
of Berne when the count of Gruyères went bankrupt in 1555. With its
wide valley and gentle slopes the Saanenland enjoys above-average sunshine
- so that its region is often described as the "Sunny Country". This
may well explain why it was already a favoured area for convalescence, rest
and relaxation in the 17th century. Tourism really set in when the Montreux-Oberland
railroad was opened in 1905, providing a direct link between Montreux on the
Lake Geneva Gstaad on the west side and Zweisimmen/Interlaken on the east.
A further step, this time at international level, was taken in about 1920 when
the institute "Le Rosey" was opened, and also the Gstaad Palace Hotel.
Having spent their teens in Gstaad, many of the former Rosey students - children
of royal families, of major industrialists, politicians and businessmen, of
top people in show business - retained a lifelong attachment for this region.
The area was steadily but carefully developed in line with the needs of active
tourism. Between 1945 and 1970 the main focus was on opening up the region
with chair lifts, ski lifts, gondolas and cable cars. Today the visitors can
use with one ticket 69 means of transportation with 250 km ski runs of all
difficulties in 7 larger and 6 smaller skiing areas. Thanks to several partnerships
with other ski areas, the owners of a seasonal skiing ticket of Gstaad can
use it without extra charge in the skiing resorts Kitzbühel, St.Moritz,
Adelboden-Lenk, Alpes Vaudoises as well as in Ordino-Arcalis/Pal-Arinsal (Andorra).
Gstaad and Tradition
The hotels and houses in the Saanen style are in harmony with the surrounding
countryside. And the old trades have been retained, such as scissors
cutting, pottery, wood carving and alphorn making. Agriculture is - beside
tourism - an important pillar of the local economy, in fact, there are
more than 8000 cows in the area. The farmers still earn their living
with cattle breeding and dairy farming. They are proud of their meet
and dairy products that are exported in many countries of the world.
The Saanen Hobelkäse (local cheese) was already widely in demand
300 years ago. During the summer the cattle grazes in the high alpine
pastures, which means that in spring and in autumn visitors to the region
can watch the traditional festive ascent to or descent from the high
pastures - the farmers dressed in traditional costume and the cattle
adorned with flowers. Today the cattle and produce markets in Saanen,
Lauenen and Gsteig are more popular than ever.
Events in the Gstaad Region
Several events have made the area of Gstaad and Saanenland famous
across the country's borders. Who doesn't know the ATP Swiss
Open Tennis Tournament, the International Hot Air Ballooning
Week of Château-d'Oex or the Yehudi Menuhin Festival with
excellent performances in classical music? Some of these events
have been established in the area for several decades and nobody
wants to miss them today as important social events. Besides
there are many other highlights of later origins, e.g. the Country
Night or the Cartier Polo Silver Cup in summer. In winter, sporting
events on the ski slopes and ice-rinks are organised.
Gastronomy and Nightlife
The Saanenland Gstaad aera is also strongholds of gastronomy
and entertainment. Many internationally renowned restaurants
and places with traditional local cuisine offer an extremely
varied delights. The nightlife of Gstaad offers a wider choice
than that of many larger cities. In about a dozen places, live
bands perform until the early morning hours. The offer satisfies
all kind of preferences.
Sports in the Gstaad Region
The sports available in the Saanenland throughout the year leave
little to be desired. In summer there are excellent walks, as
well as climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, golf and
tennis, but also paragliding, ballooning or whitewater rafting
and canoeing on the Saane river. In winter there is downhill
and cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering, snowboarding, curling,
ice-skating tobogganing and much more. Tennis, paragliding and
ballooning are available year-round. Other offers include squash,
heliskiing, summer tobogganing and horse-drawn carriages.
More History Gstaad Saanenland