• LOCATION 21 | Cowbells, Chalets and Balthus: A Swiss Alpine Village Excursion

    The Town Hall

    The Town Hall on Rossinière audio tour Cowbells, Chalets and Balthus: A Swiss Alpine Village Excursion

    Once across, stop in front of the Hotel de Ville, the Town Hall, on your right.

    The Hotel de Ville bears the coat of arms of the municipality of Rossinière and features a crane, the symbol of the County of Gruyère.

    When Elizabeth Strutt and her husband Arthur visited Rossiniere in 1840 they stayed here. In her book Elizabeth writes of her astonishment at the frugality of the meal provided on their arrival after a long day’s travel: vegetable soup, hard cheese and a few slithers of dried beef and plum cake. She also mentions the clock that was originally located on the front facade.

    She wrote:

    “... the clock tick-tocked close to our pillows with a most extraordinary sound, more like that of a steam engine than any other clock I ever heard; and every time it struck the hours the guet, or watchman, a merry fellow who walked about all night long, without even a stick in his hand to mark the dignity of his office, responded to it, in a shrill tone, informing the inhabitants at the same time who he was, and assuring them that all was well, and no fire."

    Very few people had clocks so villagers relied on the bells to inform them of the time. This tradition continues and the clocks still sound the eight o'clock curfew, originally designed to remind the population that it was time to go to bed and to dampen down the fires in their homes.

    Elizabeth Strutt soon fell in love with the village and the simple mountain life.

    She writes:

    “Awakened at sunrise by the goatherd's horn, and the tinkling of the bells, it was a race among us which should be ready the first, to see the goats scamper through the village, on their way to the mountains …”

    Once published, Elizabeth Strutt’s book encouraged other visitors and by 1879 there were some 500 hundred holidaymakers in Chateau d’Oex.

    Let's keep moving.

    With the Hotel on your right, continue walking. Take the path to the right and into the town square. I'll meet you there.

Cowbells, Chalets and Balthus: A Swiss Alpine Village Excursion