Here beats the heart of the Vaud Riviera, a region bordering the Léman, this lake so different from others, crescent shaped and is crossed from east to west by the Rhône river.
In the north, small wine villages hug the slopes of varying steepness, giving way progressively to a landscape of alpine foothills enhanced by small forests, peaceful rivers and romantic meadows.
The south is dominated by some of the most majestic alpine peaks of the Vaud and Valais, including the Grammont, proudly showing the way to the Haute Savoie and the valley of Chamonix.
Did you know that the town’s first inhabitants lived on the water? Traces of houses built on piles have been dated back to the 20th century BC. Later it was the pilgrims travelling from the north who halted in this small township, acting as a staging post on their long journey towards Rome. The end of the 18th century saw the town rich in buildings, which are still visible today. In the 19th century, Vevey became an important industrial centre, especially with the development of the food product manufacturer Nestlé as well as mechanical industries and tobacco producers. Today, in tune with the direction of economic development, Vevey is host essentially to companies within the services sector. Its large industries have given way to a multitude of craftsmen and merchants who are very active in the town centre. With 18,000 inhabitants, 41% of foreign nationality, Vevey is a very lively and cosmopolitan little town, where life doesn’t get any better.
Some of Vevey’s historical characters :
In 1943 at the peak of his career, Charles Spencer Chaplin married Oona, daughter of the dramatist Eugene O’Neill. During the MacCarthy era, one year after producing “limelight”, he left the States for Europe. In 1953, the couple settled with their children in Corsier, at the Manoir de Ban, a property surrounded by century-old trees. The family was quickly adopted. The children went to the local state school, and the local cinema showed their father’s films, much to their amusement. Every year, Sir Charles and Lady Oona Chaplin used to go to the National Circus Knie when it stopped at Vevey; they were much loved by the community. Sir Charles and Lady Oona Chaplin are buried in the cemetery of Corsier..
Le Corbusier, designer of the Capitol of Chandigarh, in India, and Notre-Dame de Ronchant, in France, also has an eye for intimate detail. In 1923, the architect built for his parents a lakeside house which was practical, comfortable and bright. Great importance was given to the proportions and orientation of the house, making the best use of the space available. The house was a foreshadowing of the model apartment, where everything is functional, but on a human scale. The house was the home of the Jeanneret family here they continued to live until 1972. It is now the Le Corbusier museum.
After the Paris Commune and the scandal of the Vendôme column, Courbet, like many artists, went into exile ; he never saw Paris again. He lived in The Bon-Port House, opposite the port of La Tour de Peilz, and was a regular customer of the Café du Centre, meeting place of those who appreciated the local white wine. After Courbet’s death on December 31st 1877, an inventory of his works was made by Bocion, a colleague who shared his fascination for Lake Geneva.
When Dostoïevski left Geneva to settle in Vevey, in 1868, he had just lost his baby daughter, Sophie, who was barely three months old. The change in surroundings was meant to help him overcome his grief. That August, after working on “The Gambler” descrbing the bleak world of gambling which he knew only too well, Dostoïevsky with his wife, Anna, lefts the mountains of Switzerland for the sun of Italy. Fifty years later, in 1918, Aimée Dostoïevsky, his daughter and biographer retraced her parents’ footsteps and stayed at the Hotel Les Narcisses at Chamby, above Montreux, where she nursed a bad throat.
Born at Bucarest, Claa Haskil’s virtuosity and her sensitive playing won her international fame. She was a refugee in France before coming to Switzerland in 1942. After seven years of living from hand to mouth, she eventually took a flat in the Hotel d?Angleterre and, later, a chalet at Cornaux, near Chamby. After her sudden death in 1960, Clara’s friends founded an association in her memory; every other year, Vevey organises an international piano competition as part of the International Music Festival of Montreux-Vevey. On October 6th, 1962, the town of Vevey named the street where the virtuoso pianist had lived.
When Napoleon III came to power in 1852, Victor Hugo, who advocated a liberal and humanitarian democratcy, went into exile, vowing not to go back to France as long as the new regime lasted. True to his word, he returned in 1870, through he did not approve of the excesses of the Commune. The year of 1861 marked the inauguration of the railway that leads from Lausanne to the Simplon pass, connecting Italy with Switzerland. In September 1861, Hugo, travelling from the island of Guernesey stopped at Vevey, where he writes in a letter to a friend that he appreciated the “cleanliness” the mild climate, and the Church of St-Martin, of which he drew a sketch. In the same church he also visited the graves of fellow expatriates, Ludlow and Broughton.
One of the reasons Morand chose to live in Vevey was that you could cycle in the streets of the town. Although he had looked over a few houses in Lausanne, he ended up settling in Vevey, where he felt more at home. For more than twenty years he lived in part of Château de l’Aile, a nineteeth-century neo-gothic building close to the market place. The French philosopher Henri Bergson had stayed in the same house between 1937 and 1940. The Vevey market square, which witnessed the passage of Bonaparte and the Army of Italy, is the meeting place of town. Market day is on Tuesday and Saturday and every 25 years the Fête des Vignerons celebrates the local wine growers.
After being Head Surgeon of William III of England, Etienne Ronjat settled in Vevey at the age of 63. In recognition of his services, the authorities of Vevey made him a honorary citizen of the town. The local pastors in charge of education were complaining that with the growth of the industrial age lots of children were either left on their own while parents worked in the factories or were exploited by the increasing demands of modern industry. It was with this in mind that Ronjat, in 1724, donated six thousands pounds to promote the education of young people, hoping at least to ensure the protection of young girls. In 1731 he gave the town a small square that still bears his name.
Born on June 28th, 1712 in Geneva; his mother died a few days later, and his father, a clockmaker, brought up the infant and his two other children on his own. At 14, Rousseau was apprenticed as an engraver; in 1729 he went to Turin as a servant; in 1732 he was a music teacher in Chambéry and in 1740, a private tutor in Lyon. Then, to Paris, where he became the great Rousseau. In 1730-31, Rousseau went for a long walk which took him to Vevey, Clarens and Chillon. The area features prominently in his “La Nouvelle Heloise” published in 1761.
Louise was born at Vevey and brought up by her aunts at Le Basset, near the place now called “Les Bosquets de Julie”, thus prefiguring the heroine of Rousseau’s “Nouvelle Heloise”. At fourteen, she married Isaac de Loys, who was to become Lord de Warens and whom she divorced when she was twenty-eight. When Rousseau first met Mrs. de Warens at Annecy, he was sixteen, she, twenty-eight. She was rather small and plump, but had a good complexion and beautiful blue eyes. She was a witty and energetic woman who enchanted all those who met her. For young Rousseau, she was the mother he had never had generous, kind and loving.
Sienkiewicz, the author of many historical epics in the tradition of Sir Walter Scott, won the Nobel prize for literature in 1905. Between 1895 and 1896 he wrote his greatest success, “Quo Vadis”, which was later adapted by Hollywood. From 1914 he lived at the Hotel du Lac in Vevey, where he organised a committee for the support of war victims. On his death in 1916 he was buried in the Church of St. Martin, in Vevey. In 1926 his remains were transferred to Warsaw Cathedral. A plaque commemorates his stay in the town.
Marguerite Burnat-Provins was an elegant and colourful writer, whose style is best exemplified by her “Petits Tableaux Valaisans”. She initiated the “Ligue pour la Beauté” (“League for Beauty”), which denounced destruction of the landscape in the name of progress. This “Ligue” was later to become the “Heimatschutz” (“Protection of the Homeland”), which has exerted a genuine influence on urbanism, especially concerning the protection of monuments of national importancel.
Henry James was born in New York but spent his childhood in Europe with his parents. He was very fond of travelling, going to France, Italy, wherever his whim took him. It is during a visit to Vevey that he became seduced by the ambiance of the Hotel des Trois Couronnes, where he stayed and wrote his novel “Daisy Miller”, published in 1878. James describes the streets and houses of Vevey, and above all, the Hotel and its clientele.
Calame, born in Vevey on the Quai de l’Arabie, was always expected to become a banker by his family. Yet in fact he became one of the greatest artists to paint the Swiss Alps. It is to Corot that Calame owes his technical knowledge of painting landscapes. Alexandre Calame’s love for the Alps is comparable to that of the painter Bocion for Lake Geneva. He depicts the Swiss Alps as forceful, tormented and luminous. His painting is a romantic vision of nature, majestic, peaceful and indomitable. Eugène Rambert, another mountain-lover, wrote a biography of Calame. Born in the Alps, Calame was to end his days on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in Menton.
Chocolate was first introduced into Vevey by François-Louis Cailler. He went to Italy where he discovered the recipe of chocolate: cocoa beans and brown sugar. In 1863, the Cailler family moved to the Rue des Bosquets where their eldest daughter, Fanny, was to meet her future husband, the grocer Daniel Peter, whom she married that very year. In 1867, Daniel Peter went to Lyon as an apprentice to a chocolate-maker, and, on his return to Vevey, invented milk chocolate. Founding the Peter Milk Chocolate Society, he entered into partnership with Jean-Jacques Kohler. They were joined by Nestlé, and then by Cailler in 1912.
He was one of the founders of the literary magazine “Rencontre”. Later he was in charge of the poetry section of the magazine and used this platform to publish his first verses. In 1952 the first of many stories was released: “De l’Ortie à l’Étoile”. Four years after his death, his writings were gathered and published in a single volume.
Edmund Ludlow, a Member of Parliament, was part of the tribunal that condemned King Charles I to be beheaded. When Charles II came to the throne, Ludlow, as a regicide, found himself compelled to leave Britain, never to return. He stayed for a time at Geneva and Lausanne, but finally settled in Vevey, where he felt more secure. In Vevey, Ludlow wrote his memoirs, a valuable source for the Cromwellian period. When he died, he was buried in the Church of St. Martin, next to Broughton, a compatriot who had read the king’s sentence.
Noted during the 1930s and 1940s for his novels that attracted a huge readership and combined realism, romance, social criticism and melodrama. After being forced to give up his job as a doctor because of poor health, Cronin began writing. His many books include “The Citadel”, “The Keys to the Kingdom” and “The Green Years”. Many of his books were made into films. Archibald Joseph Cronin moved to Clarens in 1969 and was later buried in La Tour-de-Peilz.
Comprising 140 films made between 1935 and 1984, James Mason’s filmography is particularly impressive. Moreover, the actor was able to personify a wide range of characters. He appeared in “The Third Man” and “Orient Express”, as well as in “Madame Bovary” and “Frankenstein”… not to forget “Lolita”, a Stanley Kubrick film made in 1962 adapted from the famous Vladimir Nabokov novel, and “Alexander”, a film by Jean-François Amiguet shot in 1983 in Vevey and the Lake Geneva region. In recognition of his great distinction, but also his affable nature and simplicity, he was nicknamed the “gentleman of cinema”. Although he lived in Corseaux, he is buried in the cemetery of Corsier, near Charlie Chaplin. In addition, there is a bust in Corseaux: chemin de Pierrefleur /sentier des Cépages.
Who remembers Orson Welles’ expression in “The Third Man”? To read Greene is to gain insights into the human soul, where Good and Evil confront each other as in the tangible world. A thriller writer, he is particularly well-known for “Our Man in Havana” but also for his writings on the acute pain of love, namely “The End of the Affair” and “The Captain and the Enemy”. During the war, he was a correspondent for Time Magazine and travelled to the four corners of the world, where he witnessed a great deal of violence and suffering. He lived for one year in Corseaux, and died close to his daughter in Vevey, on 3 April 1991.
Gustave Eiffel, a leading specialist in steel construction, bridges and viaducts, was a great inventor. It was for the World Fair of 1889 that he designed the Eiffel Tower, a gigantic work and very bold for its time. Greatly attached to Vevey and the banks of Lake Geneva, he bought the “Villa Valentine” in 1892 and spent several months of each year there. These stays were for him veritable “interludes” in a hectic life. This fine residence was named in succession after his eldest daughter “Claire”, then his third daughter “Valentine”. At the time, it was one of the most affluent properties in the area around Lake Geneva. It was situated between the Nestlé administrative building and the beach. The villa “Valentine” was demolished in 1978.
Developing the taste in Switzerland for outdoor painting, François Bocion did for Lake Geneva what his contemporary Eugène Boudin achieved with his masterly depictions of the Normandy coast. He spent some of his childhood in Vevey, on the banks of the Veveyse, and water was his preferred source of inspiration. One of the rare 19th century painters of the Vaud region to have completed a career in Lausanne, Bocion explored the charms of the lake, becoming for posterity”the painter of Lake Geneva”. The lake was his domain, an ideal subject which he painted innumerable times, foregoing it only during holidays when, periodically, he escaped to the lagoon of Venice or the Ligurian Riviera.
After studying the violin in Frankfort, Paul Hindemith became a member of the local Opera Orchestra and the violinist of the Amar Quartet, playing an active role in the musical life of his time. In 1938, he fled to Switzerland as a refugee from the Nazi régime. After a stay of thirteen years in the United States, he finally set up home at Blonay in 1953. Soon after his death (1963), his widow and executor began to classify the many items of his voluminous inheritance, collected at the couple’s last home, Villa La Chance, in Blonay. After her death in 1967, the Hindemith Foundation was created and today supports the Blonay Hindemith Music Centre (Chemin de Lacuex 3), where courses for young professional or amateur musicians are taught by experienced artistes or ensembles. The villa can be visited on request (phone 021 943 05 20).
Preserved from car traffic by its small streets and alleyways, most of them for pedestrians only, Vevey’s old town invites you to relax, read, or take a stroll around, with no particular aim in mind. Browse through its boutiques and art galleries, be captivated by its museums and theatres and enjoy the live entertainment organised throughout the year.
Some links : www.vevey.ch
The tourist office, just two minutes walk from the hotel, will provide you with all the information you need.
Some museums in Vevey
The Alimentarium, a Nestlé foundation, is an internationnaly renowned museum which shows the various aspects of food with lively and interactive manner. The exhibition is divided in four sections: Cuisiner, Manger, Acheter and Digérer. There are also a garden, a media center, computer games and audiovisuals that will interest the whole family. Come now and discover the new permanent exhibition, as well as the cafeteria. Every day the cook prepares for you a delicious meal. 2007 New record ! More than 70’000 visitors have been visiting our museum.
The Jenish Museum, a neo classical inspired building, owns three important collections. However, a rich and extensive program of temporary exhibitions does not allow them to be displayed permanently. The collection are: Fine Arts Museum (paintings and sculptures by Swiss and foreign painters, as well as the prestigious fund of old and modern drawings), the Oskar Kokoschka Foundation (700 works by the expressionist master, who spent the last years of his life in Villeneuve) and the Cantonal Printroom (original masterprints from all periods).
Audioguide in English. The history of photography, from the camera obscura and magic lantern to the latest numerical images, is shown through an amazing collection of cameras dating from the invention of photography to the present day, and enhanced with audio-visual and interactive presentations. Temporary exhibitions of photography are regularly held alongside the permanent one. There are games, texts and special presentations for young visitors.
Founded in 1897, this museum is housed in a beautiful 16th century building dating from the Bernese occupation. Its collections of objects, paintings and documents bring the region’s past back to life. The “Château” is also the home of the Brotherhood of Winegrowers. It is therefore the place – where – about every 25 years – the famous «Fête des Vignerons» are planned.
Towers and ramparts dating back to the Middle Ages surround the castle, situated between the lake and the Old Town. In this romantic setting, the Swiss Museum of Games invites you to actively discover games from around the world and throughout the ages. In addition visitors can make use of plenty of classical as well as modern games.