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 –

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 12.02.09 PM

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 –

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 12.01.10 PM

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 –

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 12.08.22 PM

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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  1. Boali
    Reply

    That’s a Dutch flag. 😉

    • Melinda
      Reply

      @Boali, @Rich, @Tom, my mistake. I was in a hurry and I thought I had pulled a photo of Switzerland and France flags. I’ve made a quick correction. Thanks for reading!

  2. Rich
    Reply

    The picture of the flags at the top of the article shows a Swiss flag and a Dutch flag. The stripes in the French tricolor are the same colors as those in the Dutch flag, but in the French flag the stripes are vertical, blue nearest the flagpole, then white, then red.

  3. Tom
    Reply

    Maybe you should have a French flag flying instead of a Dutch flag????

  4. RoamAmore
    Reply

    If I remember correctly, there is a similar hotel at Belgium/Netherlands border

    • Melinda
      Reply

      @RoamAmore I’d heard about Hotel Kalin which is half in Slovenia and half in Croatia, but didn’t know there was also another in Belgium/Netherlands.

      These properties are certainly unique and the builders clever, though I wonder how tough it is for them to do their taxes. Thanks for reading!

  5. Dr Kim
    Reply

    Do you really think they don’t know in that hotel?

    • Melinda
      Reply

      @Dr Kim, I’m not sure if I understand your question. The owner purchased the hotel quite aware that it was half in Switzerland and half in France, and throughout the years the border has made for some interesting situations. Do I think that tourists and staff nowadays don’t cross back and forth freely? Of course they do, but the fact that the hotel is situated in such a unique spot is pretty cool.

      Please ask again if I didn’t answer your question fully though!

  6. Dr Kim
    Reply

    I wanted to say that it is absolutely a French flag! And you don’t think that the owners would put a Duct flag there? You apologised too quickly. I know what a Duch flag looks like because I fly one now and then.

  7. Rich
    Reply

    @Dr Kim, the blue, white, and red flag in the photo inside the hotel is certainly a French flag, but that’s not what we were talking about. When the article was first posted, at the top of the article–where now there’s a picture of a ghostly figure stepping over a dotted iine–there was a picture of a Swiss flag and a Dutch flag flying from two adjacent poles, against a blue sky. That picture has been taken down, leaving our comments about the Dutch flag without context.

    • Dr Kim
      Reply

      Aha. Thank you. That explains all

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