Zermatt is very plush. It feels like the Ritz of the Alps. There are some really posh hotels, horse-drawn carriages and very expensive restaurants! There are also some really quaint parts of the town, with cobbled streets and old wooden chalets and huts. The imposing Matterhorn watches over Zermatt and can be seen from most places in the town.
Zermatt is car free, and picture postcard perfect. Unsurprisingly then, there are lots of coachloads arriving every day. The coaches (and cars) must stop in Tasch, which is one village down the valley from Zermatt, and a train takes visitors from Tasch to Zermatt. I always feel smug when the day-trippers leave and we get to stay the night and have the place to ourselves, just like in Pisa 🙂
Without wanting to racially profile anyone, I noticed that that Zermatt was very popular for Chinese tourists. And the shops had obviously noticed the same thing – selling souvenir T-shirts with Chinese logos on (and English, but no other languages), souvenir books in Chinese, and several signs in shop windows in Chinese. I guess they know their audience. It does feel a tad ruining for me – if I go to Switzerland I want to see stuff in the local language. I don’t really want to see stuff in Chinese. Or English! I mean, fine do a few tourist menus but make it subtle so we can enjoy Switzerland as it should be.
We explored Hinterdorf, which is the old-town which was interesting. It comprises run down old wooden huts, some of which were storage barns for crops or animal huts.
After a mostly sunny holiday we were astonished to wake up one morning to heavy snow! Luckily we had packed for most eventualities so we were able to smugly walk around in waterproofs and thick jumpers. My BF attempted to start a new trend by tying plastic bags over his shoes to keep them dry… it didn’t catch on.
We sat in McDonalds (yes there is a McDonalds there, and it’s more in our budget!!) watching the snow fall. I was surprised that the snowploughs didn’t come out straight away, but as soon as there was a lull in the snow they came out in force.
We then watched a shocking incident – builders on scaffolding 3 stories up were just sweeping heaps of snow off their canvas onto the street below. Obviously stupid, and an accident waiting to happen, which did indeed happen when one of their massive heaps of snow fell 3 stories onto a poor man walking below. The stupidity of the builders was balanced out by the sweetness of the shopkeepers in the shops below who had seen what happened and kindly took it upon themselves to stand outside guiding pedestrians to walk on the other side of the street out of danger.
You can see the Matterhorn from most places in Zermatt. The Matterhorn is a very distinctive and dramatic looking mountain. It is possible to climb it, but it’s not advisable unless you are an accomplished climber. People die there every year, so it’s no walk in the park. There is even a base camp, which shows how serious it is. Obviously we went nowhere near it, but enjoyed it from a distance.
One day we walked up towards the Matterhorn – well, in that direction anyway. We walked up to Blatten, which is an old village of wooden huts, and that was a steep enough climb for me 😉
From Blatten we walked to Gorner Gorge which was a pleasant woodland walk. You have to pay a couple of CHF to go onto the gorge but there was no-one there taking money so we went in for free. I don’t feel bad as the amount we paid into the Zermatt economy more than makes up for it, and woodland walks should be free anyway!
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Beautiful post and a lovely piece on Zermatt. We were there for a couple of days as part of our summer Swiss trip and absolutely loved the place. Have been writing about Switzerland on the blog along with my first post on Zermatt just now so have a look. The gondolas up to Klein Matterhorn was something my daughter really loved. It’s truly a magical place. Cheers
Thanks 🙂 We didn’t go on the gondolas but I bet it was fun!
We spent a week in Zermatt a decade ago with friends for daily hikes. Challenging! It took a few days to realize that strength and endurance came bit by bit and the reward was a a hike the last day termed “strenuous” in the Swiss guide book that 4 of us managed. (Did I say that I could barely walk upon return to our hotel?) Still, the scenery and gratification have stayed with us and we deem it one of the best hiking spots ever.
Wow! It sounds like you really worked hard in that hike! You’re making me feel guilty, as we took the train up the mountainside… 🙂