Geneva: Chic City Streets by Foot

Geneva with its river, hills, one-way streets, tramways, bus traffic, bike paths and right turn only lanes, is a nightmare to navigate especially for a directionally handicapped driver like myself. Consequently, I leave the house at 6:30 a.m. with my French chauffeur, aka Gerald, for my 7a.m. chiropractic treatment. After the adjustment, I hoof across town to the podiatrist, for it only seems appropriate to travel to a foot doctor by foot!

strolling the pedestrian bridge over the Rhône

strolling the pedestrian bridge over the Rhône

The last vestiges of winter chill fill the early morning air, so I shove on my gloves and pull up my hoodie. I stride down Rue Voltaire, past the Cornavin Train Station, and down the pedestrian street lined with watch makers, to the foot bridge across the Rhône separating the city into the right and left bank. Then I follow the lakefront on a route paved in gold, where a square foot of property is worth a thousand dollars.

I pass storefronts of the most expensive, prestigious boutiques in the world: Louis Vuitton French luxury leather, Hermes scarves, Cartier, Dior, Chopard and Bucherers leading name jewelers and Gucci, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Dolce and Gabbana – Italian clothes shops. I gaze at the mannequins in designer dresses that may cost more than my annual salary.

american tourists in front of the famous flower clock

american tourists in front of the famous flower clock

Across the street, Lake Geneva shimmers like a diamond too, in the first rays of sun creeping over the Mont Salève, illuminating the city. On the quay, restaurants, cruise boats, souvenir stands await the crowd. Geneva’s trademark 140-meter high water jet and « horloge fleurie » flower clock symbolizing the Swiss watch industry offers a feast for the eyes. Patek Philippe, Geneva’s famous luxury watch manufacturer is strategically placed adjacent to the flower clock, and Mont Blanc, maker of chic accessories, like pens and lighters, is across the street. How can an entire store sell only pens that start at a retail price of $70? This is Geneva!

Along the lakeside promenade, in the lovely Jardin Anglais, pink and white blossoms peek out of thinly leaved trees like children playing hide and seek. Lining the boulevard Platanes, with knobby bare branched tree tops,  appear as gnarled arthritic hands reaching toward the sky in despair.

a steamer goes past lake front bourgeois buildings

a steamer goes past lake front bourgeois buildings

Two uniformed doormen stand guard the entrance to the five star Swisshotel Metropole on the Quais General Guisan, in the heart of Geneva’s financial and shopping district. They are ready to pamper guests every inch of the way from taxi door to curbside. Servers, dressed in black suits and starched white shirts, whistle as they wipe down sidewalk tables that spill out of the eateries preparing for the lunch crowd.

The heavy morning commuter traffic makes crossing streets dangerous, especially when cross walk lights are never synchronized. I perch on the curb in the island between 6 lane thoroughfares waiting for the little man to turn green.

The city springs to life. Seagulls soar overhead and pigeons coo. Street cleaners hose down the sidewalks, builders resurface storefronts, and city workers tear up gutters for repair. After all, Geneva is an old city, dating back over 4000 years to antiquity.

Though I dawdle at every light and gawk at every window display, I arrive an hour early for my next appointment, so I nip into the nearest cafe where I can while away the time people watching. An endless parade of interesting characters enter and exit while I fill my notebook with more stories, but those tales will have to wait until next week. A bientôt!

Posted in social view, travel.

44 Comments

  1. Rach-This is so sweet and OF COURSE I miss those dancing feet tapping in the little room on the floor above me. Has it already been 8 years? When you live somewhere for awhile, you forget to look at it through a visitors eyes. I am glad you still have fond memories of your Geneva days and now you will be creating news ones as you pursue your next adventure!Hope you keep me posted dear friend.xx

  2. Rach-This is so sweet and OF COURSE I miss those dancing feet tapping in the little room on the floor above me. Has it already been 8 years? When you live somewhere for awhile, you forget to look at it through a visitors eyes. I am glad you still have fond memories of your Geneva days and now you will be creating news ones as you pursue your next adventure!Hope you keep me posted dear friend.xx

  3. Thanks for helping me to conjure up distant images of seemingly carefree, bygone days in Switzerland – 13 teaching years over there have been washed away by 8 more recent years of UK grey weather and workaholic tendencies in an effort to beat the recession. I have fond memories of those Geneva days – maybe a little romantic and youthful, but fond ones nonetheless. You are my anchor still on Swiss soil and were my anchor when I was working alongside you all those years ago. Keep those posts ‘a’ comin’! Love Rach xx

  4. Now how did you know they were tourists? I have to smile at the contrasts between the luxury/beauty you describe and the casualness of we tourists when we travel…comfort, not style !

    Sounds and looks beautiful….

    • That was easy…they weren0t just any ol’ tourists. They were VIPs, my sis & bro & family. And the best way to visit Geneva is casually by foot, tennis shoes ONLY, cause of the inclines and cobblestones.

  5. Yes, a beautiful city in a beautiful country. I felt like I was back wandering the streets again. We will be soon enough when we visit this summer. Can’t wait to see you and Gerald and the beauty that surrounds you!

  6. Your blog let me in without signing in, so guess it knows me. I confess to not having the time to read every blog.

    Beautiful description of a place I’d love to visit. Ah yes, People-Watching. My favorite sport … and it requires no partner and very little energy. So glad you still have your “passion” … that notebook you keep filling with inspiration for new output … as do I.

  7. Your blog let me in without signing in, so guess it knows me. I confess to not having the time to read every blog.

    Beautiful description of a place I’d love to visit. Ah yes, People-Watching. My favorite sport … and it requires no partner and very little energy. So glad you still have your “passion” … that notebook you keep filling with inspiration for new output … as do I.

  8. I recognize those tourists! Karen & Dick (and esp. Hannah and Marie) will be duly embarrased at how they “stand out”, but then again, we all do when we travel. It’s been years, but I easily recall how lovely Geneva is. Thanks for the memories and bringing that beautiful city to life.

    • Oh yes our fav tourists..that is part of the beauty of the city…it is so international that no one stands out, not even the Big Red fans from afar!
      Hope you will make it back over some day!

  9. Sis,
    Sweeeet! we made the blog! Wow, we look so much younger! It reminds me, we are long overdue for another trip to the beautiful country of Switzerland to be guided by the knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides, Gege and Patty. Thanks for triggering the memory of such a fantastic 2 weeks a few years back! miss you!

  10. Sis,
    Sweeeet! we made the blog! Wow, we look so much younger! It reminds me, we are long overdue for another trip to the beautiful country of Switzerland to be guided by the knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides, Gege and Patty. Thanks for triggering the memory of such a fantastic 2 weeks a few years back! miss you!

  11. What beautiful pictures you’ve posted, and what beautiful images you conjure with your expert writing, Pat! I was there for the time it took me to read this. Thank you for the mental vacation. I even showed it to my husband to enjoy, which he did. Best wishes.

    • Thanks Lynne!Glad you and your husband enjoyed strolling down the streets of Geneva with me. Who know maybe one day you will visit over here and see all the stories LIVE!

  12. What beautiful pictures you’ve posted, and what beautiful images you conjure with your expert writing, Pat! I was there for the time it took me to read this. Thank you for the mental vacation. I even showed it to my husband to enjoy, which he did. Best wishes.

    • Thanks Lynne!Glad you and your husband enjoyed strolling down the streets of Geneva with me. Who know maybe one day you will visit over here and see all the stories LIVE!

  13. Enough! Enough! already:) Pat, you have to get the book out and make us all happy readers. Enjoy living vicariously through you, my friend:)

    Best,
    Clara.

    • Thanks, Clara. I am often so caught up in the demands of the rushing around day to day life that I forget to see my world through the eyes of a tourist. Once I slow down long enough to admire the view, I am stunned anew. Hope you can visit abroad one day!

  14. Enough! Enough! already:) Pat, you have to get the book out and make us all happy readers. Enjoy living vicariously through you, my friend:)

    Best,
    Clara.

    • Thanks, Clara. I am often so caught up in the demands of the rushing around day to day life that I forget to see my world through the eyes of a tourist. Once I slow down long enough to admire the view, I am stunned anew. Hope you can visit abroad one day!

  15. Dear Patty,
    Once again you have brought me into your world through your beautiful writing and pictures. Thank you for the stroll down Geneva streets. You make me feel like I was walking by your side. Your posts are treasures that I look forward to as I’m sure your book will be. Your adoring audience awaits 🙂

    • Thanks, Kath. Don’t you find it difficult to write about life and live it at the same time? School holidays are over, so I am struggling to carve out time to capture ideas and impressions on paper before they run away!

  16. Dear Patty,
    Once again you have brought me into your world through your beautiful writing and pictures. Thank you for the stroll down Geneva streets. You make me feel like I was walking by your side. Your posts are treasures that I look forward to as I’m sure your book will be. Your adoring audience awaits 🙂

    • Thanks, Kath. Don’t you find it difficult to write about life and live it at the same time? School holidays are over, so I am struggling to carve out time to capture ideas and impressions on paper before they run away!

  17. The luxury of it all Pat – you painted such a wonderful picture I felt like I was there with you.

    Thank you for this gift, a fabulous inclusion into this month’s “POTM’ Club offerings.

    Happy day!

  18. The luxury of it all Pat – you painted such a wonderful picture I felt like I was there with you.

    Thank you for this gift, a fabulous inclusion into this month’s “POTM’ Club offerings.

    Happy day!

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