"They came to see where Gilberte de Courgenay lived. So I told them about the First World War, when my grandparents owned the Hôtel de la Gare, my three aunts worked as waitresses and my father and his brother made music every evening for the soldiers. And Gilberte, with her charm and her incredible memory for names. Then, by chance, the singer Hanns in der Gand came to Courgenay and was so fascinated by Gilberte's personality that he composed a song for her. With its verses in Swiss German and its French chorus, the song became popular throughout Switzerland and was later followed by a play and a film. The visitors left with the smiling image of Gilberte, who had become more than a song; she was my aunt and even today, she still attracts people to the Hôtel de la Gare in Courgenay."
Eliane Chytil-Montavon, niece of Gilberte
The village of Courgenay was made famous, particularly in German-speaking Switzerland, by "la Petite Gilberte". Born on March 20, 1896, Gilberte was one of three daughters of the Montavons (Gustave and Lucine), who had owned the hotel in Courgenay since 1906. During the First World War, many soldiers were stationed in Ajoie, close to the French and German lines. Gilberte's kindness and good humour made her a true Swiss icon among the soldiers and officers who frequented the Hôtel de la Gare from 1914.
Good to know
- Courgenay is also known for its mysterious "Pierre percée" (pierced rock).
- Don't miss: the nature trail around the Etang de la Creule.
DownloadLa Petite Gilberte | PDF, 26 kB
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