When you conjour up images of Switzerland, there are probably some tried and tested scenes that you go to. They probably involve cows, fields, possibly Heidi and almost certainly cheese and chocolate.
While there certainly are a lot of fields, cows and cheese available in this stunning country, there are some stunning cities to visit too. The German-speaking city of Zurich is a firm favourite, as is the country’s capital Bern but for a city packed full of cosmopolitan culture you can’t beat Geneva, the French-speaking city set on the stunning lake, bordering France.
Convenient to get to from most major European cities, Geneva is a small but fascinating place packed full of history from Calvin’s religious reformers to the creation of the United Nations. A week spent at this destination is well worth your time.
And if you’re a skiing fan, then you’re in luck there too. Beat the queues at the slopes by hiring your skis in town and head to the mountains, many of which are just an hour outside of the city limits including some popular stations on the Alps themselves.
What to See
For a start there are a plethora of museums and one of the very best is the Red Cross Museum. This fascinating organisation, which has been open for over 30 years is found on the aptly named Avenue of Peace (Avenue de la Paix), just a stone’s throw from the Palace of the United Nations. Visit both of these attractions in a day to update your political and global knowledge of why Geneva is at the heart of peacekeeping across the world and its importance as a intermediary. Just outside the Palace, you’ll also find the iconic Broken Chair monument, a huge chair with one broken leg acting as a reminder for the world decision makers seated just opposite of their commitment to ban landmines and cluster bombs and the devastation they cause.
You’ll also find a large area of water fountains. Enjoy a coffee watching the children running in and out of the fountains in the shadow of the chair.
Geneva is something of a green lung with parks aplenty. Even if you’re travelling without children Bastion Park in the Plainpalais district is worth the tram ride. Here, alongside a restaurant and buvette (snack bar), you’ll also find the Reformation Wall with frescos of the famous protestant reformers including Calvin and Oliver Cromwell. You’ll also find the amazing Plainpalais flea market nearby.
Another open space well worth a visit is the beautiful Parc La Grange. Enter from the top and have your breath taken away with the stunning view down to the lake. If you visit during the summer you might be lucky enough to find concerts and plays performed on the outside stage in the evening.
Then, of course, there is the famous lake and you will find the usual offering of boat rides and water sports. You will also find a convenient water bus to take you over to the Paquis district.
On that side of the lake you’ll find the famous Bains des Paquis. Essentially a jetty that has been broadened and build on to accommodate saunas and steam rooms, a swimming stage and plenty of bars and eateries. You’ll find an eclectic mix at the Bains and a great spot for spending those long summer evenings.
What to Eat
Yes you can eat fondue, though much better on a cold winter’s evening. However, despite being outside fondue season if you’re visiting in the summer you’ll find some fabulous restaurants in the Old Town that will bring you a bowl of this national favourite. Go wild and order fondue with mushrooms, onions and even some lardons for good measure.
Elsewhere you’ll find the usual array of European fare but spend a little more time and the city’s international flavour can be found in some high quality Ethiopian and Moroccan restaurants. For the best choice in bars and restaurants head to Paquis, the city’s admittedly seedier underbelly but the best for great food and great entertainment.
If you’re looking for a dinner to impress, make reservations at one of the luxury hotel restaurants found on the lake sides. Buy a package and spend the night too. If you’re really splashing out you might even consider flying in your business contacts with a private jet flight, such as the ones found here: https://www.aircharterserviceusa.com/about-us/news-features/blog/how-much-does-a-private-jet-cost
Where to Stay
As stated above there are plenty of high end and not so pricey hotels to choose from or you may find you prefer taking the option of an Airbnb or similar scheme. Geneva is not a cheap city and even the supermarket prices can come as something of a shock. You might want to consider joining the hundreds of Genevans who hop across the border and hit the French supermarkets for their weekly shops.
Be warned though, there are limits on the amount of alcohol and meat you can bring and you’ll see searches carried out, particularly during barbecue season.
Geneva is a smart, interesting and culturally stimulating city. With so many international organisations represented, the community is bolstered by the high numbers of expats living there.
You’ll find plenty to do including a trip to the mountains, which in the summer are perfect for long walks and picnics.
Outside the city, you’ll find some fascinating towns and villages to pay a visit to. From the medieval town of Yvoire to the sleepy village or Hermance. There’s plenty to see and explore. Hop on the train to get to Paris in three hours, take a drive to the French city of Lyon or travel over the borders to Italy or Germany. Geneva is the hub of your European adventure so come and see why it’s home to so many expats who stay for good and what makes it the focal point of the world.
Check out the fascinating festivals and make your Geneva trip one to remember for many years to come.