Travellers looking to indulge their philosophical side can now visit a historic French estate that was once home to Voltaire.
Château de Ferney-Voltaire, located in the Jura Mountains near the border with Switzerland, has been restored and turned into a remembrance site. The French Enlightenment writer was famous for his philosophical works such as Candide, and spent the last 20 years of his life at the Ferney estate after purchasing it in 1758. The chateau’s location near the Swiss-French border was strategic, as his views and works had seen him fall out of favour with European kings – including the King of France – but the fact that theatre was banned in Geneva kept the playwright from residing in the Swiss city. The home was visited by many famous people of the era like Adam Smith and Giacomo Casanova and Voltaire published his Philosophical Dictionary, the Treatise on Tolerance, several tragedies and theatre plays while there.
For the past three years, restoration work has been done on the chateau, adding elements that help to bring the Age of Enlightenment to life for visitors. The garden level at the home hosts temporary exhibitions and the ground floor is dedicated to Voltaire and his life at Ferney. The interior of the building has been restored and the apartments of Voltaire’s niece Mme Denis have been reproduced.
The town of Ferney-Voltaire is the perfect stop for anyone interested in the philosopher, as it was permanently impacted by his presence. He set up the local industries of watch-making and pottery, which helped to expand the population and celebrations are still held to honour his influence.