Coppet is a private site — though it acts as a museum in the summertime — and therefore one’s freedom of movement on the grounds is restricted at times, or at least some entryways are blocked. The easiest solution on the December day I found myself visiting was to walk around the perimeter of the structure as much as I could.
I will begin with that Coppet left little lasting memories for me, but I also spent an incredibly short time there. I think there are things to see, especially if the visitor is interested in Jacques Necker, a finance minister of Louis XVI’s doomed administration. I am not very familiar with the man myself, but he looks quite interesting and I have put his name down onto my never-ending list of people I want to read about.
The originally 13th century edifice that became Coppet came to Necker only in 1784. The history of these grounds up to that point seems to have been rather uneventful (which is how the occupants no doubt wanted it) excepting the late 14th and early 15th century when the ownership of this place went through several changes.
Construction here was finished in 1730, giving the place a rather striking look — if not very different from many other Vaudois châteaus (such as Prangins) — but it definitely suits the environment it is located in. The aspect of the building was peaceful and though no doubt tumultuous events have come to pass here, the structure looks as the very personification of serenity.
The other figure that should be mentioned herein is the daughter of M Jacques Necker, Mme Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein. I had not heard of her before I started looking into Coppet, but she has cut a formidable figure in Napoleonic Europe, perhaps best summed up by the following quote by Madame de Chastenay:
There are three great powers struggling against Napoleon for the soul of Europe: England, Russia, and Madame de Staël.
That said, I am quite unaware of Mme de Staël’s writings, but a brief look into what she was on about and Tolstoy’s reference that she was one of the prime developers of the movements of humanity in her era are praise that coincides well with Napoleon’s statement:
She teaches people to think who never thought before, or who had forgotten how to think.