Monday, October 4, 2010

Geneva, Switzerland

We travel to Provence from California either by plane to Paris then take the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse - high-speed train) to Avignon's TGV station or fly to Marseille. Usually, the latter is the least expensive and fastest way to get there.

I always check to see what it would cost to fly to other cities within a reasonable drive of our home in Sablet including Nice, Lyon and Geneva Switzerland in case there might be a less expensive way.

Up to now, flying to Marseille has been the best way to go. That is until last month when we discovered that we could save more than $300 each for Shirley and me if we flew to Geneva then drove three and one-half hours to Sablet. So that's what we decided to do.

We arrived early in the morning at the Geneva airport after an overnight flight. After waiting what seemed like an eternity to get through the line for customs, we took a short ride on the shuttle bus to the rental car lot, then drove away from the airport towards Lake Geneva.

It was a sunny day and we thought it would be fun to take a short stroll around downtown Geneva before we set off for our drive to Sablet. Geneva is the second most populated city of Switzerland (after Zurich), a financial center, and home to numerous international organizations including the Red Cross and World Health Organization.

As I said, it was early in the morning and the weekend, so we were able to easily find parking near Lake Geneva and this memorial recognizing the reunification of the Canton of Geneva with the Swiss Federation.

A symbol of the Geneva watch industry, this flower clock is located at the edge of the Jardin Anglais (English Garden) near Lake Geneva. It is a beautiful combination of technology and floral art. The seconds hand of the clock is the largest in the world (it is more than 8 feet long).

My father Daniel wrote his doctoral dissertation about John Calvin, a protestant reformer who was based in Geneva during the 16th century. So its no big surprised to know that I wanted to see the Reformation Wall which is a monument to the reformation movement.

I have included a few pictures of our walk around Geneva.

We came upon a sunny square lined with cafes, several with outdoor seating around a pretty fountain where the servers were already busy on this beautiful morning.

Given that it had been several hours since we got off the plane and the light breakfast served before landing, we decided it was a good time for cappuccinos and croissants.

I have such good memories of eating little Japonais cakes, made of hazelnut meringue and chocolate butter cream in Switzerland many years ago, I couldn't resist buying one to have with my cappuccino. I swear one of the croissants was for Shirley.

The construction of the Reformation Wall began in 1909, the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin and the 350th of the founding of the University of Geneva. The monument is backed against part of the ancient defensive walls that surrounded Geneva until the middle of the 19th century.

At the center of the wall, more than 16 feet high, are the four great figures of the movement: Guillaume Farel, one of the first to preach the Reformation in Geneva, Jean Calvin the "pope" of the reformers, Théodore de Bèze, first rector of the University and John Knox, founder of Presbyterianism in Scotland.

The administration building for the Canton of Geneva.

Part of St. Peter's Cathedral.

Cathédrale St-Pierre - St. Peter's Cathedral originally a Catholic cathedral became a protestant church in 1536.

The interior of St. Peter's Cathedral where John Calvin preached in the 16th century.

A narrow passageway we came upon as we were walking around Geneva.

Hotel Longemalle, one of many hotels located near Lake Geneva.

The Jet d'Eau has become the symbol of Geneva. Formerly a simple security valve at the Coulouvrenière hydraulic factory, in 1951, the Jet d'Eau was provided with an autonomous pumping station that propels 132 gallons of water per second to a height of 460 feet at a speed of 200 km per hour.

Geneva is situated in a very pretty place under the towering Salève Mountain which rises almost 4,600 feet over the City and at the place where the Rhone River leaves Lake Geneva for its almost 500 mile journey to the Mediterranean Sea.

The drive from Geneva to Sablet was easy and we would fly into Geneva again if the price was right.


  1. Try flying to Montpelier or Nîmes.

  2. Geneva looks lovely!
    And wow, flying from Cali to Geneva and then driving all that way, you two must have been exhausted (I'm sure a wonderful meal out with the money you saved would make it all worth it though).

    Thanks for the well wishes on my blog, beginning to feel a bit better now

  3. Hello,
    Enjoy your blog very much. Was the drive from Geneva involved with many mountain roads or was it autoroute most of the way? Am trying to figure out if may husband and I could handle the drive after an overnight in Geneva? Flying from SC, it would be a big savings for us. Also did you enter and leave from the French zone of the airport? We wish to stay in the Vaison area next year. Merci,

  4. We lived in Geneva for 10 years and your photos make me smile, miss the city, and remember so many experiences and places. I think Le Bourg du Four is among your photos, with the fountain. It will be a pleasure to follow this blog. I hope to read more about Geneva, Calvin, the old town churches, and more. We lived at Chateau-Banquet, at Ave du France and rue de Lausanne. We went to church in the old town, rue Talivan (SP?) - memory on specifics is sinking. It is not far from the English-speaking Lutheran church. A French church shared their space with us (Evangelical Baptist Church of Geneva - EBCG) when Derek and Beryl Adamsbaum were there. What you write about rings so true and familiar. I hope you continue!