- Credit: Switzerland Tourism
Charmed by the peaceful heartbeat of Geneva, Rebecca Underwood picks out some of the highlights of this stunning city and raises a glass to its beauty
Geneva, the second most populous city of Switzerland, is situated in Romandy, right on the spot where the sparkling waters of Lake Geneva meet the mighty River Rhône, and, surrounded by the majestic Alps and the Jura mountains, it is simply unforgettable.
A truly global metropolis, a financial hub and the international heart of diplomacy, Geneva hosts the headquarters of the European branch of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
To appreciate the stunning beauty of this cosmopolitan city, take a stroll along the quays of Lake Geneva and admire the view of the Jet D’Eau, a spectacular fountain which pumps gallons of water soaring up to 453 feet into the Swiss air. Make your way to the English Garden at the foot of the Mont Blanc Bridge and you will be amply rewarded with a view of the flower clock, which, as you would expect, keeps perfect time.
For an insight into Geneva’s reputation as a city of peace, visit the Red Cross Museum on Avenue de la Paix. Also located on the Avenue de la Paix is the imposing Palace of Nations, which was originally built in 1929 to house the League of Nations and has hosted the United Nations since 1966.
Maison Tavel, the oldest house in Geneva and also now a museum, is a another top attraction. The original property, constructed in the 12th century, was rebuilt in 1334 and is located on Rue due Puits St Pierre. This property is a fine example of Geneva’s history, with an impressive display of exhibits dating back to the medieval period.
Follow in the footsteps of Lord Byron and Shelley and visit the Château de Chillon, located near Veytaux. In 1816, Lord Byron wandered around the dungeons and on hearing the tale of the imprisonment of the Genevois monk François Bonivard in 1530, he was inspired to write the narrative poem Prisoner of Chillon. Byron carved his name onto one of the pillars in the dungeon and it remains in place today. Records show that the castle dates back to 1005 and in the 12th century it was home to the Counts of Savoy, members of one of the oldest royal families in the world. Peter II, known as the Little Charlemagne, was the last Count of Savoy to reside in the castle.
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Another popular attraction is the beautiful Lavaux wine region, which was recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007. The Domaine Bovy, a family-owned wine estate located in Chexbres, is only a 20-minute drive from the Château Chillon and visitors to the winery are welcome. Visit the Bovy Cave, which is furnished with casks each with a capacity of 2,500 to 5,000 litres, and take part in the popular wine tastings held on a spacious veranda with spectacular views across Lake Geneva and the Alps.
For the ideal place to stay, consider the Beau Rivage hotel, located opposite the Jet d’Eau, on the Quai du Mont Blanc. This grand property dates back to 1865 and offers the highest degree of comfort and service. Accommodations are spacious and luxuriously furnished with rich fabrics, the latest gadgets and amenities and fabulous panoramic views of the Lake, Mont Blanc and the old town.
Take the opportunity to splash out on a fine wine, raise your glass high and make a toast to the enchanting city of Geneva.