What’s Doing in Geneva

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Salon International de l’Auto

Catch a show at Geneva’s historic Grand Theater, located close to Plainpalais in the Place de Neuve. The theater is housed in a majestic building and boasts the largest stage in Switzerland. It is the city’s principal venue for concerts, dance performances, opera, and theater. The Grand Theater was first built in 1876 as an updated version of the previous Théâtre de Neuve, and inaugurated in 1879 with a performance of Rossini’s opera “William Tell.” The theater was partially destroyed by fire in 1951, and reopened in 1962 after extensive renovations. Designed in a Second Empire architectural style, the theater’s main façade displays eight busts memorializing great composers of the era in which the theater first opened, including Rossini, Beethoven, Weber, and Mozart.

Near the theater is the Parc des Bastions, a large, tree-lined park located next to the Place de Neuve. The park features a restaurant, a public ice-skating rink open in the winter, and a set of chessboards painted on the ground with large, movable chess pieces, allowing park visitors to play a life-sized game of chess. The park is also home to the famed Reformation Wall, a sculpted monument with four statues in the center representing the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. The wall was erected to commemorate both the 400th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth and the 350thanniversary of the University of Geneva’s founding. The park was first created in 1726, and was the site of the city’s botanical gardens before they were relocated to Lake Geneva’s northern shore.

The Geneva International Motor Show or Salon International de l’Auto, held at the Palexpo convention center, marks the start of the year in Europe as the first significant motor show for car manufacturers. The show celebrated its 84th anniversary in 2014 and welcomed more than 700,000 visitors this year, showcasing multiple European and world premieres.

WHERE TO EAT

The first rule of Swiss cuisine is to not be lactose intolerant! Fondue and raclette, two popular dishes involving melted cheese, are highly valued culinary traditions in Geneva. Fondue, which means “melted” in French, is served in a small pot over an open flame, into which diners dip bread, potatoes, and other morsels skewered on long fondue forks. Raclette, on the other hand, is made using a small tabletop stove with a grill on top for cooking vegetables and meat, and small removable trays underneath for melting pieces of cheese. The cheese is then served along with the grilled vegetables and meat.

The road to Geneva

The road to Geneva

For a memorable Swiss culinary experience, begin with Les Armures. Located at the Hotel Les Armures in the Old Town neighborhood, this restaurant is one of the city’s finest establishments specializing in fondue and raclette. The restaurant features two elegant, air-conditioned dining rooms and a terrace for an al fresco dining experience. Here, you can choose to dig into a steaming raclette or sample many delicious varieties of fondue, including regular cheese fondue, or fondue with herbs, tomatoes, or wild mushrooms and bacon. You could also try the establishment’s many delectable soups, salads, and pastas, topped off with some red wine from the restaurant’s extensive wine list.

For a lower-priced but still high-quality fondue, swing by the Buvette des Bains, a charming little eatery at the Bains des Paquis. Every evening from September to April, the Buvette serves Fondue au Crémant de Dardagny, a specialty fondue in which the melted cheese is mixed with sparkling white wine for a particularly savory flavor. The fonude is served with a champagne glass of fresh fruit. The Buvette’s year-round breakfast combinations, smoked salmon, and Greek salads are also worth a sampling.

In the mood for some traditional Mediterranean fare? Head over to Le Grand Quai, an elegant restaurant located at the edge of the Jardin Anglais. Whet your appetite with a savory dish of linguini pasta with lobster ragoût, and then dig into some delicious Mediterranean red tuna or a roast duck filet, or sample a tasty Italian dish of Carnaroli risotto with parsley and Sicilian shrimp. Don’t forget to indulge in a classic French Napoleon or some strawberry, rhubarb, and lemon mousse for dessert.

Those with a craving for some ethnic cuisine should drop by the Gazelle d’Or Village Africain, a cozy Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant located on the rue de Lyon just west of the Paquis neighborhood. The interior of the restaurant resembles an African village, and the dishes are served in communal baskets and eaten with one’s hands. Start with an appetizer of sambusa, a pastry filled with meat or vegetables, and then sample various platters of beef, lamb, chicken, or fish served on traditional Ethiopian flatbread and capable of serving a large group. Vegetarians would surely appreciate the delicious shuro, a traditional stew made from yellow split peas cooked in red pepper sauce and spices.

If you get hungry between meals, drop by any of the city’s numerous small cafés, tea salons, or chocolatiers for an afternoon snack. One particularly memorable establishment is the Chocolaterie de L’Arve, located in the city’s southern Carouge neighborhood. This husband-and-wife-owned chocolate shop and tearoom is a chocolate lover’s paradise, offering a variety of homemade chocolates and pastries. Be sure to try the shop’s delicious honey toffees with shaved almonds, which are particularly mouth-watering.

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