Film legend Charlie Chaplin spent 24 years living in the Manoir de Ban, a grand old mansion above Vevey in Switzerland. In 2016, his charming former home and grounds were cleverly and artfully transformed into Chaplin’s World and opened to the public.
Wandering through the rooms of the mansion it is easy to imagine you’ve been invited to a Chaplin family soirée. Each room is faithfully decorated in period furniture, much of it original from when Chaplin’s family lived there until his death there in 1977.
Each room also has a screen showing home movies and news footage of the times, including reports of when Chaplin, a British citizen living in the U.S., was named persona non grata by an anti-communist committee – Chaplin had been a vocal supporter of the Soviet Union against the Nazis.
In another room a film of Chaplin playfully entertaining his family while dining seems to invite you to join the light-hearted gathering.
The years Chaplin spent in Switzerland were some of his happiest and the Manoir and grounds give a sense of this. Wandering around the cypress-shaded lawns it feels like you might bump into the family engaged in its humorous antics.
Next door to the Manoir is The Tramp café restaurant and The Studio, a museum inspired and created by the world-famous Musée Grévin in Paris, which runs Chaplin World – Musée Grévin is famous for its lifelike wax figures.
Almost like an iceberg, most of the museum, which is packed full of comedic Chaplin history, is hidden below the surface. Multimedia exhibits and startlingly real wax Chaplins are encountered at nearly every turn. Spread over two floors, it covers 15,000 square metres.
This no-expense-spared display of original artifacts and replica Hollywood sets and scenes creates a memorable portrait of Chaplin, his life and times, and of course his career as, not only one of the world’s greatest comics, but also as the perfectionist director, producer and writer of his films.
Original artifacts include the famous shoes, cane and hat the Tramp always wore. Who doesn’t remember the iconic Tramp with his unmistakeable mustache, big floppy shoes and twirling cane bumbling through a world of comedy and pathos?
In addition to Chaplin’s iconic characters, the museum reveals the man behind them. Even if you know the history behind his exile to Switzerland in 1953 after the US government revoked his re-entry permit and his other scrapes with the authorities, the museum will not fail to give you a deeper sense of his life and work.
The average visit time is 2 hours and 30 minutes, however there is so much to see and take in, you could easily spend longer. Lunch at the adjacent restaurant café The Tramp is always an option. On sunny days it is possible to dine outside.
Then there is the possibility of exploring the sprawling grounds of the Manoir, a perfect way to walk off a lunch.
Dates: all year round except except December 25th and January 1st
Hours: open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except from March 31st to September 30th when it opens from 9 a.m to 6 p.m.
Address: Route de Fenil 2, 1804 Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.
Entrance: CHF 25, children (6 – 15) CHF 18, under 6 free.
Website: Chaplin’s World
There is ample car parking and a bus stop for those planning to come by train and bus. Bus 212 leaves from Vevey train station every 30 minutes at 8 and 38 minutes past the hour for most of the day across the week, including the weekend. The trip from the station takes around 15 minutes. The stop is called Chaplin – bus 212 timetable.