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Geneva, Switzerland

City Sights Sans Stress
A Chic Global "Village" for the 21st Century


The UN building
The UN building

DAY 2

Before taking in the views of the Old Town's massive walls from the central square of Place Neuve, stop at La Théière qui rit (The Laughing Tea Maker) for heavenly Vienniese pastries, warm crumbly scones or truly sublime hot chocolate. Then, make your way to the middle of the square, where a statue of General Henri Dufour (1787-1875) looks towards the city's fortifications from atop his life-sized steed. Surrounding this engineer and cartographer who campaigned for the design of the Swiss flag—a white cross with red background-are buildings devoted to the arts and learning: the Conservatory of Music, the Victoria Concert Hall, the Opera House, the Rath Museum and the Parc des Bastions—home to the oldest buildings of the University of Geneva.

Conservatory of Geneva
Conservatory of Geneva

Opposite the lush Parc des Bastions, the imposing stone wall of the Old Town contains many additions and reconstructions that are marked by dates appearing on various portions of the façade. At the Parc's entrance, colorful flags and black iron gates denote the city's devotion to higher learning. In pleasant weather, a trolley or children's train runs tours of the city. Check out the oversize chessboards containing three-foot tall game pieces to the left of the Parc. Should you be up for a challenge, any one of the distinguished cigar-smoking gentlemen who regularly play will give you a run for your money.

Across from Place Neuve is the temple-like façade of the Rath Museum (Musée Rath), the city's first museum. Beyond the ionic columned entrance that evokes Geneva 's Roman heritage, the museum houses large temporary exhibitions that are displayed in association with the Art and History Museum (Musée d'Art et d'Histoire). A short trek from the Old Town, the Art and History Museum is situated at 2, Rue Charles Galland. The collection runs the gamut from prehistory to contemporary/modern and includes pieces by Rodin, Cezanne and Renoir, as well as the original stained glass windows from the Cathedral of St. Pierre. Entrance is free at the Art and History Museum, while the admission to the Rath Museum is free the first Sunday of each month.

Saleve Telepherique
Salève Télépherique

Spice up your lunch with a stop at Café Cuba for some hot Havana specialties, cool cocktails, and maybe an authentic Cuban stogie. Daytime or nighttime is perfect for a bit of salsa on the intimate dance floor.

If you're ready to break free of the museum tour, lace up your hiking shoes, pack your passport, a baguette, some cheese, and a bottle of wine—it's time to head out of the city. Take the No. 8 bus in the direction of Veyrier/Douane, past lovely country estates and green pastures from which the mountains seems to rise into the clouds. If you're lucky, a jangling bell-wearing cow or two may be wandering one of the fields. Get off at the last stop where a wrought-iron fence offers a perfect panorama of the city below as well as the converging Rhône and Arve Rivers that feed Lake Geneva.

To the right are the Alps—in neighboring France. Head in the direction of the border patrol and pass through (your passport may be checked here), following the signs to Salève Télépherique. Built in 1932, this cable car whisks you to the top of Mt. Salève where you can walk around the hiking routes of the unspoiled mountaintop, inhaling crisp air until you find the perfect spot to nosh and toast while enjoying the snow-capped views of nearby Mt. Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, and its equally impressive fellow Alpine peaks.

Le Comptoir
Le Comptoir

Return to the center of the city to watch the sun set on the glistening waters of Lake Geneva. Hop on a tourist boat and cruise the largest body of fresh water in Western Europe whose views include beautiful villas set on hilly shores and acres of vineyards that cascade down to the water.

If you're inspired by the international environment of this city, go to one of the retro-styled Le Comptoir, a modern Asian-French fusion eatery that's a hit with the hip crowd. The sleek white interior serves inventive cuisine and lively libations. Grab your nightcap at chic Café Marius; a former butcher's shop turned art deco wine bar.

Continue to Day 3


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