This July, jazz fans can indulge their musical passion at Montreux's famous lakeside festival. Afterwards, explore Geneva's stunning Old Town or head to the nearby mountains
The 50th edition of Montreux Jazz Festival, held from 1 to 16 July on the shores of Lake Geneva, features more than 300 concerts across eight stages. Highlights of the musically diverse line-up include sessions by Neil Young, Van Morrison, PJ Harvey and Lana Del Ray, jazz workshops with the likes of Quincy Jones and Eric Harland, and world music performers from Africa and Brazil. Emerging talent shares the bill with returning veterans, and many events at venues such as Music in the Park and the Rock Cave (an underground club for fans of rocknroll, or soul and funk) are free.
The lakefront promenade, Montreux
Music fans at the Jazz Festival
Jazz Festival aside, Montreux's other big music connection is Freddie Mercury, who came here with his band Queen since the late 1970s to record hits at the Mountain Studios in Montreux Casino. Today, the memory of him is kept alive with a three-metre-tall statue in front of the old covered market on the waterfront, while the Queen Studio Experience is a chance for fans to see handwritten notes and other paraphernalia, and mix tracks in the studio where the band recorded seven bestselling albums (the late David Bowie, Iggy Pop and the Rolling Stones have all recorded here, too).
Freddie Mercury's statue in Montreux
An hours drive away, on the other side of the lake, Mandarin Oriental, Geneva is ideally placed. Once guests have had their fill of musical action, they can explore Geneva's pretty hilltop Old Town, which is centred around the pedestrian Place du Bourg-de-Four and the Saint-Pierre cathedral. It's worth climbing the 157 steps to the main tower for splendid views of the lake below, where yellow water taxis ferry passengers from one side to the other and the impressive Jet d'Eau fountain pushes thousands of litres of water 140 metres into the air every second.
Winding cobbled streets and narrow passages are filled with coffee shops, antique dealers, art galleries, delis selling chocolate and cheese, and independent fashion boutiques. For designer shopping, head to Rue du Rhône, where you'll find Gucci and MaxMara among the high-end jewellery and watch brands. Swiss clock making has its roots here and anyone interested in learning about the history of timepieces can visit the Patek Philippe Museum, where key exhibits include an astronomical watch dating from the 1660s.
A lakeside festival bar
Geneva is also the gateway to the Alps. Salève mountain, just across the border in France, is only a short drive away and perfect for hiking, paragliding, and summer picnics. Alternatively, head for Saint-Cergue, part of the Jura mountain range, where you can go mountain biking or summer tobogganing. Once you've worked up an appetite, return to Mandarin Oriental, Geneva for gastronomic options ranging from Indian at Rasoi by Vineet to cuisine from southern France at Café Calla's summer pop-up, La Riviera.