Château-d’Œx, Canton of Waadt, Switzerland

Château-d’Œx is a municipality with 3,285 inhabitants that is located 958 m above sea level. It is located in the valley of the Pays-d´Enhaut in the Waadtländer Alps, right by a main highway that leads from Montreux to Luzern. Urban reference points are Bulle, Montreux and Lausanne. Between 1930 and 1980, the tour-istic municipality lost about 25 percent of its population, but the numbers have been rising steadily for 30 years.

The midsize sawmills and carpentries obtain parts of their wood from the municipality’s forests. The agriculture, which is characterized by numerous alpine pastures, is economically and ecologically healthy; products are refined on a high level and processed into more than one hundred different regional products. This is expressed in a cooperative, timely constructed cheese storing space, which allows people to observe the maturing of the cheese even from the outside. These products are successfully brought to market interregionally, what allows the number of agricultural businesses to remain stable.

This is also guarantor for a well farmed alpine cultural landscape, which provides a valuable living and leisure space for inhabitants and tourists. The numerous, well-maintained and culturally valuable chalets, most of which are still being farmed, are a great expression of this. Further workplaces are available in small local businesses and the service sector, an innovation center consisting of ten handicraft businesses, will be constructed in 2015.
In the fields of social work, it is noteworthy that in 1926, an infirmary was founded, which was expanded into a nursing home in 1979 and will now be extended with a private clinic and a residential care home. The municipality’s central role will be strengthened massively by this. Additionally, 70 new workplaces will be created.

Winter tourism is the most important part of the mountain municipality’s economy. However, it has been decreasing for several years. Therefore, great efforts will be made in order to attract year-around tourism: baroque music festivals, kids festivals as well as the “Almabtrieb” (alp-descent) are major attractions. An adventure road to be walked by foot connects museums, cheese factory, gastronomy and retail through a calm-traffic zone with the train station.

The foundation of the regional nature park Gruyère Pays-d´Enhaut in 2006 provided a number of new opportunities. A special event is the annual international hot air balloon week with Bertrand Piccard, who was the first to successfully round earth in a hot air balloon without a stop – and he started his tour in Château-d’Œx.

Château-d’Œx has many facilities that can usually be found only in cities – a school, a cinema, a theater, a gym, the mentioned hospital and many more. The municipality’s public pool is operated with alternative, geothermal energy – additionally, the biogas plant attached to the sewage works and several small hydroelectric power plants are exemplary for the municipality’s commitment to clean energy.
The close cooperation with two small neighboring municipalities – Rossinière and Rougemont – is an impressive model for an intercommunal union: the municipalities remain independent, but they collaborate when it comes to important subjects. This also ensures proper networking and coordination for the projects.

Therefore, Château-d’Œx was awarded a European Village Renewal Award for sustainable, holistic and motto-adequate village development of excellent quality.