Brunch on the Farm
Reinventing Swiss Hospitality

Seldom has a new idea been so rapidly embraced into the national culture as Switzerland's delightful new tradition, "Brunch á la Ferme."

Article written July 2000




Photo: A window in the "labyrinth of hay" at the Von Niederhausen family farm in Marchissy

On Tuesday, August 1 -- Swiss National Day -- some 450 farms across Switzerland will be serving up fresh baked bread, jams, cheeses, sausage and other homemade delicacies to guests who come to experience a down-home country breakfast Swiss style!

These feasts fit for the most famished farmer are extremely popular, and it is advisable to reserve now if you want to attend. Prices range from 15 to 22 Sfr (Drinks other than coffee and tea are generally separate, half price for children). A list of some of the local farms follows on the next page.

A complete list is available at: "www.brunch.ch." In recent years this event has continued to grow in popularity, so be sure to make your reservations in advance.

"What better way to celebrate our National Holiday than with a dialogue between city and country, between consumers and producers."


From the Brochure
for Brunch a la Ferme

What at first glance looks like a long-established custom was actually born of a recent public relations idea. In 1993, the heads of Switzerland's agricultural associations met to consider how they might increase understanding for the agricultural way of life. "The idea was to bring the city and the countryside closer together," says Martine Bailly, Director of AGIR (Agence d'information agricole romande). The group noticed that National Day would fall on a Sunday that year and proposed that farms around Switzerland hold an open house.

"In the beginning it was supposed to be only for one year," Mrs. Bailly recalled. "But it was a huge success. People called back the following year to say that they wanted to come again, and the farms decided to continue the tradition." Indeed the event has become so successful that in 1999 it began actually spreading across the borders into neighboring France, Austria and Liechtenstein.

Most brunches begin at around 8 AM, but you can arrive any time up until noon. Beyond that, the similarities end. Each offers something different. Some provide pony-rides, wagon rides, traditional music, or exhibitions of farm animals. When you call to reserve, ask not only what is on the menu, but whether there are any special events. A list of participating farms in the Canton Vaud is reproduced following this article. This year there are only two farms in the Canton of Geneva -- both are described in some detail in the column to the right.


A few examples
(Please note - these are from August 2000, but they give an idea of the variety of events!)

Vigneron Louise Dussoix in Russin
(Geneva countryside --telephone: 754.1101)
Mdm Dussoix will be serving brunch from 8.00 to 14:00 on a terrace overlooking the vineyards and the canton of Geneva. (Sfr 12 or Sfr 15 if you want the cold cuts as well) Small farm animals such as chickens and ducks. Les vieux grenadiers, Geneva's traditional marching soldiers, will parade in the elaborate regalia worn by Swiss troops who served Napoleon. Stand selling homemade jam.

Jean-Claude Dupraz in Soral
(Geneva countryside, telephone: 756.24.57)
Mr. Soral will serve a traditional brunch beginning at 8:30 AM. Ponies rides for the children. Sheep, ducks and other animals. Grilled sausages served starting at noon. (Adults Sfr 20, children Sfr 10) Pony tours and drawing tables for the children. A "musical country atmosphere."

The Chauvet Family farm in Colombier-sur-Morges
( ½ hour from Geneva. Reservations: 021.869.9345)
The Chauvets and their two daughters produce a little of everything: wine, fresh vegetables, beef, poultry. Mrs. Chauvet plans to serve first a breakfast between (9:30 and 11:00 and then a dinner beginning at 13:00. The price is CHF 22. Children are welcome to explore the farm, and get to know the calves and other animals. You can purchase wine from the Chauvet vineyard, homemade nut bread and farm produce to bring home with you.

Von Niederhausen Family
Pre Baron, Marchissy (telephone: 022.368.1320
)
Mrs. Von Niederhausen is planning a hearty brunch including a wide range of products from her farm, as well as homemade terrines and pastries. For the children, there will be a maze made out of bales of hay. A horse-drawn wagon will regularly make a tour, and the passengers will be given an explanation of the challenge of farming at higher altitudes. (Marchissy is located on the road up towards St. George, around 15 minutes drive above Begnins. There will be signs on how to get there at the traffic circle at the top of the village). A local musician will play the accordion. Price: CHF 22.