Geneva's tourist office, the Office du Tourisme de Genève, is located at 18, rue du Mont-Blanc (tel. 022/909-70-00; www.geneve-tourisme.ch), and is open daily year-round from 9am to 6pm. The staff provides information about the city, and can also arrange hotel reservations both in Geneva and throughout Switzerland, and refer you to other establishments specializing in car and motorcycle rentals and excursion bookings. They can also give you details about audio-guided visits to the Old Town.
Geneva is a perfect city to explore on foot. It's divided by Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) and the Rhône River into two sections: the Right Bank and the Left Bank. In addition to taking our walking tour of the highlights, you may rent an audio-guided tour in English from the tourist office for 10F. This tour covers more than two dozen highlights in the Old Town, and comes complete with cassette, player, and map. Its estimated duration is 2 hours. A 50F deposit is collected prior to your receipt of a cassette player.
Rive Gauche (Left, or South Bank) -- This compact and colorful area is the oldest section of the city. Here you'll find Old Town, some major shopping streets, the famous Flower Clock, the university, and several important museums.
Grand-Rue is the well-preserved main street of Old Town. It's flanked by many houses dating from the 15th and 18th centuries. The street winds uphill from the ponts de l'Ile; at place Bel-Air it becomes rue de la Cité, then Grand-Rue, and finally rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville. (Rousseau was born in a simple house at no. 40, Grand-Rue.) Eventually it reaches place du Bourg-de-Four -- one of the most historic squares of Geneva. South of this street is promenade des Bastions, a greenbelt area overlooking the Arve River, with a monument to the Reformation. Directly to the west, in the northern corner of promenade des Bastions, is place Neuve, which is the finest square in Geneva.
From place Neuve, you can take rue de la Corraterie, which was once surrounded by the city wall, to the Rhône and the ponts de l'Ile. On this bridge is the Tour-de-l'Ile, what's left of the 13th-century bishops' castle.
On the shore of Lake Geneva is the Jardin Anglais (English Garden) with its Flower Clock and, farther out, the Parc La Grange and the nearby Parc des Eaux-Vives.
Rive Droite (Right, or North Bank) -- You can cross to the other side of the Rhône on any of several bridges, including pont du Mont-Blanc, pont de la Machine, pont des Bergues, and ponts de l'Ile. The Right Bank is home to Gare Cornavin, the major international organizations, and several attractive parks.
Place St-Gervais is in the St-Gervais district; this has been the area for jewelers and watchmakers since the 18th century.
Along the northern shore of Lake Geneva is quai du Président-Wilson, named for the U.S. president who helped found the League of Nations.
The Right Bank is surrounded by parks, from the tree-shaded promenades along the Rhône to the Parc de la Perle du Lac, Parc Barton, and on the city outskirts, Parc Mon-Repos.
Finding an Address
In a system developed during the Middle Ages, all Swiss cities begin their street-numbering system with the lowest numbers closest to the old center of town. The numbers increase the farther out from Old Town you go. Even numbers are on one side of a street; odd numbers are on the other side.
Maps -- The tourist office presents visitors with a free detailed and easy-to-follow map of Geneva. That same map is available from most of the city's hotels as well.
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.