"Winter Palace" (© RTS/Laurent Bleuze)
The Netflix ans RTS' coproduction "Winter Palace" began to shooting on October 10 in the village of Glion, above Montreux, and will continue until March 2024 in the Valais Alps. The series will require 18 weeks of shooting, 950 extras, 6,000 pieces of costume, a dozen horse-drawn carriages and sleighs, some 60 technicians and more than six months of preparation.
The eight 45-minute episodes, written by British screenwriter Lindsay Shapero and directed by Pierre Monnard, and produced by Oble and Point Prod, tell the story of the beginnings of luxury alpine tourism and winter sports in Switzerland. The series will premiere for seven weeks on RTS and Play Suisse from the end of 2024, before an international release on Netflix.
In the late summer of 1899, ambitious hotelier and pioneer André Morel imagines opening a palace for the entire winter season. But the venture is a risky one. Between the climatic conditions, the rather boorish staff and the demanding guests, will he be able to make his dreams come true?
“With 'Winter Palace', Swiss audiences will be immersed in a local and historical story inspired by reality and fictionalized with a modern spin. This series will allow our country and its talents to shine around the world," says Patrick Suhner, Editorial Producer at the RTS Fiction Unit.
The cast was built around the lead role of André Morel, played by Freiburg actor Cyril Metzger. Together with his wife Rose, played by French actress Manon Clavel, they will welcome the first guests of the British aristocracy to their palace for the winter season. Simon Ludders plays Lord Fairfax, Astrid Roos is Lady Isobel, Henry Pettigrew plays Sir Conan Doyle and Vikings hero Clive Standen is Lance Raney. French actors Vincent Heneine (as chef Voclain), Axel Granberger (as Marcus) and Swiss stars Alix Henzelin, Antoine Basler, Gaspard Boesch, Roland Vouilloz, Serge Musy and Karim Barras complete the cast.
As the plot takes place mainly in winter, the film crew will spend more than 82 days in the Swiss Alps, with a first shoot from October to November and a second from January to March. "'Winter Palace' will bring to life the experience of a luxury hotel with its share of fantasies, excesses, carefree lifestyle and celebrities, while also revealing its backstage drama. These contrasts will vary the tempo and constantly surprise the audience," explains director Pierre Monnard.
Sets and costumes will play a key role. The interiors of the grand hotel will be filmed in locations such as the Caux-Palace, the Vaud Righi in Glion and the Château Mercier in Sierre, creating a lavish setting with rustic touches, far removed from the alpine simplicity that characterizes the fictional village of Champaz (actually nestled in Fäld, in the heart of the Valais Binntal). Thanks to the magic of digital effects, the exteriors of the Simplon valley will make it possible to create a sublime building in the heart of stunning landscapes, bringing a striking contrast with the rusticity of the villages that will serve as Champaz's backdrop. "The same approach will be reflected in the choice of costumes, combining a naturalistic look for the villagers with refined embroidery for the hotel guests," adds Pierre Monnard.