We recently went to visit Sophie’s great-grandmother in a small Western Switzerland village, Môtiers.
I adore this place.
Strolling the streets is like walking back in time. The centuries old cobblestones, fountains and buildings lead you on a walking museum tour.
Sparkling wine and absinthe flow from local distilleries. Old farms. Stone bridges built hundreds of years ago arch over the creek.
Each visit to Môtiers starts with a meal at Les Six-Communes restaurant. Absolutely amazing food and service to match.
The owners recognize and greet Sophie as soon as we walk in. They kiss us hello and goodbye.
We then make our way to Sophie’s great-grandmother’s apartment. On the way up the stairs is a sign announcing the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Museum, Môtiers.
The first time we visited, I was asked if I’d ever heard of Rousseau. With my insufficient French skills, I heard: Blah blah blah, Jacques Bla…ousseau, blah blah. I said: “Jacques Cousteau?” HA. Uh. No. Not the French explorer.
Rousseau, the Swiss philosopher whose works, according to Wikipedia, “influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.”
So, just a minor figure. I jest.
Rousseau spent a few years living in Môtiers. In fact, in Sophie’s great-grandmother’s apartment, from 1762-1765. He had been running from the French authorities after some of his writings ruffled their feathers. He stayed in this apartment until some equally angered residents stoned his windows.
“The house I live in is big and quite comfortable. It has an outside gallery where I walk in bad weather. And what means more than anything else is that it’s a refuge offered in friendship. I have a very beautiful fountain beneath my window and the sound of it is one of the things I love. These tall fountains in the shape of columns or obelisks, with water running through iron pipes into big pools, are a typical feature of Switzerland. I can’t express how agreeable it is to see all this beautiful water flowing in the midst of rock and wood during the hot weather. You feel refreshed just by looking at them, and tempted to drink from them when you’re not even thirsty.” — quote found on this tourism Web page.
I was inspired to come home and read a little about this philosopher. I was struck, not only by the enormity of one person’s contributions to society, but I realized there are so many opportunities to pick up a little bit of knowledge all around.
Especially in today’s world of information at our fingertips. You don’t have to scour library shelves if you don’t want. You can just spend 20 minutes on your computer or phone or tablet or TV. There’s always something to learn all around you.