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Vevey, Switzerland: The Old Town, A Great Big Fork, & Charlie Chaplin (2nd of 6 Parts)

posted by in Food Tripping

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Mont-Pèlerin, Switzerland: The Country Manor & The Cable Car (1st of 6 parts)
Vevey, Switzerland: The Old Town, A Great Big Fork, & Charlie Chaplin (2nd of 6 Parts)
Vevey, Switzerland: The Market & The Museum – 2 Photo Essays (3rd of 6 Parts)
Lausanne, Switzerland: Up The Hills & Fondue for Two (4th of 6 parts)
Geneva, Switzerland: The Smallest Big City In Europe (5th of 6 parts)
Fondue x Four: Food in Switzerland (Last of 6 parts)

Upon reaching Vevey, the first thing that my Bin and I see is the expansive headquarters of Nestlé right smack on the waterfront. The Y-shaped green glass building is known as Palais Nestlé, a most appropriate title for something that stretches a full block. It was here in 1867 that Henri Nestlé established what is now the world’s largest food manufacturer. Walking past the structure, visions of Nescafé and Maggi flit through my mind, as well as the baking demo I did for Nestlé Philippines back in ‘06. It’s cloudy today in Vevey, a resort town along the Swiss Riviera that hugs the northwestern shores of Lake Geneva. The lake echoes the sky’s moody shades of grey.

Nestle Building, Vevey

Vevey near the funicular station
Vevey near the funicular station

commercial center in Vevey

Vevey has a modern side, evident in its Starbucks and St Antoine Centre Commercial, but its charm lies in the Grande-Place or Place du Marché, part of the Old Town and the heart of Vevey. The huge town square is dominated by a pillared building called the Grenette, or town granary, which dates from 1808 and now houses the tourism office.

Vevey's Grande Place
Grande-Place. The Grenette is visible in the distance.
fascinating storefront
fascinating signage

Various shops ranging from fromageries (cheese shops) to patisseries and Salon de Thés selling tea accoutrements dot the narrow Old Town alleys. I’m absorbing the town’s spirit, oohing and ahhing over everything that grabs my fancy while my Bin appreciates the area’s old houses and shuttered facades.

statue in Vevey's Old Town
statue in Vevey’s Old Town

This is my idea of traveling, getting “lost” in a foreign city and soaking up its atmosphere, feeling its vibe. I find myself enchanted. Though guidebooks say that Vevey is known for its “sophisticated ambience,” I find that it has a pure simplicity to it as well, a restrained tastefulness waiting to be found by the visitor; an encounter of a world past and a world now.

pigeons on a rail

Vevey is famed for its splendid waterfront views, and the sun smiles down on me and my Bin as we head to the lake. Boat rides around Lake Geneva are suspended for the winter, so we gaze out at the water, noting the almost ruler-straight positions of the pigeons lined up on the railings.

Charlie Chaplin in Vevey

Quai Perdonnet (street) faces the water where a statue of Charlie Chaplin stands. A short line of tourists waits to have their photos snapped beside the actor’s likeness. The English comedian arrived in Vevey in 1953 and stayed until his death in 1977. His grave and that of his wife’s is in the Corsier sur Vevey cemetery. Aside from that, there is a square named in his honor as well as this statue facing the waters of Lake Geneva. While my Bin snaps my photo, I realize just how short Charlie Chaplin is. I’m only 5’2” myself, but this guy mustn’t have been any more than 5’4”! Funny how actors seem so much taller onscreen.

Looking out over the water, I catch a strange sight. I grab my Bin’s arm and whisper frantically, “Is that a FORK I see sticking out of the lake?!” My Bin looks in the direction I’m pointing at. “It sure is!” He whoops. We run towards the fork (gads, how weird is that!) and after having ourselves a good giggle, I run atop a stone and pose with the fork. My Bin is pretty nifty with a camera and here, he makes me look like I’m grabbing the darn thing.

grab a fork

fork in Lake Geneva

The fork isn’t a permanent structure, however. Situated directly across the Musée de l’Alimentation (Nestlé Alimentarium), a museum devoted to the history of food products (which I’ll feature in my next post), the fork is in commemoration of its 10th anniversary. I hear that it was supposed to be removed last January, but thank goodness for me, it was delayed.

Here, more snaps of the magnificent waterfront as seen from Vevey:

down by the waterfront

down by the waterfront (1)

down by the Vevey waterfront

12 Responses to “Vevey, Switzerland: The Old Town, A Great Big Fork, & Charlie Chaplin (2nd of 6 Parts)”

  • Ciao Lori – I went to Vevey myself in June – it was lovely to be on the lake, and I admit I did sneak a Starbucks espresso instead of Nescafè! :) Looks like you had some sun even if it was cold…

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  • Great pictures! My mom and uncle went to boarding school in Vevey. The only pictures I’ve ever seen of the place, are their childhood school pics. Definately charming!

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  • Wow, Im so amazed with that fork! So amusing :) Your pics are so nice,what a way to spend your birthday!

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  • love the “FORK” shot! :D

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  • Gigantic fork! IMagine digging that through an equally monstrous cheesecake! ;D

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  • Love that lone pigeon perched atop the fork!

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  • Oh my God! Your photos have triggered memories! My family used to live in Vevey back in 1996-98. Our flat was a few blocks away from Placette and right across park. I used to skate/ cycle past Charlie during the summer months and that fork was there 10 years ago! It was removed for a while but people complained so they stuck it back in!

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  • I worked on Nestle for years, so when you mentioned Vevey, that was the first thing that came to mind. How cool f0r you to see their headquarters!

    And, ike Ablosh above, my first thought upon seeing the giant fork was using it to dig into an equally giant dessert! Yup…my apetite is truly larger-than-life. ;-)

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  • those manor stores are everywhere, huh? i’m a fan of your food blog. i went to switzerland a few years ago to visit relatives. I stayed in geneva for a couple of months and we also drove to lugano. i loved it. i miss the place. can’t wait to see where else you’re going..

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  • Hi, I am happy to stumble on your site and read more about my little big town.
    Great information shared on this post about Vevey. Hope you will come back again and perhaps you can ring us for a cup of tea in one of our famous tearooms. Ciao

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  • I, too, have pictures of the fork and Charlie – I went on a trip with my mother in 1993 – my fork also has a bird on it. :) I, however, have pictures of Charlie surrounded by Rose bushes in full bloom – very pretty. I love your blog.

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  • I had the pleasure of visiting Vevey while on a mission trip with friends. First time there. The view from the lake was breathtaking. Of course had pictures at the statue of Charlie Chaplin. Loved the open markets with the very tasty pastries. Saw the Nestle headquarters. Took a tour up one of the snow covered mountains. Absolutelt beautiful.

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