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Geneva, Switzerland

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

View of Lake Geneva and surrounding landscape
View of Lake Geneva and surrounding landscape


For those who love a hearty brunch, sleekly modern Faim? offers eggs, smoked salmon, blueberry pancakes, "pain perdu" (literally "lost bread"—aka French toast) and freshly squeezed orange juice. Once you've filled up, head across the city on the No. 8 bus (stop "Appia") to visit the hodgepodge of international organizations that call this city home. The top of the hierarchy is without a doubt the United Nationsthe Palais des Nations. Pre-arranged guided tours of the Palais are offered from the side entrance, Pregny Gate at 14, Avenue de la Paix; passports are required.

The United Nations Office at Geneva
The United Nations Office at Geneva

On the opposite side of the square is the imposing headquarters for the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum is located at the base of the building. Displays include the history of Florence Nightingale, thousands of index cards cataloging all prisoners of war and missing persons from World War I, and an intriguing look at surgical tools from centuries past and present that will leave you thankful for modern medicine and anesthesia.

Next, walk one block down the Avenue de France, where to the far left corner of the square is the behemoth contemporary building that is the headquarters for the United Nations High Committee of Refugees (UNHCR). A pre-arranged tour of the library and visitor's center will illuminate the work the organization does to improve the status of refugees in the world, often at their own risk.

For a lighter lunch, head to the BollyWood Café. Yes, that is India's Hollywood. This ode to undulating dancing and vociferous vocals serves up Indian cuisine in an atmosphere that is guaranteed to put you in a party mood.

Bains de Paquis
Bains de Paquis

Walk off your lunch by heading back lakeside and crossing over the Pont du Mont Blanc to the Quai du Général-Guisan where you'll find the lavishly verdant English Garden (Jardin Anglais). Amid the greenery and blooms stands the National Monument, a statue of two women gazing over the blue lake waters, grasping each other's waist while holding a sword and shield. The woman wearing the crenellated headpiece represents the 'Republic of Geneva' while the other is representative of 'Helvetia' (Switzerland) and, together the duo honor Geneva's 1815 reincorporation into the Swiss Confederation. Other sculptures also fill the Garden, but it is the famous Flower Clock—a mélange of over 6000 plants that's been ticking away since 1955—that is immortalized by postcards. This floral ode to Swiss watch-making history contains the largest second hand in the world. If you're into time-tickers, a good stop is the Patek Phillippe Museum, which exhibits examples of the inner workings of Geneva 's timely past.

Continue your stroll over to the pedestrian promenade that runs parallel to the Garden. The wide esplanade entices runners, in-line skaters, bikers, and pedestrians of all ages to take a stroll along the lake, watch the boats on the water or observe the famous water spout, the Jet d'eau, spit water into the air—to a height of 425 feet at 124 mph—as it has done since 1891. An evening stroll offers the opportunity to see the spray illuminated by a rainbow spectrum of lights. Fair warning: be mindful of the direction of the wind and where you are standing to avoid a firsthand encounter with the water spray.

La Perle du Lac restaurant
La Perle du Lac restaurant

When you've finished admiring the water displays, try basking on the local beach, Genève Plage, along the Quai de Cologny, which combines a lakeshore beach, an Olympic-size swimming pool, water slide and various sporting activities. An alternative to the water park is the Bains de Paquis, along the Quai de Mont Blanc, whose public baths date from 1932. Work out your kinks in the year-round sauna—try a deep-tissue massage at the popular Turkish bath, or take a dip in the chilly lake water with a crowd of convivial bathers. In addition to the baths, the Paquis district is noted for its diverse ethnic restaurants and shops. While Geneva is one of the safest and quietest cities in Europe, you should take note that in the evening this area is also known as the city's "red light district."

For your last dinner in Geneva, head to the famous La Perle du Lac restaurant for a candlelit dinner overlooking the lake or, weather permitting, on the fabulous outdoor terrace. Next, head to the trendy Carouge neighborhood, with its Greenwich Village vibe, for some live jazz or French chansons at Au Chat Noir. A starlit Swiss night and music, is there any better way to bid "au revoir"?

For more information, visit the Geneva Tourism.


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