Château de Prangins
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A kilometre or two east of Nyon is the idyllic village of PRANGINS, in the midst of which, set in its own formal English gardens, is the Château de Prangins, built in the 1730s in the French style and now an arm of the Swiss National Museum especially devoted to the history of Switzerland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The museum (Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.5; SMP) is a huge place holding an imaginative and engaging collection that’s well worth a couple of hours; all the rooms are numbered sequentially, but the layout can be very confusing and you may find yourself backtracking more than once.

The ground floor, outlining the ideals of aristocrats and the bourgeoisie around 1800, and the cellars, exploring Switzerland’s pre-industrial rural economy, are less engaging than the two upper floors, both of which are devoted to Swiss cultural history from 1750 into the twentieth century. Each room (“From Birth to Death”, “The Display of Power”, “Travellers and Tourists”) has detailed English notes, with items from everyday life displayed next to historically significant objects. The multimedia stations that are dotted around enhance wanderings tremendously by letting you play period music while you’re examining the cases and, for instance, as well as selecting readings from contemporary accounts of history, you can listen to original songs from the Swiss Revolution. Reconstructed interiors, such as that of a late-nineteenth century schoolroom, have uncanny attention to detail. Outside, an extensive kitchen garden has been planted with fruit and vegetables according to eighteenth-century literary accounts of horticulture.

Bus #5 runs hourly from Nyon’s train station on a circular route through Prangins, stopping either at the post office three minutes from the château (Mon–Sat) or at the château itself (Sun).

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