Charlie Chaplin, one of the most powerful protagonists in world cinema spent the last 25 years of his life in Vevey Switzerland, one of the pearls of the beautiful Swiss Riviera. While living in Lausanne, I got the opportunity to visit Chaplin’s World, the Charlie Chaplin house in Switzerland. It was wonderful to know about the bright mind and creative man behind the baggy pants, tight coat, small hat, oversized shoes, and a cane in the hand through his everyday life, portrayed thoughtfully inside his house. I gained insight not only about his personal life inside the mansion but also his artistic creations in the newly built studio film museum, in the same premise. The visitors here get to see the recreated scenes and characters built with wax from the famous movies of our beloved tramp. If you are like me whose childhood Sundays in India mostly began with a Chaplin show or are interested in Chaplin, the passionate artist, the comic genius, and the cinematic innovator who worked on both sides of the camera, come along with me and explore Chaplin’s world.Charlie Chaplin, one of the most powerful protagonists in world cinema spent the last 25 years of his life in Vevey Switzerland, one of the pearls of the beautiful Swiss Riviera. #Chaplin #Switzerland Click To Tweet
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Reaching Chaplin’s World, the Charlie Chaplin house in Switzerland
I took a bus from Vevey Gare bus stop (near the Vevey railway station) to the “Chaplin” bus stop. The bus ride took around 15 mins. In Switzerland, no matter how long or short the trip is, beauty is omnipresent. The short 15 mins bus-ride to Chaplin too was no exception. The combination of Lake Geneva, the Alps , vineyards and a beautiful small town is indeed a perfect choice for an artist to settle down.
From the bus stop, on both the directions, picturesque lake, vineyards and pine studded mountains greeted me. Creative inspiration in such a place is in abundance. In the words of Chaplin,
It was wonderful to know about the bright mind and creative man behind the baggy pants, tight coat, small hat, oversized shoes, and a cane in the hand through his everyday life, portrayed thoughtfully inside Chaplin's World … Click To Tweet
Life in Switzerland is really pleasant and can be anything you want it to be. One can rub elbows with the illustrious, the rich and the artistic, and politically one can agree to disagree with all of them. And everything is so central; in two hours we can reach practically any European capital. I have made several trips to London and Paris but spend most of my time in Corsier – it is really the ideal country home.Charlie Chaplin
Manoir de Ban, the Charlie Chaplin house
Finally upon entering Chaplin’s World, we saw a vibrant and verdant park and Manoir de Ban, the beautiful Charlie Chaplin house. The mighty Alps, the refreshing greens, and large trees instantly put my mind to rest. I was completely immersed in the restful silence of this idyllic location. I learned that this house was bought by Charlie Chaplin on 31 December 1952, and became a home for his wife Oona and their eight children. I saw the map of the area and headed towards the ticket office. You can book your tickets to Chaplin’s World in advance and skip the line.The mighty Alps, the refreshing greens, and large trees instantly put my mind to rest. I was completely immersed in the restful silence of this idyllic location – the beautiful Charlie Chaplin house. #ChaplinsWorld #Travel… Click To Tweet
A slice of history and Charlie Chaplin
On 19th September 1952, while sailing from New York to attend the premiere of Limelight in London, Chaplin was told that his re-entry permit to America had been revoked. Although he had lived in America for almost 40 years, he was still a British citizen. After years of being hounded by the FBI, lawsuits, constant attacks in the press, and organized boycotts of his films, Chaplin decided not to return to America and relocated his family to Switzerland.
The museum inside the Charlie Chaplin house in Switzerland
As soon as I entered the beautiful mansion, a lifelike wax figure of Chaplin waved me a hello and leaped forward. The gesture surely makes visitors feel welcomed. The beautiful photograph of Chaplin’s wife Oona O’Neill was full of life. I waved back to them and started exploring their beautiful mansion.As soon as I entered the beautiful mansion, a lifelike wax figure of #Chaplin waved me a hello and leaped forward. The beautiful photograph of Chaplin's wife Oona O'Neill was full of life. I waved back to them and started exploring… Click To Tweet
Chaplin in the news – A dedicated room inside the Charlie Chaplin house for press articles on Chaplin
The press room speaks volumes about the popularity of Chaplin – the legendary artist. I loved the details in this room. The digital screens in this room are exceptionally well placed. I loved seeing the newspaper clips, magazines, and news coverage on different aspects of Chaplin’s work. Chaplin was one of the most famous people in the world, so everything he did or said was news! Every film he made received blanket coverage from the press.
The library inside the Charlie Chaplin house in Switzerland
When Chaplin relocated to Switzerland he was 63, but didn’t retire. It was here in this library he wrote the screenplays for “A king in New York” and “A countess from Hong Kong” as well as the books – My Autobiography and My Life in Pictures.
If we put life under the microscope, it is a very horrifying and frightening thing. So we enter into romance. It feeds us spiritually. It’s an exaltation. Its the potentiality of life – what we can make of it – a beautiful thing – a wonderful mystery.Charlie Chaplin
Two most prominent things I personally liked in this room were the unique chandelier and the window through which one can enjoy the beautiful Alps and a green lawn.
The sitting room inside the Charlie Chaplin house in Switzerland
Inside the sitting room of our beloved Tramp, I saw a piano and a violin. I learned that Music was always part of Chaplin’s life – his parents were both music-hall singers, and he learned to play violin, cello and piano by listening to them.
With such happiness, I sometimes sit out on terrace at sunset and look over a vast green lawn to the lake in the distance, and beyond the lake to the reassuring mountains, and in this mood think of nothing and enjoy their magnificent serenity.Charles chaplin
The dining room inside the Charlie Chaplin house in Switzerland
The dining room was a place of ritual. At 6:45pm dinner was formally announced, though Charlie and Oona often dressed informally. Oona sat at Charlie’s left, and the children fought over who would sit beside the mother. Dinner was an open forum for discussion, jokes and stories. Although the children spoke primarily French, Chaplin made it a rule that everybody must speak English at the dining table, because he could not speak or understand French.
The bedroom inside the Charlie Chaplin house in Switzerland
Inside Charlie Chaplin’s bedroom, I loved the set of photographs that portrayed him in all ages.
Chaplin and his spouse Oona
Oona O’Neil was the daughter of American playwright Eugene O’Neil. Her father left when she was four years old. Oona married Charlie in 1943, and supported his through his many difficulties in America. She was always on set with him during filming, managed the household, and later tended to his failing health in Vevey. They adored each other and had eight children together. She was a prolific reader, diarist and letter-writer.
Laughter is one of Charlie's great gifts to me. He has made me mature and I keep him young ~ Oona O'Neil Chaplin #ChaplinsWorld #Travel #Switzerland #Chaplin Click To Tweet
Laughter is one of Charlie’s great gifts to me. I hadn’t known it before. My childhood was not very happy. There is certainly no further fixation about my feeling for him. He has made me mature and I keep him young. When you are happy you don’t go in for self-analysis. He has given me a great sense of security and stability which is nothing to do with his wealth. I could be happy in any other environment. My security and stability with Charlie stem much from the difference in years between us. Other young women who have married mature men will understand what I mean; provided the partners are suited. Such a marriage is founded on a rock; solid and with no unpleasant surprises ahead. The man’s character is formed, his life shaped. He has learned a sense of responsibility and tolerance. I never consciously think of Charlie’s age for 364 days of the year. Only his birthday is the annual shock for me. I considered Charlie young. I also find it most vexing to be called a schoolgirl wife. Maybe I will be spared that remark, now that I am getting some gray streaks in my hair. Not once in all our years of marriage has Charlie lost his temper with me. I have learned to keep silent and let him charge ahead. Unless he asks me for a, I try criticism, I never venture an opinion. He respects my judgment and jokes about my always being right in the long run, when I disagree with him on some point. In all this, I try not to get on his nerves.Oona O’Neil Chaplin
Oona is my heaven of tranquility. It's the calm courage of the soul that no dispair can live with ~ Charlie Chaplin #ChaplinsWorld #Travel #Switzerland #Chaplin Click To Tweet
She hasn’t changed since the day I met her. She is always quiet, gentle and so loyal. Her instincts are right. She never makes a mistake and she does it all so simply. She likes her home, her household, cooking, and she is even jealous. She thinks, that I am so handsome and attractive that if the most beautiful woman in the world had half a chance she would make a die for me. She is very calm. She has great repose and self-sufficiency. She does sometimes get upset and she will be a little cold with me maybe for a day or two. But she doesn’t shout but she becomes more silent. We both know what the other doesn’t like and we both always take care accordingly. All our friends adore her. I have to work on it as most people do. One puts on charm, tries hard to be light, Oona doesn’t. She doesn’t put on anything. She is herself; that’s how she is. She doesn’t pretend and people love her. She is really noble. She has humor too. I am at ease with her. Often we will sit for a whole evening and not say a word, the old lady and I. We don’t have to. Oona is my heaven of tranquility and I don’t mean it’s just a fulfilled mother tranquility that she has. It’s the calm courage of the soul that no dispair can live with. Oona is an extremely shy, reserved person but she has great wisdom, great dignity, tranquility, peace, and patience. Of course, being married to somebody like me, she has to have patience. Peace, I have had that since I got married. I was looking for her, all my life without knowing it.Charlie Chaplin
Chaplin and Einstein
It was wonderful to meet Mr. Einstein (albeit in the form of a wax sculpture) at Chaplin’s house. He was a good friend of Chaplin and both of them shared a love for playing the violin. In 1926 Albert Einstein wanted to meet Chaplin during his visit to California. Chaplin was thrilled to accept. They got on very well, discussing politics and economics. Later, when Chaplin met Einstein in Berlin during his Europe trip, Einstein’s son remarked on the psychology of the popularity of Einstein and Chaplin. He told that Chaplin is popular because he is understood by the masses. On the other hand, the professor’s popularity with the masses is because he is not understood!
Chaplin and other celebrities
Chaplin met hundreds of great men and women during his lifetime; performers, sports people, intellectuals, high society, politicians, royalty, composers and scientists. He was both a part of and an observer of history. He continued meeting the famous, the rich and the talented in Manoir de Ban.
Chaplin and travel
Chaplin traveled a lot and everywhere he was greeted with love. A room was dedicated in his residence-cum-museum to showcase his travels.
Towards the end of the tour of his house and before going to the studio film museum, I met a jolly and ever-charming Chaplin, all ready for a relaxing shower (look below!). After coming back from the museum I read his book – “My Autobiography” and got to know him a bit more. Behind his laughter, he was indeed a serious and thoughtful man. For those who want to know him and also want to immerse in a good read, consider reading My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin. Here is an excerpt from his book.
Man is an animal with primary instincts of survival. Consequently, his ingenuity has developed first and his soul afterwards. Thus the progress of science is far ahead of man’s ethical behavior. Altruism is slow along the path of human progress. It ambles and stumbles along after science. And only by force of circumstances is it allowed to function. Poverty was not reduced by altruism or the philantrophy of governments, but by the forces of dialectic materialism.Charlie Chaplin
The studio film museum in Chaplin’s World
A lot of thought has gone into building this studio film museum. It is indeed a tribute to the maestro; the passionate actor. director, writer, and composer. Like the house that presents the personal Chaplin, the separate studio film museum takes us through an immersive journey through his career via a series of rooms portraying the remarkable scenes from Chaplin’s famous movies. The visitors get the opportunity of playful interactions and create beautiful souvenirs of their visit, as I did for one of my favorite Chaplin movies, Modern Times.
The Little Tramp – An immortal character
Charlie Chaplin created the character Tramp almost a century ago. With his bowler hat, baggy pants, cute little mustache, exaggerated shuffling walk, and an abnormally springy flexible cane which he often twiddles and with several trademark maneuvers the Little Tramp was an instant star. The Tramp was closely identified with the silent era and was considered an international character. The pathos of the character lies in the hope for a more permanent transformation through love, and his failure to achieve this. Now, even after a hundred years, The Tramp is still an icon and remains immortal. When Chaplin was working at Keystone Studios, the character Little Tramp was created by accident. In an interview, Chaplin explained how he came up with the look of our beloved Tramp.
A hotel set was built for (fellow Keystone comic) Mabel Normand’s picture Mabel’s Strange Predicament and I was hurriedly told to put on a funny make-up. This time I went to the wardrobe and got a pair of baggy pants, a tight coat, a small derby hat, and a large pair of shoes. I wanted the clothes to be a mass of contradictions, knowing pictorially the figure would be vividly outlined on the screen. To add a comic touch, I wore a small mustache that would not hide my expression. My appearance got an enthusiastic response from everyone, including Mr. Sennett. The clothes seemed to imbue me with the spirit of the character. He actually became a man with a soul—a point of view. I defined to Mr. Sennett the type of person he was. He wears an air of romantic hunger, forever seeking romance, but his feet won’t let him.Charlie Chaplin
Mabel’s Strange Predicament was actually the first film featuring the Tramp but a different film, shot later but with the same character, happened to be released two days earlier. The character Tramp debuted to the public in the Keystone comedy Kid Auto Races at Venice and was released on 7 February 1914. Mabel’s Strange Predicament, shot earlier released on 9 February 1914. Keep a collection of Tramp’s first films. Check out this DVD from Amazon.
Two films made in 1915, The Tramp and The Bank, created the characteristics of Chaplin’s on-screen persona. Chaplin officially retired the character in the film Modern Times, (released 5 February 1936), which appropriately ended with the Tramp walking down an endless highway toward the horizon.Charlie Chaplin created the character Tramp almost a century ago. With his bowler hat, baggy pants, cute little mustache, exaggerated shuffling walk, and an abnormally springy flexible cane which he often twiddles, the Little Tramp… Click To Tweet Tramp was closely identified with the silent era and was considered an international character. The pathos of the character lies in the hope for a more permanent transformation through love, and his failure to achieve this. #Chaplin… Click To Tweet
Now with the emergence of artificial intelligence and large scale automation, mass unemployment is not far. I think Charlie Chaplin’s movie Modern Times is very much relevant today, where machines still dictate the furious pace which human beings must follow – just the machines have changed. Chasing an impossible goal for the pursuit of happiness. Chaplin used humor to denounce the dehumanization of man by man and machine. Modern Times evolved into a comedy that embraces difficult subjects such as strikes, riots, unemployment, poverty, and the tyranny of automation. Watch Modern Times.Now with the emergence of artificial intelligence and large scale automation, mass unemployment is not far. I think Charlie Chaplin's movie Modern Times is very much relevant today, where machines still dictate the furious pace which… Click To Tweet
Inside the studio when I watched the scene from Gold Rush, all other scenes kept coming back to my mind especially the boot eating scene. This film is treat to a child and adult alike. Watch The Gold Rush.
In City Lights, comedy and pathos are in perfect harmony. Perhaps no other film showcases Chaplin’s unique ability to make us laugh and cry in equal measure quite like City Lights. Watch City Lights.
I couldn’t help but pose with the boy who made me laugh when I was a little girl. In The Kid, tragedy introduces us to the kid, but comedy makes us fall in love with him, as the Tramp raises the kid to become his partner in petty scams. Watch The Kid with your kids and build warm memories.
The Great Dictator begins with this title: “This is a story of a period between two World Wars—an interim in which Insanity cut loose, Liberty took a nosedive, and Humanity was kicked around somewhat.” The most favorite part to me in The Great Dictator is the speech given by Chaplin at the end. Here is an excerpt from the famous speech. Watch The Great Dictator.
In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines! The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure!Charlie Chaplin
I enjoyed the seamless blend of humor, romance, suspense and social commentary, in The immigrant, a legendary short comedy. Chaplin in this movie is a joy to watch; fresh and funny and full of life. Watch The Immigrant
Similar articles from Travel Realizations
Switzerland is an incredible country and I feel very lucky to have gotten an opportunity to live there for almost 6 years. During my stay both me and my blog underwent a transformation in every aspect and I have written innumerable articles on Switzerland trying to put my experiences into words. Let me take you to some beautiful places with words and heart-felt realizations I had while witnessing those places. So which article below piques your interest?
Where to stay in Vevey?
Modern Times Hotel, Vevey – Choose a lake side room in this hotel and enjoy a delicious breakfast here.
Vevey House – Just 150 feet from the shores of Lake Geneva, the Vevey Hotel occupies a 19th-century mansion in the historic center of Vevey. Enjoy free Wi-Fi and a bar with a terrace overlooking the lake.
B&B Corseaux Beach – If you are planning a trip to Vevey in summer then in this hotel you get an outdoor pool and a sun terrace with panoramic views of the lake. Bonus – free WiFi everywhere and sumptuous breakfast. This hotel is located in a beautiful location from which Vevey is 0.6 mi away, Montreux is 3.1 mi away, and Lausanne is 5.6 mi away.
B&B 7e Art – This beautiful Chaplin-themed decor hotel is located in the village of Corsier-sur-Vevey, 0.6 mi from Lake Geneva. Enjoy the wonderful environment and the delicious breakfast here.
Other must-see places in Vevey
- Walk along the lake promenade till Charlie Chaplin square and see the beautiful sculpture of Chaplin. Take in all the Alpine panorama.
2. Just opposite the sculpture on the lake see a giant stainless steel fork, a symbol of this town and the emblem of the Alimentarium (Nestle food museum), much like The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen.
3. Visit Alimentarium, the first museum in the world devoted exclusively to nutrition.
5. If you have an hour or so then visit Swiss Camera Museum in Vevey. I loved my visit here.
Practical Travel Tip: Book your tickets for Chaplin’s World in advance.
One of my favorites – The Charlie Chaplin Collection
To me, comedy begins the moment Chaplin wears his hat, fixes his toothbrush mustache, and steps into his large shoes. Whenever I watched the silent Tramp, I didn’t feel the need for language and embraced the silence. I believe Tramp’s silence made him understood around the world. Silence is powerful for sure! Apart from laughter, Chaplin made his audience feel for little Tramp. The pathos of poverty, the tyranny of machines on human beings, the ongoing rush to material prosperity, and a particular political ideal, all profound subjects were presented in a way that touches one’s heart and mind. And so were the beautiful exhibits in Chaplin’s World – a must-visit place if you are in Switzerland. If you are living far away from Switzerland, then compliment this blog post with Chaplin’s book My Autobiography.
Artists never die. Chaplin will never die. His work will live on! When comedy and pathos are mixed, then it becomes empathy. “A smile and, perhaps, a tear” will bind us together in perfect unity. Chaplin, who was born into extreme poverty, turned his fate through hard work and talent. He is and will remain a real inspiration.
Artists never die. #Chaplin will never die. His work will live on! When comedy and pathos are mixed together, then it becomes empathy. “A smile and, perhaps, a tear” will bind us together in perfect unity. #Wanderlust #Travel Click To Tweet To me, comedy begins the moment Chaplin wears his hat, fixes his toothbrush mustache, and steps into his large shoes. #Chaplin #Travel Click To Tweet
I have no design for living, no philosophy – whether sage or fool, we must all struggle with life. I vacillate with inconsistencies; at times small things will annoy me and catastrophes will leave me indifferent.Charles Chaplin – My Autobiography