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Destination Switzerland: Why Not Choose… Geneva?

If you like to see beautiful residences with character, or wander along cobbled streets brimming with history, then Geneva is for you. The "capital of peace" welcomes you with open arms for a holiday full of historical and cultural discoveries, in a truly magnificent setting.

An Amazing Waterside City

Right in the heart of the city, the immense Lake Geneva awaits, along with its huge Jet d'Eau fountain in the roadstead, spouting 140m up into the sky. The city of Geneva sprawls across the land on either side of the lake. On the right shore are most of the big hotels and numerous restaurants. The Old Town, with its shops and business quarter, overlooks the left shore. Towering above it is Saint Peter's Cathedral, but it is the Place du Bourg-de-Four, the oldest square in Geneva, that is the real heart of the old town. The quays, the lakeside walks, the countless parks, the lively little streets of the Old Town and the elegant shops are all ideal for leisurely wandering. Grand'Rue, where Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born, is one of the oldest and best preserved streets.

To travel between shores, use the "mouettes" (water taxis), or for a cruise on Lake Geneva, opt for one of the larger boats.

If you're looking for a little greenery, there are many parks and gardens to choose from, scattered around the city. In Parc des Bastions, stroll along the Promenade de la Treille, or sit on the world's longest wooden bench, measuring 126m. In the English Garden, admire the famous flower clock. It has a 4m diameter and is refreshed every year using thousands of plants of different varieties. A dazzling sight!

Geneva also has many museums, each more interesting than the last. The Quartier des Bains gives centre stage to modern art, with two major museums: the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and the Centre for Contemporary Art. You can also visit the International Museum of the Reformation, which retraces the whole history of Protestantism. Above all, don't miss the Patek Phillippe Museum, a must-see in this city whose identity was built on watch-making. This museum looks at the history of watch-making in Geneva, Switzerland and Europe, from the 16th century to the 20th century. Inside, you can admire watches, music boxes and miniature portraits painted on enamel, as well as the company's magnificent collections.

Top 10 Must-Sees


The Jet d’eau fountain: rising 140m high in the centre of Lake Geneva's roadstead, it is sure to leave you speechless, expelling 500 litres of water per second at no less than 200km/h.

Saint Peter's Cathedral: the emblematic image of Geneva, this cathedral contains archaeological treasures from prehistory to the Middle Ages. Restored and rebuilt many times, it now mixes the Roman, Gothic and Neoclassical styles. If you climb its 157 steps, you can admire the view of the city and the lake.

The Place du Bourg-de-Four: a site for meeting and exchange since Antiquity, in the Middle Ages it was used for fairs and markets. The buildings around the square date from the 16th century to the 18th century, when the fountain was also built.

The English Garden and its flower clock: in the heart of the English garden, this flower clock created in 1955 is made of some 6500 flowers. The patterns and arrangements are changed according to the season. Aside from its decorative function, it tells the time with Swiss precision.

The Patek Philippe Museum: housed in an early 20th-century building, the museum's four floors contain large collections of watch-making art, enamels, music boxes and miniature portraits from Geneva, Switzerland and Europe, created in from 16th century to the 19th century, as well as the prestigious creations of Swiss company PATEK PHILIPPE, from 1839 to the present day.

The Quartier des Bains: from the MAMCO (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) to the Centre for Contemporary Art, to the many other galleries offering excellent exhibitions, the Quartier des Bains is Europe's platform for modern art.

The International Museum of the Reformation: a must-see to understand the Reformation, this museum gives a vast overview of the history of Protestantism from its beginnings and around the world, charting a simultaneously cultural and spiritual trajectory.

The Reformation Wall: positioned up against the old city walls, this wall consists of an engraved stone rampart decorated with low relief carvings. In front of it stand the statues of statesmen who were pioneers or defenders of the Reformation.

The Palace of Nations: built between 1929 and 1936, the Palace of Nations is home to the European headquarters of the United Nations. After New York, it is the largest centre of the UN. It welcomes over 25,000 delegates each year, and exhibits numerous works of art.

Carouge: the dolce vita Geneva style. Just a stone's throw from the city centre, Carouge is Geneva's answer to Greenwich Village. Its architecture betrays its Sardinian origins, and gives a pleasant Southern feel. Traders, shaded terraces, artisans and antiques dealers give the little streets of Carouge its delightful bohemian atmosphere.

Delicious Traditions

Typical dishes to be sampled in Geneva include perch fillets from Lake Geneva. Another traditional product is Longeole: pork and fennel sausage, seasoned with white wine, pistachios and cumin. As for cardoon, a vegetable from the artichoke family grown in Geneva, the gratin recipe dates back to the Middle Ages.

The dessert offering includes plum pie. In Geneva, it is traditionally eaten on the occasion of the Jeûne genevois (Genevan fast). And for the Fête de l'Escalade, the traditional chocolate "cauldron" and its marzipan "vegetables" provide plenty of sweet treats for young and old alike!

Cultural Events

March: International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights. This festival is a major gathering aiming to mobilise citizens through film. Around forty films promoting human rights compete in the event.

June: Bol d'or Mirabaud. This regatta takes place on Lake Geneva during the second weekend of June. The competition is followed by a "pasta party".

July-August: CinéTransat. Themed evenings offer free screenings of classics under the stars, all on the shore of the lake and in one of Geneva's most beautiful locations. Swiss short films are shown before the features. There are also giant karaoke events, where the crowd sings in unison.

August: Geneva Lake Festival. The Geneva Lake Festival (formerly "Fêtes de Genève") is the high point of summer in Geneva. There are festivities on the shores of Lake Geneva, with food stands, a fair, concerts, events, fashion shows, a rowing competition and splendid fireworks over the roadstead.

December: Fête de l'escalade in Geneva. The largest historical procession in Europe commemorates the failure of the Savoyard and Sardinian invasion in 1602. In the Old Town, the historical parade of over 800 people in costume, walking or riding horses, finishes on the forecourt of Saint Peter's Cathedral.

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