In the seventh installment in the series looking at the world of James Bond, we visit Switzerland...

The World Of James Bond - Switzerland
8th December 2004

After crossing the border from France in Goldfinger, Bond continues to Geneva and the Hôtel des Bergues, where he drops off his passenger, Tilly Soames. Located on the shores of Lake Geneva at the Quai des Bergues, it was constructed in 1834 on the site of an old spinning factory and is the oldest of Geneva’s palace-style hotels. It was opened to exploit the fledgling tourism industry that began in Geneva when the first steamships arrived in 1827 and has had many distinguished guests over the years, including The Shah of Persia, Jean Cocteau, Edith Piaf, Sophia Loren and the Agha Khan. Although the the last decade of the 20th century saw several refurbishments and an extension, Hôtel des Bergues remains true to its original character.

Bond continues his pursuit of Goldfinger that at this stage has taken him from England and down through France: “Bond caught up with the high yellow silhouette just before Coppet, the tiny lakeside hamlet made famous by Madame de Staël. He hid behind a lorry.

At his next reconnaissance the Rolls had disappeared. Bond motored on, watching to the left. At the entrance to the village, big solid iron gates were closing in a high wall.”

Right: The Hotel des Bergues on the shore of Lake Geneva.


Goldfinger’s lair is located just behind the real life Chateau Staël, where French writer Madame de Staël made her home after the French Revolution and counted Lord Byron among her guests. After a speedy reconnaissance Bond heads for the Secret Service office in Geneva at Quai Wilson for some information and then back to the Hôtel des Bergues, where he checks in. Enquiring about his passenger, he is not surprised to find they had no Miss Soames at the hotel and after a quick shower he sets off again in the Aston Martin.


Bond heads across the Pont du Mont Blanc to “the Bavaria, a modest Alsation brasserie that had been the rendezvous of the great in the days of the League of Nations. He sat by the window and drank Enzian washed down with pale Löwenbrau”. According to Fleming, Enzian, a type of schnapps, “is responsible for Switzerland’s chronic alcoholism”. After thinking about the Goldfinger case Bond “ordered another double and with it a choucroute and a carafe of Fondant” - choucroute is usually known as sauerkraut , while he would have ordered a carafe of Fendant, a light dry white wine used in fondue - and thinks of the girl (“an enigma”, he decided). To finish, “Bond ordered a slice of gruyère, pumpernickel and coffee”.

Thinking he is close to closing the Goldfinger case, Bond decides to use the cover of darkness to take another look at Goldfinger's operation. His plan is complicated when he runs into Tilly Soames in the dark and finds that hidden amongst her golf clubs had been hiding a rifle with which she was intending to kill Goldfinger. Both their plans are foiled though, when the are found by Goldfinger's Korean henchman, Oddjob and taken prisoner. Goldfinger is less than impressed by meeting James Bond again; “Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: 'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action.' Miami, Sandwich and now Geneva. I propose to wring the truth out of you.”

Wringing the truth out of him turns out to involve being strapped to a table while a circular saw inches towards Bond's genitals. Thankfully passing out, Bond comes round to what he assumes is the voice of St Peter as he is stretchered off a plane in New York.

The Alps
Bond returns to Switzerland on the trail of Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Traveling as heraldry expert Sir Hilary Bray aboard a Swissair Caravelle, he makes a short stop at Basle before landing at Zurich Airport, where he is met by Irma Bunt, assistant to Blofeld. Blofeld wishes to adopt the title Comte de Bleuville, and Bond is meeting him under the pretext of establishing his right to the title. Driven a short distance in a Mercedes 300SE saloon, he is taken aboard an Alouette helicopter headed for Blofeld's alpine clinic.

The journey presents Fleming with the opportunity to demonstrate Bond's excellent knowledge of Switzerland’s geography, presumably learnt in his youth before his Scottish father and Swiss mother lost their lives so many years before in a climbing accident . Looking out the window “there was the Zürichersee to port. Their course was more or less east-south-east. They were flying at about 2,000 feet”. And later; “The big range to port would be the Rhätikon Alps. That would be the railway junction of Landquart below them. They held their course up the valley of the Pratigau. Would they keep on at Klosters or veer to starboard? Starboard it was.”

Bond reminisces about the old days while they fly over Davos and then “back on the old course again and giant peaks to right and left. This must be the Engadine. The Silvretta Group away to starboard, to port Piz Languard and, ahead, the Bernina range diving down, like a vast ski-jump, into Italy. That forest of lights away to starboard must be St Moritz!… A slight veer to port. More lights. Pontresina?”

Once on the ground Bond decides that they “were in the Languard range, somewhere above Pontresina in the Engadine, and their altitude would be about 10,000 feet.” The Engadine is a high valley to the east of St Moritz and famous for its sunny climate and landscape. Bond spends a few days as a guest in the Gloria Klub (“3605 metres”), which turns out to be where Blofeld is hatching a dastardly plan to affect Britain's economy by spreading biological agents. Once again, Ian Fleming was years ahead of the world in realising that biological warfare could one day be used in a terrorist action.

Above: The Languard mountain range.

Having firmly identified Blofeld and realising that his cover is probably compromised, Bond flees the enemy camp by escaping his room and stealing skis and boots. Although it is years since he has skied, he manages to stay upright – “A Sprung-Christiana is a showy and not an easy turn to make at speed. He wished his old teacher, Fuchs, had been there to see that one!”


Bond is pursued down the mountainside and fortifying himself with Enzian continues to a the break in a fence.

Ahead he sees “the low embankment that protected the main line of the Rhätische Bahn up to Pontresina and the Bernina Pass. On the other side of the rails the railway embankment dropped into the road from Pontresina to Samaden, the junction for St Moritz, perhaps two miles down the valley” and Bond made “the two miles of Langlauf down the gentle slope to Samaden” (in reality spelt “Samedan”).

Left: Pontesina and Samedan

In Samedan, Bond once again meets La Comtesse Teresa di Vicenzo (“Tracy”) at a Christmas Eve party, and helping him escape Blofeld's men, she drives him at high speed out of Samedan. Tracy greatly impresses him with a neat bit of driving on the snow; “'Dunlop Rally studs on all the tyres. They're only supposed to be for Rally drivers , but I managed to wangle a set out of them'”.

Along the winding road to Filisur they dispose of a Mercedes full of Blofeld's men, after which they continue to to Zurich Airport via Coire. Arriving at the airport, Bond books himself on a flight to London and proposes to Tracy over breakfast.

Arriving in London to interrupt M's Christmas Day lunch, James Bond brings his boss up to date with Blofeld and proposes an unconventional solution to tackling him.

Above: Samedan

Bond returns to Piz Gloria via Marseilles, with a private army staffed by the Union Corse, the Corsican Mafia, of which Tracy's father is the head. Arriving by helicopter a gun battle ensues, during which Blofeld makes his escape down a bob-sleigh run. Leaving the Union Corse to tackle Blofeld's men, Bond pursues Blofeld down the bob run. As usual though, Blofeld is one step ahead and with the aid of a hand grenade, he shakes Bond off his tail. Bond comes round in the soft snow to find that the Gloria Klub has been dynamited by the men of the Union Corse and while they escape the scene by helicopter, Bond catches the train from Samedan to Zurich. After making his report to London, he heads to Munich to meet Tracy and plan the details of their wedding...

"The World Of James Bond" will continue next month...

Article by David Leigh.