Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Fun In/Around Geneva (My Fave)

OK, this is simply impossible. I could write a series of posts to answer the simple question often asked of me of late:

So what do you recommend for us to do in Geneva?

Well, I've composed a (very) short list of options (in no particular order) if you're spending one/some summer day(s) in the city. It does no justice to the incredible amount of fun you can have, but this is what I'd be doing:



- Le Saleve
This is a must see, even if only from a distance. Check out the striped behemoth from almost anywhere in Geneva and look for the last rays of the sun setting the background all sorts of colors, giving the enormous rock a halo. If you feel like conquering it, nothing is simpler. Look for trails from the French villages on the border, and find maps on the internet or in any bookstore Geneva wide. Depending on the route you take, it's around 90-120 minutes to get on top and you can take the telepherique to catch a bird eye view of Geneva and the lake. It's one of the coolest day trips in the area and not only in summer! ;)

- Jardin Botanique
Lounge, read, sunbake and enjoy life in this most Genevois of all places. You'll see moms with babies, stylish youth walking dogs, couples enjoying a romantic sunset and families having a picnic, all of which, of course, are highly recommended activities here. There's a playground and a glasshouse and an education trail, but in my opinion the vast green of the park and the view across the lake beats all the facilities and make me crave for this pounding heart of the city whenever I'm away.

- Annecy
Said to be a must and I guess it is. I used to dream about this place day and night after visiting it a couple of years back. Now that I've seen it during the peak season, it left me with a mixed feeling. It is just so special, so beautiful, so much like a unique gem that I feel sad for it to be pounded by so many feet year after year. I does the city no harm I guess, but it makes the atmosphere more touristy and being shoved every now and then makes staring at the odd building holding your breath quite uncomfortable. The blue of the lake and the inviting peaks set an incredible background to this beautiful little village. Takes like an hour to reach from Geneva by bus from the Gare Routiere.

- Yvoire
Actually, you know what? With all the hindsight I'd trade a trip to Annecy for one to Yvoire. It's quite similar though not as archetypal as Annecy. Not so famous either. But Yvoire's a lovely alternative and is much closer, depending on the means of transport you take.And there's the trick! Because you can reach it by a ferry ride from Geneve/Nyon/Lausanne (http://www.cgn.ch/horaires/doSearch.php) but you can also take a motor road in a car or bus. The town is less packed (with buildings and tourists) than Annecy, and though it is more charming than "wow this is so the most medieval place on earth", it's a good alternative to a daytrip to Annecy. Less tourists, cheaper pancakes and icecream, the possibility of a ferry trip and a stroll in the nearby wilderness. Loved it!

- Vieille Ville
It's in my fav list as well. There's not much I could add to the usual guidebook stuff in terms of info. I've been to the old town of many modern villages including South French cities and many others. But this has the most unique atmosphere. It's so full of the Western merchant spirit; the stories it tells you are not about unwashed medieval oppressors building fairy castles but about a clever middle class pouring money into the empty pockets of emperors impoverished in war -- and hot soup on the heads of Savoyard soldiers. Instead of being heralds of a grand era long past, these winding streets and stretching flags stand witness to ongoing prosperity and whisper eternity. It always amazes me how little have changed in Switzerland since those days. I adore the Old Town for its unique atmosphere and always take all guests there for a stroll.

- Jardin des Eaux-Vives, Jardin de la Grange (Our fav parks)
I love them. We take our books, fruit and a sheet there almost every weekend, weather permitting. Many people do the same and on Sundays (French and Swiss family day) they're quite packed, but you can always find a good spot to relax. Views on the lake are amazing, so are the many special trees and flowers and the rose gardens are especially enchanting. You can do almost anything here, they are both vast parks. And they feel alive, which not many of the parks in big cities do. Those huge pines feel eternal to and give the place a very relaxing atmosphere after a hard day at work, beside the inviting shade.

- Geneva
Yes, I have to include her. She's a beauty. With her many bridges and the Flower Clock and the chocolate shops and the many green areas and... I can take a walk in Geneva and get lost in its beauty for hours (not because I don't know the town! =D) I highly recommend taking a walk wherever you plan on going, just to grab the typically Genevan feeling of the town. It's really like nowhere else. Not quite like any other Swiss towns, not completely French either, it's hard to tell what style life here really has. See it for yourself to be able to tell just how Genevois(e) you are! ;)

- Pedal boats and the rest
I've mentioned these in an earlier post. For prices check out http://www.lescorsaires.ch/fr/ and book ahead for avoiding the hectic and long queue on a Saturday afternoon.

- Le Jura
OK, this is a bit broad, but there you go, it's all fantastic. We usually start trekking from St-Cergue (30-45 mins away from GE by car, around 75-90 by train). Check out the Parc Jurassien (http://www.parc-jurassien.ch/nature-paysage), and the Creux-du-Van farther away (http://www.isyours.com/e/photo-gallery/jura/creux-du-van-fog.html). But the Nyon-La Cure train takes you for a fine trip any afternoon you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Just get off anywhere you get itchy feet and hike away to your heart's pleasure.

Obviously, there's so much more to do! I've omitted museums, for the ones in Geneva are pretty specialized (e.g. Patek Philip or the Natural History) and might only interest some. Also, if you're looking for the real Geneve, or the Swiss spirit, the above are more like it. I'll try to make a more comprehensive list, but for now (with wedding and honeymoon preparation and all that) this must do.


Hope you'll enjoy your stay in Geneva! Have lots of fun and post your favorite activities! I'm so looking forward to reading about your adventures as all other readers are, I'm sure! ;)

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