Just like last year, this year we had to take our Dominik to a hockey camp in the mountain resort of Leysin in the canton of Vaud. And just like last year, the weather was not good enough for us to go hiking in the area. Last year we chose a visit to Swiss Vapeur Parc as plan B, this year we chose the cute Château d’Aigle. Maybe not as famous as the nearby Château de Chillon, but nonetheless very impressive – beautifully situated amidst vineyards and surrounded by the Alps. And fittingly, it houses a museum celebrating local winemaking.
By car: from Bern, take the A12 highway in the direction of Lausanne. At exit 14-La Veyre, keep in the left lane and follow signs E27/E62/A9 to Simplon/Gd-St-Bernard/Martigny/Montreux. Then take exit 17 towards Aigle/Ollon/Les Mosses and follow the signs for Aigle. There are 10 parking spaces in the immediate vicinity of the castle. Parking spaces are also available on Avenue du Chamossaire and in the Parking Chevron car park. From here, it is a 7-minute walk to the castle.
By public transport: An alternative bus service is currently operating instead of trains. Buses run from Montreux, gare (train station) every quarter of an hour. The ride to Aigle takes 26 minutes. The castle is a 15-minute walk from Aigle train station.
Opening hours and admission fees
From 1 July to 31 August, the castle is open Monday to Sunday 10:00-18:00.
From 1 April to 30 June, it is always open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00-18:00 (except Easter and Whit Monday). From 1 September to 31 March it is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00-17:00.
Admission: adults 11 francs, children 6-16 years 5 francs. Family admission: adults 11 francs, 1st child 5 francs, 2nd, and other children 3 francs.
Due to the many steps in the castle, the site is not suitable for people with reduced mobility, and dogs are not allowed in the castle premises.
Château d’Aigle – Aigle Castle
The oldest parts of the castle date back to the end of the 12th century, but its appearance has undergone many changes over the centuries. Its current appearance mostly dates from the Bernese occupation (1475-1798), when the Bernese first destroyed it during the siege and then largely rebuilt it.
After the 1798 Vaud Revolution, which ousted the Bernese and saw Vaud Canton proclaim its independence as a part of Switzerland, the castle was acquired by the town of Aigle. From 1804 to 1972, it was the location of the court and the prisons. The castle also served as the town’s poorhouse from 1804 to 1916. Since 1976, it has housed the Vaud Vine and Wine Museum, together with three rooms for receptions, banquets, and conferences.*
Although most of the castle has been restored inside and adapted for museum use, and there is very little of the period furniture, weapons, and other items that usually make castle visits interesting, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to excite any adventurous child. Especially if you can get up the spiral staircase to the tower and the outer fortifications.
Vine and Wine Museum
After paying the entrance fee, you will be given a plan (available in several languages), which you can use to explore the interior of the castle and the museum. The individual rooms are numbered and the plan tells you what they were used for before the winery museum was set up here.
The visit begins with a well-done 8-minute video showing an aerial view of the beauty of the region and the significance of the wine industry of the region. Equally interesting is the extensive and well-presented collection of wine labels. The museum contains both historical objects (such as giant wine presses) and modern interpretations of all elements related to winemaking. There are explanatory videos (in French with German subtitles), “laboratories“, many interactive displays, etc.
Quiz for kids
There is a quiz for children aged 7 – 11 years old, during which they have to find the right answers to 8 more or less tricky questions during a tour of the castle. Our children really enjoyed the quiz, but unfortunately, the ending was very disappointing. They thought that in the end there would be a small reward for completing the answers correctly (like the Kambly Entdeckerpfad, or recently in Ticino on the top of Cardada). I can definitely see room for improvement here on the part of the museum’s marketing – after all, if I do something for children, I’ll see it through to the end, to the satisfaction of even the smallest customers, right?
- About a 1 1/2 hour visit of the castle, worth a visit on a rainy day.
- The wine exhibition was interesting – not too detailed or technical to bore (either children or adults).
- Aigle Castle is like a Chillon Castle on a smaller scale, but a much less touristy place, which is only to the benefit of the cause. So avoid the crowds at Chillon Castle and visit this gem instead.
*source: visitor guide