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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva boasts one of the most beautiful locations in the world, situated on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). Home to the world’s tallest fountain, the Jet d’Eau, cathedrals, art galleries and the headquarters of many international organizations, the city is well worth a visit.
The river Rhône bisects Geneva with the main train station in the North and the old part of the town in the South. The Île Rousseau is a good starting point for a scenic walk around the city. Pass by Rousseau’s birthplace on the Grand-Rue in the medieval city on your way to the Place de Bourg-de-Four, Geneva’s oldest square, once a Roman forum. Take the Rue de la Fontaine to the shores of the lake and marvel at the Jet d’Eau’s 140m plume. The St. Pierre Cathedral, composed of Gothic and Romanesque influences, is the cathedral where John Calvin preached in the Reformation. Climb the tower and take in the spectacular panorama of the entire city and lake. Relax in one of the many beautiful parks or gardens that skirt the lake shore.
Geneva is home to many museums. The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire houses 7000m² of exhibitions on five floors in its three different sections: Archaeology, Beaux-Arts and Applied Arts. The Petit Palais is the location for the Museum of Modern Art and features an extensive exhibition of works from 1880 to 1930, arranged by art movement. Otherwise, check out the Horology Museum which highlights the importance of clock and watch making to the Genevan economy or the Natural History Museum, both of which are free. Visit the Voltaire Institute and Museum, home to some 2,400 editions of works by the great writer. The European home of the United Nations is located at the Palais des Nations and the Museum of the League of Nations and the Rockerfeller Library are well with a visit. Head to one of Geneva’s spectacular rose gardens — Park La Grange, Promenade Gustave-Ador or the Park des Franchises — and contemplate and breathe in the incredible aroma. Geneva is the cuisine capital of Switzerland and the choice in styles and regional specialties is almost daunting. After dinner, why not take in a concert by the Orchestra of the Swiss Romande, sample some of the city’s alternative arts scene at one of the many jazz and rock clubs, or head to an English-speaking theatre. Otherwise, check out the scene at one of Geneva’s many lively nightclubs.