International Geneva welcomes campers
The landmark Jet d'Eau, the 140-metre high fountain gushing from the lake is the unmistakable backdrop to Geneva.
However the city is also renowned for its desperate shortage of accommodation and its pricey hotels. This is why the city is inviting football fans to pitch their tents at a close-to-town camp site before heading to the Stade de Geneve, home to Servette FC, for Euro 2008.
Located just down the road from UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Geneva’s other main claim to fame is as home to 200 multi-nationals and international organizations including the UN, the Red Cross and the World Trade Organization.
Geneva, at the far south-west tip of Switzerland, is pinned in on three sides by France and on the fourth by the lake which has taken its name.
Of the 107 kilometres of cantonal borders, 103 are shared with France and less than five with the rest of Switzerland. It straddles the Rhone where it heads west into France and curves round both sides of the lake.
Its financial district and many designer stores on the left bank close ranks as if squaring up to the huddle of international organizations on the further shore. Its famous floral clock near the Mont Blanc Bridge bears testimony to its links with watch making.
The Old Town, perched on a hill, is dominated by St. Peter’s Cathedral, or Cathédral de St Pierre. Some of it dates back to the 12th century and it was from here, in the 16th century, that John Calvin preached Protestantism.
Geneva can best be seen from the lake. The yellow water buses called Mouettes (seagulls) criss-cross the narrowest part of the lake, while steamships still plough a course on longer trips going as far as Lausanne and Montreux at the opposite end of the lake.
Place Neuve is the place for high brow culture with opera at the Grand Theatre and Conservatory of Music. The converted power station, Batiment des Forces-Motrices offers a striking alternative venue and is the gateway to Geneva’s once industrial heartland turned trendy club and bar scene.
Around the shore there is park after park as well as the chance of swimming in the lake at the Bains des Paquis. It is at one edge of the red light district also called the Paquis which is overflowing with bars and restaurants.