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Organiser's Guide to Geneva - Europe’s most international city is the perfect venue for conferences and events, offering excellent facilities in a lakeside and mountain setting.
Temperate, with fairly mild winters and modest snowfalls – though nearby higher resorts offer skiing. Summers are pleasantly warm, with swimming from beaches on the lake. Autumn is slightly wetter than other seasons.
French is the official language, but being such a cosmopolitan city, few cannot speak English to a good standard.
Eight UK airlines fly to Geneva, which is served internationally by 70 other airlines. The airport has an intercity station with a six-minute transfer to Geneva’s centrally located Cornavin station. Nine daily TGV trains from Paris take about three hours, giving a best time from London of under two hours by air and six-to-seven hours by train.
Geneva has an excellent – and growing – tram network supplemented by buses. Regional day passes covering tram, bus, train and boat make inter-modal journeys simple and cheap, and hotel guests receive a free Geneva Transport Card conferring complimentary use of public transport. The central area is sufficiently compact to be crossed in a 20-minute walk. Taxis are reliable but expensive.
So many international organisations have their headquarters in Geneva that almost 40 per cent of the city’s population comes from 180 different countries. Consequently, the city has a wide range of hotels, many of them four- and five-star and geared up to host conferences and seminars. Most leading European hotel chains have a presence, and the city and surrounding area has some of Europe’s finest restaurants, with up to three Michelin stars.
River-rafting trips over 8km of the River Arve, with six waterfalls and rapids, begin near the city, or gentler paddling in a raft-canoe can be had on the Rhone, ending at a pub after 7km. Geneva’s mountain, Mont Salève, can be reached by cablecar, and there are dozens of museums and galleries.
Geneva has many nightclubs and cabarets as well as opera at the Grand Théâtre and classical music at the Victoria Hall, home of the Suisse Romande Orchestra.
Geneva has been ranked the fourth most expensive city in the world, largely because of sky-high property prices – but realistic prices can be found for hotel accommodation and restaurant food.
Geneva Tourism & Congresses: 0041 22 909 7046
This feature first appeared in the Square Meal Venues & Events Guide 2011.