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August 8, 2011

What To Do In Vevey, Switzerland

by Anne Paddock

Vevey, Switzerland is a vibrant town on the north shores of Lake Geneva (Lake Leman) about 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Lausanne or 50 kilometers (32 miles) from Geneva. The town is most famous for being the home of Charlie Chaplin for the last 25 years of his life (1952-1977) although the Swiss may tell you Vevey is most famous for being the place where milk chocolate was invented in 1875. Or, they may tell you that Vevey is where the Nestle Company was founded in 1866 by Henri Nestle.  All may all be true but Vevey is also where the Musee de l’Alimentation or the Food Museum is located.

The Food Museum is located in a 3-story building that served as the Nestle Headquarters from 1936-1985.That same year, the Nestle Foundation converted the building to the Food Museum.  In 2001, the museum closed for nearly a year while a major renovation was completed and then opened the doors again in 2002. Located on Quai Perdonnet in downtown Vevey on the shores of the lake, the Food Museum is a must for anyone interested in food and also a great place to take kids.
Alimentarium-batiment-facade-sud-2012There are 5 permanent exhibits in the museum:
  1. Cooking:  The cooking section provides a historical perspective of food preparation and the cultural differences along with real chefs giving demonstrations.
  2. Eating:  The eating section provides information on the relationship between man and the food we eat. In addition, nutritional value and the evolution of tableware is provided through exhibits.
  3. Purchasing:  The purchasing exhibit explores the different ways we purchase and process food. Food safety, agriculture, trade and distribution are presented in an exhibit that resembles a supermarket.
  4. Digesting:  The digestion section can be best described as a hands on adventure in testing your five senses, watching a 3D film and measuring your metabolism by running inside a floor to ceiling wheel which will make you feel like a human gerbil.
  5. Nestle Room:  Historical exhibits depicting vintage packaging, ad campaigns, posters, and more of Nestle products through the years are presented here.

Cuisine-MT-1In addition, there is 1-2 temporary exhibits a year, a bookstore, cafe, and workshop where cooking and baking classes are offered throughout the week for kids (Wednesday afternoons, Saturdays and Sundays) and adults (all week-long).  The classes are in French primarily although the instructor did speak English when my daughter attended a class on how to make the cookie cone that holds ice cream (think European ice cream cones, not your typical American ice cream cone).

Musee de l’Alimentation
Quai Perdonnet – CP 13
1800 Vevey
41 21 924 41 11

Open Tuesday – Friday from 10:00 – 5:00 and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00-6:00. Closed Mondays.

For a complete list of classes and workshops go to the website.  Reservations have to be made by phone (021 924 41 41 – within Switzerland or 41 21 924 41 41 outside of Switzerland) or you can print out the form on-line and fax (021 924 45 63) or mail.

Guided tours are in 8 languages and on the last Sunday of the month, there is a family tour and workshop.

Monument Charlie ChaplinIf you happen to be in Vevey on a Tuesday or Saturday morning, start your visit at the big square by the lake on Grande Place where market day begins at about 7:00 am and continues until 1:30 pm.  The market isn’t as big or comprehensive as those in major cities but is still worth a visit to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, breads, fish, and specialty foods.  Go early for the best selection and then continue on down Qaui Perdonnet to the Food Museum to complete your day.  Don’t forget to look for the Charlie Chaplin statue along the walking path parallel to the lake and in front of the museum.

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