Unlike his younger colleague Rousseau (whom he couldn’t stand), the great French writer and philosopher François Marie Arouet (1694-1778), better known by his pen name Voltaire, was not born in Geneva. He was born in Paris but lived much of his life in exile because of various controversial books he had written.
For the first three years of his exile (not ten years as claimed on the wall by his front gate) he lived in this house in Geneva, where he wrote numerous books and also pursued his hobby of designing formal gardens.
He lived in this house from March 1755 to June 1758, until he bought the castle of Ferney, now named Ferney-Voltaire, where he lived until his death in 1778. This is only a few km from Geneva, in the Pays de Gex, but it is on the French side of the border.
Voltaire himself would have loved this museum, with its detailed documentation of formal garden design in the 18th century. But for those of us who have trouble working up much interest in that sort of thing, the museum is rather a bore.
I personally would have preferred to learn more about Voltaire’s life and writings, as in the Espace Rousseau I had seen earlier the same day, but that isn’t what this Voltaire museum is about.
As a consolation prize I went out and spent another three Swiss Francs, the equivalent of two Euros, on a Folio edition of three of Voltaire’s satirical tales, so I at least had something of his to read on the train, in addition to Shakespeare’s Le songe d’une nuit d’été.
My photos in this post are from 2008. I revised the text in 2018.
See also: A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Geneva.
For more on Voltaire, see my post Eleven times as marvelous?
about Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur in Baden-Baden.