MANY medieval villages dot the landscape of Vaud Canton, but of those that lie in populous areas and withstand heavy traffic, possibly none have preserved their charm and architectural integrity more successfully than the Bourg of Coppet.
Update: Since publishing this post, there’s been some changes to the town’s commercial makeup — departures, new arrivals, renovations, location changes nearby — but the charm still remains and makes this lovely village well worth the visit.
Travel by paddlesteamer
Located about halfway between the cities of Geneva and Nyon, Coppet’s main street, the “Grand-Rue”, runs parallel to the Lac Leman shoreline and in summer, day-trippers disembark from Belle Époque paddlesteamers at the town’s quay to visit the Château de Coppet, located a five minute walk uphill along a village sidestreet.
Visiting the bourg itself may have been something of an afterthought even though a host of cozy, unpretentious cafés, restaurants and shops lined the High Street, which can be walked from one end to the other without stopping in about three minutes.
Now, an impressive renovation of a former hotel into upscale apartments; the addition of a new take-out/cook-in delicatessen-restaurant as well as a chic lunch-café and a contemporary furnishings shop have transformed Coppet village into a sought-after destination in its own right rather than just an afterthought.
Harmonious mix of new and old
Whereas in other medieval villages time has brought the destruction of ancient buildings that gradually deteriorated beyond feasible repair or commercial tenants who decorated their shopfronts in ways that clashed with their surroundings, Coppet has pretty much avoided these traps.
A case in point is the comprehensive renovation project on the north end of the Grand-Rue, which has seen the old Hôtel-Rôtisserie du Lac, where James Bond author Ian Fleming found inspiration for Goldfinger, gutted and its exterior beautifully renovated for the purposes of installing up-market apartments.
Directly facing the restored Hôtel du Lac is another renovation success story. An imposing listed building that served as a barn in times gone by has been given a new lease on life. Tucked in at street level, a new take-out/cook-in delicatessen Le Comptoir des Délices (20 Grand-Rue) brings a fresh and inviting look to the corner lot as well as an appreciative lunch-time crowd who enjoy its excellent cuisine.
Filling the gap on the Grand-Rue
In 2011, a very talented young couple — Guillaume and Elodie Bichet — opened a top-end chocolaterie-pâtisserie-boulangerie at 38 Grand-Rue in Coppet. Elodie talked with me about their commitment to quality and service, which I covered in the post Guillaume Bichet in Coppet.
They eventually opened a beautiful salon de thé at 42 Grand-Rue that has now been transformed into a comfy restaurant-café called Côte Jardin that serves the lunchtime and afternoon crowd. It brings a touch of relaxed sophistication to the village that it didn’t have before and its popularity attests to that.
The modern, calming decor can be credited to the designer/owner of the furnishings boutique Casagiu Deco & Design. While Casagiu used to be located on the Grand-Rue, in 2018 it moved to a spacious new location in a former outbuilding of the Château de Coppet, near the latter’s front gates on Rue de Greny just off Rue de la Gare.
A new diversity of choice
Casagiu’s owner, Laetitia, named the boutique by combining the first initials of her three daughters’ names: CA-rla, SA-rah, and GIU-lia. At Casagiu Deco & Design she has brought a breath of fresh air to a characterful centuries’ old location through her carefully selected choice of modern furnishings and decorative items that stress comfort, beauty and function with a touch of whimsy as well.
Also worth a look-see
Also worth visiting are the Ditzoff Engraving & Art Gallery at 52 Grand-Rue; Fantasia Fleurs at 8 Rue des Murs, the small, interesting Musee de Coppet, housed in a 16th-century building at 30 Grand-Rue and of course, the Château de Coppet itself.
With a solid, well-preserved foundation to build on and a welcome influx of new businesses bringing fresh energy and enthusiasm, Coppet village is more than ever a destination worth visiting for its own sake.♣
Photos by Creative Living Geneva unless otherwise specified.