In the footprints of Freddie Mercury in Montreux or in the intimacy of Charlie Chaplin in Vevey. Both Swiss cities along Lake Geneva can be (re)discovered through the eyes of two artistic icons of the 20th century.

Montreux and Vevey, the two small towns nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, seduced the rich and famous since the late 19th century with their mild climate, picturesque setting and peaceful atmosphere. Both cities are today important icons of Swiss tourism. In 2019, the Montreux Riviera region (which groups Montreux, Vevey and the wine making area of Lavaux) registered 757,733 overnights, up 3.6% over 2018. In 2020, despite the pandemic, the area still achieved to record 376,936 overnight stays. Top 5 travellers by country were Switzerland (market share : 66,4%), France (10.9%), Germany (3,9%), Benelux (2,8%) and the UK/Ireland (2,3%).

The Montreux Riviera is repositioning itself these days. And one of the themes that it highlights is its connection to icons of the 20th century.

Montreux has an intimate relation with music. The city is well known around the world for the hosting of a very famous Jazz Festival while the September Musical Festival celebrates classical music.

Freddie Mercury in Montreux
Being greeted by Freddie Mercury in Montreux (Photo:

In Freddie Mercury’s footsteps

In 2020, Montreux experienced the launch of a circuit based on British pop icon Freddie Mercury. The lead singer of rock Band Queen visited Montreux for the first time in 1978. He then became, along with his band, a regular visitor as Queen owned a recording studio there, where, between 1979 and 1995, the band recorded six studio albums.

Mercury has even his statue, since 1996, in Montreux’s market square. And it has turned into the city’s most photographed monument! Since last year, Freddie Tours is offering guided visits as an innovative way to explore the rich musical history of the Swiss resort town.

The excursion, during which visitors are accompanied by a guide and equipped with audio guides, visits the places frequented by the British stars at work, rest, and play – and visits the iconic group’s musical world at the same time. There is even an opportunity for an encounter with Mercury’s personal assistant in Lavaux vineyards.

If Montreux is intimately linked to music, Vevey has a special relation with visual arts. The city is home to a Swiss Camera Museum. It is a coherent, technological, cultural asset run by the city of Vevey that displays the history of photography from its origins to the present day, and even points to future developments. Exhibitions are organised every year highlighting mostly Swiss photographers.

Chaplin's World in Vevey
Chaplin’s World by Grevin is one of Montreux Riviera most popular attractions

Inside a Charlie Chaplin movie

Vevey’s most visited place these days is the house of Charlie Chaplin on the Lake’s shores. Chaplin and his wife fell in love with an 1840-built Manoir de Ban – a stately mansion, during a trip in 1952. The famous film director and actor bought and renovated it in 1953 and lived there with his family until his death.

Since 2016, the manor has been opened to the public as “Chaplin’s World” in cooperation with Grevin wax museum in Paris. The Chaplin exhibition stretches over 500 sq m of space inside the mansion. It allows visitors to not only learn about Chaplin and his artistic career, but also to stage themselves in some of Chaplin’s most famous movies.

A special exhibition is the main highlight of the year 2021. Until the end of September, “Chaplin’s World by Grevin” is hosting an exhibition around the “Great Dictator”. The exhibition celebrates the 80th anniversary of the movie seen as one of Charlie Chaplin’s most iconic films. As part of this commemoration, on 15 October 2020, “Chaplin’s World” joined the #LETUSALLUNITE campaign. The goal was to create a globe-spanning human fresco, bringing together citizens of the world to uphold the universal values promoted by the movie.

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