Swiss village to rule on nude cemetery statue

Authorities in the canton of Neuchâtel are to bring in new regulations over the size of tombstones and memorials after a two-metre high statue of a naked woman erected in a cemetery in the spring ruffled feathers in the local community.

Swiss village to rule on nude cemetery statue
Photo: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/File

The white limestone statue stands in the cemetery of Vaumarcus at the grave of a 90-year-old woman who died in 2013.

It was sculpted by her husband and holds huge sentimental value for the family, the woman’s son explained to the Neuchâtel daily L’Express.

But the eye-catching memorial has divided opinion in the village to the extent of becoming a point of discussion at council meetings.

“A statue of a naked woman in such a place seems inappropriate,” one local resident told newspaper Le Matin.

“And I don’t understand the intention – to provoke?”



According to Olivier Bovey, president of the municipal council, the problem isn’t the form of the statue but its size.

“The nudity – which is normal for a statue – doesn’t matter, it’s the size which is unusual,” he told Le Matin.

“We would like the monument to be shortened. We feel it’s possible to shave 30-40 centimetres from the plinth without distorting the statue.”

The council is in contact with the family “and the dialogue is positive and calm,” said Bovey.

The fate of this particular statue will be difficult to dictate, however, given it hasn’t broken any current regulations.

But the authorities are now debating new rules to limit the size of such memorials in the future.

“Above all we want to avoid a sort of height competition,” said Bovey or, in the words of one local councillor, prevent the cemetery finding itself with “the Eiffel tower”.

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Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th

Nearly four weeks after closing down, bars and restaurants in five of Switzerland’s six French-speaking regions will be back in business as of December 10th.

Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th
A waiter wearing a protective face mask poses in the nearly empty restaurant "Le Lyrique cafe brasserie" in Geneva. AFP

In a joint press release, Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Fribourg, and Jura announced on Wednesday that the decision to re-open restaurants and cafés “was made in a concerted manner and with a desire for harmonisation and clarity” among the neighbouring regions.

Of the French-speaking cantons, only Valais restaurants will remain shut, as the canton had extended its closures until December 13th.

Authorities noted that the decision to re-open was driven by the steadily declining coronavirus infection rates in the regions, which until the first week of November had been among the most impacted in Switzerland.

Cantonal officials said that the re-opening “will take place in a strict health framework. It will be mandatory to consume seated and provide contact details for tracing. There can only up to four people per table.”

Tables must be at least 1.5 metres apart and masks must be worn if customers are not seated.

Additionally, establishments must remain closed between 11 pm. and 6 am, in accordance with federal rules.

Authorities said they would monitor “for the possible effects of the re-opening on the pandemic. This means the decision can be revoked if the health situation requires it”.

In Vaud, electric heaters will be allowed outside the restaurants to encourage customers to eat outdoors.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: Reasons to be optimistic about the coronavirus situation in Switzerland 

Other measures will also be lifted

For instance, in Vaud museums will re-open on December 1st, and religious services will resume with a maximum of 30 people. They will have to wear masks and keep the 1.5-metre distance.

Also in Vaud, more relaxed measures will be put in place for the holidays: from December 18th to January 3rd, the limit for gatherings will be raised from five to 10 people.

However, participation in other public or private events will remain limited to five people.

In Geneva, the Council of State announced on Wednesday that museums, exhibition halls and libraries will be open from November 28th.

This new relaxation comes after hairdressers, beauticians and other wellness services resumed their activities on Saturday.

Until then, all non-essential businesses in Geneva had been shut down since the beginning of November to curb the canton’s alarmingly high contamination rate. 

You can see the situation in other Swiss cantons here.