Some History of the Gstaad Valley

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Villages of Gstaad valley (Saanenland, Pays d'Enhaut):


The economic and cultural centre of the whole area is world known and has a magic attraction on everybody. The lovely village offers an open-air shopping experience with an attractive offer for all budgets. Since autumn 1997, a bypass allowed to establish a large pedestrian zone and take out traffic from the village centre and thus make it even more attractive.

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Luxury Chalet Gstaad SaanenlandLuxury Chalet RougemontFarmhouse Gstaad SaanenlandBarn to restore Gstaad Saanenland


is the capital of the district, seat of the administration and marketplace. Wise laws and the typical Bernese slowness have always put qualitative increase before mass tourism and construction excesses. The church of St.Mauritius from the 16th century became world famous as an ideal set-up for the classical concerts of the musical summer. In the last few years many small and attractive art studios, galleries and other handicraft artists have opened a business in the well preserved village centre with its beautiful houses.

Schönried, Saanenmöser

These two villages are considered the "sun deck" and "panoramic terrace" of the region. They are located on about 1200 meters above sea level and are an ideal departure point for the beautiful hiking network in summer and winter. Ski runs and cross-country slopes are located in front of the doors. Since summer 1995 there is a summer tobogganing run on Mount Rellerli.

Feutersoey and Gsteig
These two villages are located along the road to the Pillon-Pass ("Col du Pillon") and have an impressive and terrific scenery in the background. They are departure point for many long hikes in the area of the Sanetsch Pass and the romantic Lake of Arnen ("Arnensee"). The nearby Diablerets-Glacier attracts skiers and hikers both in winter and in summer. The centre of the village of Gsteig with its church was put under protection. Gsteig and Feutersoey are ideal places for people that are looking mainly for peace, rest and cosiness.


This mountain village is located in a wide valley 7 km from Gstaad. It has a village centre with old wooden buildings and with a church of the 16th century. The natural reserve around the Lake of Lauenen (Lauenensee) with its ponds, waterfalls and glaciers offers excellent rest in an intact landscape. Rougemont
This village is already located in the French speaking canton of Vaud. It is very sunny. Monks of the abbey of Cluny have founded a monastery and influenced during more than 500 years the daily life of the inhabitants. Today the castle and the beautiful church are a part of the picturesque village as well as the wonderful old chalets. Rougemont has no through-traffic due to the bypass road and is connected to the skiing area of Gstaad with the Videmanette gondola cabins.


This village is the capital of the French speaking district of Pays-d'Enhaut. It is a mountain village where cosiness and old costumes are carefully preserved. The local museum offers a wide range of art and daily utensils. The Hot Air Ballooning Week in January has made the place known beyond the Swiss borders and attract every year about 80 teams from all over the world for a peaceful competition. The bypass road takes out of the village most traffic.


Besides the described major villages there are several other intact and idyllic hamlets and settlements in the Saanenland and Pays d'Enhaut region: Bissen, Gruben, Turbach, Kalberhöni, Flendruz, Rossinière and Grund. These places often are departure points for hiking.

Gstaad-Saanenland Resort

The vacation area of Gstaad - Saanenland including Pays d'Enhaut is located at the German-French language border between Lake of Geneva and Lake of Thun in an altitude of 900 to 3200 meters above sea level (2800 to 10000 feet). The villages of the area are all located on an ideal elevation of 900 to 1200 meters.

Superb landscape, a mild climate, hardly any fog, major international events, prominent guests from all four corners of the earth and an unbelievable variety of leisure opportunities - no wonder that Gstaad and its neighbouring areas are so well known far beyond Switzerland's borders. Thanks to excellent means of transportation, the area can be reached in less than 2 hours from all major cities and airports in the country both by road or by train. In Saanen there is even an airport with customs services and where medium sized aircraft may land.


Despite the fact that the inhabitants of the Saanenland are German-speaking Swiss, their mentality is much closer to Switzerland's French-speaking population. There are historical reasons for this phenomenon. The Saanen area was once part of the county of Gruyères, and was only passed on to the canton of Berne when the count of Gruyères went bankrupt in 1555. With its wide valley and gentle slopes the Saanenland enjoys above-average sunshine - so that its region is often described as the "Sunny Country". This may well explain why it was already a favoured area for convalescence, rest and relaxation in the 17th century. Tourism really set in when the Montreux-Oberland railroad was opened in 1905, providing a direct link between Montreux on the Lake Geneva Gstaad on the west side and Zweisimmen/Interlaken on the east. A further step, this time at international level, was taken in about 1920 when the institute "Le Rosey" was opened, and also the Gstaad Palace Hotel. Having spent their teens in Gstaad, many of the former Rosey students - children of royal families, of major industrialists, politicians and businessmen, of top people in show business - retained a lifelong attachment for this region. The area was steadily but carefully developed in line with the needs of active tourism. Between 1945 and 1970 the main focus was on opening up the region with chair lifts, ski lifts, gondolas and cable cars. Today the visitors can use with one ticket 69 means of transportation with 250 km ski runs of all difficulties in 7 larger and 6 smaller skiing areas. Thanks to several partnerships with other ski areas, the owners of a seasonal skiing ticket of Gstaad can use it without extra charge in the skiing resorts Kitzbühel, St.Moritz, Adelboden-Lenk, Alpes Vaudoises as well as in Ordino-Arcalis/Pal-Arinsal (Andorra).

Gstaad and Tradition

The hotels and houses in the Saanen style are in harmony with the surrounding countryside. And the old trades have been retained, such as scissors cutting, pottery, wood carving and alphorn making. Agriculture is - beside tourism - an important pillar of the local economy, in fact, there are more than 8000 cows in the area. The farmers still earn their living with cattle breeding and dairy farming. They are proud of their meet and dairy products that are exported in many countries of the world. The Saanen Hobelkäse (local cheese) was already widely in demand 300 years ago. During the summer the cattle grazes in the high alpine pastures, which means that in spring and in autumn visitors to the region can watch the traditional festive ascent to or descent from the high pastures - the farmers dressed in traditional costume and the cattle adorned with flowers. Today the cattle and produce markets in Saanen, Lauenen and Gsteig are more popular than ever.

Events in the Gstaad Region

Several events have made the area of Gstaad and Saanenland famous across the country's borders. Who doesn't know the ATP Swiss Open Tennis Tournament, the International Hot Air Ballooning Week of Château-d'Oex or the Yehudi Menuhin Festival with excellent performances in classical music? Some of these events have been established in the area for several decades and nobody wants to miss them today as important social events. Besides there are many other highlights of later origins, e.g. the Country Night or the Cartier Polo Silver Cup in summer. In winter, sporting events on the ski slopes and ice-rinks are organised.

Gastronomy and Nightlife

The Saanenland Gstaad aera is also strongholds of gastronomy and entertainment. Many internationally renowned restaurants and places with traditional local cuisine offer an extremely varied delights. The nightlife of Gstaad offers a wider choice than that of many larger cities. In about a dozen places, live bands perform until the early morning hours. The offer satisfies all kind of preferences.

Sports in the Gstaad Region

The sports available in the Saanenland throughout the year leave little to be desired. In summer there are excellent walks, as well as climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, golf and tennis, but also paragliding, ballooning or whitewater rafting and canoeing on the Saane river. In winter there is downhill and cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering, snowboarding, curling, ice-skating tobogganing and much more. Tennis, paragliding and ballooning are available year-round. Other offers include squash, heliskiing, summer tobogganing and horse-drawn carriages.


More History Gstaad Saanenland


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