Interview with Anne-Catherine Lyon, President of the Chillon Castle Foundation

A look back at the first 100 days of Anne-Catherine Lyon’s presidency: 

From opening a contemporary art exhibition to inaugurating the Bazaar art studio, welcoming our 250,000th visitor along the way, our new President is everywhere – both inside and outside the castle walls. The former Education and Culture Councillor for the State Council of Vaud tells us all about her first presidential steps and her objectives, with dynamism and a smile. 

By Lise Leyvraz Dorier

Anne-Catherine Lyon at the opening of Baz’art on October 7, 2022.

1) What have you most enjoyed about Chillon during your first 100 days as President?

All of it! In that I find the team works even better than when I was Vice President. I already thought very highly of them, but they just keep going up in my estimations. I am amazed by the sheer range of knowledge and skills we have here. I also like feeling the weight of responsibility towards this monument, which has lived through over 1,000 years of history. The Foundation’s first Board meeting went very well; I had already had the pleasure of sitting on the Board, but it’s one thing to be a member, and quite another to be the President. The quality of the castle’s management team makes these meetings a significant and enjoyable experience. What a luxury!

2) What are some of your current challenges?

Two challenges that unite both the Board and the team: namely, enticing back the international and Swiss visitors who discovered the castle during the pandemic. 

We’re also becoming more enterprising, such as through the latest restoration work which will be completed shortly, including updates to the lakeside facades.

3) What is your favourite room in Chillon Castle and why?

I really like the Coat of Arms Hall, which has more of a ‘cosy’ atmosphere. And, of course, the old prison, because you can feel and see how the castle sits on the natural rock – with the two intertwining, just level with the lake. 

Anne-Catherine Lyon and Marta Sofia dos Santos welcome the 250,000th visitor to Chillon Castle on October 31, 2022.

4) Do you feel a particular connection with the historic building, the lake or the region?

One of my favourite walks – which I take with a dear friend – is a round-trip along the lake from Montreux to Villeneuve, via Veytaux. You pass the castle twice en route. The diversity of the lakeside is just splendid. You can see the castle for almost the entire walk, which takes around two and a half hours. The joy of strolling along makes me think of medieval travellers, who would have almost exclusively travelled on foot.

5) Do you have a particular anecdote to share with our blog readers?

I was initiated into the ‘Compagnons du Guillon’ wine brotherhood at Chillon Castle, through a ritual known as ‘tirer au guillon’, which involves extracting wine straight from the barrel. As is customary – I sprayed myself with white wine. That said, the nicest part was seeing so many people at the castle. It gave you an idea of how the great households who lived here in the Middle Ages would have felt. The more people are around, the more the castle comes to life.

6) How do you envisage your next few years as President of the Chillon Castle Foundation?

I see myself serving this monument and seeing through the various steps of its restoration work. Given the quality of the entire Chillon Castle team and the support of the local authority, I feel reassured that, together, we will meet these objectives.

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