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By Lisa Gibson, http://misswissbliss.wordpress.com/

Winter is upon us and it’s that time of the year when we love nothing more than going up into the mountains to enjoy the snow. It’s all about taking full advantage of fun outdoor winter activities such as tobogganing, snow shoe hiking or simply trudging through the thick snow and enjoying the fresh air.

You don’t even need to make a trip to one of the far flung resorts to enjoy these winter past times – in fact, a short 20 minute trip from Montreux is all it takes to reach one of the regions lesser-known gems: the town of Les Avants.

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Situated at 1 000 meters, directly above Montreux, Les Avants was once one of Switzerland’s first ski resorts. However these days it’s better known as a playground for toboggan enthusiasts.

Home to only around 300 people, it’s a wonderful place to visit in both summer and winter. During the summer months, it is a hikers paradise, with trails leading up to the impressive Col de Jaman. During April and May, the meadows bloom with the white narcissi flower. But it’s during the winter months that Les Avants is most beautiful as it transforms into a white wonderland.

Each year, from 15th December until 15th March (dependent on snow conditions) the Orgevaux/Sonloup road is closed to local traffic and becomes a 2.5 km sled run; open daily between 9.00 and 11.30 and again between 13.30 and 16.30. The funicular takes people up to the start of the run where they can sled all the way down to the Les Avants railways station below. It’s even possible to enjoy a spot of night sledding! For more info, visit: http://www.lesavants.ch/pages/lugedetails.html

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There is something quite special about walking through the town and trying to imagine it in its heyday as a popular ski resort and the one-time winter residence of the late Ernest Hemmingway. A walk in the forest, which lies above the town (take the funicular to Sonloup station) is just magical and the views of the surrounding mountains and trees sprinkled in white are simply breath taking.

The perfect day trip from the Lausanne/Geneva region, Les Avants can be reached easily by car or alternatively, with the Golden Pass Panoramic train. The train is definitely the recommended option, especially for visitors, as the panoramic windows make for incredible views of the winter wonderland scenery.

For more information, including hiring costs for sleds, run opening times, snowshoe walk routes and funicular train prices visit: http://www.montreuxriviera.com/en/culture_leisure/Wintersports_en/sledging_en/Les_avants_en

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Getting there:

By train: From Montreux, take the Golden Pass Panoramic train in the direction of Gstaad and get off at Les Avants. Information and schedule available at www.goldenpass.ch

By car: From Geneva/Lausanne, take the main highway and get off at the Montreux exit. Follow the signs along the way for Les Avants.

Author's bio

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Originally from South Africa, Lisa Gibson moved to Switzerland in 2011 with her fiancé and has enjoyed every minute of this adventure. Currently based in Lausanne, she's a freelance and feature writer. She started her personal blog as a means of documenting her travels (both in Switzerland and around the rest of Europe) and as a way to share the expat experience with friends and family back home.
 
Lisa's love for Switzerland goes back to when she first visited as a teenager more than 15 years ago - so living here has been like a childhood dream come true! As an adult, her love affair with Switzerland continues… she loves exploring the region and discovering the lesser-known gems, often not mentioned in the tourism brochures.
 
The saying “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” could not be more true for her.
 
http://misswissbliss.wordpress.com/