(Cover: Lausanne, Hotel Beau Rivage 1904)
Jean and Ernest Agard Evans, who moved to Switzerland during the golden age of Swiss tourism may not have done any conquering but they were emblematic of an epoch. Like other English travellers they were drawn to the Alps, but unlike the others, they stayed, extolling the virtues of Switzerland in their guidebooks.
The couple arrived in Lausanne in 1899 during the first period of mass tourism to Switzerland when many English came, they weren’t just aristocrats or rich members of the bourgeoisie.
The Agard Evans were alpinists, but by 1899 most of the Alps had already been conquered and in this they did not play a pioneering role. They were landed gentry and had a certain amount to live on, which came from pretty high stipend of land in the north of England and Scotland. This enabled them to live in Switzerland more comfortably than in England.
Ernest worked for a living publishing guidebooks for English speaking travellers. His previous employment was with a British company specialising in guides on firms and business hotels and his experience inspired him to launch two types of guidebooks. “Twentieth Century Health and Pleasure Resorts of Europe” was a compilation of hotel descriptions which included information on transport, accommodation reviews and practical tips.
Murray Guides, the first modern guidebook. The were later joined by pocket sized guidebooks. For over 40 years, the guidebooks were published at regular intervals, they were distributed in England, United States and New Zealand.
To be mentioned in the guidebooks you had to meet exacting standards in hygiene, hotel actitivities and leisure. Jean and his husband Ernest stayed in several of these hotels as they always got a better feel of the place when they slept there.
Herewith is a watercolour that Jean painted of the view from her hotel window in Locarno.