Always a vision of beauty, elegance, and grace, Hollywood film actress and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn will also always be remembered for her simplicity and good nature. In spite of being a popular Hollywood fixture, Hepburn chose to live a quiet life all the way in La Paisible in Tolochenaz, Switzerland where she found true contentment and happiness in the company of her loved ones and enjoying the simple life.
One of Hepburn’s sons, Sean remembers his mom’s reason for choosing to reside in Switzerland, a country so far away from the United States where she shot to stardom. “It was a place where there would never be a way,” scarred by her experiences during World War II when she was still residing in Arnhem in the Netherlands (her mother’s home country).
She ended up suffering from malnutrition, anemia, and frequent bouts of depression having had a negative effect on her health even during her adult years.
“She told us stories about carrying messages as an 11-year-old for the Dutch Resistance in her shoes or subsisting on ‘green bread’ made from peas,” says Sean in an interview with People Magazine. He remembers his mother as liking things “plain and simple” and mostly preferred a life of mucking around in her rose garden.
An excerpt from the book, How to be Lovely by Melissa Hellstern:
Find a Peaceful Place
Switzerland held a special place in Audrey’s heart. A neutral country, Audrey felt protected from war, just as her mother once had in their Dutch homeland. But it was in La Paisible, an 18th century stone farmhouse with eight bedrooms and its white picket fence, that kept her there for good. With less than five hundred year-round residents, Audrey shared daily life only with loved ones, the farmers, and the occasional cow. It was close enough to the city, but surrounded by the peaks of the Swiss Alps, vineyards, fruit orchards, and the shores of Lake Geneva. For Audrey, home was “worth more than a second Oscar”. And what a home it was.
Here are some quotes from Audrey about loving life in Switzerland:
“It’s everything I long for. All my life, what I wanted to earn money for was to have a house of my own. I dreamed of having a house in the country with a garden and fruit trees. I’ve lived in Switzerland for more than half my life. I love it. I love the country. I love our little town. The shops. I love going to the open market twice a week with all the fruit and vegetables and flowers.”
“It is because I live in the country in Switzerland that I can lead a totally unselfconscious life and be totally myself. I have a delightful rose garden and I have an orchard and jellies to preserve.”
“[Switzerland] is the absolute opposite of the life I led working. I was to a great extent, left in peace. The Swiss press doesn’t care what you do.”
After being diagnosed with cancer, Hepburn opted to spend the remainder of her life in La Paisible where she died on January 20, 1993, she was only 63.
Happy birthday, dear Audrey, you will be forever missed!
What about you? Where’s your own peaceful place? Write about it for our Locations section or if you have stories about Audrey’s La Paisible or Tolochenaz, don’t hesitate to submit your Locations contributions.:)