The Finishing school

Welcome to Institut Villa Pierrefeu (IVP) the most renowned Finishing school in the world and a recognized leader in teaching international etiquette and protocol since 1954.

Attracting students from all over the world, we offer a truly multicultural environment in the heart of Switzerland, a country with three official languages.

IVP draws on its long history and experienced instructors to provide students with an exclusive curriculum and a unique opportunity to transform their personal and professional lives.

Elegant, exclusive and charming, it will prepare you for a role in the business world and society, aiming to help you become more effective in multicultural environments and dealings.

“Finishing school – a school that puts

the finishing touches on a person’s education”.

History of IVP

For nearly 70 years, Institut Villa Pierrefeu has been a leader in teaching international etiquette and protocol to students from around the world. In that time, more than 4,200 people from 120 countries have passed through our doors on their way to successful careers in business and society.

Founded as a Finishing school in 1954 by Dorette Faillettaz, the institute was originally named “Bleu Leman” after Lac Léman also known as Lake Geneva.

Madame Faillettaz was the daughter of the first female journalist in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and she was keen to give young women the tools they needed to manage their careers and run a home, while also teaching them about the cultural differences they might encounter in the world.

She successfully ran the school for the next 20 years, constantly updating and adapting its programs as society changed. She was, for example, the first to add yoga to the curriculum as part of the students’ morning routine – something that was considered revolutionary at the time. Initially, the school offered a one-year curriculum in French, cooking, etiquette, international savoir-vivre, modern general culture, floral art, table decoration, home management, sewing and childcare.

The curriculum at IVP was one of the first to emphasize not only French or British manners but an in-depth understanding of many other (including non-Western) cultures and etiquette.

The school moved to its current location in 1965 after Madame Faillettaz purchased a villa in Glion, above the city of Montreux, with breathtaking views of Lake Léman. She had high standards and wanted a private residence with space for classrooms as well as a kitchen, formal dining-room, sitting-rooms, and bedrooms with private bathrooms.

In 1972, Madame Faillettaz’s daughter Viviane Néri assumed ownership and direction of the school and, through hard work and dedication, transformed it into the institution it is today.

Her son, Philippe, joined the management team in 2004 and today oversees administration and strategy at the school his grandmother founded.

“My grandmother was a practical visionary,” he says. “She had no intention of seeing her students walk with a book on their heads, but she wanted them to follow the path they wanted with open eyes and all adequate tools possible.
`Never taking things for granted` is the motto of entrepreneurship. The topics we teach evolve, the students change, and the way we present them with content is also evolving. If you want to stay attractive and alive as a school, you must be able to mix the good points of tradition with the interesting ones of the present.”

Today, we continue the tradition of an all-women school during our summer “International Etiquette & Protocol” course, where students learn savoir-vivre and explore the traditions and customs of different cultures.

Our 5-day «European Art of Dining» course is open to everyone.

We are working to change the misconceptions of the image of the Finishing schools by updating existing programs and developing new ones to meet the needs of a changing world.

But one thing hasn’t changed over the years: our main goal is still for students to feel at home and to learn everything with as much practice as possible, rather than just theory.

Why Switzerland?

People seeking a quality education for themselves or their children have long been drawn to Switzerland with its top-notch schools and reputation as an international and multicultural country.

Over the years, thousands of students have passed through Swiss Finishing schools on their way to prominent positions around the world, and that tradition continues today.

Today IVP offers three main programs

The “International Etiquette and Protocol,” course is given in June and July, where women can come for three or six weeks to study a unique, comprehensive and in-depth curriculum second to none. They can either take the course for their personal enrichment and enjoyment or they can obtain a Higher Certificate or Diploma in International Etiquette and Protocol if they choose to take the many theory tests and practical exams.

 “European Art of Dining” a one-week intensive themed course for everyone, usually takes place in April, June, August and October each year. This is given in small groups and is unique in including 4 dining tutorials with feedback from the teachers. You then receive a “Certificate of Attendance”.

Bespoke Courses, tailormade on request to the needs and objectives of groups from government, the corporate world or families. These can take place on our premises or our teachers will go to your country. (Also possible in French and in Spanish)

School's facilities

There are many “finishing” and etiquette courses available worldwide, but we remain the last “bricks and mortar” finishing school with its own purpose-designed facilities and a wealth of specific equipment built up over many years.

– IVP is located in a private park in Glion, above the town of Montreux, overlooking Lake Geneva. Students benefit from the school’s calm and secure location as well as its breathtaking views.

– There are different classrooms for interactive lessons.

– There are accommodations at the school (lodging) for “resident” students. We offer dorm/boarding school-style accommodations in three different buildings on site. If you prefer, you can stay at an hotel or another place nearby and come as a “day student”.

– For some of our courses, meals are prepared in the school’s professional kitchen. A continental breakfast is provided for the school’s residents, and everyone receives a lunch from Monday to Friday since this is necessary for table manners and service practice.

– A number of ethnic meals offer students the opportunity to experience and understand other dining traditions.

– The formal dining-room and sitting-room are used by the students to practice table manners, service and conversation.

– A diverse choice of tableware, linens, and vases are available to develop your creativity and to practice table setting and decoration.

Meet the team

When meeting our team, people might be surprised to find how down-to-earth they are, despite their vast teaching experience.

Teaching etiquette requires knowledge and attention to detail; our team appreciates and cultivates the ability to laugh at themselves. To be open-minded, accept differences, to be able to adapt, to observe and to be flexible are values our team admires.

We also have experts and professional consultants with vast experience in their fields to enhance our courses.

When students arrive at the school, they are not expected to know how to behave perfectly but they are expected to try, practice, and learn from their own mistakes.

“Etiquette is not only about which fork to use; it is also about respecting how others think and act.”