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Yes! Yes! I know Geneva is in Switzerland and this website is primarily all about Le Roannais, Rhone-Alpes in France, BUT…… Geneva is another one of the many great places which is very easily accessible from Le Roannais.
It is less than 3 hours drive away on superb auto-routes, and it is a brilliant city to visit, and you also get to see some fantastic scenery on the way through France to the Swiss side.
Although we have flown to Geneva a few times as a cheap Easyjet flight route to France, we had never visited the city – being too busy, too tired to bother, and with a simple 'lets get to Le Roannais' in our minds!
Anyway, here we go!
Without getting into too much history and background on the place, I do, however, have to set the scene a little.
Geneva (French pronunciation: Genéve ) is the second most populous city in Switzerland (after Zurich). It is situated where Lake Geneva (French 'Lac Léman' ) flows into the
Rhône river, and is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.
The metropolitan area – which extends into neighbouring France and Swiss Canton of Vaud – has a total population of 960,000.
Geneva is, of course, widely regarded as a global city, mainly due to the presence of numerous international organisations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations.
A 2006 survey found Geneva to have the second highest quality of living in the world (after Zurich).
My sort of place!!
(You can obtain more very interesting facts and history about this great city, and the surrounding area, on the free Wikipedia encyclopedia website.)
My wife, Lucy, and son, Ellis (6 years old) had a great day out. Helped, of course, by the blue skies and hot sunshine.
We parked our car easily in an exceptionally clean and modern underground car park called 'les Alpes', situated at one end of le pont du Mont Blanc, and then we ambled down in the sunshine down to Quai du Mont-Blanc on the edge of the lake where all the small sailing boats and launches are moored in their hundreds.
It's good to see a great stretch of water and the quality atmosphere that seems to flow from a marine lifestyle.
I like the freshness of the air, and coolness of the clear mountain waters of lake Geneva.
The harbour promenade and the views from it are stunningly beautiful, and we saunted along the front and found a little harbour cafe where we had a coffee (Ellis had lemonade), and watched the world go by on foot, and on the water. Very tranquil.
We had decided already to book an hours boat voyage on the lake – it was such a great day for it!
And, of course, we knew Ellis would enjoy the fun of the ride.
There are several large cruising vessels, most of them look like small Victorian steamers, and could easily play their part in an Agatha Christie film, or such like.
They add to the interest and ambience of the place, alluding to a past empire of travellers and adventurers, along with the associations of quality and riches.
You can pay for 1 hour or 2 hour cruises with stop-offs around the lake. We chose a straightforward jaunt from one side to the other, just for an hour.
We boarded one of the small, but attractive, vessels at 11.00am, and knew that we would be back in time to search for somewhere pleasant for lunch.
We got a great perch at the back of the boat, and relaxed whilst it chugged off. The views across the lake were great with the Alpine backdrop, and the nautical surroundings along with sound of wave and back wash added tremendously to the experience – it was great fun.
There were some incredible-looking properties on the lakeside – mansions, chateaux , villas of different styles, and sizes. Most of them with their own boat houses and private moorings.
My mind wandered and dreamed. Wouldn't it be great to live on the edge of this beautiful lake and occasionally boat into the harbour, and shop and dine in the city.
Reality lurched back as the thought of the amount of money required disturbed my fantasy. I nice idea, though!
We docked perfectly, and we embarked, having had a thoroughly enjoyable trip.
All this roving on big waters, and the thought of investing in real estate had certainly stimulated my hunger pangs.
We wandered around for awhile, and eventually stumbled upon a little gem of a restaurant. By simple luck, as these things happen, we discovered 'Resto By Arthur's' on Pont de la Machine.
I was originally drawn by the stylish exterior of the place with black parasols, and neatly dressed tables – a quality 'feel' oozed from the place, but without any 'highbrow' or 'snobby' overtones.
We immediately went for it! And were politely seated on the outside terrace with views across to the harbour and lake – couldn't have been better!
We were given the menu and we read with anticipation.
It all sounded good. We ordered a glass of refreshingly chilled white wine, and chose our Sunday Lunch!
Well, I cannot say enough in praise for this restaurant, and we certainly had not realised that we had per chance made a very wise decision to eat there.
It was excellent all round! No doubt about it.
From service to food to environment – full marks.
I assure you that I am, in particular, not that easily pleased, unless I am virtually starving, and hardly care! (ask my wife!).
Our Entrées were as follows:
I indulged in Terrine de foie gras chutney de mangue et gingembre, pain toasté.
Every single choice on the menu had accompanied with it a suggested wine which would compliment it. ( we didn't go quite that far!)
Lucy had, simply, Risotto de légumes.
We ordered Ellis's main course (Plats) at the same time. He had Filet de bœuf, without the Mont-Blanc de céleri
Lucy and I both had Volaille marinée au sweet chilly et pommes paille. (Superbly presented, and exquisite)
For Desserts: I declined, as I was feeling quite full, but Lucy and Ellis went for it.
Lucy had Moelleux au chocolat, espuma de pistache.
Ellis had une boule glace chocolat.
Freed from not having any dessert I went in search of les toilettes.
I was stunned!!
When we arrived, we did not enter the main restaurant building, we just sat outside.
The interior was remarkable, and my words cannot fully describe the architectural and decorative vista that greeted me, so I hope the pictures which I avidly took give you some impression of my experience.
When I got back to our table, I was literally open-mouthed.
There is a story to tell here.
Basically, it seems, the main building is occupied by a bar, restaurant, and 'temple' to Swatch watches.
Presented on several floors with central stairway – all designed in a 'chic', contemporary style, and with a 'hi-tec' 'event-like' museum dedicated totally to the celebration of watchmaking, and to Swatch watches, in particular.
The building and its permanent exhibition is called 'La Cité du Temps'.
On the top two floors, the theme is complete Swatch with large video screens, continously running with past images and adverts associated with Swatch, and the Swiss watch industry in general.
A sample of every single Swatch watch produced, was displayed, hi-tec style, in illuminated glass cabinets – there were hundreds of them – it was very graphic and mesmerising, and just cleverly and brilliantly done.
The only permanent exhibition in the world to show all of the Swatch watches ever produced from 1983 until today.
I need to go back for a proper look!
Further to this story (and, indeed, an additional twist) I believe the building to be owned by a highly successful and creative entrepreneur, and its total concept, including the restaurant which we had eaten in, was due to his vision.
His name is Dominique Mottas.
In 1977, at the tender age of 18, he opened his first discotheque – 'Le Cash Box'.
He then went on to bigger and better things, and eventually founded the Arthurs Group in 1985 – specialising in restaurants, entertainment, and eventing. This included a range of different businesses – cafes, bars, lounges, restaurants, clubs, and the organisation of private and public events.
And we stumbled into one of his current creations by complete accident – amazing!
Well, we had an incredibly entertaining and enjoyable day out in Genéve with best of surprises along the way, and we will certainly be going again.
I hope very soon! I can hardly wait!!
I am already scrolling the web for my lakeside dreamhouse!
I'll let you know how I get on!!
Take a look at these websites:
www.geneve-tourisme.ch www.arthurs.ch www.swatch.com www.fhs.ch