When you think of Geneva, you might think of the enormous fountain that is its iconic Jet d’eau, or perhaps CERN, or the UN. Yet while these landmarks are certainly worth ticking off your tourist check list, there are a number of hidden treasures throughout this fascinating city known only to locals; ones that have the power to really enrich your cultural experience of the town. From wine bars to hidden churches, let’s take a look at Geneva’s best-kept secrets.
Parc Alfred Bertrand
A charming green space far from the overly-visited Jardin à l’anglaise in the peaceful quarter of Champel, Parc Alfred Bertrand has been welcoming locals and visitors since 1940. The lovely trees dotted around this idyllic pocket of greenery are especially beautiful during autumn, as they shed their red and golden leaves and add to the aesthetic of this already very pretty spot. It is also worth visiting on a Thursday to take advantage of the quaint local market that is just next door.
The Russian Church of Geneva
As beautiful as the Cathedral St Pierre may be, the Russian Church of Geneva is a hidden gem of stunning ecclesiastical architecture, with its gleaming golden domes, offering intriguing insight into the lesser-known Russian community of Geneva. Built in 1859 in the lovely district of Eaux-Vives, it is steeped in history; it is located on the site of an ancient Benedictine priory and is where Dostoyevsky’s daughter, Sofiya, was baptised.
Embrace the local custom of having an apéro (an early evening drink) before dinner at the lovely wine bar that is Qu’importe. Situated in the heart of the lively, Italian-influenced quarter of Carouge, Qu’Importe boasts an extensive range of French, Italian and local wines, as well as a good number of interesting cocktails and beers. The drinks are complemented by meticulously presented tapas and a warm ambiance, while the pleasant outdoor seating area and leather armchairs by the fireplace are perfect for summer and winter enjoyment respectively.
Qu’Importe, 1 Rue Ancienne, Carouge, Geneva, Switzerland, +41 22 342 15 25
Le Grand Magasin
In the tranquil quarter of Plainpalais you can find the perfect shop to suit all your retro and vintage desires in Le Grand Magasin. This boutique offers a range of new European brands that specialise in evoking a retro feel. From 40s silk tea dresses to 60s tunics, vintage jewellery, and their own brand of bags, this store makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into the past!
Le Chat Noir
A bar, live music club and restaurant all rolled into one, Le Chat Noir, in the quarter of Carouge, offers a brilliant way to spend an evening. Its bar upstairs has a wide variety of excellent cocktails and drinks, and the restaurant serves tapas and sharing platters to accompany the drinks as well as steaks and burgers if you’re looking for something more filling. Downstairs, the music club caters for a large range of music tastes, with jazz, soul, rock, and hip hop acts taking place throughout the weekend.
Le Chat Noir, 13 Rue Vautier, Carouge, Geneva, Switzerland, +41 22 307 10 40
Les Enfants Terribles
Hidden deep in the Plainpalais quarter, Les Enfants Terribles is no ordinary café. As well as being a wine bar, it is also a workshop, an interior design store, a hair salon and is even sometimes used for concerts and fashion shows! No wonder it offers such a wide range of services given its eclectic, bright, and quirky style that transports visitors into another world. As for the café itself, it offers a range of delicious, organic fruit juices to complement their home-made quiches, burgers, cakes and pastries.
Les Enfants Terribles, 24 Rue Prévost-Martin, Geneva, Switzerland +41 22 321 85 10
As an interesting, alternative change to your average museum, Pulp 68 offers a fascinating insight into the history of skateboarding, going back sixty years. It also lets you enjoy an interesting experience of the 80s with an impressive collection of arcade games and other cultural artifacts. This is therefore not just a place for skateboard lovers but a portal into a world of nostalgia and the days when people occupied themselves with more than just the internet!
Institut La Fleur d’Oranger
If all that sightseeing and cultural exploration has left you feeling rather worn out, the Institut La Fleur d’Oranger is a great way to relax. As well as a nail and beauty salon, this bright, welcoming establishment offers a range of massages that will soothe any sore muscles and leave travellers feeling bright and refreshed. With staff who really know what they’re doing, this little spot boasts thorough, personalised spa treatments.
Institut La Fleur d’Oranger, 18 Rue Dancet, Geneva, Switzerland +41 22 556 33 77
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