The Calculus Affair

Tracking Tintin in Switzerland: Nyon

Ok guys, I’m back! I’ve been busy the past two weeks, but I haven’t forgotten about the post, and instead of another “Chaque Jeudi,” I’m ready to tell you about Nyon.

While everything I did in Geneva was fun and the Hotel Cornavin was awesome to see…Nyon is really where the important action takes place. In Geneva, little more happens than Tintin and Haddock checking to find Calculus in his hotel, only for him to leave in one elevator as they go up the other. Afterwords they are stalled by bad guys and miss the train Calculus takes. All in all they spend about three pages in Geneva. They spent around eight pages in Nyon.

Writing and drawing new Tintin stories was a very demanding job for Hergé, and there were times when he just needed to take a break and get away from all the stress in Brussels. He had friends on the coast of Lake Geneva very close to Nyon, and after he came to visit once, I’m not surprised that he continued to come back for years to come. The area around Nyon is beautiful, and within forty minutes of the city to the right of the highway was some of the beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen, with enormous mountains looming over the huge lake. I wish there had been a place for the car to pull over so I could have taken pictures of the most beautiful sections I saw. But I can promise you plenty of Nyon itself.

Of all the Tintin locations I’ve ever visited, this was by far the closest I’ve come to walking straight into one of the panels Hergé drew. Even Cheverny is not this meticulously accurate. And the best part: the town is aware that Tintin came to visit them (this is, after all, the French-speaking part of Switzerland), and they had the most incredibly helpful brochure charting every location in town shown in the book on a map of Nyon. Better still: the map is available online! If you want to head to Nyon yourself, don’t dream of going without a printed or digital copy of this brochure. Even if you don’t go, you’ll learn some interesting trivia about the places Tintin went and the history of The Calculus Affair. For example, a quote from an interview with Hergé where he says “I had to find the exact place where a car could leave the road to fall into lake Geneva, between Geneva and Nyon.” Ha ha ha unfortunately I did not see that exact spot of the road, but for my safety it is probably better that way. I’m curious if you actually could go off the road in the same spot today…just the fact that he went and found the exact spot is amazing…nobody comes close to that level of dedication to detail today in the world of comics.

So, with a printed copy of the brochure, I went to find Nyon. It does indeed take thirty minutes to get to Nyon from Geneva, just as in the book!

This was the closest thing I found to the sign drawn in the book. I drove up and down the town three times. Didn’t see the entry sign…

I drove by the tourist information center, thankful that I had printed my brochure, because they were closed and I wasn’t gonna get a real copy of one.

In the tourist center, according to the brochure, is one of those old firefighter trucks that puts out the fire when the house blows up. I was OK with not seeing that, because I had bigger fish to catch. And the biggest of them all was Professor Topolino’s house. Tintin and Haddock know that Calculus is headed to the man’s house. The door is locked but they hear a sound like a man banging against a pipe inside. Haddock waits at the front door and than gets a shock when Tintin opens the door from inside, having entered through the open back door (the shock is actually a bit extreme, even for Haddock). They find Topolino tied up in the basement. He thinks Calculus tied him up there, but in actuality it was a man staging as Calculus. Tintin and Haddock, now friends with Topolino, talk things over while they drink (mainly, Haddock does the drinking…). And then, all of the sudden…BOOM!


Of course the real house didn’t blow up, and is still there. I suppose somebody lives there…but they have left the paint exactly as it was in the days of The Calculus Affair. It was easy to hold the book up to the house and imagine the real one exploding.


Here’s a less common angle of the house, with a stairway going around the side. It was seriously very exciting to see this house. But there were also some more obscure locations to find in The Calculus Affair. Grab your copy of the book, and lets go!

Tintin and Haddock walk by Lake Geneva, worrying about poor Calculus. I found the exact spot they walked.

I love how the panel matches the picture so well. I could almost in my mind see that car by them on the actual road.

And here’s the view they would have looked at. The view Hergé loved so much.

The most difficult location to find (of those that I found. Good luck finding the Nyon sign…) was a statue Tintin and Haddock walk by. I love it because it is of such minor importance in the book, but Hergé took the time to find it and draw it in the book to accurately show Nyon. To get there you have to park your car and walk on one of the paved roads that are only for civilians. Finding this one actually let me see a bit of Nyon and its Swiss houses. The town really is worth a visit, even if you could care less about Tintin. There’s a nice little castle there that I saw down one street:

And finally, I found it.

I’ll leave you to find this panel in your book as a sort of scavenger hunt. It was a fitting thing to be the last location I saw in Nyon from The Calculus Affair, because it is the last thing we see of Nyon in the book as well. I was sad to leave this town, but glad that it was one more thing checked off of the Tintinologist bucket list I have for myself. I wonder how many things I have left on that list? One thing is for sure…I will continue to post about them as I check them off.



  1. Caleb

    I’m not sure if my comment will show as my other comments in previous posts are awaiting moderation, probably because its been a while since I last commented, but your photo comparisons to the the comics are amazing. Its great to see that Herge really took the time to actually portray many settings in his panels accurately in real life.

    I really enjoyed your posts from Switzerland and I hope you keep doing more of these. 😀

  2. Manoj Mishra

    Fantastic! Hope to visit someday and check out everything. It is the accuracy of drawings and feelings that makes Tintin a world figure…

  3. Peter

    Yeah, I’ve said this before, we own some old copies of the tintin magazine, and some of the first editions of the albums. in the 90s they weren’t that expensive and could be found at the flea markets in our neighbourhood.
    Michel Valliant was quite popular as well, at least in the 60s. I always thought the stories were a bit boring, and they lack the depth and art of Tintin (though they are artistically better than the Spielberg movie of course, haha).

    In the 90s he had his own TV show, like most ligne claire shows did (Blake and Mortimer too), but of course the art didn’t come close to the albums, and the animation is rather liveless. Youtube doesn’t load here for some reason, I’ll post a link later.

  4. Alex

    Hello Steven. As you know i am new to this site and i recently looked at your DVD review and I was sundering if their were any deleted scenes

  5. Stephen

    @Alex: They have just about everything else, but there aren’t any deleted scenes. It was so expensive to render the movie, which took hours and hours for each frame, that it was very necessary to make the final cut of the movie early. However, I remember seeing one deleted scene with the Thompsons from that part where they read the newspaper in Tintin’s apartment, in it’s early CGI render form, on a website, about the time that the first footage from the film was coming out in videos online. Unfortunately, I can’t find it! Can any of you? I don’t remember it being all that great, but it would be a shame to have it lost forever…

  6. Stephen

    I wish I could do more of this kind of post! I will keep my eye out for more locations Tintin visited to go to 🙂 Maybe I’ll pull out my old photos from Belgium!

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