Geneva may well be the gateway to the Alps but you don’t have to be a skier or winter sports enthusiast to enjoy this chic Swiss city – it’s perfect for a city break all year round.
The Vieille Ville in Geneva is dominated by St Peter’s Cathedral, the symbolic location of the Reformation. Climb the 157 steps to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city and Lake Geneva then stroll around the quaint cobbled alleyways and winding streets, soaking up the atmosphere.
This stunning water jet is 140 metres high and takes centre stage in Geneva’s harbour. It’s one of the city’s most familiar landmarks and you can venture out on the wooden walkway to get a closer look – but you might get wet if it’s windy. One of the world’s highest water jets, it looks particularly impressive when it’s lit up at night.
Museums & Art Galleries
Geneva is home to around 60 museums and art galleries. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, The International Museum of the Reformation, The Bodmer Foundation Museum and Library, and the Patek Philippe Museum – one of the world’s foremost horology museums, located in an Art Deco building – are well worth a visit.
Get some fresh air and enjoy hiking, mountain biking, climbing and other activities on Mont Salève – weather permitting. Take the five-minute cable car ride to the top and enjoy views over the city and Lake Geneva. On a clear day you can see Mont Blanc. Some of the paths are quite rocky so proper footwear and common sense are required!
Retail therapy, anyone? Head to the Rue du Marché where you’ll find the world’s top brands, visit the boutiques of Geneva’s master chocolatiers, take in a mall or department store and explore the souvenir shops where you can find quirky gifts and Swiss staples such as cuckoo clocks and cow bells.
Chambéry, the lively capital of the Savoie region of eastern France, is a lovely city that will surprise and delight you in equal measure. It’s much more than a base for winter sports.
The Chambéry Train
Starting from the Place Saint Léger, this little train will let you discover the discreet and captivating charm of this ancient city with its architectural and medieval heritage. You’ll see the Castle of the Dukes of Savoy, the Elephants Fountain and picturesque squares. Visit before November 3 – after that it closes for the season until May 2020.
Chambéry Museum of Fine Arts
This superb museum displays a collection mainly composed of Italian paintings from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th century. Permanent collections include Italian, Flemish and Savoyard portraits from the 14th-18th century, plus exhibits that take you through the history of art in Savoie.
Castle of the Dukes of Savoy
This fortified castle, palace and emblem of the power of the Counts and Dukes of Savoy, the Château de Chambéry includes a remarkable set of buildings built from the 13th century to the present day. Guided tours are recommended if you want to see the Treasury Tower and stained glass inside Ste-Chapelle, build in the 15th century to house the Turin Shroud.
Musée des Charmettes
Geneva-born philosopher, composer and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a key figure of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, lived the happiest years of his life in this country house between 1736 and 1742. It retains many original features, including 18th-century wallpaper and fainting couches.
With its four carved elephants, this unusual but striking fountain was sculpted in 1838 in honour of General de Boigne who made his fortune in the East Indies. Locally, the elephants – whose front halves sprout from the statue – are referred to as the quatre sans cul (the rear-less four). Get your camera ready!