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Geneva, Switzerland

geneva switzerland 5

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Geneva parks index:
Parc Mon-Repos

For all the international political agencies headquartered here, I’ve found Geneva to be least affected by politics than most cities around the world. Perhaps its history as a politically and socially tolerant culture has something to do with this; or, despite what we see across the political landscape on a global scale, Genevans understand that internationalism is not a political fad, but the means to satisfy compromise and promote understanding among the world’s many disparate nationalities. Fully a third of Geneva’s population is not Swiss-born, but of foreign origin who have moved here to work for all those international-government and non-government agencies headquartered in modern skyscrapers and historic buildings. Therefore, Geneva has a global feel about town that you’ll find in its array of shopping, choice of restaurants, and bountiful arts scene.

As you walk through its city center, set on the crescent-shaped banks of Lake Geneva, you experience Geneva’s French Baroque architecture in the massive apartment buildings along wide boulevards. I’ve not seen so many balconies along a single street. And this scene is replicated street after street. The buildings rise into the sky and hold you within their elegance. Only when you near the delta of all these streets, at the opening to the lake’s vast breathe across to the rising Alps, will you stop looking up.

One afternoon I stood inside L’Usine on Place des Voluntaires. This converted factory now has a cinema, theater, concert space, and art gallery. The atmosphere moves like a wandering mist in a vibrant wood. The generations mingle together in this multi-story space where art is king. I walked through the gallery and was not surprised to see art influenced by the many converging cultures in Geneva.

geneva switzerland 4Genevans gather along the lakefront and roam its promenades. I’ve lived by lakes and oceans before, and the usual wonder is Why are all these boats docked in the harbor on such a beautiful day? Well, this is not the case in Geneva, where flotillas of pleasure craft—from single-person sailing skiffs to 50-foot yachts—leave from the docks by the hour. And this is just the main harbor, where the famous Jet d’Eau shoots its spray hundreds of feet into the air. The lakefront has recreation parks (the largest is Parc Mon-Repos), bicycle rentals, a motorized “mule train” to take you around the sites, and cafés where you can stop for a cold beer, some hot chocolate, or ice cream.

Geneva Museums and Sites
Geneva has more than 30 museums. One of its oldest is Tavel House, a residence that was destroyed by fire in 1334 but restored to its once opulence as a symbol of Geneva’s history. The house holds artifacts of daily life of the city from medieval ages to the late 1800s. A scale model of Geneva from the 1830s shows the city when walls surrounded it. In the basement, graffiti from its earliest days is scratched on the stone walls. Open daily 10am-5pm. Rue due Puits-St-Pierre 6. Admission, FREE!

(read more about Geneva, Switzerland’s highlights here

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