Felicity Long
Felicity Long

Picture this. Your client comes to you looking for a suggestion for a vacation spot in Europe, somewhere that hasn’t been in the news in a negative way lately, and somewhere he or she can take the kids.

Here’s a choice you might not have thought of: the newly opened Chaplin’s World in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, an area also known as the Vaudois Riviera.

Part museum and part interactive entertainment experience, Chaplin’s World celebrates the comedy genius of Charlie Chaplin, who lived with his family in Vevey during the last quarter century of his life.

Like a lot of people, I am generally familiar with Chaplin’s work, so I was interested in, without being over-the-top excited about, visiting the new attraction, which opened in April.

That was until I got there. In fact, I was completely unprepared for what a fascinating block-buster attraction this is, one which I think even young children who don’t know Chaplin’s films would enjoy.

Chaplin’s World is set on the actor’s estate and comprises the museum itself, along with his 19th century home, which is also open to viewing and contains artifacts and playfully interactive elements, as well as 35 acres of vast, beautifully tended gardens.

The real draw, however, is the museum, which visitors experience in stages. First, there is a 10-minute film that sets the scene, offering glimpses of some of Chaplin’s best movie moments, along with background information on the state of the world during his heyday to give them context.

A movie poster at Chaplin's World, a museum devoted to Charlie Chaplin in his former home, Manoir de Ban, in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, where he lived from 1952 until his death in 1977.
A movie poster at Chaplin's World, a museum devoted to Charlie Chaplin in his former home, Manoir de Ban, in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, where he lived from 1952 until his death in 1977. Photo Credit: Felicity Long

Visitors then follow his career by walking through meticulously reconstructed movie sets, films projected on museum walls, movie posters and life-size figures in costume, all while surrounded by sound and light shows.
Although you can walk through the museum at your own pace, be prepared to spend a least at few hours at the estate, which also offers an indoor/outdoor restaurant serving coffee, wine and light meals.

Chaplin’s World, which was 15 years in the making, benefits from its location in Vevey, where families can also visit recently reopened Alimentarium, a so-called food academy, which teaches visitors about the history of food as it is prepared in many cultures through interactive exhibits and experiences.
Kids especially are likely to gawp at Ze Fork, a huge fork jutting out of the water of Lake Geneva in front of the Alimentarium.

Also new in Vevey is The Nest, an interactive attraction that showcases the products of the Nestle company and is located in the factory where Henri Nestle is said to have invented milk chocolate.

Speaking of chocolate, the Laderach chocolatier in Vevey offers guided tours, workshops and tastings. The company also has a Chaplin connection by offering confections in the form of the actor’s shoe, the one he ate in “The Gold Rush.”

As to where to stay, the four-star Modern Times Hotel was named for Chaplin’s 1936 comedy and carries on the Chaplin theme with film clips playing in the lobby, hotel staff wearing the Little Tramp’s trademark bowler hat and other decor elements.

The 138-room property opened earlier this year during the run-up to the opening of Chaplin’s World, and also offers more traditional hospitality elements, such as a restaurant/grill, a bar, a fitness center and, a feature I particularly liked, spigots on each floor that guests can use to fill carafes with still and sparkling water from the local mountains.

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