If you've ever wanted to marry in the mountains then think about getting married in Switzerland. Caroline Bishop discovers a Swiss mountain that makes perfect marriage material.
Sitting in a restaurant at the top of a mountain, drinking Swiss wine and listening to live music while the surrounding peaks turned pink with the setting sun, it occurred to me: the only thing missing was a marriage proposal.
Unfortunately, there was no one there to propose to me; but I doubt I’m the first to think it. There’s something about the Swiss Alps that inspire romance.
– the stylish revolving restaurant perched on the Stanserhorn, a short journey from the city of Lucerne in central Switzerland – does not have a marriage licence, but if you bring a party of 50 or more, you can have it all to yourselves, making it ideal for a wedding reception.
Your guests would be impressed even before they arrive. Ascending the 1,900m summit involves taking a mountain train from the valley town of Stans before embarking upon the new CabriO cable car. Much excitement surrounded the CabriO when it opened in June 2012 because – as it understandably likes to boast – it’s a first in the world of cable cars: it has an open top. Taking its name from the cabriolet, this convertible gondola allows you to swoop silently to the top of the Stanserhorn with nothing to obstruct your view but the wind in your face and the sun in your eyes (vertigo sufferers beware). And what a view: Lake Lucerne sprawls in the valley, dotted with paddlesteamers and sail boats. An unusual shape, the lake’s limbs clutch at the base of mountains while Lucerne, Stans and other small towns bathe in the sunshine that floods the plains on this October day.
At the top, the 360-degree panorama impresses further. One side of the summit overlooks the other famous mountains of Lake Lucerne – Rigi, Pilatus and Titlis (at 3,020m, the daddy of the area) – while the opposite direction boasts a view of the formidable Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau of the Interlaken region. Our host points out the Burgenstock, the mountain where Hollywood icons Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren married their respective partners. It’s not hard to see why they chose such a spot.
is open to visitors from April to November, and on this hazy autumnal afternoon the place is buzzing. Some wander the easy walking trail around the summit, while others relax with an aperitif on the spacious terrace, which sports a viewing platform jutting out over a gulp-inducing drop. Inside, the Rondorama offers hearty Swiss specialities such as creamy pumpkin soup, bratwurst and alpermagronen – macaroni cheese served in a fondue pot with apple sauce – for lunch and dinner. And there’s no need to worry about the revolve – it’s slow enough not to upset your (probably very full) stomach.
Your only distraction will be your camera. The mountains look different at every time of day, our host tells us, and he’s proved right. As the sun disappears, the horizon shimmers with an orangey glow and the peaks make dark shapes in the encroaching night, candyfloss clouds sitting lightly on their summits. As I rapidly fill up my memory card, I can only imagine just how stunning a backdrop this would make for a wedding album.
Lucerne is one hour’s train ride from Zurich airport. Fly to Zurich with carriers including EasyJet, BA and Swiss. To reach the Stanserhorn, take a 20-minute train to Stans from Lucerne followed by the CabriO. SwissPass
allows unlimited travel on train, bus and boat for the selected number of days, and a discounted rate on the CabriO.
Eating in Switzerland is not for the faint-hearted. As one traveller we met commented, “in Switzerland you eat like you’re about to fight a bear”. Cheese, potatoes and rich sauces are staples, with dishes including fondue, rosti, raclette and alpermagronen served in bear-fighting portions. Test out your appetite at
in Lucerne, which offers simple, tasty fare in rustic surroundings.
On Friday and Saturday nights the CabriO runs until 11pm, so your guests can descend the mountain and continue the festivities in pretty Lucerne. Stay at the four-star Hotel des Balances
, centrally located in the old town on the lakeside. A family-run, ultra-modern hotel within an historic building, it has a friendly feel without skimping on luxury, while the downstairs bar/restaurant is open to non-guests too. However hard you party, don’t miss the fantastic breakfast (with optional champagne). Their ‘Romance Package’ starts from CHF390.
By Caroline Bishop
, freelance travel journalist. Follow her
See Switzerland Marriage Laws here.