The Tale of An Unusual Hotel: Half in France and Half in Switzerland
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If you’re looking for a hotel that has a unique claim to fame, you need only to cast your gaze on the Hotel Arbez Franco-Suisse (also known as Hotel Arbez) that is located in both France…and Switzerland.
Located about five miles north of Geneva, the cozy hotel is just like any other hotel catering to alpine skiers with one exception – the border line between Switzerland and France runs right down the middle of the property. Literally. So you could get a good night’s rest in your bed in Switzerland, but when padding to the bathroom in the morning you’d be crossing the international boundary and walking on French soil. Here’s a screenshot of one of the bedrooms from the hotel’s website –
In 1862 the French and Swiss governments decided that the border would be modified, but the treaty specifically said that no existing buildings shall be affected.
Clever French citizen Ponthus speedily built a property in a specific place that would enable it to be partially on the Swiss side of the border, and partially in France. He succeeded in completing the property before the treaty went into effect, and was able to run a bar on the French side, and a grocery store on the Swiss side.
The property remained that way until 1921 when Jules-Jean Arbeze bought the building and converted it into the hotel that exists now with the upper stairway and rooms in Switzerland with the lower stairs and rooms in France. Here’s a screenshot of the charming hotel from their website –
Interesting stories have emerged from this curious division. During World War II when France was occupied by Nazi Germany, German troops could enter the French side of the hotel but were not allowed to pass into the side that was in neutral Switzerland. This essentially meant that the soldiers had to stay downstairs while French Resistance members and refugees stayed upstairs. Here’s a screenshot of the stairs from the hotel’s website –
If you visit today, a line separating France from Switzerland passes through the hotel. The bar is still located entirely in France and the stairs are still split in half with the lower belonging to France and the upper to Switzerland. The honeymoon suite bed is bisected by the border, as is the dining room and ski shop.
Rates start at 79 EUR for single accommodations.
Here’s a link to the Hotel Arbez Franco-Suisse website.
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