Geneva attracts people from around the world for its economic opportunity, lakeside beauty and Mont Blanc views. Home to more international organisations – such as the Red Cross and the United Nations and residents from outside the country. More than 40% of residents are from outside Switzerland, a BBC tells the story of the city with people from 187 different countries. Despite the international influences, Geneva still lays claim to its own particular character and history. In the 16th Century, John Calvin, a major Protestant reformer, gave many of his revolutionary sermons here. In Geneva was born and Henri Dunan, successor of the Calvinist faith, which helped to found the Red Cross in this city in 1863. Geneva-born Henri Dunant, a follower of the Calvinist faith, helped found the Red Cross in Geneva in 1863, and these humanitarian ideas inspired the first Geneva Convention in 1864.“Locals are very laid back, but are rather conservative types that find interaction with expats a bit difficult,” said Niyazi Gunay, originally from Turkey, who has lived here for 15 years and works for Your Local Cousin, a start-up that matches travellers with residents.
Cedric Viquerat, a Geneva native who now lives in the US, admitted that the Genevois stay in tight-knit cliques and it can be hard for new residents to break in.
“However, time is needed for adjustment,” she added. Regardless of origin, all residents mingle in summertime as Lake Geneva and its Jet d’Eau ¬– the landmark fountain that shoots water 140m in the air.
These two cities are among otherwise the most famous sights in Switzerland. “You can swim in the lake, dine alfresco and mingle with locals, while absorbing stunning views at the same time,” said Cedric Viquerat. The city, divided by the Rhone River, is split into the Left and Right Banks. The Old Town can be found on the Left Bank, which has plenty of bars and trendy restaurants, and is close to the luxury shops on La Rue Du Rhone, including the famous Swiss watch stores. The Right Bank’s lively Les Paquis neighborhood, close to the main train station and also home to the red light district, has an always-lively nightlife and is more eclectic than its gentrified surroundings.
A place to live
Almost all residents live in apartments. Most of the buildings are relatively old, with new buildings few and far between. While the more historic buildings in the Old Town and Eaux Vives neighborhoods have a Swiss charm, with cobbled streets and 16th-century limestone houses, “Geneva isn’t known for its great architecture,” explained András Barta, a Geneva resident and local expert. Even so, residents can’t afford to be picky. A shortage of housing options, especially affordable properties, means people often jump at the first available flat.
Where can you travel?
With Geneva Airport only 6km north of the city center, it’s easy to travel nearly anywhere in Europe in just a few hours. The French cities of Lyon and Annecy, as well as Zurich and Basel in Switzerland, are easy day trips via Geneva’s excellent train infrastructure, all within three hours. In the winter, popular ski resorts like Megeve, Port du Soleil, Verbier and Zermatt are also easy to reach within a few hours.