Be a tourist in Geneva for the day! My top 5 activities that you may have missed out on.
I have been living in Geneva for a while now, and I feel that I know the city and its surroundings pretty well. I have ridden the nocturn bus from Rive to Gex, scrambled for a parking space in Eaux-Vives and dodged tourists when I’m late for work as they gawk at the chair outside of the UN.
I thought that I had seen all that every-day life in Geneva had to offer, and it wasn’t until I had some friends to come and visit from London last week that I decided to take a look at the other side of Geneva (and no I don’t mean Paquis). I am talking about the bright and shiny world of the tourist track, where the sparkle never dies and everything is a blur of sun cream and colour.
I decided that it was something I had to think about quite carefully, I wanted my friends to have as good a time as I could manage, while at the same time getting a real sense of Geneva as a city. I was a little reluctant in my task at first because, I mean let’s face it, who really wants to be seen as a tourist, especially if you already live there… But as the day went on I realised that I was discovering new things about Geneva, breath-taking views and sparkling water, which I hadn’t previously thought worth my time.
So let me present to you, my top 5 things that you may have missed out on:
1. Boats glorious boats! I’m sure you all have at some point or another taken a pedalo out on the lake. Although this is good fun it is not exactly exciting. So when I brought my friends out I wanted something a bit more exhilarating. So ladies and gentlemen let me present to you the Cannot mini speedboat (but really, you can). Its small (fits up to 4 people) fun to drive and surprisingly fast!
Basically it’s like driving a go cart…but on the lake! And what’s more, once you have got over the initial fun of driving it round and round in a doughnut shape, there is the beautiful view of the old town, snow capped mountains and the ever present towering plume of the jet d’eau. So try it out for yourself, from just 30.- CHF. Just pop down to Les Corsaires in Eaux-Vives by the lake and take it out, all you need is your ID.
2. The Cathedral tower: You’ve seen the cathedral right? The big green tower that sticks up over the old town. But have you ever been up there? I hadn’t. It cost just 5.- CHF. Simply go to the back left of the cathedral during business hours (9.30-12:00 14.00-18.30 any day except Sunday when it is not open until 12:00), and walk up the 100s of tiny little stairs. Once you get to the top and see the 360 panoramic view of Geneva the workout will be well worth it.
3. Geneva’s Pantheon: otherwise know as Plainpalais cemetery. Now you may think of this as a little morbid, but it is actually a fascinating little peek into Geneva’s history, as many of the people that left their mark on the city lie buried here. Dating back to 1482 the cemetery is know locally as the Cimetière des Rois, this surprisingly peaceful place situated at Rue des Rois 10, 1204 Geneva is now the resting place of great names such as John Calvin, James Fazy, Augustin de Candolle, Henri Dufour, and Sergio Vieira de Mello, the late UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
4. Mont Salève: Another Geneva landmark that we see everyday. It sits just behind the hustle and bustle of the city proper, but have you ever been up there? As the sun was setting I took my friends up the Salève, we drove, but if you don’t have a car there is the cable-car (Hours: 09:30 – 18:00 Admission: CHF 16.-. Children: CHF 8.-) The Salève is 1,380 meters above sea level and offers a breath taking view of the Alps one way and the valley of Geneva and the lake the other. We went up there just as the sun was setting and were in time to watch the sun lazily dipping behind the Jura. It truly is spectacular, and like the cathedral, well worth the effort of getting up there.
5. La Tour du Molard Bar a Vin: On to my 5th and final Geneva perk, the wine bar! I mean after that really busy day of touristing you really have deserved it. One of my favourite wine bars in Geneva is the Tour du Molard. It’s situated just off the tram stop at Molard and it really is beautifully done. With countless little candle lit rooms, and let’s face it; more stairs, this little place offers a range of great wines and an even better atmosphere.
So hit the water, climb some stairs, take in some history and watch the sunset, capped off with a nice glass of wine. You’re now officially a local/tourist/exhausted from all the stairs!