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Parc Mon-Repos highlights

October 29th, 2007

Parc Mon Repos is one of the busiest city parks I’ve been to in Europe, yet you easily can find solitude. I think this is possible because, even amongst a crowded meadow, groups stay within themselves, respect others around them, and respect the environment. The park demonstrates what a public landscape is all about: getting together with friends for some good fun, knowing that everyone else around you is there for the same reason.

geneva parc mon-repos_8Family Activities in Parc Mon-Repos
I counted two children’s playgrounds in the park. One is near the kiddy pool, about a third of the way into the park from its south entrance. The other is further north, near the zoo. Both playgrounds have proper fences for easy monitoring.

On a warm day the kids’ pool is teeming with active, rambunctious play. Plenty of parents step right into the action and, really, at 12-inches deep, the pool is a safe place for kids to cool off and expend some of their nuclear-like energy.

Cooking grills are allowed in the park, and with many places outside the park to pick up a cheap mini-grill and some charcoal, a BBQ picnic is a great alternative to sandwiches at Parc Mon Repos. Whatever your tanning or shade needs, you’ll find a spot in the park, usually with just as great a view of Lake Geneva as the spot you passed up or that was already taken.

Renovated in 1991, the History of Science Museum is a central feature of Parc Mon-Repos. The building and estate lands were purchased in 1926 from the descendants of Francois Bartholoni, its first owner, by The League of Nations, who used it for their orginal headquarters. A great feature here is its interactive science displays placed along its outside balcony overlooking Lake Geneva. Each of these displays are historical tools used for scientific study. For example, the Magdeborg Hemispheres demonstrate the effects of atmospheric pressure. I felt like a little kid again when I examined and played with all this historic equipment. It reminded me what life was like before computers: the opportunity to use your imagination.

At the north end of Parc Mon Repos you’ll find a botanical garden and nature trail/learning environment. This is a pretty, quiet area of the park with lots of shade and narrow trails in a largely wooded landscape. And to top all of these possibilities off, just beyond the botanical you’ll find a small zoo that uses the natural landscape to great effect for its inhabitants.

geneva parc mon-repos_11Food and Drinks in Parc Mon-Repos
With all the buildings in the park, you’d think a bunch of cafés could easily be set up—there are certainly enough people to fill them up. But alas, Parc Mon-Repos visitors bring in their supplies mostly. However, a small café along the lakefront sits just below the memorial fountain (north of Science Museum). There is also a small café between the botanic garden and the zoo.

You can find snack carts here and there in the park, but no many. Your best option is to bring a picnic along from one of many locations—sandwich and ethnic shops—in downtown Geneva.

Outside Parc Mon-Repos
Water sports are a Swiss occupation in the summer along Lake Geneva. You can rent a powerboat for some water adventure, for water skiing, or exploring the lakefront neighborhoods, and a sailboat to practice your tack maneuvers.

Guided hikes in the surrounding Alps are only a phone call away. There are hundreds of marked trails outside Geneva, easily accessible by rental car, bus, commuter train, or tour.

Shopping, dining, and hotels lie just across Rue de Lausanne, the road separating the park form central Geneva. For my list of Geneva nightlife, restaurants and site-seeing, jump to the Geneva city page.

geneva parc mon-repos_7Directions to Parc Mon-Repos
You can walk north along the lakefront starting at the harbor and reach Mon-Repos in 10-15 minutes. A motorized coach called “Express Geneve” runs from the harbor through the entire park, where from numerous points you can hop on and off. The price is about 5 euro, but well worth the ride if you’re in town for a short time or have had a long, hot day in the park. If you are driving, the lakefront street is Avenue de France. It hooks into Rue de Lausanne, on which you’ll find small parking lots at a few points just inside the park.

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