Audrey Hepburn’s Swiss Village
My love of Audrey Hepburn dates back to early childhood. Like so many, I am drawn to her iconic movies and unforgettable performances, not to mention her grace and goodwill off camera. To this day, curling up on the couch and watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sabrina, or Roman Holiday never fails to brighten my spirits.
Last summer, on route to Lausanne, I drove through Audrey’s beloved Swiss village, Tolochenaz. My husband and I had spent a few days in Annecy, France, and shortly before we left town, I remembered her living somewhere near the area. Audrey spent the last thirty years of her life here in this tiny, tranquil town just east of Geneva. Her home, which is privately owned today, remains marked with a stone baring the words ‘La Paisable,’ or ‘Peaceful.’ With its flowering rose bushes, ivy covered walls, and powder blue shutters that open up to green hills and lush vineyards, it’s easy to make sense of such a name. Audrey’s life was witness to both the extremities of war and the bright, demanding lights of the silver screen, and it was here in this place where she found her peace in the end. Less than a mile from her home, she is buried in the local cemetery among her fellow townspeople. A creaky wrought iron gate opens up to the small plot. Her grave is along the back wall, under a blooming cherry tree. It is not ostentatious, nor is it crowded with tourists. The only difference from the graves surrounding it are the few pictures and mementos left behind by visitors passing through.
Meanwhile, in the small town square (fittingly named ‘Place Audrey Hepburn’), a fountain gurgles with fresh water nearby a bronze bust of the Oscar winning actress and humanitarian. There are no gaudy signs and no tourist buses. Just a quiet village quietly paying respects. Had I not looked up Audrey’s resting place before our departure that day, I would never have thought to stop when the small highway sign of “Tolochenaz” came into view. I’m so glad I did. It makes me wonder what treasures await around every corner…