A Perfect Day in Pâquis
Breakfast and chilling out
What better way to start the day than by having breakfast at Bains des Pâquis?
Bain de Paquis is Geneva’s own beach bar/cafe. It is accessed via a walkway from Quai du Mont-Blanc 30. Early morning is my favourite time here as you can get a stunning view of the lake and Jet d’eau at sunrise and it is less crowded than the afternoon.
The breakfast is a bargain at 10 CHF with toasts, Bircher or fruit salad, a hot drink and fresh fruit juice (I usually ask them to put ginger in it, as it wakes me up more than coffee).
In the summer there is a cover charge of 2 CHF to access the beach. If you get there early enough you won’t have to pay though. And you have to go once during the summer to see the live concerts (Aubes Musicales) at 6am with all kinds of bands, watch the sun come up, jump in the lake and take breakfast for a unique Geneva experience. You’ll see interesting characters in Bains des Pâquis, some dancing, others sunbathing in style, etc. People watching is definitely part of the fun.
In winter, hanging out at the sauna and Turkish baths to relax is one of my favourite activities, even if it’s not very active.
All year long, don’t miss out on the opportunity to get a massage! They have a bunch of masseurs that are quite good and you pay a decent price by Geneva standards (65 CHF for 50 minutes). Make sure you book in advance, though, as they are very popular. If you are more of a sporty kind of person then join their Tai Chi course, every Sunday at 10:00 in winter and 9:15 in summer, free of charge.
(You can support the Bains des Pâquis Association for 20 CHF a year)
I don’t know about you but I’m usually hungry after a swim or Tai Chi! It’s time for lunch! If you are enjoying Bains des Pâquis you can definitely stay there, they serve a good and light lunch. Plats du jour are varied and always healthy. They cost about 12 CHF, which is nothing for Geneva. They also have nice salads. Be warned that birds and ducks are not shy and might want to share your food…
However if like me you want to discover other places, then let’s go to Le Plantamour, on rue Plantamour 37. They also make fresh meals with ingredients of the season. They have a good variety of main dishes, soups and salads. My favorites are the gaspacho and the Teryaki chicken.
In summer they have a huge terrace and, since rue de Plantamour is on a small, quiet street, it’s nice to sit outside.
After lunch I usually need a walk to avoid falling asleep, even when I eat something light. So, let’s go shopping! Pâquis might not be the best neighbourhood to shop in Geneva but there are a couple of nice shops. My three favorite stores are Histoire de Plaire and Boutique Carmen on rue des Pâquis, and Hazard on rue de Monthoux. They make really nice clothes. Histoire de Plaire and Boutique Carmen have original models. Hazard is a second-hand store with designer clothes, and it’s a real bargain.
If you are really into shopping and want more, then head towards Saint-Gervais area, a bit outside of Pâquis, to Manor Department store, on rue de Cornavin. They have lots of choices from different brands, so there’s something for everyone.
If you need to rest your feet and sit down, another place to take a break is La Vouivre, on rue des Pâquis 21. Not only do they make great pains au chocolat, but it’s also worth going in just to check out the furniture…or the owner’s wardrobe…
Let’s head to the park for the rest of the afternoon. Parc Mon Repos has a nice view on the lake and is a nice place to just chill. If you feel like going for a long walk, you can head from Quai du Mont-Blanc to the Botanical Gardens. On your way to the park don’t miss the outdoor exhibition on quai Wilson, usually about something related to human rights. Make sure to visit the greenhouse and follow the path of scents to awake your senses. If you have kids go and see the deers and check out the merry-go-round, a unique piece of art.
At the moment you can even learn a bit about Rousseau with the exhibition on ‘Rousseau and Botanic’. This is what I love the most about Geneva – one minute you are in the city and the next you are in the middle of nature. The park is always really well maintained and the Botanical Gardens are a pleasure for the eyes and all your other senses.
It’s nearly dinnertime now but if you feel like a drink before eating, make sure to stop at the most popular terrace of Geneva, actually called La Terrasse, just next to Bains des Pâquis. It’s open from May to September and it’s right on the lake.
If you are still in Bains des Pâquis you can have dinner there as well. In winter they make one of the best cheese fondues of Geneva.
Otherwise, I could recommend many places for dinner, but one of my favourites is the Melting-Pot on rue de la Navigation 8. It’s an Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant where not only is the food is delicious, but the owner will also make you feel very welcome. She knows how to take care of customers and has a very interesting background. Ethiopian food is basically a huge crepe with whatever you want in it (veggies, meat, etc) with a touch of spices to share with your friends.
What I usually like to do after dinner is go to a concert. Again, there are many places to choose from. Le Chic on rue de Fribourg 3 has to be the one to check out, though. It’s a New York style kind of lounge, and they always have great bands playing in the small and cosy atmosphere. Don’t be put-off by the entrance (it’s in the basement of a dodgy pool bar) because it’s worth the visit once you’re inside.
If I don’t feel like going home after the concert, I go dancing! Fenomeno on rue des Pâquis 28 is where I usually head to. It’s a funky bar with a small dance floor, and has great DJs. If you want something bigger, then go to Palais Mascotte on rue de Berne 43 for some 80s music!