One day in Geneva : old town and quays

Terrasse Agrippa-d'Aubigné.

Get to the Place Neuve ( bus 3 or 5 or tram 12 or 18). Place de Neuve is one of the main squares of the city of Geneva. It is located just outside the walls of the old city. Here was erected one of the gates of the medieval city in order to replace other gates and better protect the city. The location of that door was where the statue of General Dufour now stands. In this square, admire from left to right : the Music Conservatory, the Grand Theatre and the Musée Rath.

Opposite the Grand Theatre, get through the gates and enter the Parc des Bastions. It was the first botanical garden in Geneva. It is nice to stroll and, in case of heat waves, which are fairly common in Geneva in summer, the trees provide plenty of shade...

Walk straight into the park. The Reformation Wall is located near the center of Bastions Park on your left. For more information on the Wall of the Reformation or the Reformation, click on A tour of the history of Geneva.

Opposite the Reformation Wall, hidden behind the trees, there are a few buildings of the University of Geneva. Admire the flower beds.

Now get back again, exit the Parc des Bastions though the same gate as the one by which you came in, turn right and go up the ramp de la Treille. At the top, turn left and enter in the old town itself. In front of you, you will see the Café de l'Hotel de Ville, and right of it arcades sheltering old canons. The building of these arcades is highly decorated, look up and admire the paintings just under the roof. Behind the guns are mosaics representing a significant episodes of the history of the city called the Escalade.

To learn more about this event and these annual celebrations , click The "Escalade" celebration in Geneva.

Diagonally from the café-restaurant is the Hotel de Ville in Geneva. The courtyard is beautiful, and you can go up the ramp inside it.

Then exit this courtyard, go straight and go past the canons. On your left, the home with the black bricks houses the Tavel museum, you should visit to know more about the history of Geneva. 

After the canons, take the next right. You find yourself immediately in front of St. Peter's Cathedral, the Cathedral of Geneva. Enter it, go see Calvin 's chair and climb the towers to enjoy the view over the city, the Salève, the Jura and the lake. When you leave, take a look in the adjacent streets and admire the old buildings . 

For those of you loving art, you should know that the Old City is home to many art galleries.

To leave old town, there are several possibilities: 

  • The 'traditionnel' way would be to return to the Maison Tavel, turn right, go down the stairs and reach the place called the Bourg de Four. This is a beautiful spot full of history and where many cafes and restaurants have settled . 
  • We suggest another route, that of rue des Barrières. When you find yourself in front of the cathedral, cross the square on the left and take the small alley. It will take you to the street called rue des Barrières. Get into it. You will walk under houses and quicly find yourself opposite a small gate. Climb the stairs and you will find yourself on the Terrace d'Aubigné Agrippa, named after a poet and Huguenot captain, defender of the Protestant faith, who lived from 1552 to 1630. This is a very pretty terrace from which you can discover the ancient architecture of Geneva, the walls, roofs and windows are typical. Get back through the gate, and continue down the rue des Barrières./li>

Whatever the chosen route, once down, you arrive quickly on what is called "rues basses" (lower streeets), which is one of the main shopping streets of Geneva. In the streets adjacent to these are many chocolate shops.

Continue straight and arrive at near the Lake in the Jardin Anglais (the English Garden). Walk along the waterfront by going first to the right. You will see in sequence the famous fountain, the Eaux-Vives on your right, Baby Beach on your left with a playground for children, the Parc la Grange housing a rose garden and a theater, the Eaux-Vives Park, the Black Port and finally Geneva-Beach. Perhaps you will see also the Neptune boat shortly before arriving at the fountain, a famous ancient boat with lots of traditions. Then go back your steps. In the English Garden, you will find the famous Flower Clock, it is down the Mont Blanc Bridge. Go under the Mont Blanc Bridge (yes, well below not above), watch the water level, pass the restaurant Le Lacustre. In front of you, you will see the Pont des Bergues allowing to go on the Ile Rousseau, where there is a statue of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and where ducks and swans generally lay their eggs. A little further, you'll also see the Pont des Machines, the machinery Bridge, from which the hydraulic machines are the source of the fountain. For details, click Le jet d'eau, the well-known fountain of Geneva.

In front of the restaurant Le Lacustre, you can take a small yellow boat called mouettes (seagulls) with the same tickets as for buses and trams. So you could combine a trip with a mouette and your way back to your hotel.

As a guide , here are the full prices of transport tariffs in 2015 in Geneva , valid for buses, trams and mouettes : 

  • For Geneva for an hour: 3 Frs,
  • For Geneva for the day: 8 Frs,
  • For Geneva for the day for two persons: 10 Frs.