First of all, happy 2019! What an incredible year it will be. Read more about my 2018 gratitude and 2019 goals on Friday. For now, I want to talk about the city I spent the past 3 weeks exploring. Can you believe it?! I stayed in one spot for more than a few days — it’s wild!
Well, you all know it’s rare for me hunker down in one spot, so there must be a story behind my sedentary stretch, right? There sure is…
HOW I ENDED UP IN GENEVA FOR THE HOLIDAYS - MANIFESTATION AND POSITIVITY
Well, as you might remember from last weeks post, I have not been alone in Geneva. The moment I set my sights on full-time travel, I knew I wanted to spend the holidays with my family overseas. I saw a holiday filled with Christmas Markets, foreign language learning, tarte de pomme eating, and city street roaming. So, I set the ball in motion. At every opportunity I painted the picture for my family, I shared my vision, and slowly but surely they hopped on board. We generated a ton of positive and exciting energy about a whole new kind of holiday.
And by the middle of December we found ourselves cozied up in a tiny apartment in the center of Geneva, Switzerland.
Being in one spot for so long really allows me to give you a full overview of my favorite spots! So while I am itching to get on the road again (next stop Belgium), I am thrilled to have this experience to share with YOU!
CURIOUS TO SEE SOME OF THE HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS - CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO
**Do yourself a favor and watch in HD!
AND NOW, ON TO MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE SPOTS:
Bain du Pâquis
Quai du Mont-Blanc 30, 1201 Genève, Switzerland
Open 7 days a week
Okay ya’ll talk about the hub of Geneva. If you go no where else please go here! There is always something happening at Bain Du Pâquis. In the summer folks are swimming, bands are playing and kids are doing flips off diving boards. But we are focusing on winter, and let me tell you winter is EVEN BETTER. During the winter months Bain Du Paquis opens the saunas and steam room. For $20 you can detox, relax and cold plunge into 4 degree celsius the lake all day long.
Not good enough? You can snag a fantastic massage for under $60 franks!
Oh, that’s not all. They have the most incredible Plat Du Jours, filled with unreal protein, veggies and bread for $14 franks which is a steal in Geneva. Also, pro-tip, definitely get the Gingembre (a super tasty hot ginger drink).
Happen to stay at the Bain Du Pâquis all day long? Believe me, it’s easy. Reserve yourself a table for fondue and watch the restaurant come alive with live music, wood fired stoves and hundreds of people!
I loved it so much, I went four separate times — so be careful, you’ll get hooked!
Here are some things to note:
They only accept cash
The Saunas and Steam Room are clothing optional
Tuesday’s are women only days
They will ask for your ID or CC as a deposit for the key to your changing room (not to worry you’ll get it back when you return your key)
They have towels for rent but they are 5 franks each, so bring your own
They have warm showers, so bring some soap with you so you can get cozy and clean afterward
NOËL AUX BASTIONS - Christmas Market
Prom. des Bastions 1, 1204 Genève, Switzerland
Looking for an authentic Swiss Christmas Market? You’ve got it!
Parc Des Bastions, a centrally located Parc near old town transforms into a winter wonderland in December. Find hand knit sweaters, street food, bars bustling with people, super tasty drinks and Raclette (another insanely good cheesy dish, you should not leave Switzerland without devouring), magical illuminated chandeliers hanging from tree branches, carolers, an ice rink, and oh yeah a CBD dispensary pop-up shop!
It’s the place to go for a quick snack, shop or smoke during the holidays! 10/10 would recommend.
CHATEAU DU CHILLON & MONTREUX
Avenue de Chillon 21, 1820 Veytaux, Switzerland
Interested in a day trip to another Christmas market, charming lakeside town, and ancient castle perched upon Lake Léman (otherwise known as lake Geneva) with views of Mont Blanc? Then Montreux and Chateau Du Chillion should be on your list.
The castle is insane, the student price is $12 franks and you can tour all day. On the weekends they have vin chaud (hot spiced wine) and traditional meat pies (super tasty). They also have performers (seen in my video) and a barn full of animals, candle making, and super spooky prison. Bundle up nice and tight because the castle is obviously not insulated, but it’s worth it!
After the castle make your way to the Montreux Christmas market, fit with a ferris wheel, and at least three times as large as the market at Parc Des Bastions.
Things to Note:
Parking is tricky, but there’s a parking garage below the market for 1 frank/hour
Again, dress warm, it’s chilly in the castle and by the lake
FRENCH ALPS - AN ESSENTIAL SIDE TRIP
Okay, I could not endorse the french alps more. We stayed at a family friends Chalet in Samöens. Even if you just go for the day, you can’t miss it. Samoens is an hour from Geneva. Whether you ski, board, snowshoe, dog-sled, hike, or parapont, you will not have a bad view. The alps are like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
Bonus points if you stay in a cabin without electric, or plumbing and catch the starry sky uninhibited by human light.
There’s an incredible restaurant at Samoens 1600 called Chalet L’Aero. Also a hotel! Their food is off the charts incredible and their vin chaud is the best I've had my entire trip! Here’s a link to their website!
I highly recommend hiking the snowy french alps, the views are insane, the air is crisp and you might meet some mountain goats along the way!
You may also enjoy popping down into Samöens proper, where you’ll find shops filled with cheese and salami, a charming Christmas market and plenty of snow gear if you need to bundle up!
Things to note:
You can get to Samòens by car, or bus
Bundle up!! You’re heading to the mountains, snow pants, jacket and snow boots are highly recommended
Remember you’re heading into France, so bring Euro’s and your passport!
Rue de la Corraterie 17, 1204 Genève, Switzerland
Looking to relax after all the Christmas market shopping, mountain hiking and polar bear plunging? Okay, I understand! Head to Cine 17 right next to Parc Des Bastions for a film in ENGLISH!
We saw 2nd Act (which was incredible and hilarious by the way), had the opportunity to purchase drinks from the in theater bar and then reclined in cozy seats in a charming theater!
Please note that the price is a little steep $25 franks per person, but it was a splurge we felt good about!
Click here for tickets!
ST. PIERRE CATHEDRAL
Place du Bourg-de-Four 24, 1204 Genève, Switzerland
Open until 5 PM October 1st - May 31st
This is an important stop in Geneva. The view from the top is wicked and it costs $5 franks per person to climb.
From the cathedral you’ll see the Geneva City Scape and have an incredible view of the lake and the Jet d’Eau (which you should probably check out on foot too).
Things to note:
The bathrooms are outside and underground, kitty corner from the cathedral - no cost
The stairs are spiral and narrow - so be wear if you get dizzy or claustrophobic
Be ware of the bell ringing on the hour - it can be pretty darn loud
Wander around old town - it’s absolutely charming, and much more quiet than downtown Geneva
LA CANTINELLA - The Best Pizza You Can Find in Geneva
Rue de la Tour-de-Boël 2, 1204 Genève, Switzerland
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, your last suggestion, and it’s pizza?! In Switzerland?! But trust me! Just two blocks away from the Cathedral, snuggled in a charming corner of old town lies the best pizza I’ve had outside Italy. La Cantinella is Italian owned and the pizza is BEYOND.
Thin, chewy and crunchy crust all at the same time, check!
Fresh ingredients, check!
Incredible service, double check!
Affordable prices, you betcha!
This is a must for me, we went twice and I was beyond impressed both times!
The pizza will run you about $15 franks and can easily be split between two. It takes about 10 minutes to cook and a free appetizer is included during the dinner hour, while a dessert of yummy oranges is provided at lunch!
Oh, and you can order pizzas to go! So if you’re feeling like cozying up with some Netflix and the best meal of your life, probably order from La Cantinella.
AND A FEW PRO TIPS
** Looking for a pharmacy, department store or restaurant open on a Sunday, late at night, or on a holiday —> Head to Cornavin the train station in central Geneva.
*** Geneva is super easy to navigate on foot, grab a hostel, hotel or air bnb in central Geneva and you’ll be set on foot
**** Okay finally, for my fellow Open Floor and 5R dancers, the dance scene is wicked here! I had the most insane dance of my life with these folks! It’s seriously a must, and $20 franks per class.
And with that, my time in Geneva is wrapping up. I’ll hop on a plane and jet off in just a few days, but I will most definitely be back. In the meantime I hope to live vicariously through your Geneva stories! Let me know what you think and if you uncover any other essential spots!
Big hugs and HAPPY 2019!