This lakeside city of high finance and even higher mountaintops may seem like an exclusive Old World bastion, but it’s got the soul of a small town.
ILLUSTRATIONS ESRA CAROLINE RØISE
INTERNATIONAL AID WORKER
“In warm weather I go to La Barje, a cafe and music venue on a small strip of land in the middle of the Rhone. The crowd tends to be artsy—it’s a perfect place to go with friends on summer evenings, or just sit with a book.”
I emigrated here from Cairo fifteen years ago, and from the start I’ve appreciated the openness of Geneva. I work long hours, but when I have free time, I enjoy taking my three children to play in the Jardin Anglais—or on a lake cruise to Lausanne.
OWNER, AUTOUR DU BAIN
I like to spend my free time in Carouge. The suburb has grown wealthier and more hip in recent years, but one place that still has the casual atmosphere of old Carouge is the restaurant Le P’tit Carougeois. Their perch fillet—a favorite local dish— is one of the best in town.
Image – Photolibrary
A VISIT TO UN HQ
Any visitor to Geneva will note a curious local obsession with America’s 28th president, Woodrow Wilson. There are a road, a luxury hotel and a palace all named after him. The fondness dates back to days after World War I, when Wilson spearheaded the creation of the League of Nations, an early version of the United Nations. The League failed in the days leading up to World War II but was reborn as the UN in 1945, when the international community took over the enormous Palais des Nations complex on Geneva’s Right Bank. One-hour tours are conducted daily (passport required). But the real highlight is across the street at the Red Cross Museum, a stunning building that documents the history of human rights.
Image – Courtesy of Cafe Du Soleil
ONE NATION’S LONGTIME LOVE AFFAIR WITH FONDUE
It’s not a good idea to visit Geneva and not eat fondue, Switzerland’s iconic bubbly cheese dish. Having enjoyed short-lived popularity in America in the ’70s, fondue remains a staple of the Geneva diet. It is typically made with a mix of Gruyère and Emmental cheeses, a dry white wine and a dash of cherry liquor. The Genevoise argue frequently about who makes the city’s best fondue: Expats and intellectuals tend to favor the Café du Soleil, a casual and charming restaurant near the United Nations complex; gentlemen in $1,000 cufflinks often prefer to dip at the classic Restaurant Les Armures; and the young and the penniless gravitate to the affordable (but entirely delicious) fondue at the Bains des Pâquis café. They all agree on one thing: You haven’t eaten fondue until you’ve eaten the toasty cheese you scrape off the bottom of the pot at the end of the meal.