It's the Château de Coppet that puts this lake village on the map. Enclosed within vast iron gates, the château has been kept in its original 18th-century form, with luxurious Louis XVI furnishings arranged in a convincingly lived-in manner; its grounds, which harbor grand old trees, hidden courtyards, and stone stairs, are equally evocative.
Built in the 1300s, the château was restored when purchased in 1784 by Jacques Necker, a Genevan banker who served as financial minister to France's Louis XVI. The turmoil of the French Revolution and Necker's opposition to Napoléon forced him into exile in this splendid structure, where his remarkable daughter, Madame de Staël, created the most intriguing salon in Europe. Her intellectual sparkle and concern for the fiery issues of the day attracted the giants of the early Romantic period: Lord Byron, the Swiss historian Jean-Charles Sismondi, the German writer August Wilhelm von Schlegel, and British historian Edward Gibbon. Part of the château is still occupied by family descendants, but you can see the interior on a guided tour. The language of the commentary is generally chosen according to the language of the tour participants; tours in English are not always available.