Château de Coppet, a palace associated with Neckar and Mme de Staël, is the top sight in this pretty Lake Geneva port village just north of Genève.
Coppet is a small village on the shores of Lake Geneva just to the north of Geneva. The village is mostly visited to see its eighteenth-century chateau with its splendidly preserved original interior. The rest of the small village is pretty and worth strolling through but without any major sights. Transportation to Coppet is easy by car, train, or boat making it a pleasant half-day trip excursion destination from Geneva or Lausanne.
Chateau de Coppet – Historic Palace on Lake Geneva
The top sight to see in Coppet is the eighteenth-century Chateau de Coppet. The original castle was destroyed and rebuilt as a more comfortable palace from 1680 to 1730.
By the end of the 18th century, the palace became the residence of Genevan financier Jacques Neckar, better known for being Louis XVI’s minister of finance until days prior to the outbreak of the French Revolution.
The Palace of Coppet is more closely remembered as the seat of Neckar’s daughter, Madame de Staël. She was banished from France by Napoleon and turned the Chateau de Coppet into a Salon of Europe, frequented by intellectuals and notables. Many rooms of the Chateau de Coppet have been preserved as they were in the time of Mme de Staël with original furniture and art.
Although now cut off by a road from the tree-lined avenue planted in 1825, the most impressive approach to Chateau de Coppet is still walking in the shade of these trees. The avenue leads from the southwestern entrance to Coppet on Route Suisse to the entrance of the palace with lovely views of the lake and old town. Although still in private hands, the avenue is freely accessible at all times to the general public and a pleasant stroll.
Strolling in Old Town Coppet on Lake Geneva
The Maison Michel, Grand Rue 30, dates from the fifteenth century and now houses the small local history museum (Vieux Coppet). It has an eclectic collection of art and old utensils from the region. Maison Michel is open from April to late October from Tuesday to Saturday from 2 to 5 pm.
Also worth seeing in Grand Rue is the Maison de Ville – a mid-sixteenth-century building – and the Tour de Mézières – a fifteenth-century tower with courtyard, galleries, and a polygonal staircase. The church is partly fifteenth-century Gothic but most of the facade is from the early eighteenth century or newer.
From mid-May to mid-October, the Coppet Tourist Information Office offer one-hour guided walks of Coppet on Friday afternoons at 2 pm. Departure point is from Place des Ormes in front of the CGN boat landing.
Coppet on Lake Geneva in Switzerland
Swimming in Lake Geneva at Coppet is possible at the small nineteenth-century harbor and to the east of the main town center at the Parc des Rocailles with a play area for children and picnic facilities. Neither area has the most pleasant of beaches though – swimmers with their own transportation would do better to head further up the road to Céligny or Nyon.
Transportation to Coppet in Vaud, Switzerland
Coppet is the first village in Canton Vaud (Waadt) when driving from Geneva on the lakeside Route 1. Coppet is just 2 km to the north of the border with Canton Genève.
Coppet may either be reached by driving along the lakeshore road from Geneva or via Autoroute A1, exit Coppet. Driving time from Geneva Airport (GVA) is as short as 15 minutes. Free parking is available in several well-marked parking lots.
Coppet can also easily be reached by train or bus. Generally, five trains per hour are available from Genève-Cointrin taking only 9 minutes on the twice-hourly regional express (RE) trains but 26 minutes on the more frequent Leman Express S-trains (any L1, L2, L3, or L4 train with Coppet as final destination). The RE trains usually continue to at least Lausanne with traveling times of around 40 minutes to Lausanne Station with stops at most towns en route, including Nyon (6 min) and Morges (30 min).
Buses are available from Coppet train station to Nyon via amongst other Chavannes, Célginy, Crans, Crissier, and Divonne-les-Bains (France). These buses generally operate once or twice per hour.