Château d’Echallens. Foto/Photo: TES

Echallens, daily bread and religious tolerance

Grain and bread are familiar, and most people even eat them daily. However, who knows the Grain and Bread Museum (Musée du blé et du pain) in Echallens (canton Vaud)?  Echallens is located in one of Switzerland’s grain-rich regions (le Grenier de la Suisse) and on the trade routes to Yverdon-les-Bains, Lausanne, Romont, Moudon and Fribourg).

The museum opened its doors in May 1988. It is located in the old farmhouse Panchaud (pain chaud, hot bread) or perhaps panchaud , big window) in Old French) near the town hall.

Delegations from the 26 cantons delivered their grain to the museum on 16 April 1989, and the annual festival of grain (Fête du blé) further highlights its (centuries-old) importance. Consequently, a large part of the workforce is still (in)directly employed in the grain sector.

Musée du blé et du pain

Trade and grain have a centuries-old tradition in Echallens, dating back to the markets and a regional function in the Middle Ages in what is now the district of Gros-de-Vaud. Located on the River Talent, the town was also the territory of the Bishop of Lausanne and the Dukes of Savoy for a long time. Its castle (1273) dates back to this period.

The defeat of the Duke of Burgundy and his allies Savoy and the Bishop of Lausanne in 1476 signalled the end of an era for Echallens. From 1484 to 1798, the district of Orbe-Echallens was administered alternately by Bern and Fribourg through bailiffs.

It went well until 1536 and Bern’s reformation. Fribourg, however, remained Catholic. As in other cantons (the Appenzeller, Glarus, and Graubünden, for example), the consultation model and willingness to compromise prevented escalation.

Town hall (1781)

Bern and Fribourg provided the same number of Protestant and Catholic city councillors  (24 in total, 12 per canton), a Catholic and a Protestant bailiff, and equality of religion was established by law.

The two religions, Protestant and Catholic, shared the same church (l’église Saint-Jean l’Evangeliste/John the Baptist), a unique concept known as Simultaneum.

The city even built a new simultaneum church (Simultankirche) in 1727, a testament to the spirit of religious harmony. Since 1798 (Helvetic Republic) and 1803 (Confederation by the Act of Mediation), Echallens has been a municipality in canton Waadt and a symbol of respect for religious diversity.

However, in the nineteenth century, Protestants (1865) and, following their lead, Catholics (1883) built their churches

(Source and further information: Commune de Echallens)

Impressions of Echallens