The train from Courcheval, France arrives in Geneva at 2:00 p.m. and we had a 7:00 dinner reservation, followed by a 4:00 am wakeup call for our flight out to Spain. Given paperwork time for check in, and the time it takes to find your brain and make sure it is still in your cranium I figure that we had four hours to discover the city of Geneva.
If you google the top ten things to do in Geneva the first is this:
Okay – and now?
But not to be too blasé here is a little history.
This is one of the largest fountains in the world. It is situated at the point where Lake Geneva empties into the Rhône and is visible throughout the city and apparently even when flying into the airport. A fact I would not know as I arrived by train.
It jets 132 gallons of water per second 459 feet into the air. At any given moment there is about 1,849 gallons of water suspended in the air.
The first Jet d’Eau was installed in 1886 a little further downstream. It was used as a safety valve for a hydraulic power network. In 1891, someone figured out it made a great tourist attraction and it was moved to its present location to celebrate the Federal Gymnastics Festival and the 600th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation. The present Jet d’Eau was installed in 1951. The fountain has operated daily since 2003 except, thankfully, in cases of frost and high winds.
Next stop was St. Peters (Pierre’s) Cathedral. Much of Geneva’s history is tied to the Reformation Movement of the Church.
Today the St. Peter (Pierre) Cathedral belongs to the Reformed Protestant Church of Geneva. It was begun under Arducius de Faucigny, the prince-bishop of the Diocese of Geneva, in the 12th century. It is known as the adopted home-church of John Calvin, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation.
The area beneath the Cathedral has recently been excavated showing that the site dates back to before the Roman Empire.
From here we hit a little park I had read about, the Treille Promenade.
This is one, of many, claimed longest benches in the world. Built in 1767, the bench is 413 feet long, and made of 180 wooden boards, obviously replaced many times over the years. Weather it is or is not, the longest in the world, the park is truly a lovely spot to sit.
The park sits on the edge of the older part of Geneva.
Evidence of human settlement in this part of Geneva dates back to about 3000BC. However, it was not until 500BC that the Allobroges—a tribe of Celtic origin, established a permanent village.
The narrow cobblestone streets of this small hilly area now house expensive shops and restaurants. It is fun to simply walk and ogle the architecture, and the way we spent the last of our time in Geneva.
A few facts about Geneva; It is the second most populous city in Switzerland and sits in the French speaking part of Switzerland.
Prostitution is legal in Calvinist Geneva. However, it’s highly regulated.
Although it is a landlocked country, Geneva’s yacht club won the America’s Cup in 2007.
Lake Geneva is so big it takes over an hour at top speed on a freeway to drive to the end of it. Driving around the perimeter on good roads takes about 2.5 – 3 hours.
So how did we finish our evening, just as Bill Clinton, the Kennedy’s and the Carters did while in Geneva, Fondue at Les Armures. Yep, it feels very touristy, and yes the service seemed as though the up-sell was most important, but we had fun, and the food was good. We split ONE, yes just one, fondue between the three of us, despite the fact that we were told it was just for one person, and we left a lot behind, a word to the wise.
Our hotel while in Geneva was chosen due to its proximity to the train station. It was the Hotel Royal. It was very lovely, with a great little bar called Bogies. It is a 20 minute walk to old town, and has a trolly stop right out front. Most hotels in Geneva give you a Geneva Transport card for your stay. It is good on all the public transportation in Area 10 of their network.