Last week I had about a day and a half of free time around a business meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The city offers free bikes (for 4 hours — 2 francs an hour after that) so I borrowed one and rode over the French border to a cable car that took me up Mont Salève, the “Balcony of Geneva”.
There were trails all over, so I followed the signs that looked the most interesting: Mont Blanc Panorama, Observatory, and then Alps Panorama.
I spent some time in a Tibetan Temple, listening to a monk chant.
I passed what looked like strips of miniature golf turf and realized it was a series of hang glider jump-offs.
An hour or so later I ended up in the middle of a cow pasture, surrounded by ringing cow bells, with breathtaking views of the Alps in the distance. In the words of Ralphie’s dad on A Christmas Story, it was indescribably beautiful.
On the way back I passed a group of elderly hikers and briefly envied their lifestyle.
If you only have a day in Geneva, here’s what I recommend:
- Borrow a bike from Geneveroule. They’re free for four hours and cheap beyond that. They have several locations and you can drop them off at any of them when you’re done.
- Ride the Mont-Salève Cable Car and just wander around up there. I planned on 30 minutes and spent a couple of hours. You can ride your bike down Route de Florissant from Geneva to Veyrier, France, and follow signs to the Téléphérique du Salève. Or you can take the #8 bus to Veyrier-Douane from the Cornavin train station in Geneva. Pray for clear skies. I went on an overcast day, but I could see Mont Blanc and the Alps.
- Buy a passport for 7 private museums. I had time for the following, in descending order of how interesting I found them:
- International Museum of the Reformation – near St. Pierre’s Cathedral
- Bodmer Foundation – private collection of very old books, including Egyptian Book of the Dead scrolls, a 1623 Complete Works of Shakespeare, handwritten Gospels, copies of the Koran, and a perfectly preserve Gutenberg Bible.
- Red Cross
- Patek Philippe (watchmaker)
- Walk or ride along Lake Geneva. Lots of great people-watching, public art, the Jet d’Eau, the working clock made out of flowers, and plenty of nearby shops if that’s your thing.
- Explore the Old Town (Vieille Ville) – St. Pierre’s Cathedral, The Wall of the Reformers at Parcs des Bastions, and lots of interesting streets and shops.
- Eat raclette for dinner at Restaurant Auberge de Savièse.
If I make it back I hope to visit CERN, hit a couple more museums, and get lost on a bike.
A few more photos: