Delicious chocolates, creamy fondue, precision timepieces, snowy peaks and super-secret bank accounts – Switzerland is renowned for an eclectic mix of things and Geneva is an excellent place to discover many of them.
The city is as beautiful as her name, with the serene Lake Geneva taking pride of place in her heart and the snow-covered Alps lining the background. If the weather gods like you, they might clear the clouds enough for you to catch a glimpse of majestic Mont Blanc, Europe’s tallest mountain.
This chic and expensive (be prepared to spend at least 20 Euros per person for each meal) city is not big by way of ostentatious landmarks and overt tourist attractions.
Well, besides the 140-metre-high fountain, Jet d’Eau which propels seven tons of water into the air at 200 kilometers an hour! Originally designed as a relief valve that emptied into Lake Geneva, it is turned on at 10 am every day for a spectacular sight, particularly if the wind decides to dance with the spray of droplets or the rays of sunlight turn it into a natural kaleidoscope.
If you are the type that cannot visit a city without taking in at least one museum, the Ethnographic Museum of Geneva will hold immense appeal. Situated on Carl-Vogt Boulevard, its exhibits chart the cultures and lifestyles of peoples from five of Earth’s continents.
The Red Cross was founded over a century and a half ago in Geneva and the International Museum of the Red Cross on the Avenue de la Paix is worth seeing.
For a museum of a rarer kind, visit Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers. The Patek Philippe Museum is dedicated to the legendary timepieces of the same name, showcasing their evolution from the really expensive masterpieces of yesterday to the really expensive masterpieces of today. The inner workings of Patek Philippe watches are truly wonders of human ingenuity and engineering.
A location that too often does not make it to lists of Geneva’s most important sites is CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. It captured the world’s imagination – and fear – some years ago for its experiments to discover ‘The God Particle’ which some thought might end the planet.
Since we are all still here, they obviously know what they are doing. Get closer to the action with a guided tour of this amazing cutting-edge facility.
Geneva was home to Calvinism, a movement that wanted the reformation of the Catholic Church. The Cathedral in the old town retains semblances of both. Climb its towers for a wonderful panorama of the city.
You will never be short of places to eat in Geneva, even though you might end up short of cash to buy meals with. If authentic Swiss culture – and fondue – is right up your alley, head straight to Edelweiss. Have a wonderful meal serenaded by musicians playing giant horns, spoons and even yodeling to give you a true taste of Swiss-ness.
A nightcap might be in order, and what better place would there be than one where there are 300 whiskies to choose from? At Rue Ancienne 66, you will find Bar du Nord where you can enjoy the music and the bottle till 2 in the morning.
Geneva might not possess the attractions draw other major European cities do, but she has an incomparable character steeped in history and scenery that seems to touch the soul more than just the eyes. 24 hours are enough to discover Geneva and to make a lifetime of memories.