|Vevey : the town|
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The best way to get the flavour of Vevey is simply to wander: its narrow Old Town alleys, enclosing the huge Grande-Place – or Place du Marché – in a cat’s cradle of arcades and shuttered facades, are alive with people, shops and activity. Arrive on a Tuesday or Saturday and you’ll find the marketplace packed with stalls – food, crafts, wine or all three. The huge pillared building dominating the square is the Grenette, or town granary, dating from 1808 and now housing the tourist office.
Vevey’s excellent fine-art museum is the Musée Jenisch, 2 Rue de la Gare (Tues–Sun: March–Oct 11am–5.30pm, Nov–Feb 2–5.30pm; Fr.10; SMP), an impressive Neoclassical-style temple built in 1897 with a donation from a Hamburg émigré family named Jenisch – despite the tide of Swiss who apparently make the long journey from Graubünden expecting a museum devoted to the Jenisch gypsy people, there’s no connection. The museum, now about ten times too small for its massive collection, stages changing exhibitions of Swiss art on various themes, while its Cabinet cantonal des Estampes (Cantonal Museum of Prints) holds the largest collection of Rembrandt lithographs in Europe, as well as hundreds of graphic works by Dürer, Corot, Le Corbusier and others. Not least, the museum is also the repository of the Oskar Kokoschka Foundation, owning and displaying examples of work from this expressionist Austrian painter and graphic artist who spent the last 26 years of his life in Villeneuve.
Some 500m west of the centre you can’t miss the giant green building on the waterfront, Nestlé’s world HQ. A little uphill on the Chemin de Meruz is the atmospheric village of CORSIER; on the right of the road you’ll find a small cemetery, location of the graves of Oona and Charlie Chaplin, who moved to Corsier in the 1950s as an escape from McCarthyite America, and never left. Further up the hill is Corsier’s tiny church (also accessible on bus #11), watched over by graceful angels and holding inside some frescoes dating from 1420–30 which were plastered over during the Reformation and rediscovered in the nineteenth century. Back on the main lakefront Route de Lavaux some 200m west of the Nestlé building you’ll find Villa Le Lac, an elegant low white bungalow designed by modernist architect Le Corbusier for his parents in 1924 (guided tours March–Oct Wed 1.30–5pm; free), and which features an 11-metre long south-facing window onto the water (effective shielding from the road noise), a roof garden and much original Corbusier-designed furniture.
To the east, Vevey merges imperceptibly with its neighbour, the colourful port village of La Tour-de-Peilz. Along the way, you’ll pass a photogenic statue of a bowler-hatted Chaplin twirling his cane amidst the roses on the Quai Perdonnet just east of Place du Marché, followed shortly after by the Alimentarium (Tues–Sun 10am–noon & 2–5pm; Fr.6; SMP), a rather dull Nestlé-sponsored exhibition on food and nutrition, designed for French-speaking kids. Another 200m brings you to the Musée Historique, 2 Rue du Château (Tues–Sun: March–Oct 10.30am–noon & 2–5.30pm; Nov–Feb 2–5.30pm; Fr.4; SMP), with a large section devoted to Vevey’s mammoth Fête des Vignerons (Wine-Growers’ Festival), a Bacchic celebration in music, costume and dance of the region’s viticulture that’s traditionally held about every 25 years – most recently in 1999. The appropriately named Quai d’Entre Deux Villes leads you on into LA TOUR-DE-PEILZ, 1km east of Vevey and dominated by its white château (the towers of which were apparently once roofed with animal pelts – hence the odd name). Inside is the Musée Suisse du Jeu (Swiss Museum of Games; Tues–Sun 2–6pm; Fr.6; SMP), an absorbing run-through of diversions and entertainments down the millennia, from 2500-year-old ancient Egyptian dice to the latest video games. Plenty of the more modern exhibits are hands-on – you’re encouraged to play and tinker as much as you like, and there are cupboards full of board games should you feel the urge for a quick session of Kerplunk! or Connect-4.
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