Chateau de Coppet 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 – Eighteenth-Century 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 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 from the time. Many rooms of the Chateau de Coppet have been preserved as they were in time of Mme de Staël with original furniture and art.
The interior of Chateau de Coppet can only be seen on a guided tour – available in English, French, and German. The palace is open Tuesday to Saturday from Easter to mid-October from 2 to 6 pm, July and August also 10 am to noon.
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 core of Coppet is thirteenth-century medieval but most buildings, including the arcades on Grand Rue, date from after the seventeenth century when Vaud was conquered by the Bernese. The most interesting old buildings apart from the chateau are in Grande Rue and Rue de Perron.
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.
The shop windows of Coppet are an interesting mix. Shops here range from old-fashioned grocery stores to digital service providers, wonderful bakeries and chocolatiers to traditional crafts including stone carvers and traditional woodworkers. Coppet also has a relatively large number of art studios.
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
Most of the lakeshore in Coppet is in private hands and not accessible to the public. However, several alleys from Grand Rue lead to the lake and at the small port with CGN boat landing visitors can freely access the water of Lac Léman.
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 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.
Restaurants and Hotels in Coppet in Vaud, Switzerland
Hotel du Lac (Since closed indefinitely) is the best hotel in the Coppet region and its Rôtisserie Grill restaurant offers the best cuisine in the region. The hotel has a guesthouse tradition going back to at least the early seventeenth century. Hotel du Lac uses antique furniture to complement the wood beams and thick ancient walls. Rooms are individually furnished in an old fashioned style. Many rooms have lake views, some with balconies. The pricy, but highly rated, restaurant offers mostly classical French cuisine and has a lakeside terrace. The hotel and restaurant has its own landing for guests arriving by private boat.
The nearby Hotel d’Orange is a far simpler affair and so is the hotel’s pizzeria. The name refers to the Dohnas family which once owned Chateau de Coppet while ruling the territory around Orange in Provence.
Food is also available from the Auberge du Chateau near the palace and further cafes in Grand Rue and Rue du Perron. During summer, a buvette serves food and snacks at the harbor too.
The Best Western Hotel Chavannes-de-Bogis, right at the Coppet exit of Autoroute 1 is a surprisingly pleasant and modern alternative for drivers. Nearby Divonne-les-Bains across the border in France also has several good hotels that are often cheaper than Swiss establishments.
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 can 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 three trains per hour are available from Genève-Cointrin taking 9 to 23 minutes. One train per hour go to Lausanne (41 minutes) 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.