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Five quiet places to escape the bustle of Geneva

Not everyone is leaving Switzerland this summer to go abroad for the holidays. It’s just as well, because the Geneva area boasts many out-of-the-way lakeside beaches and an abundance of other quiet attractions as well.

Five quiet places to escape the bustle of Geneva
Athletes start the Thonon Sup Race, a 19km race crossing Lake Geneva between Lausanne, Switzerland, and Thonon-les-bains, France, Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

As the legendary Ella Fitzgerald famously sang, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy”.

While some people prefer the hustle and bustle of beach holidays abroad, especially after more than a year spent quietly either under total or partial shutdown, others long for vacations in more tranquil surroundings.

Luckily, the Geneva area, which encompasses around its lake the canton of Vaud and the neighbouring Haute-Savoie region of France, has a lot to offer.

Keep in mind, however, that even the secluded areas will likely not remain totally off-the-beaten-path in the summer, especially on the weekends. But fewer people will congregate there than in busy public places.

Le Parc des Eaux-Vives, Geneva

From June 13th to 15h, this haven of greenery was off limits to the public because the 18th-century manor house located in its midst, Villa La Grange, served as a meeting point for a summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

But now that both delegations have departed, the vast area overlooking Lake Geneva is again accessible to Genevans and tourists. It is full of paths winding around lawns and old trees which provide a welcome shade on hot, sunny days

Address: La Grange, Geneva

READ MORE: Historic Swiss lakeside villa spruced up for Biden-Putin talks

Ville de Genève

Signal de Bougy, Vaud

About a 20-minute drive from Geneva will take you to a beautiful park which, on a clear day, has magnificent views encompassing the entire length of Lake Geneva — from the city of Geneva to the Chablais Vaudois region— and French Alps.

While the area around the playground, the restaurant and the golf course may be  cluttered, other parts of the park, like the path along a living farm leading up to the enclosed rose garden and beyond, will likely be less congested and more relaxing.

Address: Route du Signal, 1172 Bougy-Villars

Signal de Bougy. Photo: Par Ji-Elle — Travail personnel, Creative Commons. 

Vineyard route, La Côte – Lavaux

From Signal de Bougy, you can take a scenic tour through the narrow but paved (as is customary in Switzerland) roads snaking through local vineyards.

You can start by driving eastward and following signs “Route de Vignoble”, passing though old but picturesque wine-making villages such as Gimel, Féchy and Mont-sur-Rolle, toward Chebrex, Aigle and other domains, where you can also stop for a bit of wine tasting in local cellars.

Vineyard route, La Côte – Lavaux. Photo: Creative Commons

Mount Salève

Perched at an altitude 1,379 metres, le Salève is located in the French department of Haute-Savoie, but only 20 kilometres from the centre of Geneva.

You can access it in less than five minutes by a cable car and spend a day hiking on its trails or just relaxing in fresh air while you admire a bird’s-eye view of Geneva and the Alps with the Mont-Blanc glacier.

Address of the lift: Pas de l’Echelle – 74100 Etrembières

Aerial view on the Salève and Geneva, its Jet d’Eau, Lake Geneva and the Jura mountains in the background. Photo: Creative Commons

Beaches and boats

There are some beautiful little beaches around Lake Geneva, on both sides of the border.

Even in the middle of summer you can find some relatively “hidden” small ones which are not overcrowded by locals or tourists.

In Geneva itself, there is the “Petite Page du Perle du Lac”, a small strip of sand where few people go.

Address: Quai Gustave-Ador 87, 1207 Geneva.

You can also discover the so-called “hidden gems” by taking a ferry from any embarkation point, including Lausanne, Geneva, and stops in between and go to the “French” side of the lake where little towns like Thonon-les-Bains and Evian (of the bottled water fame) have their own beaches.

Or, if you want to venture a little farther afield from Geneva, you can drive the 64 kilometres from Geneva to Passy and its turquoise lake  surrounded by sandy beach and the backdrop of the Alps.

Address: chemin de Mont Blanc Plage, 74190 Passy, France

Image: CGN

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France and Ireland to create new combined train and ferry tickets

The French and Irish leaders have announced the creation of a new combined ticket, that can be used on ferries and trains in both countries.

France and Ireland to create new combined train and ferry tickets

Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin is currently in Paris visiting French president Emmanuel Macron, and the pair have jointly announced the creation of the new ticket, “in order to encourage green mobility between France and Ireland”.

The joint statement added that the ticket will be in effect by summer 2023, saying: “The objective will be to allow, in particular our young people, to travel between our two countries thanks to a green, simple and reasonably priced deal.”

Full details are yet to be confirmed, but the idea sounds similar to the ‘Franco-German ticket’ announced earlier this month, which will give special deals on train tickets between France and Germany to young people.

Full details of that scheme are set to be announced in January. 

Martin was in Paris for the signing of the Celtic Interconnector agreement between France and Ireland, an electricity agreement that links France and Ireland via a 500km undersea cable.

At present journeys between France and Ireland require separate tickets for French trains, Irish trains and the ferry, unless you are travelling with an Interrail pass which can in certain circumstances include ferry travel.

The Franco-Irish ticket would replicate that system, but for single journeys rather than the multi-journey pass of Interrail. 

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