24 hours in Geneva – A Photoessay


Bev is the co-founder of Staying Native. She left her corporate gig to be able to travel more with her young family. She loves traveling and likes to share her local experiences with others. As an amateur photographer, her stories come with lots of pictures. Bev is Staying Native's lead tweep, moderator of the "Do it like a local" blog and the curator of all things social media.

Our European friends thought us crazy, but as North Americans living in Amsterdam, we took full advantage of being just a train ride away from many beautiful and historic cities.

Daytrips from Amsterdam were our speciality, however on a Friday evening in late August, we caught the City Night Line night train from Amsterdam Central Station, bound for Basel, Switzerland.  From there we connected to Geneva. In all we had just 24 hours to explore the city before heading to Zurich, where we would board the night train back to Amsterdam.

Was 24 hours enough time?  It was enough to give us an appreciation of the city’s history, to be inspired by its beauty and to make us want to return someday soon.

These are our favorite memories that we collected during our brief time in Geneva.

Vielle Ville – The Old City

We spent the majority of our time in the old city learning about its history and enjoying its parks and green spaces. Geneva is ranked by Mercer as the 8th best city in the world for its quality of life, according to results of the 2014 survey. Following our afternoon there, it is clear why the city is so favourably ranked.

Some of the many pedestrian passageways which connect the neighbourhoods and streets of Geneva.  

More impressive to me than the cannons of the ancient arsenal, which was originally built as a granary in the 17th century, were the beautiful frescoes of Alexandre Cingria which portray key periods in Geneva’s history.  Today this building holds the Geneva State Archives.

Christianity and the Reformation

St. Peter's Cathedral was constructed between 1160-1252, however much of the original interior of the cathedral was destroyed in 1535 when Reformation was embraced by Geneva.  The cathedral sits on top of other sites of religious importance to Christianity dating back to the 4th- 6th centuries. In the archaeological museum located onsite the public can explore rooms and see artifacts which have been excavated from these periods.

Reformation Wall is found within the Parc de Bastions. This monument was built in 1909 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Calvin’s birth and 350th anniversary of his founding of the University of Geneva – which is located on the park grounds. The central relief depicts William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza and John Knox.

Along the Lake

As Geneva is located in the south of Switzerland, French is the language spoken by locals. While walking along Quai de Mont Blanc, you are reminded both the proximity to France and the great height of Mont Blanc, which retains its snowy cap all year round.

Situated just of the shore is the Jet d’Eau (Giant Fountain).

The fountain sends 500L of water per second 140m into the air at a speed of almost 200 km/h. It is the tallest fountain in the world.

Quietly observing the fountain since 1966 sits the Mermaid of Lake Geneva, close to Collongeois Belleriviens park.  She is locally known as "la sirène du lac Léman".

C’est Fini

There was still so much more of Geneva that we wanted to see and do. The city is a major world financial centre, watchmaking capital and home of master chocolatiers.  The only question we had upon leaving was – How soon can we come back?

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