EuropeArts & Culture

Following Audrey Hepburn's Footsteps Through Switzerland

By , October 27th, 2014

The cemetery in which Audrey Hepburn lies at rest in Tolochenaz, Switzerland is small and unpretentious. A vineyard provides one border; a corn field on another; a church steeple in the distance. Hepburn’s gravesite is equally unassuming. Pink geraniums line the space  pink was Hepburn’s favorite color. The marker itself is a simple cross. An assortment of ceramic angels have been placed here and there, most likely by adoring fans who have trekked to this remote location to pay their respects to this very fair lady.


An exhibit on Audrey’s life


Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer
Photo by Bruce N. Meyer 

Audrey Hepburn reflected the best of Hollywood’s Golden Age. In 1954, she won her first Academy Award for Roman Holiday in which she starred opposite of Gregory Peck. The Vespa scooter on which they tooled around Rome is on display at the Fondation Bolle, a small museum in Morges, a part of a permanent exhibit about Hepburn’s life in this region. Most of the exhibit includes movie posters, magazine covers and the wardrobe worn by Hepburn.
It’s just recently that the people in the Lausanne region of Switzerland have promoted Audrey Hepburn’s presence. Switzerland is a hideaway for many celebrities based on the citizenry’s willingness to let the stars live their lives without fuss.


Living without a fuss


Audrey Hepburn in Switzerland
Photo by Netpalantir 

The Audrey Hepburn Trail through Morges also includes the courthouse where she married Andrea Dotti in January 1969, her second marriage. It, too, is exceedingly simple and without fanfare. The next stop in Morges should be the Maier Confectionary, a tea room and chocolate shop on La Grande Rue where Hepburn often enjoyed a cup of tea. A box of “Audrey Hepburn” chocolates in a commemorative tin is a lovely souvenir.

Tulip Festival Morges castle
Photo by Tristan Martin 

Pick up a map of the Audrey Hepburn Trail at the Morges Tourist Information Center, just across the street from the Morges Castle, which dates to the 11th century. The castle is known for its beautiful gardens and is home to the annual tulip and iris festivals.Hepburn loved flowers and the garden behind her home, so surely, these events would have been part of her life.


Glimpse Audrey’s garden


A bust of Audrey Hepburn in the village square of Tocholenaz. Photo by Burce N. Meyer
Photo by Bruce N. Meyer 

Now it’s time to hop on the bus for a 10-minute or so ride to Tocholenaz. Get off at the second stop, appropriately named “the Audrey Hepburn stop.” The village square contains a bust of Hepburn and a nearby water fountain. Follow the winding streets to the home where she lived for nearly 30 years. The house is privately owned and a high fence prevents too much inspection, but you can get a glimpse of the garden, which was where Hepburn spent her final days.

Hepburn's former home in Tocholenaz. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer
Photo by Bruce N. Meyer 

Then wander a few more blocks to the church where her funeral was held, where so many of Hollywood celebrities came to pay their last respects, as well as the world leaders with whom she met in her years working for humanitarian causes.


A love of pink flowers


Audrey Hepburn's gravesite, Photo by Bruce N. Meyer
Photo by Bruce N. Meyer 

Finally, climb the small hill to the cemetery. As we opened the gate, we met a group of Japanese travelers who had just visited her grave. One was in tears. Audrey Hepburn has a huge fan base in China and Japan. The grave is not hard to spot – not because it is ostentatious in any way – but because of the pink flowers. I had purchased a single pink rose at a flower shop in Morges and laid it gently on her headstone. It was one of dozens of flowers on her grave.

Audrey Hepburn's grave in Switzerland
Photo by Bruce N. Meyer 

Audrey Hepburn’s movies touched my life. Her sense of adventure and defiance in Roman Holiday, her laughter as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, her squeals as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady – “I’m a good girl, I am.”

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What celebrities would you offer similar respects to?