From Geneva With Love

Reading past posts, especially as this blog is slowly turning one (or has already turned, I can’t keep track of time), I’ve come to realise I’ve written about Aleppo, Damascus, Cairo and of course my glorious Beirut, but have never even mentionned the city I live and work in, Geneva. 

It feels only fair, now that the time of leaving the City of Calvin is drawing nearer, to make amends, and apologise to a city that has sheltered my (to date) most beautiful years, before I board that plane which will take me to new adventures in Beirut for the next year. 

Some people love to bitch about Geneva: it is small, boring, the night life is absent, blah blah blah. It’s tiring, really, the way they’d tell you New York and London are ten times more exciting, and that they’re only here for the job and the money and will leave as soon as that investement banking job in Wall Street will happen (which, in the current climate, might never happen, but let’s not be cruel to the wanna be Batemans). 

People, reality check: London and New York are roughly made of 8 million people each, while, Geneva, er, welcomes about 200 000 inhabitants. 

Ahem, so small difference in sizes, so really, I wouldn’t compare. 

The reason why people do fall into the trap of comparing Geneva to the big megalopolis of this world is because Geneva is a World City, to use a french expression “elle a tout d’une grande”. With its international organisations and banks, it attracts people from all over the world, making its population very diverse, creating a cultural melting pot, making you feel at home even if you’re so far away from it. It’s difficult to feel alien in Geneva, and it’s probably the reason why I like it so much. Talking to people, you’ll start being very surprised if somebody tells you they’re actually from Geneva. To the point where you’ll make, yes make, the people repeat their origins, and once the clearance received, you’ll be free to award them the “1st person truly from Geneva I ever met”. 

I’m not going to bore you to death with touristy type of descriptions, you’ll just have to come and visit it, to take in a very particular atmosphere of openess, the serene presence of the lake, the discreet politeness of its people, the vivid cultural life. I may never feel the crazy love relationship I have with Beirut for Geneva, but I know that when my city of Sun will burn me, I’ll find a safe haven in my Protestant Rome, in its glorious parks, flawless order and broad tolerance. And that, my friends, is simply priceless. 

Now, I’m not going to leave you high and dry without any tips or places to go in Geneva, so let me share with you the places I heart the most (which are most likely to be clothes and shoe shops, and yes, places for brunch): 

Colie Shop best clutches and bags and accessories (ok, I’ll admit most of them are from Lebanese designers, I can’t help myself) and lovely owner, a must see in Geneva Old Town

Klima the only shop in Geneva where I found By Larin Shoes, which in itself makes it a HUGE hot spot, also in Old Town

Mamzelle Popeline THE vintage shop in Old Carouge (in itself a fantastic neighbourhood with many local designer shops). Beware, Addictive. Where you might find me buried under a pile of 40’s shoes and fifities dresses.

Famous Ape First Concept Store in Geneva, don’t hesitate to ask for Julien to tell you if that dress suits you or not. He has a passion for Maria Callas and will just KNOW how to make you look a million dollars if you feel so inclined 

Histoires de Mode  in the Eaux Vives neighborhood, new shop opened by a young woman who makes a really fine selection and offers beautiful advice as well

Brunches and Breakfasts Cottage Cafe Have a BircherMuesli under the trees, breathe and relax, all things are homemade and delicious 
O Calme (Comme A La Maison) for the home made pancakes and delicious coffee, under the trees as well, very quiet and lovely 
The laughing teapot For the Scones and Clotted Cream! (yes, in Geneva, aren’t we entitled to miss London sometimes?) 
Le Figuier My Special Place in Geneva: Salam is the sweetest Lady in the world, and cooks heavenly. The place is tiny, located right under a huge fig tree, and Salam makes the most beautiful dishes with the fruits. I usually just go there, don’t look at the menu and ask her to make Muhammara, fig rolls, labneh and her divine Msakhan for me If she’s not spoiling her clients, you’ll find her smoking and welcoming people at the entrance of the restaurant, in deep conversation with the Arab Bookshop Owner 😉 


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