10:00 – 17:00Today at the Château de Prangins
Located between Lausanne and Geneva, on the shores of Lake Geneva, the Château de Prangins is surrounded by a five-hectare estate comprising a park, a meadow orchard and the largest historic kitchen garden in the country. Home to the French-speaking headquarter of the Swiss National Museum, the site is a very special excursion and exhibition venue, combining culture and nature.
Although the Château de Prangins is the largest 18th-century building open to the public in Switzerland, the site was inhabited long before the 18th century. The medieval fortress, burned down when the Bern army invaded in 1536, was replaced by a country retreat. The current château, whose guests have included Voltaire and Joseph Bonaparte, owes its grandeur to the banker Louis Guiguer, who built it in the 1730s, so becoming Baron de Prangins. The classic French style, still admired today, immerses visitors in the elegant atmosphere of the Age of Enlightenment.
After many changes of ownership, the château was acquired by the Cantons of Vaud and Geneva, which gave it to the Swiss Confederation in 1975. In 1998, the Château de Prangins opened its doors as the French-speaking headquarter of the Swiss National Museum. The three floors and the cellar of the historical monument, which is listed as being of national importance, stage permanent and temporary exhibitions relating to Swiss history, identity and culture. The permanent exhibition ‘Noblesse oblige! Château life in the 18th century’ presents the life of the château in an original way, in the reception apartment of Louis-François Guiguer, Baron of Prangins.
At Prangins, the Château de Prangins welcomes visitors outdoors as well as indoors. No visit would be complete unless it took in the ‘Promenade des Lumières’ walk, the kitchen garden and the garden interpretation centre, with its exhibition ‘The Garden unveiled’. The historic kitchen garden, also created by Baron Louis Guiguer between 1723 and 1729, to feed the workers who built the château, and entirely dedicated to local varieties from the 18th century, is the largest in Switzerland. Like the garden interpretation centre and the ‘Promenade des Lumières’ walk, the kitchen garden is accessible free of charge during museum opening hours and is an integral part of the permanent exhibitions.