Stay with me here. What do you know about Geneva? I can’t even remember what I associated it with before we planned this trip. Lake Geneva? The Geneva Treaty? Watches? The Princess Diaries?* Maybe I’m just in the wrong circle of friends, but of all the people I know who have studied abroad or traveled overseas for pleasure, I can think of very few who have chosen to visit Switzerland at all, and if they did, it was almost always Interlaken.
We decided on somewhat of a whim to spend a night here, once we realized how close it was to Annecy. Probably the best decision of our entire trip… with a charming old town [which in looks is very similar to Paris actually!], a big ‘ol lake with actual [small, but there] sandy beaches and yachts, and a LIGHTHOUSE, I’m sure you can understand why I fell a little in love. Throw in some mountains for MJF and we had found our happy place.
*Ok, that was Genovia, you caught me.
If you’re looking at the above photos, you’re seeing either Old Town or Lake Geneva. Old Town, or Vieille Ville, overlooks the lake, and it’s this beautiful maze on a hill that you don’t even realize you’re climbing. Cafes, churches, shops, it’s got the whole Parisian charm thing going for it.
Within Old Town is Place du Bourg-de-Four, the famous town square. I’m sure their locals look at it as we look at Faneuil Hall now: touristy, but for a good reason. We stayed right next to it at the Hotel Longmalle, which I would normally consider a splurge, but first lesson of Switzerland:: everything is expensive here. I would have extended our trip for no reason other than a second night in this hotel; it reminded me of everything I love about the Fairmont Copley and has a petit déjeuneur to boot.
While we’re on the subject, the currency is the Swiss Franc (not a part of the European Union!), and the language in this part of the country, at least, is French.
Beyond exploring Old Town, my two favorite things were having a picnic on the lake
with some swans and relaxing at the Bains des Paquis. I still cannot figure out what the American equivalent of this is, but if it exists I’m going to go out on a limb and guess it’s in Miami. Picture a jetty that reaches out to the middle of the lake, a lighthouse at the end, and a restaurant and Turkish baths on either side. Plus sunbathers everywhere; your typical European speedos, never mind that it was barely 60°. Oh and more swans. File this one under where-am-I-days too.
Now go enjoy Geneva but don’t tell anyone about it– I kind of like knowing one of Europe’s best kept secrets 😉