J-1 pour la Fête des Vignerons 2019 !

Vevey, La Fête des Vignerons 2019 s’ouvre demain à Vevey. Le Cortège de la Confrérie des Vignerons s’ébranle à 14h, suivi de la Première du spectacle à 19h dans l’arène de 20’000 places. Les Journées Cantonales débutent le 19 juillet avec la présence du canton de Genève. Jusqu’au 11 août, la Ville en Fête et ses mille animations attend 1 million de visiteurs.

Elle était attendue depuis son édition précédente en 1999 et annoncée depuis 2010 : la Fête des Vignerons 2019 s’ouvre demain 18 juillet à Vevey.

Les communes de l’aire de la Confrérie des Vignerons de Vevey, organisatrice de la manifestation, soit entre Lausanne, Lavey-les-Bains et Châtel-St-Denis, feront sonner les cloches de leur église entre 13h30 et 14h00 le 18 juillet afin de marquer de manière symbolique le début de la Fête. Dès que les cloches cesseront de résonner, le grand Cortège de la Confrérie se mettra en branle sur les Quais de Vevey. La Première du spectacle sera lancée à 19h dans l’arène. Elle inclut la Cérémonie du Couronnement des meilleurs vignerons-tâcherons expertisés par la Confrérie. Une rencontre avec les vignerons couronnés est prévue pour les médias le 19 juillet à 10h au Théâtre le Reflet (Centre des médias de la Fête).

Le spectacle de la Fête des Vignerons 2019, d’une durée d’environ 2h45, est conçu par le metteur en scène Daniele Finzi Pasca. Il s’est entouré d’une équipe de créateurs comprenant notamment les compositeurs suisses Maria Bonzanigo, Jérôme Berney et Valentin Villard, les écrivains Blaise Hofmann et Stéphane Blok, le scénographe Hugo Gargiulo, le chorégraphe Bryn Walters et la costumière Giovanna Buzzi.

A ce jour, 80% des billets en vente ont été écoulés. Chaque jour, un quota de billets est mis en vente dans les billetteries en ville de Vevey autant que dans les points de vente habituels (Starticket.ch, Manor, Coop City). Des billets sont toujours disponibles pour certains spectacles. Le site fetedesvignerons.ch renseigne chaque jour sur les disponibilités en temps réel.

Vevey se transforme par ailleurs en capitale estivale de la Suisse : tous les cantons sont mis à l’honneur durant des Journées Hôtes d’Honneur. Genève débute le 19 juillet et Vaud boucle la ronde le 11 août.

A côté du spectacle proprement dit, la Ville en Fête transforme Vevey en scène musicale et théâtrale à ciel ouvert durant la Fête des Vignerons 2019 : du matin jusqu’à la nuit, du 18 juillet au 11 août, à la manière d’un festival culturel 100% gratuit, une dizaine de scènes réparties dans un périmètre allant du Jardin Doret à l’ouest à Entre- deux-Villes à l’Est accueilleront concerts, performances et animations diverses. La programmation jour par jour est à découvrir sur fetedesvignerons.ch/programme ainsi que sur l’application FEVI2019 | RTS.

Head for the Hills

by Vincent Vichit-Vadakhan / Photos by Vincent Sung

Breathtaking lake views and towns packed with culture and history are easily overlooked, but missing them would be a huge mistake.

It’s not like the Swiss are trying hard to keep it a secret. They call the stretch of the shore of Lake Geneva that runs from Lausanne through Vevey and on to Montreux the Swiss Riviera, a name that evokes waterfront vistas and carefree exclusivity to people around the world. There’s Montreux’s world famous Jazz Festival. A long list of celebrities from royalty to the arts have elected domicile here.

Calling the area undiscovered is perhaps an exaggeration, but it is unfairly overlooked. Lausanne is a scant hour from Geneva Airport by train and Vevey just a few minutes further, but many would-be visitors sail through on their way to the slopes of Zermatt and Verbier without ever setting foot on the lakeshore. If only they knew what they were missing!

That View

First off, there is the jaw-dropping perspective over the too-blue-to-be-real waters of Lake Geneva (that residents know as Lac Léman). The French Alps feel almost close enough to touch. The water really is that clear: 80% of tap water is filtered from the lake, and yes, you can drink from the tap and swim in the lake as soon as the weather is warm enough for you. Both Lausanne and Vevey have lakefront promenades, but serious walkers can stroll the 35 kilometers from Lausanne to the medieval Château de Chillon immortalized by Lord Byron’s narrative poem The Prisoner of Chillon. A shorter hike from Lausanne to Vevey should take about five hours unless you make a detour up the hill into the terraced wineries of Lavaux (which you will). When you’re ready to head back, buses and trains connect all the towns on the shore and run as predictably as Swiss clockwork.

More modestly, a walk in Lausanne from the station Ouchy-Olympique (with two lines, Lausanne is the smallest city in the world to have a metro) to Denantou Park will give you a generous dose of those killer views.

“Under” the Station

Exterior at Beau-Rivage Palace hotel

The walk takes you along the edge of the elegant neighborhood known as Sous-Gare or literally under the station, past the historic Beau-Rivage Palace hotel. Next door you’ll find the Olympic Museum, filled with memorabilia from the games and athletes and an interactive section that allows you to test your Olympic skills, an ode to the Olympic spirit. The museum’s park is studded with sports-themed artworks by Niki de Saint-Phalle, Botero and Alexander Calder. Up the hill (one of the three on which Lausanne is built) is the Musée de l’Élysée, dedicated to world-class photography exhibitions.

Cité

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Place de la Riponne on a Wednesday or Saturday morning, check out the market for specialties like Gros-de-Vaud, a modern take on traditional cheese-making. Riponne is also where Lausanne has embraced that contemporary culinary phenomenon called the food truck.

Interior Courtyard at Rumine Palace

Visit the Palais de Rumine, built with the funds that philanthropist Gabriel de Rumine left the city in 1871. It houses five museums, including the Museums of Fine Arts (now moving to Plateforme 10 below) and Archeology. A footbridge connects the museums to la Cité and the town’s stunning gothic cathedral, a Protestant place of worship since 1536. Though it was stripped of many of its ornaments during the Reformation, you can still see traces of the original colors at the Painted Portal.

Take the Escaliers du marché (Stairs of the Market) down to place de la Palud, where the statue of Justice stands in front of City Hall. You can’t leave without stopping at Dan Durig’s chocolate shop where some sweets are made with raw unroasted cacao, giving the chocolate a round, fruity flavor. Enjoy more treats at La Ferme Vaudoise where the best artisanal meats, cheeses, and wines from around the Canton of Vaud are sold.

Flon to the Station

Librairie Payot, the largest bookshop in French-speaking Switzerland, also stocks books and periodicals in English. Cross the shop to get to the Garages du Flon, now the heart of Lausanne’s pedestrian shopping district on the site of what once was a series of merchandise warehouses, as you can see from the ramps, tracks, and other industrial fixtures still in place.

Not far up the hill, you’ll find the Collection de l’Art Brut, the largest museum of outsider art in the world. A term coined by Jean Dubuffet in the mid 20th century to describe work unbound by the conventional art world, Art Brut often reflects the fantasies and psychological states of its creators. The epistolary art, ornately crafted envelopes and letters sometimes addressed to Dubuffet himself, shouldn’t be missed.

Back down the hill next to the train station is the dramatic new Plateforme 10. Built on the site of locomotive depots, it has been designed to become the cultural hub of the city. Over the coming months and years, museums including the Fine Arts and the Élysée will move in, joining other exhibition and performance spaces.

Where to Eat

Brasserie de Montbenon is located in what was originally the Casino de Montbenon built-in 1909. When the International Olympic Committee moved to Lausanne in 1915, the building was used as its first headquarters. Today, in addition to the restaurant that serves modern brasserie classics like roasted bone marrow and steak tartare, the building also contains the Cinémathèque where films from the Swiss Film Archives are projected and an events space. Unsurprisingly the esplanade affords those stunning lake views.

La Pinte Besson first opened for business as a wine merchant in 1780 making it the oldest such establishment in town. Today locals and visitors alike come to dip chunks of crusty bread into unctuous cheese fondue (add a generous shaving of black truffle for something really special) and garnished rösti (crispy potato pancakes). A little local Chasselas by the glass, carafe or bottle will wash down the rich, satisfying fare.

Celebrated chef Anne-Sophie Pic, who holds three stars for her first restaurant in Valence over the border in France, earned another two at the Beau-Rivage, her first off-site restaurant she opened 10 years ago. The choice was an easy one, she told the Magazine. “[There was] an encounter with an establishment with which I share values, and my desire to explore the Swiss terroir,” she explained. “I discovered exceptional products that enriched my creative process like pine buds, mountain cheeses, wild herbs and freshwater fish from Lac Léman.” Féra and omble chevalier are among the local fish she has embraced.

Where to stay

The luxurious Beau-Rivage Palace opened in 1861 and the “new” wing was added in 1908. The ballrooms have been used for international treaties and the guest book reads like an international Who’s Who including Coco Chanel, Keanu Reeves, the Dalai Lama or the late King of Thailand, who spent much of his childhood in Lausanne. The nec plus ultra is a spacious suite overlooking the lake.

Vevey

Just a few minutes down “the coast” lies Vevey. The wineries of Lavaux between the two cities have been listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Chexbres is where the great American food writer MFK Fisher found and lost the great love of her life that she later recounted in The Gastronomical Me. In Lutry, Cyril Séverin revived the Domaine du Daley, the oldest registered business in Switzerland whose original cellars were built in 1397. While other producers keep their production at home, Séverin found markets in Asia, like The Four Seasons in Hong Kong or a distinguished luxury watch merchant in Tokyo, who serves Daley’s Pinot Noir alongside far more prestigious Romanée-Conti. The Vinothèque de la Maison Rose in Cully, where some of the terraced vineyards in the UNESCO heritage site are located, is a wine shop where you immediately feel at home. It is run by Danielle Debraine Wannaz, the daughter and sister of winegrowers, who shares her stories and arranges tastings with her customers.                                                                     

Back in Vevey, the Confrérie des Vignerons or ‘Brotherhood of Winegrowers’ has a museum that retraces its history over centuries. They hold a festival to honor the most skilled winegrowers once a generation and the first celebration this century will be held in Summer 2019. The festivities are expected to attract a million visitors and will take over the town for three weeks.

Bravo! is a beautifully designed shop where you’ll find everything Swiss, from textiles to food to live performances. The Jenisch Museum focuses on painting, drawing, prints, and engravings. And the Alimentarium is a unique museum (look for the 8-meter high fork stuck in the water outside). Celebrity chef Philippe Ligron who runs the museum’s food experiences described his mission. “We are not just explaining the food, we want to make people aware of eating thoughtfully,” he says. “We accompany them on a journey to re-connect with food” through exhibits and workshops that bring guests into the museum’s garden and out to meet artisans. But this is not just another cooking class. “We add a human dimension, a story. The dialogue we create with the visitor is very important.” In short, a perfect outing for a foodie.

Perhaps the most surprising museum is Chaplin’s World, the house Charlie Chaplin spent the last three decades of his life. The house proper is a tribute to the man and his life, drawing you into his daily routine. The Studio on the other hand cleverly lets you become a part of his sets and films. Attention: selfie op guaranteed!

Where to eat

In Cully, the Auberge du Raisin is a veritable institution, concentrating on local ingredients like Swiss-grown poussin (young chicken), grilled hanging from a chain in front of an open fire, in a 15th-century fireplace in the middle of the dining room.

On the lake in Vevey, Chef Aurélie Seignouret takes creatively playful takes on an ingredient or a theme, and multiplies it by three, like the trio of Bierschwein pork (belly, chop, and cheek) or of lake fish, all served on the same plate.

Excursions

The Château de Chillon lays claim to being the most visited historical attraction in the country and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a perfect fairy tale castle with dungeons and towers that juts dramatically out onto the lake with real insight into the workings of the castle.

Glacier 3000 takes you into the heart of the Swiss Alps. In addition to winter and summer sports, you can take the Peak Walk, the only place in the world where you can walk from one mountain peak to another on a suspension bridge.

Where to stay

Grand Hôtel du Lac is plush and atmospheric, like the Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name by Anita Brookner. What it isn’t is dark and melancholy as described in the book, thanks to a more recent refit. As its name suggests, the view of the lake is what you’re after, though the Michelin-starred Les Saisons restaurant and the in-house spa are nice perks too.

Small Luxury Hotels of The World™ adds their first hotels in Azerbaijan and Malaga

Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) is making a splash this summer by introducing four stylish new properties including the first-ever hotels in Azerbaijan and Málaga to join the brand. Enjoy an eco-friendly retreat in Thailand, take in the views in Switzerland, indulge in a taste of the Mediterranean in Andalucía or explore the narrow cobbled streets of Baku. These properties offer luxury on their own terms, ensuring independently spirited travelers create unforgettable moments to last a lifetime.  

Twinpalms MontAzure, Kamala Beach, Thailand

Opens July 2019 – 46 rooms from USD425 per night

Set on the golden sands of Kamala Beach, on Phuket’s sought-after west coast, Twinpalms MontAzure offers beautifully appointed suites, penthouses and private pool suites ranging in size from a very comfortable 70sqm up to an expansive 300sqm. Guests will also enjoy dipping into the two communal pools – one perfect for laps and the other a beach-level infinity pool that seems to melt into the watery landscape. The site itself offers almost 820 feet (250 meters) of beach frontage shaded by Casuarina trees and leading up to a 200-year old untouched tropical forest. Combining modern luxury with strong eco-credentials, the hotel launches with a strict “no single-use plastic” policy, replacing plastic items with bamboo, ceramic and recycled paper instead. Every element of this beachside boutique hotel is inspired by the surrounds – from the panoramic views of the sea from the rooftops to glass that lets the sunlight flood in. Adding to the collection of fantastic culinary places to be in Thailand, Shimmer Beachfront Restaurant serves vibrant Asian cuisine with an impressive wine list. If Phuket’s shores are calling, the hotel’s beach shuttle can take guests to Twinpalms Phuket near Surin Beach – the sister resort – as well as Palm Seaside, Catch Beach Club and Catch Junior on Bang Tao Beach or HQ Beach Lounge on Kamala Beach.

SLH Insider Tip: Guests who enjoy leisurely dining will appreciate the hotel’s indulgent special Saturday brunch at Shimmer Beachfront Restaurant, the place to be for the island’s movers and shakers.

Dinamo Hotel Baku, Baku, Azerbaijan

28 rooms from USD238 per night including breakfast

Conceived as the home of the Dinamo sports society, the elegant city building with geometrical architecture was built in the 1930s in Baku, and was only transformed into a hotel almost a century later. Inspired by the history of the building, exquisite materials, custom-made furniture and decorative arts sourced from the world of sport, have all played a part in creating the stylish and relaxing atmosphere that can be experienced today. There are friezes and statues punctuating the chic décor of the spa and restaurant, while upstairs, the bedrooms make their own statement with pops of color. The novelty of Dinamo Hotel Baku aims to emphasize the best qualities of the city and the local culture, utilizing elements such as traditional rug patterns on stone mosaic floors to offer guests a warm and inviting home away from home. For dinner, the aptly named Olympia restaurant is the height of fine dining, with an open kitchen, palate-pleasing wine list, and perfectly pitched service. The spa, a luxury health club equipped with a fitness center and swimming pool, also offers a selection of exclusive signature treatments and several beauty services including a Nail Bar. Outside of the Dinamo doors, guests can experience the melting pot of cultures that Baku has to offer. The combination of European, Asian and Middle Eastern influences makes this city a fascinating place to wander – from the cobblestoned ‘old city’ to the ultra-modern Heydar Aliyev’ art complex.

SLH Insider Tip: Children staying on the property can enjoy special welcome gifts, in-room game consoles, children’s bathrobes, and slippers as well as special treats at evening turn-down.

Palacio Solecio, Malaga, Spain

Opens December 2019 – 68 rooms from USD175 per night including breakfast

Set in Málaga’s Old Town, Palacio Solecio, a former palace from the 18th century has been restored by Antonio Obrador’s Architecture Studio, to rise into a modern style hotel with an Andalusian essence. Classic in architectural style, guests are greeted by glimpses of the hotel’s past from the moment they enter the lobby. The original stone staircase leads guests up to the first floor, where the relaxing décor of the rooms, suites and function spaces fuses historical character with contemporary comfort. The restaurant is a place where tradition and avant-garde cuisine coexist thanks to Michelin star chef Jose Carlos Garcia who transforms traditional dishes from the South of Spain with his innovative touch. Around the hotel guests will find a broad celebration of Málaga’s past and present too – from the magnificent Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga to traditional Arabic baths and Flamenco restaurants. The must-see Alcazaba Fortress is also a short walk from the hotel, and guests can wander the gardens and courtyards before climbing the slope for spectacular city views.

SLH Insider Tip: By day, guests should relax in the hotel’s glass-ceilinged patio, and soak up the sun and bright conversation with tapas and drinks. By night, they can bring the indoors out underneath ornate cloisters and sit by the fountain with evening cocktails.

Alex Lake Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Opens July 2019 – 44 rooms from USD297 per night including breakfast

On the Western Shore of Lake Zürich, between Zürich and Zug, is Alex Lake Zürich – a contemporary boutique hotel with a private marina and boat-loads of style. Perched on the water’s edge and set across five floors with a very special architectural design of stone and glass, the property is opening its doors this month. Alex has 44 rooms and suites all with glorious lake views, terraces, and kitchens, becoming the first boutique Zurich hotel to offer a more enticing extended stay concept for guests. At the heart of the hotel is a dynamic and vibrant all-day dining restaurant and bar, The Boathouse, which serves Swiss-sourced produce and regional wines. The contemporary and sophisticated interiors are complemented by a unique and impressive waterfront terrace with spectacular views across the lake. A peaceful wellness area is also available exclusively for guests and features a sauna, steam room, relaxation area, fitness room, plunge pool, spa treatment room and direct access to the wonderfully clean waters of the lake for swimming. Guests will also have access to several activities and services including the hotel yacht, water sports on the Lake, bicycles for exploring the local area and rowing from the local club adjacent to the hotel.

SLH Insider Tip: One of the highlights of Lake Zurich is the beautiful boat trip to the picturesque town of Rapperswil, famous for its rose gardens, medieval castle and the longest wooden bridge in Switzerland perfect for romantic strolls.

Discover Switzerland Unique Wine Heritage with Royal Savoy hotel & spa and La Fete des Vignerons

The Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa Lausanne offers an exclusive experience in the UNESCO World Heritage vineyards of nearby Lavaux inspired by a Once-in-a-Generation Wine Festival

The Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa in Lausanne

The Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa in Lausanne is letting guests in on one of Switzerland’s best-kept secrets: the country’s delicious wines. Very little of Swiss wine is exported, so a trip to Switzerland is key to experiencing it. The Royal Savoy now offers a “Vintage Lavaux” package built around tasting the renowned Chasselas, Pinot Noir and Gamay wines grown in the region.

The offering is particularly timely as the area gears up to celebrate Fête des Vignerons in the nearby town of Vevey. First celebrated in 1797 and last held in 1999, this once-in-a-generation festival commemorates local viticultural traditions that have existed since the days of the Roman Empire. It is an open-air spectacle featuring performances by 1,200 singers and musicians as well as 5,500 costumed actors who are all residents of the area. This year, Fête des Vignerons takes place between July 18 and August 11.   Noted Swiss theatre and opera director Daniele Finzi Pasca, who directed Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo and also created the closing ceremonies of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (2014) and Turin (2006), is mounting the pageant. The festival is expected to attract 20,000 spectators to each of its 20 performances. In addition to the spectacle, Vevey will welcome lively street performances. Bars, wine cellars, and restaurants will open their doors while 60 food and beverage stands offer local wine and culinary specialties from the Vaud region.

 Lavaux Vineyards, a UNESCO Heritage Site

Swiss Wine in UNESCO World Heritage Lavaux Vineyards

While grapes have been growing in the Lavaux region since Roman times, it was not until the 11th century that the unique terraced vineyards appeared thanks to Benedictine and Cistercian monks. It was this unique agricultural technique that earned the vineyards their status as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. Stretching 20 kilometers along the northern shores of Lake Geneva are 830 hectares of vineyards.  Some of the steepest vineyards in the world sit at 350 meters above the lake. Winemakers attribute the Mediterranean character of the wines to the southern aspect of the terraces, which benefit from the sun reflecting off the lake and the stone walls as well as to the almost year-round temperate climate. 

White wines from Lavaux are dominated by the Chasselas grape, while the red is Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes. There are three appellations in Lavaux, with Lavaux AOC having eight sites of production. The flagship appellation of Lavaux is Dézaley AOC, which, along with Calamin AOC, is the only Grand Cru appellation.

The Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa in Lausanne – Deluxe city view bedroom

The Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa Lausanne’s Vintage Lavaux package features an excursion to a local vineyard in the Lavaux, a UNESCO World Heritage site overlooking Lake Geneva, and includes a picnic lunch with the winemaker followed by red wine and chocolate pairing. The one-night package starts at CHF1220 (or about HKD$9,770) for two people. Starting at CHF1220 (or about HKD$9,770) for two persons, the Vintage Lavaux program will be available year-round on a daily basis. The package includes accommodations in a Deluxe Room with a complimentary upgrade to a Lakeview room; daily breakfast in the Brasserie du Royal; a private chauffeur-driven excursion to a winery in the Lavaux vineyards; lunch with the winemaker; a three-course wine-pairing dinner by Michelin-starred Chef Marc Haeberlin at the hotel; a half bottle of wine in the room upon arrival; free Wi-fi; unlimited access to the Spa du Royal including pools, steam rooms, saunas, Jacuzzi and ice fountain; Nespresso machine, VAT and a Lausanne Transport Card. 

The package must be booked a minimum of three days before arrival. The price will be higher on Sundays and during harvest season.

For more information about this package and to make reservations, please email: info@royalsavoy.ch or call +41 21 614 88 87.

The Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa

The Royal Savoy Hotel in Lausanne reopened in November 2015 after a five-year, $100 million-Swiss-franc renovation, A 95-room Garden Wing was added to the historic Art Nouveau structure with 101 rooms.  The glamorous hotel sits in the center of the city in a 5,000-square-meter (over an acre) park with 100-year-old cedar trees.  Built in 1909, the Royal Savoy has deep roots in Lausanne as the owners who were passionate hoteliers, opened the first hotels there.  The luxury hotel’s facilities include an innovative restaurant serving organic cuisine with Signature Chef Marc Haeberlin, a Michelin-starred chef; Cigar Lounge; Sky Lounge with views of the city and the lake, Salon de Thé, the 16,145-square-foot Spa du Royal, indoor and outdoor pools and meeting facilities.

About the Bürgenstock Selection
The Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa Lausanne is part of the Bürgenstock Selection headquartered in Zug.  The corporate portfolio consists of the Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa Lausanne, the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & THE SPA (99 rooms) and the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne (383 rooms). The total investment volume of the Bürgenstock Selection in Switzerland is one billion Swiss francs.

Geneva Is on Fire

by Vincent Vichit-Vadakhan/Photos by Vincent Sung www.vincentsung.com

Switzerland’s second city may look staid from the outside, but beneath the surface is a tantalizing world of possibilities.

Geneva actively cultivates an image of mystery and secrecy. After all, this is where diplomats negotiate the future of the world behind closed doors and private bankers count fortunes in wood-paneled offices overlooking the lake. Opulent hotels line the lakefront and the world’s most skilled watchmakers come here to practice their intricate art. But despite the wealth, which is considerable, this is not a city given to obvious flash and bling. Since Calvin preached his brand of religious reform here in the 1530s and 1540s that is still an integral part of the city’s personality, its inhabitants have valued discretion over ostentation, blending into the crowd rather than standing out.

View over Geneva & Lac Leman with the Water Jet – Symbol of Geneva

Locals pride themselves on efficiency and punctuality (don’t be late to dinner), but there is none of chaotic hustle and bustle of other international centers. From across Lake Geneva, their French neighbors taunt Genevans with the expression “It’s not as if the lake’s on fire,” spoken with a deliberate drawl that is supposed to imitate, and gently mock, the relaxed attitudes on this side of the water.

Don’t mistake a noncommittal response for an absence of vitality and initiative, though. Local author and cultural celebrity Metin Arditi who is a Genevan by adoption call the unhurried demeanor “a ruse” used by poker-faced Genevans who don’t want to reveal their hand. Behind the unassuming veneer, Geneva is abuzz with creativity and innovation. Chefs, designers, entrepreneurs, and free-thinkers choose Geneva for the boundless opportunities the city offers.

Stuffy and cool, pragmatic and playful, dynamic and lackadaisical, cosmopolitan and parochial: Geneva is a bundle of contradictions. But it is because Geneva constantly defies expectations that visitors never know what surprises await them at every corner.

The Lay of the Land

The Jet d’eau or fountain on Lake Geneva that spews water 140 meters in the air embodies Geneva’s dichotomy. Designed as a functional valve to release pressure from a hydraulic power plant that supplied electricity to the growing city (originally released only on Sundays when businesses were closed and demand was lower), the authorities realised they were on to something and moved it to its current location in 1891 where it became one of the most recognizable symbols of the city and its most photographed attraction. Get a close look at it from one of the paddle steamboat cruises run by the CGN and stay on the boat to tour the stately homes and villages around the lake. You can walk up to it too from the Eaux-Vives side, but be aware that even a slight change in wind can drench the watching crowd.

After seeing the city from the water, you can choose another original form of transportation that reflects Genevans’ love for their environment. Covered Taxi-Bikes will take up to two people around the center, zipping along bike lanes using manpower and eco-friendly electric motors.

Feeling Artsy

If you want to take in some art, you could ask your driver to head for the Quartier des Bains, where you’ll find galleries like Le Commun, a city-sponsored space for young artists to show their work. If you’re looking for something a little edgier, try L’Usine, a converted factory that houses studios, a nightclub, and even a razor-sharp hair salon. Other converted industrial spaces used for exhibitions are located on the islands on the Rhône that feeds into Lake Geneva including Halle Nord in a former market, and Quartier Libre, once a pumping station and power plant.

If you want to take home a unique souvenir, browse through the prints and posters at Galerie 123 (un, deux, trois). Jean-Daniel Clerc has been collecting rare advertisements for decades, including Swiss products, tourist destinations, and even public service announcements. Every piece has a story that the owner will only be too glad to share.

Opera fans should take in a performance at the newly reopened Grand Théâtre de Genève, that has returned the lobby and foyer space to their past splendor and adds state-of-the-art technology backstage and behind the scenes. The 24-meter bar used for interval drinks is the city’s longest.

After taking in art, culture, and history, make a stop at cozy, homey Le Verre à Monique, for some of the best cocktails in Les Bains. Book a table or run the risk of missing out on their Electric Yuzu (gin, yuzu, ginger, fruit and tingling bitters).

Watching Out

The Old Town of Geneva, called la Vieille Ville or la Cité, was a walled fortress until the 19th century. The medieval façades and cobblestone streets that lead to the venerable Cathedral of Saint-Pierre were also home to the first French watchmakers who brought their art to Geneva in the 1500s. Today the neighborhood is also home to the resolutely contemporary artisan Akrivia, an independent atelier founded by Rexhep Rexhepi in 2012. Seven craftsmen produce fewer than 30 exquisite, sought-after watches a year. Visits to the workshop are by appointment only.

A few doors down, another young company offers a one-of-a-kind experience in the city of luxury timepieces. At Initium, you can learn the fundamentals of watchmaking with a master horloger and then pick every element of the watch including the hands, case, band and of course the movement that you assemble yourself. The result: the satisfaction of having built a watch that is genuinely your own. “We appeal to a wide range of people,” says manager Jean-Christophe Benz. “There are people who save up to join one of our workshops, and there are customers who already have a collection of branded watches but want to learn more about how they work.”

Consuming Passion

Another apparent contradiction: austere Genevans also have a huge sweet tooth. The Swiss eat more chocolate than anyone else in the world, an average of 10.5 kilos per person each year. Everyone will have a favorite chocolate shop. Some will send you to Philippe Pascoët whose distinctive orange boxes are found around town (and now in Dubai as well). Others may pick newcomer Charlie Ganache, the brainchild of Pierre-Olivier Brändli, who plays with flavors like saffron and yuzu. “The idea is for you to travel with the chocolate,” he says.

Even the old-time chocolate houses are repackaging in new, inventive ways. La Bonbonière will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2021, but after chocolatiers Cédric Rahm and Yvan Loubet led an employee buyout last year, they opened Geneva’s first chocolate bar, serving a menu of 35 chocolate drinks that highlights distinctive origins like the Grand Cru Java 64%, a cacao connoisseur’s dream come true, along with their traditional products.

Gourmet shopping

Of course, there is more to Swiss gastronomy than just chocolate. Meet the merchants in the Halle de Rive market like Dominique and Carol Ryser, behind the counter of Fromagerie Bruand, where you can get Swiss cheeses like the Vacherin de Fribourg or a mix of cheeses for a fondue vacuum-packed for travel. On the weekend you might be lucky enough to try the latest finds from their friend Nathalie Kotarski of Epicuriels who crisscrosses the region meeting and promoting small winemakers. Top of her list: women winemakers and natural wines.

The food hall in the basement of the Globus department store still referred to as Le Grand Passage originally opened in 1907, is another unmissable stop for gourmet shoppers. A personal shopper can guide you through charcuterie and other specialties and organize a tasting on site. Precious few Swiss wines are exported, perhaps because the Swiss keep them for themselves! Local hybrid varietals like Gamaret produce quirky reds, but the best-kept secrets are the distinctive Pinot noirs that will get Burgundy drinkers talking, and as will Chasselas, king of the whites. Looking for something a little stronger? Try Switzerland’s Appenzeller Single Malt whiskey, aged in beer barrels.

For an exclusive oenological experience, head to the cellars of the Beau-Rivage, the luxury hotel opened by the Mayer family in 1865. There by special arrangement private cellar tours for very small groups can held, reaching as far back as the hotel’s history and your budget will allow.

Eating Geneva

More prosaically, you can enjoy the wines at Le Chat Botté, Chef Dominique Gathier’s one-Michelin star gastronomic restaurant that serves a regularly changing tasting menu of modern French cuisine in what was once the hotel’s rôtisserie that served meats spit-roasted over an open fire.

For Nordic-inspired treat, head to Fiskebar in the Ritz-Carlton Hôtel de la Paix, where 25-year old Chef Benjamin Breton cures, ferments and serves wild foraged ingredients from his open kitchen, like the succulent steamed clams with forest greens showered in cured egg yolks.

Yet another destination restaurant is Izumi, located at the top of Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues. Chef Mitsuru Tsukada is a master of Nikkei cuisine, Japanese dishes that immigrated to Peru in the early 20th century. His seared black cod miso zuke is a masterclass on a plate.

Chef Philippe Chevrier is an institution in Geneva with several fine restaurants to his name. But carnivores will head straight for Chez Philippe that prides itself on sourcing the best meats, whether it’s the juiciest veal chop from star butcher Molard, or melt-in-your-mouth wagyu from Japan.

Sightseeing Suggestion 1: Go International

The Quartier International houses the United Nations Office, the second largest in the world after the headquarters in New York. The area is also home to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. The stunning Ariana Museum that houses a vast collection of porcelain and glass and its park was left to the city by 19th century intellectual and politician Gustave Revilliod. The City in turn granted a large part of the park to the United Nations. The 12-metre high Broken Chair on Place des Nations by Swiss sculptor Daniel Berset was commissioned by Handicap International to raise awareness on the issue of landmines around the world.

Sightseeing Suggestion 2: Get Out of Town (without really leaving town)

Next to proper Geneva, Carouge comes across like a rowdy cousin, loud, bright and just a little uncouth, but in an utterly charming way. By a treaty signed in 1754, the municipality became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, settling a long-standing conflict between Geneva and the House of Savoy. It quickly gained a reputation for religious tolerance, as well as smuggling, nightlife and pleasures that were harder to come by in Protestant Geneva. That independence of spirit lives on today, in the neighbourhood’s art house Cinéma Bio, saved by local residents; the casual wine bar Le Vert Bouteille; live music every night at Le Chat Noir; new restaurants like Le Flacon; and loads of charming boutiques. As you wander around the brightly-coloured streets you may catch a glimpse of the lush gardens and courtyards through an open gate. Carouge became part of the Canton of Geneva in 1816.

Where to Stay

The Ritz-Carlton, that locals still call Hôtel de la Paix, opened on the lake in 1865, just a stone’s throw from what was then the new railway station of Cornavin, still in use today. The hotel recently underwent a major renovation that preserves its huge atrium lobby while adding modern touches. See the spirals on the chandelier and on the in-room fixtures? They are reminiscent of the movement of a fine watch. 74 rooms and suites have also been thoroughly revamped with clean modern lines and every comfort a guest could wish for. Waking up to a lake view is something you’ll never tire of. The Living Room offers all-day dining and Fiskebar is both an excellent cocktail bar and an innovative gastronomic restaurant with Nordic flair.

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