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.
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 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 be something of an afterthought even though a host of cozy, unpretentious cafés, restaurants and shops line the High Street, which can be walked from one end to the other without stopping in about three minutes.
Now, however, an impressive renovations project on the north end of the “Grand-Rue” to accomodate the future arrival of an upscale hotel, and the recent addition of a new gastro-restaurant/deli, an elegant tea salon, and a hip boutique selling contemporary furnishings are set transform 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 long gone by has been given a new lease on life. Tucked in at street level, a new gastro-restaurant/fine 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 (Tip: book ahead!).
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. They shared with me their commitment to quality and service, which I wrote about in a blog post from 2014 entitled: Guillaume Bichet in Coppet: Chocolates and pastries made with a delicate, contemporary touch.
Only a month ago they opened a beautiful new space at 42 Grand-Rue — Guillaume Bichet Salon de Thé — that serves fine teas, coffee, wine, a lunch menu, and the same delectable pastries found at their nearby pastry shop. The tea salon brings a touch of relaxed sophistication to the village that it didn’t have before.
The elegant, calming decor mixes traditional and modern elements in the same welcoming way that the Grand-Rue itself does and 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
The village offers other highlights for visitors including the chic womenswear boutique Antipodes at 44 Grand-Rue; the Ditzoff Art Gallery at 52 Grand-Rue; Fantasia Fleurs at 8 Rue des Murs, and the small, interesting Musee de Coppet, housed in a 16th-century building at 30 Grand-Rue.
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.