We spent three lovely days in Geneva this August and much to our delight , we found that there was more than enough to keep our days fully occupied. The harsh summer heat gave us a good excuse to make regular stops for excellent , albeit expensive beer and when the heat became a little too much, there were parks and gardens aplenty to stop for shade and give Baby A some much needed time to run wild! Here’s our list of top 5 things to do and see if you find yourself in this charming little city.
1.Stroll around the Old town
Hands down my favourite part of the city, Geneva’s Old town is right in the centre of Geneva and one of the nicest walks we had during our stay. In fact, it was so picturesque, we took more than one walk through the little maze-like streets lined with masonry style homes, bookshops, pastry shops,cafes, little boutiques and small grocery shops. We almost sort of stumbled upon the Old Town area (Vieille Ville in french) while walking along Rue de Marche , the main shopping street.
Despite being there in the height of summer (i.e tourist season), the place managed to maintain a sense of calm, which we loved. Stop by the Maison Tavel (Tavel House) , the oldest house in Geneva originally built in the 12th century, now a museum focusing on Geneva’s history during the medieval times. Place du Bourg-de-Four, the oldest place in Geneva which used to be a Roman marketplace is also worth a visit. Just remember to wear your walking shoes and be prepared for a bit of a climb.
Do make sure you stop for some Petit Fours along the way. They cost us 3-4 Francs a piece but were oh so worth it…
2. Visit St Pierre’s Cathedral & The International Museum of the Reformation
Every guide to Geneva will tell you that a visit to St Pierre’s Cathedral is a must, but don’t miss out on the International Museum of the Reformation, located right next to the Cathedral, which showcases the history of the Protestant Reformation and its’ impact on Switzerland. You’ll be seeing a number of references to the Reformation & to John Calvin (French Theologian , Pastor and key figure in the development of Calvinism) around Geneva, so brush up on your history at the museum!
3. Jet d’Eau
The Jet d’Eau or water jet is a huge fountain and quite literally a jet in the Geneva Lake. It’s a symbol of the city’s strength and ambition and is one of the tallest fountains in the world going up 140m. It’s hard to miss this iconic landmark, you can see it from pretty much any spot in the centre of Geneva. Its a great place to take some stunning photos. If you are travelling with children, stop by to see and feed the beautiful swans on the lake- Baby A had a ball with that!
If you’re up for something educational, then a trip to CERN is in order. CERN (European Council for Nuclear Research) is basically a research organization focusing on the study of particle physics. You can walk around their permanent exhibits featuring a variety of apparatus that they use or join one of their guided tours. The highlight of CERN is the Passport to the Big Bang Tour, an interactive tour where you can explore the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator. We guarantee you’ll leave geneva feeling a little smarter!
5. Parc Des Bastions
If you can’t make it to Geneva’s Botanical Gardens, Parc Des Bastions is a lovely alternative located just under the Old Town.
Originally a Botanical Garden and the site of Geneva’s first University, this park makes a lovely lunch spot. Bring along a picnic mat, grab some sandwiches from the park cafe and find a shady spot to sit and enjoy the lively yet peaceful atmosphere of the park.
We were impressed by the life-sized chess board and even more impressed to see people actually playing chess in front of large crowds. When you are done resting, take a walk along the Reformation Wall which pays tribute to the founders of the Reformation. A great option for those of you travelling with kids – a chance to take a little break while the kids are free to run around the wide open spaces.
x Anu & Suba