The little Swiss town of Estavayer-le-Lac has a rather unusual claim to fame. Hidden behind a creaking heavy wooden door at the top of some old stone steps is a unique gem of a museum. This museum, the Musée des grenouilles, is home to a bizarre collection of frogs – 108 of them. Thing is, they’re dead! How many towns can boast of their very own dead frog museum?
In the mid 1850s, these endearing critters were lovingly stuffed and arranged to create a series of scenes depicting everyday life – human life.
Interestingly enough, these pint-sized oddities were created by François Perrier, a renowned French soldier who also dabbled in the scientific realm. His contributions to science were such that his name was one of only 72 to be engraved in commemoration on the Eiffel Tower – though not for his froggery.
Monsieur Perrier not only stuffed and arranged the frogs. He created their miniature furniture, books, dishware, cutlery, and most importantly – wine bottles.
For those who aren’t taken with dead amphibians engaged in various industries, the rest of the museum offers a trove of artifacts dating as far back as the 15th century.
Though small, 3 additional rooms are crammed with a mishmash of period clothes, cannons, barbaric medieval weapons, peculiar firearms with massive butts, yellowed books, handmade games, a nifty sidesaddle, and my personal favorite – a one-horse carriage for a single adult passenger with a small “bumper” seat in the very front for a child.
This modest venue might lack the sophistication and notoriety of larger museums in Geneva and Zurich, but it’s clear that the local residents proudly and lovingly maintain it so that visitors may enjoy it.
And if you find yourself wondering,
Why a dead frog collection?
perhaps a better question to ask would be,
Have you visited this museum? Did you like it? Tell us what you think!
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Know Before You Go
The museum is small and will likely take less than an hour to visit.
Tickets only cost 5 chf apiece for adults and 3 chf for students and kids up to 16 yrs.
Information in English is minimal – most is in French.
The frog room is the last of 4 rooms at the museum and is downstairs. The other rooms in the museum are packed with an assortment of pottery, household items, old firearms and medieval weapons, saddles, several cannons, hand carved games like dominoes, etc.
Make sure to check for current hours on their website before planning a visit. They have reduced hours during the off-season; from November to February, they’re only open Saturday & Sunday from 2-5 pm. For most of the rest of the year, they’re open every day but Monday from 10 am to noon and 2-5 pm.
Several parking spaces are available for free outside the museum but it’s very limited and they fill up fast. Pay parking on the street is available at nearby stores, but again, parking is limited in this part of town.
The entrance is located at the top of an exterior flight of stairs and is multi-level inside with another level of stairs to the lower floor. It’s not wheelchair accessible, and if you have a big stroller, I wouldn’t recommend bringing it.