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From the moment you land in Geneva you are bombarded with larger-than-life advertisements for expensive watches and private banks, the less favourable conclusion being that the Swiss’ primary concerns are time and money.
But persevere beyond the billboards and you will discover a quietly cool city, lacking the pretentiousness of Berlin or arrogance of Paris. Lake Geneva, with the famous jet d’eau – a huge fountain shooting into the sky – is the focal point for much of the city’s activity and brings a serenity which seeps through streets of shuttered mansions and leafy parks. This peaceful lethargy seems to echo Switzerland’s international neutrality, embodied in the stately UN buildings just north of the city centre, while the surrounding snow-capped Alps seem to point to some higher power.
Nightlife in the Swiss capital is understated. The bar scene in trendy Les Grottes is the place to be seen, with lots of cultural associations collectively run by students. For the clubbers amongst you, no worry, Geneva is also a stop-off point for touring European DJs.
It is never going to be the party or shopping capital of Europe; Geneva’s appeal lies in its unassuming air of gentle confidence. Not a hat-wearing hipster nor white-trouser-clad Eurotrasher in sight, and the Alps just a stone’s throw away, it’s the perfect place for a quiet weekend away.
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