After Zürich, Geneva is the largest city of Switzerland. Geneva is very well-known internationally, which is not surprising in light of the many international organizations, research centers and companies, including international banks, that are located in the city. Geneva is not only associated with the city, but also with the lake that bears its name. Geneva is a classy city where you can enjoy a fine dinner and buy the finest clothes, jewels and watches. Geneva has had a turbulent history and part of it has to do with the fact that it is the birth place of Calvinism. Even today, Geneva is very liberal.
After Zürich, Geneva is the largest city of Switzerland. The city has about 185,000 inhabitants. It is located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Nevertheless, only 75% of its people have French as their mother tongue. This has to do with the fact that Geneva attracts many foreigners. In 2001, 43% of the people of Geneva were of foreign origin. This is primarily due to the many international companies and organizations that are located in the city
Geneva is located in the south-west of Switzerland. This liberal city is also situated at the southern-most tip of Lake Geneva. Ten kilometers to the south and to east is France. About five kilometers to the west also lies France. Some of Geneva's suburbs are even located in France. The well-known Rhône river flows through the city. The Rhône originates in the Alps and "flows through" Lake Geneva and through the city itself. After that, the river meanders through France, where it ends up into the Golfe du Lion.
The Genevan economy is largely dependent on the international organizations it houses. Some examples of these organizations are: the United Nations, the Red Cross and the World Health Organization. Companies also have a major economic influence on the city. Especially the banking community is very important. Many world-famous Swiss banks are located in Geneva. These banks are specialized in the area of "private banking". Multinational companies like Procter & Gamble and Serono, whose European headquarters are located in the city, are also important to the economy. In addition, Geneva houses a number of important education and research institutes, for example the research institute CERN, the Université de Genève, the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales and the Ecole de traduction et d'interpretation. Geneva is also known for and economically dependent on its famous and expensive watches. Tourism plays only a minor part in Geneva's economy.
Geneva has an international airport called Genève-Cointrin. This airport is situated at about five kilometers from the city. It is one of the most modern airports in the world, like many other things in Geneva. Flights to and from Swiss, European, Russian and American cities and the Middle East are processed via Geneva's international airport.
In case you have no rental car at your disposal for a few days, the following tips regarding public transport may come in handy.
To get from Genève-Cointrin airport to the center of the city, the bus is the easiest and cheapest solution. Bus number 10 is the right one. The journey downtown will only take 20 minutes. There is also a train station at the airport, all departing and arriving trains pass through Geneva. So it is possible to take the train to Geneva. Gare de Cornavin is the city's main station, located centrally. This station also receives high-speed trains, for instance from Paris and Grenoble. Gare Routière is the most important bus station in the city, from where you can travel to many domestic and foreign cities. The most romantic way to arrive in Geneva is by boat.
Public transport in Geneva itself consists of trams, buses and boats. They are all fast, efficient, clean, safe and affordable, and they will take you "anywhere". The entire city, including the airport, falls under transport zone number 10. That means that tickets are valid for all types of public transport within this zone. Before using any form of public transport, you need to buy a ticket. You can do so at machines that are placed at every stop. You can buy a three-stop ticket, an hourly ticket or a daily ticket. At transport offices at the stations you can also buy other discount tickets. All buses that drive within the city are marked with a number. The buses that drive to Geneva's suburbs, but in France and in Switzerland, are marked with letters.
Traffic and Parking
Geneva is a funny town to enter, because there is only one Swiss and a number of French motorways entering the city. Driving in the city itself is a hectic affair, it is a busy place, although with some nerve and experience it is certainly doable. Parking in the city center is tricky. Parking in the street is only allowed for a limited number of hours, sometimes even for only one hour. The following parking facilities are recommended: parking garage Place Cornavin and underneath the south-side of Pont de Mont-Blanc. It is possible to make a reservation at both these facilities.
For a city with a jet-set reputation like Geneva, it has a good selection in budget and mid-range hotels. In addition, there are many luxurious hotels. These are used primarily by business people, diplomats, etc. It is essential to make reservations in advance, no matter which price range the hotel is in. This is necessary because it only takes a few conferences to turn hotel rooms into a rare commodity.
For more information about Geneva, we recommend Google, and the following external sources: