There are many attractions in the region around Geneva.
A Tour to Mont Blanc
If you have time, we highly recommend a Mont Blanc excursion, which is an all-day trip to Chamonix by bus and a cable-car ride to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi (3,783m/12,408 ft.). The tour leaves Geneva at 8:30am and returns at 6pm daily. Buses leave from the bus station (Gare Routière). You must take your passport with you.
Other mechanized ascents that are part of this tour are to Vallée Blanche by télécabin, an extension of the Aiguille du Midi climb, from April to October; to Mer de Glâce via electric rack railway to the edge of the glacier, from which you may descend to the ice grotto (the climb is not available in the winter); and to Le Brevent, an ascent by cable car to a rocky belvedere at 2,370m (7,774 ft.), facing the Mont Blanc range. Lunch is included.
An English-speaking guide will accompany your bus tour. Key Tours S.A., 7, rue des Alpes (place du Mont-Blanc; Case Postale 1745), CH-1211 Genève (tel. 022/731-41-40; www.keytours.ch), operator of the excursions, requires a minimum of eight people per trip. Tours start at 108F, including a ride up the mountain.
The limestone ridge of Mont Salève (House Mountain) is 6.4km (4 miles) south of Geneva, in France. Its peak is at 1,200m (3,936 ft.). If you have a car, you can take a road that goes up the mountain, which is popular with rock climbers. Bus no. 8 will take you to Veyrier-Douane, on the French border, where there's a passport and Customs control. A 6-minute cable-car ride will take you to a height of 1,125m (3,690 ft.) on Mont Salève. From there, you'll have a panoramic sweep of the Valley of the Arve, with Geneva and Mont Blanc in the background.
Byron and Shelley both lived in the residential suburb of Cologny, where they met at the Villa Diodati in 1816. Fourteen kilometers (9 miles) northeast of Geneva, the suburb is served by both bus A and bus no. 33 from the city. The view of the lake and the city is especially good from the "Byron Stone" on chemin de Ruth (Ruth's Path) leading to the Byron fields.
The best time to go to Cologny is in the afternoon, when you can visit the Bodmeriana Library, 19-21, rte. du Guignard (tel. 022/707-44-33; www.fondationbodmer.org; Tues-Sun 2-6pm), a foundation established by a Zurich millionaire named Martin Bodmer. Get off at the Cologny-Temple stop (bus A) or the Croisée de Cologny stop (bus 33) and view the private collection, which contains first editions, rare manuscripts such as the most ancient St. John's Gospel, and various other forms of art (sculpture, painting, and the like). Admission is 15F for adults, 10F for students and seniors, and free for ages 15 and under.
Located 15km (9 miles) north of Geneva in the canton of Vaud, this little town on the western shore of Lake Geneva is one of the most interesting destinations in the region.
From Geneva's main station take the train on the Lancy Pont-Rouge-Genève-Coppet line for a 20-minute ride to the Château de Coppet in Coppet. Tickets cost 16F round-trip. If you're driving, head north from Geneva along Route 2.
Château de Coppet (tel. 022/960-87-00; www.coppet.ch) attracted some of the greatest minds of the 18th and 19th centuries. The château, which sits on a hill beside the lake, between Lausanne and Geneva, was purchased in 1784 by Jacques Necker, the rich and powerful finance minister of Louis XVI. His daughter was Madame de Staël, a great French woman of letters, who was eventually sent into exile for her opposition to Napoleon. The château is still owned by Necker's descendants. The museum contains some mementos of Madame de Staël. From April through October, the château is open daily from 2 to 6pm (July-Aug also daily 10am-noon). Admission costs 8F for adults and 6F for students, seniors, and children 6 to 16. It's free for children 5 and under.
A noteworthy local hotel, an elegant place with only 14 units and a well-recommended restaurant, is the Hôtel du Lac, 51, Grand-Rue, CH-1296 Coppet (tel. 022/960-80-00; www.hoteldulac.ch).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.