Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

Rising up behind our hotel in Weggis was the impressive Mount Rigi – an iconic image of the skyline of the Lucerne area and renowned as the Queen Of The Mountains. The Rigi area has been a tourist paradise for many years now and really took off as a travel destination in Victorian times when the Victorian concepts of health and beauty led the well heeled to search for places in which they could relax and nurture their souls! Queen Victoria herself was carried up the mountain in a sedan chair in 1868 (spare a thought for the porters!) so she could spend the night at the hotel at Rigi Kulm and awake to a glorious sunrise. She would not however have seen the TV tower perched on the top of the mountain as this was obviously not constructed until much later – by Swisscom in 1958 to be precise!

Indeed the Romantic poets and painters of the nineteenth century were quite obsessed with the beauty of this area and it provided inspiration for many of their works. As early as 1814 the poet Shelley, who was a great admirer of the Alps, visited the area with his companion, Mary Godwin, who wrote of their stay in the Lucerne area, “this lovely lake, these sublime mountains and wild forests, seemed a fit cradle for a mind aspiring to high adventure and heroic deeds”. I also discovered that the famous British painter JMW Turner was fascinated by the Rigi landscape and painted it no less than 30 times. The wonderful lighting effects that he observed created inspiration for some beautiful works of art, Blue Rigi, Red Rigi and Dark Rigi amongst others. The Blue Rigi : Sunrise (1841/2) has pride of place in an exhibition currently being held at the Tate Gallery entitled, Tate Britain, “Late Turner:Painting Set Free” . This retrospective is a collection of Turner’s work from 1835 when he turned 60 up to 1850, the year in which his final work was exhibited.

Now I am certainly neither a painter or a poet but I do love to take photos so, as I’ve been lucky enough to make the ascent to the top of Rigi Kulm several times, I have now amassed quite a collection. All were taken at the same time of year in April and the differences in weather, temperature and conditions are very interesting. On our recent trip this year we were hardly able to see anything. As soon as we reached the summit a sudden fog descended and the temperature plummeted a good 10 to 15 degrees in a matter of seconds.

 

I should also add that although it is possible to walk up and down the mountain (or ski in the colder months) Monsieur Le Chic and I took the cogwheel railway up to the summit at Rigi Kulm. There are in fact a number of options available. Accessibility was greatly increased by the opening of the first cogwheel railway in Europe in 1871, which went from Vitznau on Lake Lucerne up to the summit station at Rigi Kulm (1798 metres above sea level). The little red train is still operating – no need to take a sedan chair up to the top anymore! On the Lake Lucerne side you can also take the cable car from Weggis to Rigi Kaltbad and then connect with the railway for the last section up to the summit. Coming from the other side of the mountain in the direction of Lakes Zug and Lauerz, you can take the blue cogwheel railway from Arth-Goldau all the way up to the top. All of these travel options are free with the Swiss Pass otherwise a return ticket costs 68 Euros full price and 34 Euros half price (concessions are available).

Checking the weather forecast but sometimes going ahead with the planned trip anyway can pay dividends. Last year we just about had the place to ourselves as the damp misty weather at lakeside level had put most tourists off from making the Rigi ascent. On this occasion we could enjoy the 360 degree panorama at the top where views stretch out towards the Alps proper (technically Rigi is part of the Swiss Plateau not the Alps). We could gaze across to the Saint Gotthard Massif and the Eiger and Jungfrau many miles away. However due to the heavy clouds at lower lying levels, it looked as though we were floating about on a sea of cotton wool.

The previous year was quite spectacular! It had been a very cold winter and there was still heavy snow at the summit. You could see exactly why this is a paradise for winter sport lovers with skiing, sledging and Nordic cross country skiing all very popular. In the summer the hikers come out to enjoy the wonderful panoramic views and the benefits of walking in the clear mountain air.

You never know what to expect up at the top of Rigi which adds to its fascination!

Sudden snowstorm on Rigi Kulm during one of our visits there

Sudden snowstorm on Rigi Kulm during one of our visits there

There are plenty of facilities at the top too – the Rigi Kulm Hotel has an excellent cafe style restaurant and there is a well stocked souvenir shop and kiosk too just in case it’s warm enough for a quick ice cream whilst waiting for the train back down the mountain! We have never stayed overnight at the hotel so haven’t experienced a “Red Rigi” sunset or sunrise though we have certainly seen Dark Rigi and Blue Rigi if you are referring to the azure colour of the skies on a clear day. However on the cable car descent we did down into the pretty little town of Weggis, we saw the beautiful light that must have inspired Turner to paint Blue Rigi. It is somewhere between a soft hazy blue, lilac and grey and the effect over the shimmering waters of Lake Lucerne against the backdrop of the mountains is truly magical.

On one of our descents I spotted my Traumhaus (Dream House). However Monsieur Le Chic feels it would be too impractical to live there not to mention considerably out of our price range! I can dream on!

My dream house on Rigi Mountain

My dream house on Rigi Mountain

Copyright © 2014 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

18 thoughts on “Rigi – Queen Of The Mountains

  1. RosemaryK says:

    It certainly looks like a lovely place – but I would prefer the blue skies!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Rosemary lovely to see you here! It certainly is a lovely place especially when the sun shines and the sky is cloudless – the weather can change rather suddenly as you can see!

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  2. Amazing photographs Rosemary – it is simply stunning – not surprising Turner was so taken with it. I love that house too!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joy it is well worth a visit and is a stunning place in any weather in my book! There are also lots of activities up there hiking trails, kids playgrounds, barbecues even some mineral spa baths so there’s plenty for everyone to do. The house is gorgeous isn’t it – imagine the views sitting on the veranda or indoors in front of a log fire in the winter with a nice glass of wine?!:)

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  3. Hi Rosemary! What a beautiful place. Now, I miss winter, skiing and show. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a lovely place Hanne so beautiful and relaxing! It would be reminiscent of Norway I would think too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. restlessjo says:

    Those mountains in the mists shots are glorious, Rosemay! Not that I’m really envious- I prefer to look from a warm vantage point 🙂 My eyes can see its beauty but my body doesn’t have to suffer the temperature. I love the little cog railways too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jo 🙂 I know that is the beauty of travel blogs you can be transported away to lots of lovely places without actually going there yourself – I love looking at everyone’s photos and imagining what it would be like to be there! The hotel restaurant was warm and toasty so we could repair there and have a hot drink afterwards out of the mist and damp! Cogwheel railways are wonderful and the Swiss do them so well! 🙂

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  5. I’d rather like to try that train ascent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s well worth doing Andrew – great scenery and views (most of the time)!

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  6. The views are spectacular from there ! I would choose the train option as well I think, to be able to enjoy the scenery 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes the views are wonderful Gin – you’re in Central Switzerland so you get a wide panorama both towards the high Alps and back into Germany and France (on a clear day). The train journey is lovely and you get a real feel of what it must be like living up the mountain – Rigi is so beautiful! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. colibrist says:

    Wonderful landscapes! It is funny to see a ‘sea cloud’ under the mountains… And I see why that house is your dream house! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Laia! I know it was amazing – as we went up in the train you couldn’t see anything for a while as the scenery was obscured by the fog and the visibility was poor. We began to wonder if we’d done the right thing in setting out but then it suddenly cleared and there was sunshine and blue skies at the top. The effect with the clouds beneath us was incredible. Yes it would be a wonderful house so beautiful but it would be a problem getting up there in the winter I think! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. avibrantday says:

    Thank you for the continuation of the Weggis story. It’s great fun to get to “travel” along with you in your story. Your dream house does look idyllic! Can you imagine? Well, it’s fun to imagine… Hope you have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome Jacqueline I’m glad you enjoyed the second instalment of the Weggis story! That’s the idea to have people “travel” along with me (I love reading other people’s stories too!)- the train ride up the mountain is something very special 🙂 I know the dream house does look idyllic – I think it’s great fun to imagine living somewhere like that. Of course halfway up the mountain in the middle of winter probably wouldn’t be too practical but that’s not the point! It’s such fun to imagine staying there! Wishing you a great weekend too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lucy says:

    Wow, what a gorgeous place! Lovely shots! ❤

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    1. Thanks Lucy it’s a very beautiful part of the world – Mount Rigi is very special! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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