Vevey is a town in French-speaking Switzerland in the canton of Vaud. It’s located on Lake Geneva’s north shore and is a lovely, easy to do day trip from Lausanne.
Nestlé, founded in 1867, has its headquarters based in Vevey. And Vevey was also home to Charlie Chaplin, who spent the last 25 years of his life here, and that’s why I was here.
A few years ago, when Jonathan and I were travelling around Argentina, we ended up at a Charlie Chaplin evening in a bar in Buenos Aires. It was a fun evening sat around tiny tables in a bar, sipping cocktails with friends, and watching Chaplin movies accompanied with live music. Before that night, I’d never actually seen a full Chaplin movie, just the odd snippet here and there. So, when I discovered that Chaplin’s home was close to where I was house sitting in Switzerland, I knew I had to visit.
Chaplin’s World ( Charlie Chaplin Museum)
I didn’t really know what to expect when I visited Chaplin’s World. I just assumed I’d be having a look around his house, but honestly, this was possibly one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. It was incredibly well done.
First of all, yes, I did wander around the family manor – home to Charlie Chaplin, his fourth and last wife Oona and their eight children, where he lived from 1953 until his death in 1977. On a sunny Tuesday morning in the middle of January, I had the place all to myself.
The house is almost in its original state, as it was in the 1970s. But with loads of family photos and home movies playing. So, you really feel that you get to know more about the man behind the persona. I wasn’t even aware he was British, I thought he was American, but he was born in South London like me.
I loved the library that was wallpapered in newspaper clippings – allegations of tax evasion, affairs with young women, and accusations of communist sympathies. His past was quite scandal-prone.
And through many personal letters on display and recordings of interviews, Charlie Chaplin made it quite clear how he felt about the USA too.
As well as exploring Chaplin’s former home, there’s also a separate film studio. I assumed that I would be just watching Chaplin movies in here, but after watching a short documentary, the screen slides open, and you suddenly find yourself in a movie set.
Each set depicts one of Chaplin’s famous movies with wax figures, props and looping clips. Usually, I find wax statues a bit tacky and rarely look like who they are supposed to represent, but the whole set-up was very professionally done, and the waxworks quite lifelike. It’s a fully immersive and interactive experience- I loved it.
Once you’ve explored the home and marvelled at the film studios, it’s time to take a relaxing stroll through the gardens. The gardens are spread over four hectares, are well maintained and feature a botanical trail.
Of course, there’s a souvenir shop by the exit. I went wild and treated myself to a key ring.
Honestly, it was one of the best museums I’ve seen in ages. It would be best to allow at least two to three hours to see everything. Longer, if like me, you have to read every single sign and newspaper clipping. It’s exceptionally well done; I loved it and highly recommend it.
How To Get To Chaplin’s World
From Vevey station, head to bus stop D and take bus 212. When I got to the bus stop, the 212 bus was already there. The driver saw me, immediately closed the door and drove off. I suspect he was trained in London. So having no patience to wait for the next bus, I walked the one mile to Chaplin’s World. The route is well signposted, and anyway, I love exploring new neighbourhoods.
There is parking space for 200 cars at Chaplin’s World. See here for information on rental cars in Switzerland.
Grave Of Charlie Chaplin
As I left Chaplins World, I spotted a sign to Chaplin’s grave. Since my partner Jonathan passed last year, I have this weird, probably unhealthy fascination for cemeteries. I had to go. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the museum and takes you alongside the UNESCO vineyards of Lavaux, which don’t look quite so picturesque in the middle of January. You pass a scruffy looking park named after Charlie Chaplin on the way there.
The cemetery is small and well maintained. It was very easy to spot Charlie Chaplin’s grave; it was the only one filled with flowers. He’s buried next to his wife, Lady Oona Chaplin. Charlie Chaplin died on Christmas Day 1977. Shockingly, just a few months later, his body was stolen from his grave and a ransom demanding $600,000 was sent to his wife. Chaplins’ body was finally found five weeks later in a cornfield just a short distance away. Arrests were made, and Chaplin was laid to rest once more but in a more secure grave.
A few minutes walk from the cemetery is a funicular that will take you up to Mont Pèlerin.
Once you exit the funicular, after an extremely steep ride to the top, you will see signposts listing many hikes. Most people seemed to be heading up to the 123 meter-high television tower with its 64 meter-high viewing platforms. But it wasn’t a clear day, and the nearby mountains were barely visible. So I just had a wander, admiring the fancy houses. I thought about walking back down to Vevey, which is supposedly just an hour’s walk away, but there was snow on the paths, and I’m a disaster the moment I step on ice. So, back down on the funicular for me.
Wander The Streets Of The Old Town Of Vevey
From the train station, follow the signs for Lake Geneva (lac Léman) through the maze of narrow streets of Vevey old town. In Grande Place, the Tuesday market was taking place. Stalls filled with antiques, flowers, fruits and vegetables, but I was distracted by the cheese stall. A market is held here every Tuesday and Saturday morning.
Take A Walk Alongside The Lake On Quai Personnel
According to the home movies shown at Chaplin’s World, Oona, Chaplin’s wife, used to push the then wheelchair-bound Chaplin along the lakefront path in Vevey. There now stands a bronze statue of Charlie Chaplin as the Little Tramp on the promenade, staring wistfully over the lake.
The Vevey promenade is lined with cafes and restaurants. In front of the Alimentarium, a food museum, a 929 pounds, 26 feet tall stainless steel fork is sticking out of the lake.
The Giant Fork (La Fourchette)
You may be wondering why there is a giant fork in the lake; I know I was.
The giant fork, or La Fourchette, first appeared in Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) in 1995 to celebrate the Alimentarium’s tenth anniversary. But for “aesthetic reasons”, it was removed and sat in a garden in Lucerne for a while. Following petitions to bring back the fork, the giant fork returned to its spot in the lake in 2008.
Since then, the fork has become part of Vevey’s identity. At eight metres high, the fork was the world’s biggest fork for a while. However, there’s a bigger fork out there in the world that sits outside an office in Springfield, Missouri, USA.
The one in Vevey, though, has a far prettier setting.
How To Get To Vevey From Lausanne
Trains depart regularly from Lausanne to Vevey. Journey time around 15-20 minutes. Check the SBB site for train schedules.
It’s also possible to take a ferry from Lausanne – Ouchy to Vevey Marche. Journey time takes around 50 minutes. Check here for details. While you’re in Vevey, why not take a two-hour Riviera Cruise on Lake Geneva?
Take the scenic route with views of the lake and vineyards, but parking might be challenging. See here for information on rental cars in Switzerland.
You may be able to get a rideshare.
Montreux is just ten minutes away from Vevey by train, so you could easily combine the two towns on a day trip from Lausanne. But you know me, I like to spend at least one full day at each destination.
A day trip to Gruyeres is also an easy option from Lausanne and Vevey too.
For other wintry destinations. how about Bergen, Norway?
Interested In Housesitting?
I usually use Trusted Housesitters to find my house sits and sitters for my dog when I travel. This link will give you a 25% discount on membership if you’re interested.
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