Strung around the shores of Lake Geneva, Europe’s largest Alpine lake, Geneva is one of the priciest cities in Europe and home to multicultural residents.
Go and see the L’Horloge Fleurie or the Flower Clock, which is one of Geneva’s more famous attractions. Built in 1955, the clock created by flowers, is 15.7 meters in circumference, and the clock’s second hand, is 2.5 meters long. The second hand of L’Horloge Fleurie in Geneva holds the reputation of the being the longest in this planet and the clock is made up of 6,500 differently coloured flower and foliage plants. With every season, a new design is created with different plants and shrubs.
For the rest of the day visit the UN head quarters. Avoid carrying bags, as they might be a security problem. Remember to carry your passport as you enter the Pregny gate, up the hill from Place Des Nations. Morning tours starts around 10.30 am and they can be booked on the UN European website. A UN tour includes a visit to the council chamber and a retelling of the history of how the United Nations was formed.
As you enter the grounds, the first thing you notice, are the peacocks strutting around the grounds. “There are 10 peacocks living on the grounds and all of us have a favourite,” said one of the security guards. Art collector and traveller Gustave Revilliod left the land to the city on the condition that peacocks would always roam the grounds. You can also send a postcard home with a special UN stamp from the UN post office. You can take trams from Place des Nations to to the main station Cornavin. A short walk from there, across to the left bank, you can find a number of restaurants and cafes. Geneva is often called the food capital of Switzerland and food is a serious business here. Try out the local delicacies like fondue, raclette, lake fish dishes, smoked sausage and a variety of casseroles. It is a good idea to reserve a table in one of the more refined cafes because of the limited seating.
Your trip is not complete until you shop at Geneva. Despite its small size, Geneva rivals London and Paris as a major shopping destination in Europe. All the shops specialize in the finer things in life and, though they are not cheap, the selection is staggering and makes for world class window-shopping – as people often say, “It’s a national sport in Switzerland.” The place is just crawling with watch shops and Swiss chocs. Geneva’s watch industry dates back to mid 1600’s and the city remains a world leader with many top brand watchmakers located right in the city, including Patek Phillipe, Frank Muller, Swatch, Omega and Piaget, just to name a few. Don’t expect to walk in and get a discount; remember the quality is immaculate and the designs second to none.
If you are in the mood for street shopping in Geneva, you better plan your trip around the weekend as on Saturday mornings you can buy anything under the sun at the flea market at the Plainpalais (accessible on tram lines 12, 13, 17).
Lunch on chocolates at Aeur; a store that boasts of five generations of chocolatiers. Established since 1939 at 4 Rue de Rive, the “Pavé Glacé of Geneva” is a marvellous chocolate created by Henri Auer in 1940.Those preferring mildness and smoothness, can indulge in their pralines and milk chocolate. However, if you are more interested in something savoury, visit Resto by Arthur’s a popular restaurant in the city which houses a great collection of wines. The restaurant also houses 5,000 Swatches in glass cases, arranged year after year. Another restaurant popular with locals is Café du Centre at Place du Molard 5, where you can feast on French-inspired delicacies.
After you’ve had your fill of food and shopping, head to The Jet d’Eau, situated around the point where the River Rhone meets Lake Geneva. This 140-metre-high jet of water has become a symbol of Geneva, visible from anywhere in the city as well as the air. When it is in operation, at any given moment there are about 7,000 litres of water in the air. Do not be surprised if you find yourself drenched suddenly because of the change in the wind direction. End the day with a sumptuous dinner at one of the elegant hotels, old-style cafes or new-style wine bars, located along the lake shore.