The last paradise in a crazy world

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Julie Andrews became world-famous as Mary Poppins, and as she has always been so enchanted by the holiday region of Gstaad, the commune of Saanen has now bestowed the British actress and Oscar winner with honorary citizenship.

It was her quote, now more true than ever, saying that “Gstaad is the last paradise in a crazy world." In this sentence she summed up the region's key values in a unique way. Julie Andrews left her most visible mark in the 1970s. Both she and her husband Blake Edwards, who passed away in December 2010 and was a famous director and producer of top-notch Hollywood films, were already regular visitors to the region at that time.

The British actress with honorary citizenship
The British actress with honorary citizenship

Donation of Christmas lighting

Julie Andrews has always had a particular liking for the local chalet style. Saddened that the beautiful roofs wouldn’t really show in wintertime, she spontaneously decided to donate Christmas lighting to the whole village. For the 12 years to follow, the actress also paid for maintenance and the decorators for the lighting. The characteristic gable lights on the houses, the so-called "Julie lamps", still adorn countless houses in Saanenland to this day during the darkest time of year, highlighting the region's world-famous charm.  

Pink Panther lured to Gstaad

Thanks to her large number of friends and acquaintances in the film industry, Julie Andrews brought international stars to Gstaad including Audrey Hepburn, who is best known for her role in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Julie's husband, Blake Edwards, immortalised Gstaad in the 1970s and 1980s in two classic movies from his Pink Panther series. The lead actor, American star comedian Peter Sellers, fell in love with the village during filming and decided on the spur of the moment to buy a chalet, where he often spent his holidays until his death.

Introduced "Dr. Zhivago" to the Menuhin Festival

In "The Tamarind Seed", which was also filmed in Gstaad, Julie Andrews played the lead role alongside Omar Sharif, who was a world star at the time and is most famous for classic movies such as "Dr. Zhivago" and "Lawrence of Arabia". He also became a regular visitor to Gstaad, where he was a regular guest at the Menuhin Festival. It was in their chalet that Blake Edwards wrote the script for another huge success: "Victor/Victoria" with Julie Andrews in the leading role, which was to become a showstopper Broadway musical. "He always claimed that he came up with the best ideas in Gstaad," says Julie Andrews about her late husband.

An der Ehrenbürgerfeier auf dem Kapälliplatz
An der Ehrenbürgerfeier auf dem Kapälliplatz
Julie Andrews an der Ehrenbürgerfeier
Julie Andrews an der Ehrenbürgerfeier

Film music festival "Cinemusic" founded in Gstaad

From 1995 to 1998, the couple Edwards-Andrews founded and supported the film music festival "Cinemusic", which they organised in Gstaad. It was thanks to their personal connections that other international showbiz stars such as Liza Minnelli, musician and legendary producer Quincy Jones, composers Michel Legrand and Henry Mancini, Roman Polanski, singer Zucchero, entertainer Caterina Valente and Claude Nobs from the Montreux Jazz Festival came to Gstaad. 

Always ready to support local causes

With all of their exceptional engagements, Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards have greatly contributed to making Gstaad a world-famous resort. “They deserve special thanks and recognition," emphasises the commune of Saanen. Whenever she was asked to do something to help the region, Julie Andrews was always happy to follow. According to the Mayor of Saanen, Aldo Kropf, “Julie Andrews always said that she wanted to give something back to the place she considers home”.

Unanimous vote for Julie Andrews

In a unanimous vote and with great applause, the communal assembly agreed to award her honorary citizenship of the commune of Saanen on 28 March 2014 at Hotel Landhaus Saanen. The official ceremony had taken place on June 6, 2014 at the Kapälliplatz in the heart of Gstaad’s Promenade. Julie Andrews was very moved and reaffirmed her close ties with the region. As her present to the community she revealed at the fountain the sculpture “Sitting Duck” which her husband Blake Edwards had created.

"The Sitting Duck" made by Blake Edwards
"The Sitting Duck" made by Blake Edwards
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Gstaad

The region has a further 9 chalet villages alongside Gstaad, located at an altitude of between 1,000 and 1,400 metres. Yet despite its style and class, Gstaad has remained genuinely Alpine and down-to-earth. It is proud of its tradition and lives and breathes it every day.

Over a thousand cultural and sporting events are available to visitors every year, including top events with an international reputation. In addition, visitors will find first-class hotels, outstanding shopping facilities along the traffic-free promenade and an airport in Saanen.

Contact

Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
Promenade 41
CH - 3780 Gstaad
Tel +41 33 748 81 81
Fax +41 33 748 81 83
info@gstaad.ch

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