Geneva: the city of four seasons
Renowned for its quality of life, Geneva combines urban dynamism with nature's bounty. Recreational and sightseeing opportunities change with the seasons, which, in turn, reveal the charms and pleasures of a city of comfortable, human scale.
'With its large mirror-like lake and brilliant azure river, Geneva has two skies', wrote Jules Michelet in the 19thcentury. Geneva is a postcard-perfect town. It unfolds on both shores of Lake Geneva against a backdrop of pure greenery; in the distance sparkle the snow-capped peaks of the Alps, the most famous being Mont Blanc. Water is everywhere: in addition to the lake, two major rivers-the Rhône and the Arve-cross the city. In the summer, swimmers and strollers are out in full force, when the riversides are taken over by guingettes, traditional festive drinking gardens. Grand, well-maintained parks occupy 20% of Geneva, with 310 hectares of green space.
Geneva's right bank is international. As the birthplace of the Red Cross and the headquarters for the United Nations, the city is an international capital of peace. The Right Bank also hosts over 200 international organisations. The Left Bank is where the largest luxury brands and banking institutions are.
A cultural mecca, Geneva has some 30 museums, covering all fields of knowledge: the natural sciences, science and technology, the arts and world cultures, and literature. A visit to Geneva is to discover a great patron of the arts and sciences. Immerse yourself in centuries of history, from the Maison Tavel, the city's oldest building and home to the imposing Museum of History, which was among the first buildings to be built outside the walls of the upper city, to the Museum of Ethnography.
Geneva, 'the smallest of the great capitals', has another major advantage: the peaks that serve as backdrop to Lake Geneva are no illusion. You can get to ski slopes in France in 45 minutes, in Italy and Switzerland in two hours. In addition, Geneva is a wonderful place to see the changing seasons. In the fall, the surrounding vineyards adorn themselves with their most beautiful colours. In spring, the Geneva vineyards, which extend over 1400 hectares, hold their famous 'Open Cellars' festival. As Geneva exports only1-2% of its wines, if you want to taste the local vintages, you have to make the trip.
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© Text and photography courtesy of EnVols