It’s obvious that Claude Nobs didn’t spend too much time thinking about a name. A former cook-turned-tourism officer, he thought it would be a good idea for jazz musicians to play in a Swiss town called Montreux, and promptly founded a festival to make it happen. Half a century later, Nobs has passed but his nonchalance has a lot to do with why thousands of people will make their way to the 2017 festival from June 30 to July 15.
Here’s a suggestion: Don’t go just for the jazz. Sure, Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald played here. But Nina Simone and David Bowie have graced these stages in the past too, as have Prince and Radiohead. Explore the private listening zones at the Montreux Jazz Café @ EPFL, world-class wineries like Corniche Lavaux and La Cave Vevey-Montreux and the medieval Château de Chillon.
Go out of respect for the late Leonard Cohen, who opened the festival in 2013, allowing the sounds of his gorgeous “Hallelujah” to reverberate across the Alps. Stay at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace to feel like a movie star. And if you still need more reasons, know that this unpretentious event lets you get tipsy on the shore of Lake Geneva while listening to spectacular music. Be like Nobs; don’t overthink it.