Geneva’s lakeside is well-known internationally for its luxury hotels, restaurants and boutiques; you can enjoy some of the best spots in the city and enjoy charming views of Lake Geneva (Léman). You do not need to be a client of those luxury establishments to enjoy a lovely walk along the lakeside! The inhabitants of Geneva and surrounding areas go to the shores of the lake regularly, all year round, to practice sports such as walking, cycling, running or even swimming. The place is lively and hides several treasures.
The Mont-Blanc Bridge is located at the “end” of Lake Geneva. The lake is approximately 75 km long; at that point, the lake turns into the Rhône river again. The bridge is an important crossing between the north and south of the city. The Mont-Blanc bridge is easy to identify: Both Canton Geneva and Swiss flags hang on each side. Although during the year, cars and coaches occupy most of the bridge, it becomes a gathering place during festive events such as the Lake Parade, Geneva’s Marathon, as well as on the First of August which is the Swiss National Day. On this last occasion, the flags of the 26 Cantons (states) are hung on the bridge and you will find people eating cheese fondue in the middle of the bridge in the heat of the summer! When the sky is clear, looking southwards, you can see the high Alps and Mont-Blanc.
Meaning the “English Garden”, the park is right on the south side of the Mont-Blanc bridge. You can find the Horloge Fleurie, i.e. the flower clock, a large clock decorated with flowers, which is a symbol of Geneva.
The Jet d’Eau (water-jet) is another great landmark of the city. The 140 meter high fountain is the first noticeable spot you can see from your plane when landing at Geneva airport from the north-east. It dates back to 1886: at first, it was not a fountain but a safety valve of the hydraulic network of La Coulouvrenière. It was built to supply the fast-growing city with water; this safety valve was used to release the pressure and it could reach 30 meters high. A few years later, in 1891, during the celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation, the Jet d’Eau was moved to its current location and became a real fountain. Over the years, the fountain has been empowered to make water reach 140 meters high at the present moment. The fountain operates daily. From spring to autumn, water sprinkles high in the sky even at night. The Jet d’Eau is closed only in case of strong wind or frost.
Geneva has a temperate climate but can sometimes face very cold temperatures in winter, such as the 2011-2012 winter and its surreal icy landscapes.
This large public park is only a few minutes walk from the Jet d’Eau. Part of the La Grange domain in the 17th Century, the park has been willed to the City of Geneva. Its rich history has been witnessed by the large mansion located on top of a small hill; a worldwide renowned rose garden occupies part of the park.
On the north side of the lake, the public baths of the Pâquis represent an original feature of Geneva’s lakeside. Dating back to 1872, the municipal baths are still well-used today, all year round. The place gets packed with people during the summer months when the cold waters of the lake bring a bit of welcome freshness. However, the bravest go there all year round to swim, regardless of the air or water temperature.
These two public parks are really enjoyable because of the large lawns, footpaths and benches: A perfect way to enjoy sunny days with family and friends. There are also barbecues available for the public - a great way to discover Geneva’s lakeside.
Cover photo © credits to iStock/sam74100
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