An (updated) tale of Gstaad, as it was back then

  08.09.2023 Local News, Local News, Arts & Culture, Traditions

Anton Ruesch recalls the Gstaad village from his youth.

In 2000 Anton Ruesch wrote a charming book about life in Gstaad, mainly about the 1930s to the mid-50s. Two decades later, he updated his book with more anecdotes and stories, and now it is available to a broader audience as it is published in English for the first time.

I had the great good fortune to spend my childhood in the beautiful Saanenland, in Gstaad, to be precise. Everything was much simpler then.

These are the opening lines of the book. Take out the Gstaad and Saanenland part, and this could have been anywhere in the world; it has a familiar ring to it, that of a good story about to be told. This is exactly what Ruesch’s book is, a tale from back when everything was much less complicated, relayed in a way that a grandfather would tell his grandchild the tales from his youth. It is funny and uncanny at times and also moving to see the author reminisce and perhaps ponder if life, indeed, was better back then.

I particularly enjoyed the many lovely photos and anecdotes and even imagined myself wandering around in the “Gstaad of back then” as the stories progressed.

Ruesch makes it abundantly clear that he is proud of being a Gstaader, but much to his surprise, he discovers he is not! At least not when it comes to municipal matters. When he had to apply for an international birth certificate from the Saanen municipality, he was considerably flabbergasted to make the painful discovery that he was not born in Gstaad but, apparently, in Saanen.

“When I requested that the Saanen Civil Registry immediately correct this “gross” error, I was told that there is officially no such place as Gstaad. I was therefore born in Saanen! “End of”! Perhaps one day people might be able to write this: “Place of birth: Gstaad (municipality of Saanen)”, if there is no other way of doing it.”

Surely the time has come for a coat of arms for Gstaad?
But the injustice does not stop there, as Ruesch discovers, in fact, it only gets worse in his opinion; upon review, I assume of his newly received international birth certificate, he discovers that Saanen has a coat of arms, Gsteig and Lauenen each have one; only Gstaad does not have one of course, as it does not actually exist!

And so, being a man of action, he has put it upon himself to design a coat of arms for his beloved Gstaad. Might this not be a solution? The Palace is, after all, an internationally recognised building and the undisputed symbol of Gstaad.

Simultaneously, he asks the kind folks of Saanen to be magnanimous and regard it with a touch of good-natured humour.

This enchanting book captures the heart of Gstaad in a unique and charming manner. A treasure trove of previously untold stories and charmingly eccentric tales, it offers readers a glimpse into the lesser-known side of Gstaad before it became the renowned destination it is today. Whether you’re a seasoned Gstaad enthusiast or someone who has newly fallen under its spell, this book is a delightful gift that captures the hearth of this picturesque village. With its blend of nostalgia, quirkiness, and genuine affection for Gstaad, it’s a literary journey you don’t want to miss.

The book is fresh out from the printers and will be on sale from 31 August at selected bookstores and from the offices at Müller Medien. Or order online here




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