Fun things to do in Geneva

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Geneva

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    Voltaire Institute and Museum

    by Nemorino Updated Aug 20, 2014

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    Photos:
    1. Voltaire library.
    2. Statue of Voltaire in the house.
    3. Folio edition of three of Voltaire's satirical tales.

    Voltaire himself would have loved this museum, with its detailed documentation of formal garden design in the 18th century. But for those of us who have trouble working up much interest in that sort of thing, the museum is rather a bore.

    I personally would have preferred to learn more about Voltaire's life and writings, as in the Espace Rousseau I had seen earlier the same day, but that isn't what this Voltaire museum is about.

    As a consolation prize I went out and spent three Swiss Francs, the equivalent of two Euros, on a Folio edition of three of Voltaire's satirical tales, so I at least had something of his to read on the train.

    1. Voltaire library 2. Statue of Voltaire in the house 3. Folio edition of Voltaire's satirical tales
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    Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

    by Nemorino Updated May 24, 2014

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    I remember as a student sometimes feeling intimidated by Rousseau, because his influence seemed to be everywhere. No matter what other authors I was reading, they all seemed to have been shaped by Rousseau in one way or another, and that was what examiners were interested in particularly. Sometimes I thought I should just drop everything else and read all of Rousseau's books, which I never did, but in Geneva half a century later I did the next best thing by checking out the audio guide at the Espace Rousseau and getting a lucid 25-minute introduction to Rousseau's life and work.

    The audio guides are available in seven languages, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese. I took the French one, since I hadn't come all the way to Geneva just to be yapped at in English or German.

    The Espace is open every day except Mondays, from 11 am to 5:30 pm (last visit at 5 pm). The entrance fee is five Swiss Francs for adults, but only three for children, students, pensioners and groups of four or more people.

    Photos:
    1. Plaque on the house where Rousseau was born, on the Grand’Rue in the Old Town of Geneva.
    2. In the Espace Rousseau, part of the display on Rousseau's life. Madame de Warens (1699-1762) was Rousseau's benefactor when he was in his teens, and his mistress and educator when he was in his twenties.
    3. Rousseau's book Émile, ou De l’éducation was first published in 1762.
    4. A compendium of what other famous authors (Goethe, Byron, Tolstoy, . . .) had to say about Rousseau, in their original languages.

    Related page:
    Rousseau and Grétry in Montmorency, France.

    1. Plaque on the house where Rousseau was born 2. Madame de Warens (1699-1762) 3. His book ��mile . . . 4. What other famous authors said about Rousseau
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    parc de la Grange

    by mindcrime Written Jan 24, 2014

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    Parc de la Grange is a large (200,000 square meters) green park on the south side of Geneva lake. I walked there after checking the marina but the truth is that I was very tired and couldn’t really enjoy the numerous paths of the park. I got inside from the gate at Quai Gustave-Ador. It was peaceful with only 1-2 locals walking around with their tiny dogs. The park opened to the public in 1918 when the owner William Favre donated it to the city.

    It houses many old trees, large open green areas, orangeries, a wading pool and a playground, a huge rose garden that was created in 1946(since then there’s a rose competition annually in June with rose specialists checking the varieties), a historic mansion from 18th century overlooking the park and 2 summer theatres (Theatre de l'Orangerie for classic theater, and Theatre de Verdure , for free music concerts). Behind the mansions there are some roman remains, it’s all what left from the wealthy roman that lived here between 50 and 60 AD.

    The park is open from sunrise to sunset.

    gate to parc de la Grange parc de la Grange parc de la Grange

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    walking along the marina

    by mindcrime Written Jan 23, 2014

    Walking along quai Gustave-Ador is a must do for every tourist in Geneva, most of them start from pont du Mont-Blanc and walk towards jet d’eau (pic 1) the famous fountain of Geneva which is 700meters away, actually you better walk on the parallel promenade right next to the water.
    At the beginning the boats of the marina seem to block the view for a great photo shoot of the fountain but sooner or later they get to the promenade of jet d’eau, they get the pictures, sometime they get a bit wet too and return back :) Of course I can imagine the area packed with visitors during the summer months, in winter it was peaceful with only a few people here and there, the swans were much more than us :)

    But worth to keep walking along the promenade for 600 meters more until you reach a small park with a sculpture (pic 2), you are now near the marina where there’s also another boat station for those that use it along Geneva lake. It’s also a nice spot with benches (pic 3) where you can stop and enjoy the sun like I did.

    On the left is the marina (pic 4) with some nice yahts while on the right is a cute small beach that is called baby-plage (pic 5). You can walk 1000meters more for Geneva beach and then start walking back to the city or cross the avenue and visit parc de la Grange.

    jet d���eau Geneve Eaux Vives CGN marina at Geneva lake baby-plage
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    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    Rath Museum

    by mindcrime Written Jan 21, 2014

    The main problem with museums that have only temporary exhibitions is that you feel like getting a lottary, it’s a hit or miss situation but as a typical art museum lover didnt care that much and visited Rath Museum.

    The building itself is worth to be seen as many others that face place de Neuve, it was built with donations from general Simon Rath(hence the name of the museum) in 1826 by Samuel Vaucher inspired by Ancient Greek temples. It used to house a permanent collection too but since 1910 it was moved to Museum of Art and History and Rath Museum focused on temporary exhibitions that vary from ancient to modern and contemporary art.

    I got inside and got shocked by the entrance fee (15chf), extremely expensive for sure as I already knew the exhibitions here are pretty small (that’s why they cant house permanent collections). From November 2013 to March 2014 the exhibition was called Ancient Heroes, Flemish tapestry facing archeology. There were tapestries from Art and History Museum in Geneva but also from Fondation Toms Pauli in Lausanne. Although I enjoyed the tapestries there was no explanation in English which made the visit way less pleasant. The most interesting part was the video that was showing the restoration procedure and what amazing job they did on the old destroyed tapestries.

    Photography isn’t allowed inside.

    Rath Museum La tapisserie flamande face �� l���arch��ologie
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    plaine de plainpalais

    by mindcrime Written Jan 20, 2014

    Plaine de Plainpalais is by far the ugliest square in Geneva, it’s a pity because this large (78135 sq meters) esplanade could be an oasis in the city center but the authorities preferred to put cement everywhere instead of green. If you can plan ahead go there on Wednesday or Saturday when they have a flea market with numerous stalls (it takes place since 1970) with second hand items, antiques etc Other days you can find food stalls.

    I was there on a regular morning, there weren’t many people around only some kids dancing (pic 2). It was just an island on the junction delta that was transformed into a pasture during the Middle Ages and took it’s current shape in 1662, if you check the map it has a diamond shape (640meters long, 200m wide).

    One corner of the square is dominated by the Skatepark (pic 3), I’m sure skaters and roller skaters will love this no matter what I write here :) Opposite the square I noticed an interesting roman catholic church (pic 4, along bld Gerges-Favon) but the truth is that there wasn’t anything to keep me at the square more than 5’. Later in the evening we passed by on our way to a pub and we noticed some colorful lights on the square, a small part of it turns into an amusement park with bumpers cars etc (pic 5)

    plaine de plainpalais dancing over cement skatepark de plaine de plainpalais roman catholic church bumper cars
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    Ethnography Museum of Geneva

    by mindcrime Written Jan 19, 2014

    MEG is the Ethnography Museum of Geneva (Musée d'ethnographie de Genève), I was 2 blocks away and saw it on the map so I decided to take a visit there, according to my guidebook its collection covers many different civilizations (Asian, Amazonian, African, Australian etc) with more than 80,000 items and hundred thousands of documents. It was founded in 1901 in Villa Mon Repos and moved to its current location in 1939.

    But as I didn’t check online about it I didn’t know it was closed for extended renovation until the end of 2014 although the one in Conches is still open. I just took some pictures of the buildings but I plan to return next year.

    Mus��e d'ethnographie de Gen��ve Ethnography Museum of Geneva
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    Ernest Ansermet parc

    by mindcrime Written Jan 18, 2014

    I was walking from Jonction (where Rhone and Arve rivers meet each other) along Arve river. When I reached the futurist bridge pont Hans Wilsdorf (pic 1) I was ready to cross to the other side to Caserne but I changed my mind and decided to return back to the city near the Geneva lake.

    Opposite the bridge there’s a small park, it’s called Ernest Ansermet parc, named after the famous swiss conductor Ernest Alexandre Ansermet (1883-1969). He cooperated with Stravinsky after WWI, had his own orchestra and toured internationally but also had lots of recordings with Decca Records.

    But what about this park? it has nothing special to offer although the naked trees gave me some good photo shots (pic 2), it’s just an open space with some benches on the side where I could enjoy my poor sandwich, a small playground for kids and a weird structure in the middle (pic 3) where I saw some graffiti (pic 4) and went up the stairs just to find an aggressive man that was talking in French so I couldn’t understand what exactly he wanted. I took a last photo of the park (pic 5) and went away….

    Many of the buildings that face the park are again part of the university, this time related to psychology, social studies etc

    pont Hans Wilsdorf Ernest Ansermet parc Ernest Ansermet parc graffiti at Ernest Ansermet parc Ernest Ansermet parc
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    Arve river

    by mindcrime Written Jan 18, 2014

    I thought Jonction was the point where 2 canals from the lake were mixed into Rhone river but looking at the map I realized this is not true, as only Rhone and it’s clear waters come out of the lake while the other one is Arve river that comes from many glaciers of the Chamonix valley. It has much more muddy waters (it has a dirty brown color) full of sediment and also much more colder than Rhone (its water gets warmed in the lake).

    I followed Rhone to Jonction so I my way back I followed the banks of Arve river, on the way I noticed some sculptures on several green areas (pic 1), paths parallel to the river with benches where you can relax for a while (pic 3), I think I walked for about 2kilometers in total, the buildings facing the river aren’t anything special with some of them being just huge ugly structures used by the university (pic 4 is part of University of Physics).

    I ended up at a bridge with a futuristic shape (pic 5), it is pont Hans Wilsdorf, a 85m long metallic bridge that was constructed in 2012 (replacing an older bridge) and was named after the founder of Rolex company that probably donated money for the bridge.

    sculpture at Arve river sculpture at Arve river walking along Arve river Sciences II pont-Hans-Wilsdorf
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    Cimetiere des Rois/Plainpalais

    by mindcrime Written Jan 15, 2014

    The Cimetiere des Rois(cemetery of Kings) was on my way from L’Uzine to Plainpalais so I took a look as I walked through. I didn’t know that many famous people were buried here until I read later about people that were connected with Geneva including John Calvin, Jean Piaget, Jean Hersch, Jorge Luis Borges, the daughter of Dostoievski etc

    It was built in early 15th century when major pestilence hit Europe. Until 1876 only protestants were buried here. It’s interesting to note that the grave of the influential protestant theologian John Calvin is symbolic as they don’t really know the exact location where he was buried!

    I didn’t stay much here, took some pictures of several different graves, stones etc and walked through this peaceful park that is open daily 8.00-17.00

    Cimetiere des Rois Cimetiere des Rois Cimetiere des Rois Cimetiere des Rois Cimetiere des Rois
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    La Jonction

    by mindcrime Written Jan 15, 2014

    La Jonction is a peaceful district in Geneva, named after the junction of Rhone and Arve rivers that border the two sides of the neighborhood. It was funny to see the clear blue waters of Rhone getting mixed with the brown waters of Arve (has higher level of silt).

    I was following Rhone river from Geneva lake (it actually rises from Swiss Alps and goes into Geneva lake and gets out of the lake in Geneva going into France). Along the route I loved been away from the car traffic in such a peaceful area where most sounds came from seagulls. Along the path there are benches to relax for a while, I stood to read a book and later in some point I came across some students that were ready for picnic (pic 2) there are wooden tables in many places) while much further there was only a lady with a small kid and another one with a dog.

    During the summer locals go there for sunbathing along the grassy area and go swimming into Rhone but you have to watch out for the current because you may end up in France :) At the edge I just saw the confluence of the two rivers under the big bridge (pic 4). I noticed many many graffiti in Jonction (pic 5) and took many pictures of them (for some more check here)

    Rhone river picnic at Jonction La Jonction La Jonction graffitti at Jonction
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    river Rhone

    by mindcrime Written Jan 14, 2014

    Rhone (the greek-roman name was Rhodanos) is one of the main rivers in Europe rising from the Swiss Alps through Geneva lake and ends up in SE France and was an important trade route in the ancient times connecting the Mediterranean to east Gaul, a difficult and dangerous route due to the river’s strong currents. Steam boats started to operate in 19th century but after 1952 new powerful motor barges came into the game.

    I walked from Pomt du Mont Blanc to the edge of Jonction where Rhone meets with Arve river. It was a nice 2,5km long strolling on the left side of the river passing through several bridges, pic 1 was taken as I stood for a while near pont de la Coulouvreniere, you can see Jet d’Eau at the background, then I took some pictures of the water running under Batiment des Forces Motrices (pic 2), this was the old hydroelectric station. But the best part was definitely at Jonction where it was much more peaceful with 2-3 other people that were walking around with their dogs.

    I was surprised how clean the water was, but still I think it’s a risk to swim here due to the current that can easily transfer you out to France :) There are several warning signs about swimming focusing on the current, the rocks (don’t jump into water for no reason), boats that come and go etc

    I ended up at the very edge of Jonction where you can see the two rivers (Rhone and L’Arve) mixing under the bridge (pic 5)

    river Rhone river Rhone Le Rhone Le Rhone La Jonction point
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    Batiment des Forces Motrices

    by mindcrime Written Jan 13, 2014

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    I was walking along Rhone river towards Jonction when I saw this nice building just after pont de la Coulouvreniere.

    Rhone river flows under it so I guessed it had to do with a powerful station based on an hydroelectric dam. So, it was no surprise that originally this was indeed a hydroelectric station that was built between 1883 and 1892 by Theodore Turrettini when the needs of drinking water supplies risen, it was an era when Geneva was in rapid industrial growth. It was also used for electricity supply and was in operation for about 100 years as it was closed down in 1980.

    It is now renovated into a cultural center that hosts numerous exhibitions in its halls but also theatrical plays and opera performances. Its capacity is 945 seats, opened in 1997. The official site has some interesting pics/panoramic views of the building (link) and its interior when you can see its tall ceilings, some old turbines etc

    Pic 1 was taken from pont de la Coulouvreniere
    pics 2-3 are details from the top of main façade, it’s the only wall that is decorated, you can see God Poseidon etc
    at pics 4-5 you can see Rhone river running under it.

    Batiment des Forces Motrices Poseidon Batiment des Forces Motrices Batiment des Forces Motrices
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    The Big Synagogue

    by mindcrime Updated Jan 13, 2014

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    Returning back from Bastions Park I saw the Grande Synagogue.
    It’s an Ashekazi synaguge (officially called Beth Yaakov Synagogue) that was built in 1859 in byzantine-moorish style with a large dome over an octagonal base with gray, pink and white colors on the walls.

    It was just after the local governemt gave permission for non protestant religious buildings to be built within the city walls. Before that (there were jewish in Geneva since early 19th century) the 200 jewish were using another one at Carouges district.

    Unfortunatelly I didnt check the interior when I was there in 2013. Pic 3 was taken a year later as I was walking on boulevard Georges-Favon, in front of the synagogue is a small square named after it featuring a small sculpture (pic4)

    Grande Synagogue Grande Synagogue Place de la Synagogue Place de la Synagogue
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    Foggy day? What to do outdoors...

    by oisha Written Oct 27, 2013

    I have seen locals advising visitors to avoid Geneva during fog season (basically, the entire winter). Since this advice is bad, I am giving this suggestion for what you could do if your short visit to Geneva turns out to be a foggy one. Of course, you could stick to indoor activities, but if you're an outdoorsy type and would like to see something unusual, try this. Get yourself to Grand Saconnex Place on public transport (only 2 stops from the airport and 2 stops from Nations by bus). Walk to the corner of Rte Ferney and Rte Colovrex to start. Looking east from this corner, in a small park you will find some interesting art installation of a horticultural nature reflecting the season. The fog can never completely obscure it, since it's warmed by the earth. From there, head 50m uphill along Ch. Auguste-Vilbert to spot the Eglise Grand-Saconnex on your right. Behind the church, enter the parc du chateau to see the chateau! Return to Ch. Auguste-Vilbert and keep heading NE until you cross the roundabout (100 m) and enter Ch. des Crets de Pregny. Follow the lane round to the right and in 50m you will see a photogenic chapel on your left. Return the way you came to the roundabout and cross it again. After a few paces along Ch. Auguste-Vilbert, turn right down a lane that appears to be someone's drive. At the end (50m) you will be in the park of the town hall of Grand Saconnex. The town hall will be NW. Exit from the west side of the park and you will be back at Grand Saconnex Place.

    Chapel Crets de Pregny Eglise Grand Saconnex
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