The journal of Amélina Petit de Billier

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1821 Grand tour: visit to Voltaire's castle, France

Sunday 7 October. We are still in Geneva but I have not yet seen the city. We have been to visit Ferney, where Voltaire lived for a long time.

Voltaire's home at Ferney

Voltaire’s Castle in Ferney, near Geneva.

His bedroom has remained exactly as it was at his death: It is on the ground floor, small, badly furnished: his bed, wooden, with no paint, is overhung by a draped canopy of brocaded damask of such a faded colour that one can only just presume that it was once green: some old armchairs covered in green Utrecht velvet, formed the only furniture. His niece, Mme Denis, had erected in this room a memorial of rather bad taste which for some time contained his heart, but they took it to Paris. There is, by his bed, his portrait done at the age of 34: his physiognomy is more expressive than handsome, but it seems to me that one could never forget such a look. On the other side, the portrait of Frederick the Great makes a pair. Then comes the portrait of his Emilie, whom he loved so much, no doubt her wit and her qualities must have been eminently distinguished, since she captured a genius, a philosopher such as Voltaire, without the ordinary attraction of beautiful women; at least so I judge by her portrait in which she appears by no means beautiful. Opposite is a portrait of the Empress of Russia, Catherine II, embroidered in silk by herself [...]