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By Lisa Gibson, http://misswissbliss.wordpress.com/

Located in the quaint village of Rossinière, in the canton of Vaud, is the impressive but relatively unknown Swiss heritage site that is Le Grand Chalet (The Grand Chalet).

It is the biggest chalet in Switzerland and one of the largest wooden dwellings in Europe. It is also one of the oldest chalets in Switzerland and as such, is a protected monument.

Built between 1752 and 1756 by Jean David Henchoz, this fine example of traditional Swiss architecture was originally designed as a warehouse and storage cellar for cheese. It later became a hotel, when in 1852, it was converted into a guesthouse, and boasted visitors such as Victor Hugo and Alfred Dreyfuss.

However it is most famous for being the private residence of the late Polish French artist, Balthus. Considered one of the greatest figurative painters of the 20th century, Le Grand Chalet was home to both Balthus and his wife, after he purchased the property in the late 1970’s. Over the years, they welcomed celebrated writers, painters and other notable artists to Le Grand Chalet.  It was a place of inspiration, not only for the artist himself but also for countless other visitors, including the likes of the Dalaï Lama, Bono, Richard Gere and David Bowie.

Standing outside the chalet, one cannot help but feel dwarfed by the colossal dimensions. At almost 20 m at its highest point, including a tiled roof measuring 950 square meters, the chalet boasts an incredible 113 windows! More than 700 m3 of pinewood was used in its construction and the beautifully decorated façade features inscriptions and friezes, consisting of around 2,800 characters.

Today it is home to the Balthus Foundation. There are plans to convert the Grand Chalet into a museum. It will open to visitors on a permanent basis while continuing to serve as a home for his widow and their daughter.

Also worth a visit, is the Chapel Balthus, located in the center of the village. Featuring a collection of films, photographs, reproductions, letters and works as well as a reading area with a selection of books on site, it offers visitors a unique glimpse into the world of Balthus.

Association Chapelle Balthus
1658 Rossinière
(10h00 – 20h00)
026 924 42 42
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How to get there
Less than one-hour drive/train ride from Montreux, exit/disembark at the village of Rossinière (region of Pays d’Enhaut).

About the artist – Balthus
Balthusz Klossowski de Rola better known as Balthus, was born in Paris on February 29, 1908 and died at Rossinière on February 18, 2001.

For more information on the Balthus Foundation, visit http://www.fondation-balthus.com

Author's bio

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Originally from South Africa, Lisa Gibson moved to Switzerland in 2011 with her fiancé and has enjoyed every minute of this adventure. Currently based in Lausanne, she's a freelance and feature writer. She started her personal blog as a means of documenting her travels (both in Switzerland and around the rest of Europe) and as a way to share the expat experience with friends and family back home.
Lisa's love for Switzerland goes back to when she first visited as a teenager more than 15 years ago - so living here has been like a childhood dream come true! As an adult, her love affair with Switzerland continues… she loves exploring the region and discovering the lesser-known gems, often not mentioned in the tourism brochures.
The saying “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” could not be more true for her.