Old Town Treasures
After being fortified with pasta, it is time to check out the scenic sites in the medieval Old Town. A picturesque area with small winding streets, park-like squares and quaint shops and cafés, Geneva’s Old Town takes you back to a period before ordered streets and technological contraptions existed. There are plenty of places to discover, and exploring the area’s nooks and crannies can take an hour, or a day, depending only on the time you have available.
Must-sees include Maison Tavel (Rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre 6, 1204 Genève) – also known as the Museum of Urban History and Daily Life – to have a look at the large-scale model of 1850’s Geneva that was still surrounded by its stone fortifications, which took the architect Auguste Magnin 18 years to finish, and the twelve-room 18th-century apartment on the second level.
Inside the Romanesque-Gothic St. Peter’s Cathedral (Place du Bourg-de-Four 24, 1204 Genève), you will feel the stony weight of history as the cathedral’s imposing structure and sombre décor give credibility to its importance during the Protestant Reformation. (For history geeks, 2017 is the anniversary of the Reformation, and Geneva is the place to go for sites that reflect this tumultuous period.) This was the adopted church of one of the leaders of the Reformation, John (Jean) Calvin, and the lack of interior ornamentation exemplifies the strict Calvinist ideals of the time, which I found stark, yet beautiful. Take the time to trek up the 157 steps of the copper-green gothic bell tower for the most fantastic views over Geneva.
Walk down Rue de la Corraterie, one of the prettiest streets in Old Town, and then finish the day shopping (or maybe just browsing) on Rue du Rhône, home to the highest concentration of luxury boutiques in the world. And the best chocolatiers? These are on Rue du Marché.
“Old Town takes you back to a period before ordered streets and technological contraptions...
Bayview (Quai Wilson 47, 1201 Genève 21) at the Hotel President Wilson (yes, as in Woodrow Wilson) is a gorgeous restaurant just down the street from the Grand Hotel Kempinski. Operated by celebrity chef Michel Roth, the restaurant has earned one Michelin star and serves seasonal food that has a very French slant. The interior is cool modern, with white tables and chairs, warm walnut wood, blue glass accents, a stunning wine showroom at the entrance and a striking floral arrangement placed on a suspended table in the center of the room – making a great topic of discussion for my dining companion and me. Prepare for a menu full of surprises, such as the delicious duck foie gras Religieuse with vanilla pineapple and passion fruit; a sea bass and shellfish dish that comes bathed in a cress coulis with sweet and mild Brousse cheese agnolotti, and is topped with raw oysters and luscious caviar; and a tender and hearty veal filet mignon served with green peas and violet artichokes that finishes fresh with a lemon thyme crumble. The six-course Menu dégustation is CHF 130, and the eight-course menu is CHF 170. Another hotel restaurant, Le Chat Botté (Quai du Mont-Blanc 13, 1201 Genève), is found in the grande dame Hotel Beau-Rivage, a Leading Hotels of the World property. A neat fact for those interested in Austrian history is that this happens to be the hotel where an anarchist stabbed Sisi (the Empress Elisabeth) outside of the hotel. She was then taken back to her suite where she passed away.
This is a contemporary restaurant with a classic feel thanks to the cream-colored walls, coffered ceilings and rectangular pillars; and is just down the street from the Grand Hotel Kempinski. Chef Dominique Gauthier leads the restaurant where he creates French gourmand delights such as Swiss veal sweetbreads with green local lentils, moist sea bass with lemon caviar, fennel and yuzu and the luscious veal shank with mandarin and ginger. These exquisite goodies have earned the Chef one Michelin star. Prices for lunch start at CHF 60 and goes to CHF 220 for a multicourse dinner menu.
Photography: Geneva Tourism
Photography: Janice Tober
Photography: President Wilson Hotel