The city of Geneva, Switzerland is one of those places you kind of don’t end up at unless you’re headed there. Odd, since it’s the seat of the UN, really picturesque, and pretty much dead in the center of the continent.
I slid through for the weekend, hoping to get a couple pictures of the lakeside and do the necessary stop at CERN. This was accomplished and more, as Geneva turned out to be a great place to visit.
Stopping at CERN.
(Sculpture commemorating the science leading up to the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012.)
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is located in the western suburbs of Geneva. There is a tram that goes straight to the CERN complex from the city center. It is tram 18, and can be caught from multiple points in the city.
The research center is a worthwhile half-day excursion to make. There are two permanent exhibits to explore. One deals with the science of mass and matter. The other deals with the particle accelerator itself, and some history of the complex. Both are quite good.
Guided tours are available however, the tickets need to be obtained in advance for the day of your visit. They are awarded first come first served, and are quite hard to get. There is generally a much larger number of requests than tickets.
Geneva and the Lake Front.
(Old Geneva and the Lake Front, as Seen from the Cathedral Tower.)
The major shopping and sight seeing options are located on the south side of he river, in Old Geneva. The south side is dominated by the fortified hill that comprised the original defended city center area. The old city area is compact, so walking between one place and the next isn’t an issue. The high area itself is quite steep, but easily navigated.
The Cathedral of ST Peter sits on the high point of the old city, and makes a good reference point when walking. Most of the museums are in this general area of the city as well. If you visit on 19 May, the International Day of the Museum, they are all also free entry.
Getting to/from Geneva is pretty easy. The city train station and airport are both located on the north side of the city, and cover all of the General carriers.
If you fly in, be sure to stop at the kiosk in the arrivals area and get the free train ticket that takes you from the airport to the train station. The ticket and your flight boarding pass, and you have a free train ride.
Also check with your hotel upon arrival. Most all hotels offer free tourist transit cards. This with your passport gives you free travel around the city center on all the local transit systems. So the two together make it basically free to move about!
Swiss Francs are about on-par with the US Dollar, but the city is still otherwise fairly pricey. Don’t let this discourage you though, just plan accordingly.
The people are wonderfully friendly. French is he recognized official language of the city, but you will hear some others too. Almost everyone is happy enough to default to English, if you get stuck. This makes it a good place to practice your French!
Now, get out there and enjoy! Bonjour, from Geneva!