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48 hours in Geneva: An exciting and delicious European city

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Best known for brokering international relations and entertaining wealthy businessmen, Geneva is more than the Peace Capital of the World. With 13 five-star hotels and a reputation for fine dining, this European gem is quickly becoming a rival to the city-break stalwarts of Madrid, Paris and Rome.

You’ve probably been to Geneva. If you’ve thrown yourself down a mountain and indulged in après-ski the chances are you’ll have once passed through the arrival gate, ignoring the city and heading straight for the slopes. But where Geneva has suffered from its convenience as a transit hub for the alluring Alps, its little-known status as a European city-break destination means your expectations are sure to be exceeded.

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Tourists enjoy complimentary public transport in Geneva, so make the most of it and journey on the commuter boats across the river for the best vantage point for the iconic Jet d’Eau. Genevans will tell you it’s the largest in Western Europe, and although taller examples exist in Russia it would be a shame to dampen their pride. To truly appreciate the majesty of the river take a gourmet lunch cruise on the Bateau Savoie. Michelin-star chef Philippe Chevrier provides a refined menu using the best local ingredients, and the surroundings make for an unforgettable dining experience. Back on land, the flower clock is also a popular photo opportunity and this botanical timekeeper is an attractive – yet unusual – Swiss scene.

For modern political context pay a pilgrimage to the UN’s Palace of Nations. Take in the vast number of official buildings, match countries to their flags, and gawp at the giant ‘broken chair’ by Swiss artist Daniel Beset, symbolising the global fight against land mines.

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Hop on the popular ‘12’ tram and arrive in Carouge, a small-town assortment of chocolate box houses hiding chocolatiers, art galleries and characterful coffee stops behind their quaint facades. If Heidi is to be found residing in the Swiss mountains, this is surely where she’d spend her summers. Visit acclaimed Master Chocolatier Philippe Pascoet and sample his famous passion fruit delight. One of 30 chocolatiers in Geneva – 15 of which are artisan – Philippe Pascoet receives unique commissions from the Manadarin Oriental, whose requests have included a cumin flavoured concoction and a rose-pepper delicacy.

Head to the Old Town to explore Geneva’s historical heart and impressive architecture. Ascend the hill via the city wall and stroll along the Reformation Wall. An opulent reminder of frugal times, the spot was chosen as one of the rare areas not overlooked by French territory. Continue to wander and walk up to see the world’s longest wooden bench. Decidedly less profound, but almost equally as impressive, the bench also provides a fantastic viewpoint to this micro metropolis. No trip to the Old Town is complete without visiting Cathedral Saint Pierre. A victim of the Reformation, the bare cathedral is an atmospheric asylum in a bustling city while the adjacent chapel’s ornate neo-gothic design attempts to re-imagine the once Catholic place of worship. Use your Geneva Pass for free entry into the archaeological site under the cathedral, which reveals the remains of a Roman religious settlement.

The shopping in Geneva is predictably superior. This watch-making nation is not afraid to reveal its penchant for luxury, but the array of popular shops and lesser-known labels may surprise even the professional purchaser. With 25 per cent of Geneva’s residents being expats, international tastes are well catered for. Explore the little alleyways and investigate the Old Town for boutiques, specialist stores and much more.

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However it is the gourmet food and wine scene which is Geneva’s trump card. A flurry of Michelin stars (53 and counting) and the acquisition of celebrated chefs, such as Gordon Ramsay’s protégé  Xavier Daien at La Cigogne is proving a magnet for foodies. Experimenting with flavour combinations and pushing boundaries in presentation, these bold restaurants are deservedly gaining an international reputation. Le Flacon in the Carouge is the latest to have been awarded a Michelin star, although commendably has retained its competitive prices making it a viable experience for most travellers. Feast on Fera – a fish from Lake Geneva, and be sure to try the lemon curd mini-tarts with pear ice cream. Even wine is making waves in this Swiss city. Visit Cave de Geneva for an afternoon of wine tasting and be sure to sip sweet wine ‘Intuition’. It has won four gold medals for its quality and rivals some of the best dessert wines from France and New Zealand.

Just 1hr 30minutes from the UK lies a lesser-known European city which is calling out to be explored. Immerse yourself in history and shop to excess. Admire the architecture and take a relaxing boat trip. Experience the best in fine dining and the comfort of good quality hotels. But most of all, get to the arrivals gate and turn towards the city.

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Fact box

Adelto flew courtesy of Swiss International Airlines. Swiss operates daily flights from London Heathrow and London City to Geneva. For reservations, visit swiss.com

Accommodation was provided by Hotel Bristol. Rooms come equipped with Molten Brown toiletries, free Wi-Fi and all mod cons.

For your chance to win an ‘Amazing Weekend’ away for two in Geneva and loads of other fun prizes, visit jetofftogeneva.com

For more information on Switzerland and Geneva, visit MySwitzerland.com

Images courtesy of Switzerland Tourism and Geneva Tourism

About

Assif is a luxury travel and design aficionado currently working as a BBC content producer. He holds an MA in journalism from the University of Leeds. He is partial to tea and cake - Yorkshire Tea Gold Blend please. His favourite trips include island hopping in the Seychelles, a mountain escape in Kashmir and getting lost in Hong Kong.

Assif is the current editor of Adelto Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @journolista.

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May 5, 2014 | Geneva Switzerland Travel Travel Reviews Western Europe | View comments

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