10 Reasons to Visit Geneva

Geneva, Switzerland, an international centre of commerce and diplomacy, offers visitors pleasures small and large, such as fine chocolates and exploring its museums and historic Old Town.

Jul 22, 2009
Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva
Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva
Photography Richard Waite

Geneva enjoys one of the greatest urban locations in the world. It occupies the westernmost corner of Switzerland, literally on the French border, flanked by the stunning Alps and gorgeous Lake Geneva, also known as Lac Leman. More than just a city, it is the anchor of a two-nation region waiting to be explored.

World’s Best Watches: Switzerland has nearly cornered the market on the production of fine watches, and all the great houses, including Patek Philippe, Breguet and Rolex, are in and around this city. Both Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin have museums in the city.

Chocolate, Anyone? Geneva is home to some of the most famous boutique chocolate producers, including Teuscher, La Maison du Cacao, Zogg and Chocolaterie des Bergues. A few offer chocolate-making tours, including Stettler, Auer and Chocolaterie du Rhone.

Tour the Museum: Geneva’s Les Musées d’Art et d’Histoire (Museum of Art and History) is Switzerland’s de facto national collection, an enormous place devoted to the whole of Western civilization. Upstairs is Rodin’s The Thinker, downstairs a 9th-century-BC Egyptian mummy.

Famous Fountain: The Jet d’Eau, or jet of water, is the symbol for this sophisticated international city. The towering spray—more than 450-feet high—is visible from anywhere along the lakefront.

For a Better World: Geneva is home to the International Red Cross, which takes its original emblem from a colour reversal of the Swiss flag. The headquarters contains one of Europe’s can’t-miss museums.

Cruise the Lake: See Geneva and surrounding region, including the towering Alps, from the enormous lake. Boats depart regularly for Lausanne, Montreux and other towns on the Swiss side, as well as Evian-les-Bains and towns on the southern French coast.

Walk Old Town: In Geneva’s historic medieval centre, you’ll find cobblestone streets, shops, restaurants and the city’s most important historic sights, the grand cathedral and Maison Tavel. This atmospheric zone is Geneva’s most charming and begs a visit on foot.

Visit the Spring: It is an easy trip by train or boat to Evian-les-Bains, the principal resort town on the French side of the lake. Evian-les-Bain offers thermal baths, a lakefront promenade along its historic old town, a marina, a casino, renowned spas and the fountain source of the famous bottled water.

Making Time: Many of the watch factories that produce the expensive timepieces that Switzerland is famous for are in towns in the nearby Joux Valley, including Ebel, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Blancpain and Audemars Piguet. Two public museums in the area are the Espace Horloger and International Watch Museum.

Olympic Museum: Lausanne is Switzerland’s grandest lakefront town, a short train ride from Geneva, and home to the Musée de Olympics (Olympic Museum, since the International Olympic Committee is based here. The museum showcases the history of the Games.


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