The best of Geneva – a hidden secret you may not know about…

Geneva like many Swiss cities is picture perfect with stunning architecture and flower boxes galore.

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These flower boxes were hard to miss – beautiful.

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Oil drums growing edible beans in the Old Town give a sense this city is doing alright.

It’s a fun place to hang out for a couple of days and spending time at Bains des Paquis was a highlight. It’s not on too many of the ‘must do’ lists, but it’s on mine.

It was a scorching hot summers day and all we wanted to do was cool off in the pristine lake.

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Bains des Paquis is a recreational facility for all, in both the summer and winter.

Bains des Pâquis is an artificial peninsula jutting out into the lake surrounded by beaches. I’ve never seen anything like it. When we asked one of the ‘tourist angels’ where  a good place was to swim and get a salad for lunch, she pointed in the direction of Bains Des Paquis. It looked like something from Brighton, artificial, a bit tacky and we nearly walked away, but I’m pleased we paid our 2 franc entrance fee and got over ourselves!

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It’s a small entry fee for a great day of fun.

Once inside I instantly understood what the attraction was in this inner city facility. It provides something for all ages. There were beaches and places to lie in the sun, albeit a little close to your neighbour, women only beaches, climbing walls, slides and jumping platforms for the kids and those young at heart, exercise areas, sand pits and more.

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While the beach might be pebbly there are sand pits for the kids.

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Climbing walls provide hours of entertainment for the teenagers.

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A lap pool has even been created for the swimmers.

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There is nothing more exhilarating than a big jump.

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To keep everyone safe there are even life guards.

It’s not just a summer facility. In winter it is transformed into saunas and Turkish baths and is a great place to relax, rest or get a massage.

There’s also an excellent casual restaurant La Buvette des Bains with delicious and affordable meals, ordered and collected at the counter and eaten at large shared tables. It’s open for breakfast, lunch (including an outstanding and bountiful plat du jour) and dinner. The menu has an array of salads, cheese and dried meat plates, desserts, freshly squeezed juices, wines and beers.

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The water melon, feta and basil chicken combination was the plat du jour, amazingly fresh and tasty.

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And as if that wasn’t enough, we thought we’d try this delicious melon and prosciutto plate.

When you are ready to move on from Bains des Pâquis here are some other great things to do.

Geneva’s market – I love nothing more than a market and Geneva’s market was exceptional, overflowing with fresh produce and friendly locals. We loved the foodie items we can’t easily find at home and salivated thinking about what we could do with the morel mushrooms, not to mention the mushroom man’s fungi !

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The funny mushroom man !

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IMG_6995Cathedral St Pierre is a 12th century cathedral and dominates the Old Town. The journey up the hill through winding streets is as interesting as the destination itself. While the size of the cathedral is impressive the church interior is basic with few decorations however the exterior of the church is undergoing renovations and will be magnificent when  finished.

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The facade of St Pierre Cathedral..

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Relief for the weary tourists! Geneva has lovely touches in its city centre.

Jet d’ Eau– is a dramatic landmark in the middle of Lake Geneva, visible from anywhere in the city as well as the air.

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Visible from all over the city.

When you are moving around the city make sure you have a Geneva Transport Card – hotel guests in the city are given a Geneva Transport Card, allowing free access to the public transport. We got around on the trams and ferries, making moving from one side of the lake to the other easy.

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These distinctive yellow ferries are free to tourists.

The Reformation Wall or the International Monument to the Reformation is a monument in Geneva to honour the many individuals involved with the Protestant Reformation. It is an interesting and impressive landmark in a lovely green space but with no real explanation about the reformation. It’s a missed opportunity to tell Geneva’s story in a religious movement of world-wide importance. Never-the-less, it’s impressive.

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A section of the Reformation Wall.

Chamonix – If you haven’t already been to Chamonix in France it’s only a 90-minute drive from Geneva through the picturesque Arve Valley. From there you can enjoy a day skiing in the winter, a walk in the stunning mountains in the summer, view the highest peak in the alps, Mont Blanc or enjoy a trip in a cable car up the Aiguile du Midi and across to Italy, if the weather allows. Highly recommended, read more …‘The best cable car ride in the world’

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Cable cars travelling from Aiguille du Midi to Italy.

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Mont Blanc.

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