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Holidays to Geneva
Geneva - a modern-day multi-cultural marvel
This tiny city (population: 190,000) is home to just about every major European organisation and the resulting population of migrants, ex-pats and locals have ensured Geneva is a truly European experience! About 45% of the city's population come from around 180 different countries so the food, bars, entertainment and languages within Geneva sing with diversity.
But, (and it's a big but) don't come to Geneva looking for cheap weekend breaks. Diversity don't come cheap! What you will find though is a slick, tidy and utterly pretty spot on Lake Geneva full of Kodak moments and memorable sights. Romantic weekend breaks? Yes!
Geneva is relatively small so you walk almost everywhere within the city limits. This makes it ideal for short breaks. And if you do want to venture further afield, or are over the walk, collect a free transport pass for the local buses when you check in at your hotel.
Geneva is home to great institutions including the Red Cross and CERN and has a surfeit of free museums to enjoy. The lakefront is truly spectacular and medieval Europe junkies will get their full of ye olde Europe.
Explore Paquis (the somewhat seedy bar area) close to the main train station, and wander down to the many waterfront parks. Melt the credit card in some of Europe's most elite shops and dine with the rich and famous on the water. Enjoy the museums and galleries and soak up the atmosphere in a first-world city that makes the most of its position.
Eating out in Geneva
Cheap, expensive and everything in between.
Geneva's inner city population represents about 180 countries - and they all love their indigenous food. What that means for the foodie traveller is a unique experience. You will find almost every cuisine on earth here and, happily, most of it won't cost you a fortune. Geneva has more than 1,000 restaurants in the city centre area and the foods to look out for include; fondue (of course), lake fish dishes, smoked sausage and a variety of winter-warming casseroles.
The area to search out a good quality meal at a reasonable price (in Geneva this means you'll merely gasp as opposed to clutch you heart in shock), is Paquis. The area is less stuffy than the more formal lakefront Geneva and you'll find Arabic, Asian (including excellent Thai), North African and South American cafes and brasseries. Our recommendation? Creperie des Paquis on Rue de Zurich.
On the lakefront you're spoilt for choice. It's Switzerland so fondue is a must and we like Le Bain des Paquis. Cheap-ish and cheerful, a bit student-bar-y but don't let that put you off - the food is excellent.
If you want the best value in Geneva, head for Chez Ma Cousine in the Old Town on Place de la Navigation. Roast chicken with all the trimmings at a very good price!
You're in Switzerland so the whole Swiss experience is a must. Check out Edelweiss, also on Place de la Navigation for the Swiss chalet, live traditional Swiss music (?) and, dare we say, yodelling. This place is fondue heaven, including chocolate fondue for dessert!
Ready to splurge? Then RestO by Arthur's has the water views and the food to make it all worth while. You'll find it at 1 Pont de la Machine. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? The food is truly magnificent. Your call!
What to wear, when to go
Geneva is surrounded by two mountain ranges; the Swiss Alps and the Jura range. You might think this means bone-achingly cold winters, but, surprisingly, the temperatures are relatively mild. Day time temps will hover around the 4-8C mark in winter with overnight lows of -2.
Summer is pleasantly warm, ranging from 18C in May to 25C in July and 20C in September. These are the best months to visit with little rain to speak of, although June is the second wettest month after November.
Spring and autumn are reasonably cool, but still very pleasant for hiking it around the city and exploring some of the museums of Geneva.
Geneva - an international city with international sights
Swiss neutrality is famous and the result is a number of international organisations have called Geneva home. Many of the organisations throw open their doors for tours and a visit to two in particular will be well worth your time.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum - is a fascinating glimpse at why these organsisations came into being. The multimedia presentations are shocking, but sensitively handled. Don't be put off by the subject matter - it's well worth a look - and best of all, it's free!
CERN - were responsible for the world wide web some twenty years. Today the European Organisation for Nuclear Research continues it's main job which, as the name implies, is particle physics. Funded by 20 countries, CERN provides a free, 3 hour guided visit. You need to book this at least a month in advance, but it's a rewarding tour for anyone loves science.
Festivals - come to Geneva in August and you'll also get to enjoy a 2 week festival called Fetes de Genève comprising loads of outdoor events, concerts, parades, fireworks and more.
Galleries and museums - if you fancy a bit of young, multimedia, cross-media art then check out the 1950s factory floor at MAMCO (the museum for modern art). For a different feel entire go see the Natural History Museum on Route de Malagnou. This a wonderful museum, great for the kids and full of every animal you've ever seen or imagined!
Don't miss - the parks and gardens that dot the waterfront. Take in the amazing fountain known as Jet d'Eay where an incredible 7 tonnes of water is in the air at any one time. Explore the Old Town at leisure and do some serious window-shopping (or otherwise!).