Switzerland's Last Finishing School

Where good etiquette is still good business

Monika Fischer and Mathias Brashler for TIME

Students learning dinning, serving and other customs at Switzerland's Institut Villa Pierrefeu, which costs about $20,000 for a six-week course.

If lunch at the Institut Villa Pierrefeu (IVP) often feels like a rehearsal, that's because it is. Under the watchful eye of Rosemary McCallum, a Cordon Bleu--trained chef and expert on table manners, 13 female students practice the skills they've studied in courses on European etiquette and table service. As the meal unfolds in a stately dining room with corniced ceilings, McCallum gently reminds the five student servers that they must pick up champagne glasses near the bottom of the stems and offer the pear-and-Roquefort tarts from the left. Back home, four of the five women serving have live-in staffs. But...

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