Quite a few years ago now, my family and I visited the Swiss town of Geneva. Geneva is located near the Switzerland/France border, in Southeastern Switzerland, and it is surrounded by Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French) and the Alps and Jura mountains. Geneva is the second most expensive city in all of Europe, and the second most populous city in Switzerland, both after Zürich. We stayed in the city, famous for its chocolate, luxury watches, and Swiss Army knives, for two days. In this post I’ll be running you through everything we did in the two days we stayed in Geneva for, from visiting the world famous Water Jet (Jet d’eau) to learning about the history of Swiss watches and clocks.
To get to Geneva, we took a train from Lyon, France, to Geneva, Switzerland. The ride to Geneva was about two hours long, although it varies depending on the train you’re taking. If you’re looking into visiting Geneva from Lyon, you can find train tickets between the cities here.
The hotel we stayed at in Geneva is called the Hotel Jade, three star hotel near Geneva’s train station and Lake Geneva. The hotel charges a decent price for rooms, considering the fact that Geneva overall is very pricey. I’d definitely recommend staying at the Hotel Jade if you’re planning a trip to Geneva.
We started our first day in Geneva by visiting its most famous spot, Lake Geneva or Lac Léman in French. Lake Geneva is known for its clean and clear water, and the stunning scenery that surrounds it. As I briefly mentioned earlier, Geneva is surrounded by the Jura mountains and the Alps which are both visible from the lake. The highest point in the Alps, Mont Blanc or Mountain White in English, which stands at close to 4810 m tall, is also visible from the lake.
While at the lake, we also saw the Jet d’eau, which is pretty hard to miss as it’s located in the middle of the part of Lake Geneva visible from the city! The Jet d’eau or Water Jet in English, is a major landmark of Geneva. This water jet sprays water 140 m into the air, at about 200km per hour. It is manually turned on at exactly nine o’clock in the morning, and it is one of the largest fountains in the world. We also saw some people walk down a platform that leads you straight to the water jet, but I didn’t want to get soaked and decided not to.
Right on the lake you will find the Jardin Anglais or English Garden, a well known park full of trees, fountains and sculptures. The Jardin Anglais is home to the L’Horloge Fleurie or Flowery Clock, an iconic outdoor clock, decorated with flowers that are changed to fit each season. My family decided to have lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafés that you will find in the area. Since many things in Geneva, especially food, are very expensive, a cheaper alternative to eating a restaurant and probably overpaying is having your own picnic in the park with food you bring yourself. Here’s a cute photo of eight year old me in the Jardin Anglais!
After spending some time around the lake, we decided to walk down the Rhône river, which flows into Lake Geneva. We passed by most of the bridges that cross the Rhône river, one of them being the Pont du Mont-Blanc or Bridge of the White Mountain (aka the highest point in the Alps that I mentioned earlier). The Pont du Mont-Blanc is the first upstream bridge, which means that it is the last bridge to cross the Rhône before it flows into the lake.
Another bridge we passed by on our walk down the Rhône is the Pont de la Coulouvrenière or the Bridge of the Coulouvrenière, the fifth bridge upstream the Rhône. Here’s a photo of the view from the bridge, which shows a building on the right that is apparently owned by the Swiss watch brand Breitling. I searched up the current view from this bridge on Google Maps and apparently that building is no longer owned by Breitling, which I thought was interesting since we visited only five years ago.
We spent the rest of our afternoon at the Patek Philippe Museum, a watch and clock museum in Geneva. The four floors of the museum take you through the history of watch and clock making, starting in the 16th century and ending in the present. The museum is home to a massive collection of prestigious clocks and watches, which are on display for visitors to see (but not touch). You cannot take any photos in the museum, hence why I don’t have any pictures to show for it.
Admission to the Patek Philippe Museum are 10 CHF (about 10 USD) for adults, 7 CHF (about 7 USD) for seniors, people with a disability, unemployed, and students, and free for kids under 18. Despite me being quite young when I visited the museum, and me not being extremely interested in watches or clocks, I do remember really liking it. If you are interested in learning about the history of watch and clock making in Switzerland and throughout the world, then I would definitely suggest visiting this museum.
On the morning of our second and final day there, we took a walk throughout Geneva and explored the city.
On our walk, we came across the Place du Molard, a square filled with shops, hotels, cafés and restaurants, where we stopped for lunch. The Place du Molard is located between the lake and the Rue du Marche. At night some of the cobblestones in the square’s floor light up (you can see some of them in the photo above) with words written in many different languages, from Mandarin to German. The square has a very nice atmosphere, and it’s the perfect spot to grab a meal.
On our way to Old Town Geneva (more about that later), we came across the Place Neuve. The Place Neuve is surrounded by a few significant buildings, one of them being the Grand Théâtre de Genève or the Grand Theatre of Geneva. Geneva’s Grand Theatre is home to the largest stage in its country, and it is a place where many operas, recitals, concerts, and more take place. It is considered an architectural masterpiece of its time, and it is a replica of Paris’ Opera house, the Palais Garnier. Although I didn’t get to, I think it would be a lot of fun to see a show in Geneva’s Grand Theatre.
Another building we came across in the Place Neuve is the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève or the Conservatory of Music of Geneva. Geneva’s Conservatory of Music is the oldest music education institution in Switzerland, as well as one of the oldest in Europe, as it started back in the 19th century.
After visiting the Place Neuve, we arrived in Geneva’s most famous neighbourhood, its old town! Old Town Geneva is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, as the charming neighborhood is a maze of cobbled streets, restaurants, museums, galleries, shops, and more. One of the renowned sites in Old Town is the St. Pierre cathedral, a 850 year old cathedral which was rebuilt over many centuries, causing it to have a variety of architectural styles.
A less well known spot in Old Town is the Place du Bourg-De-Four, a square that is considered the heart of the neighbourhood. The Place du Bourg-De-Four is the oldest square in all of Geneva, and it was originally surrounded by two castles which were both destroyed. The square actually has a market, where I bought this old postcard from. As you can see on the back side of the postcard, it was originally written almost 100 years ago, back in 1918. The front of the postcard says the phrase “Bonne Année” in French, which means Happy New Year. This postcard is one of my favourite souvenirs I have in my collection, so I’d definitely suggest visiting the market in the Place du Bourg-De-Four if you visit Geneva!
We spent the rest of our day in Geneva shopping, as Geneva has quite a large selection of malls and shops.
Overall, I really enjoyed the time we spent in Geneva, as well as my first trip into Switzerland. There were a few sites that we didn’t visit, which is definitely something I regret. However, I did have a great time in Geneva and I guess I will have to go back someday to visit the spots we missed!
That’s it for my post today, I hope you enjoyed! I actually have some exciting news for you all… I am going to be staying in Toronto for the next two weeks! I arrived late Thursday night, and I’m really happy to be back (I used to live in Toronto). I’m planning on writing a lot of posts about my former hometown, and I hope you are all as excited to read them as I am. I’m not sure if my post next week will be about this trip, since I’d like to be able to enjoy my time here rather than spending a lot of time on my computer. So, my next post will probably be one that I pre-wrote before this trip, but after that I will be posting a lot about Toronto 🙂
Thanks for reading.