Bonjour! I’m spending the day here in Genève (Geneva), in Switzerland — or La Suisse, in French. I have many fond memories of this place, as I’ve spent a lot of holidays in the area with my family.
Today, I invite you to join me as we take a walk together in this beautiful city! I’ll tell you more about the city, its famous landmarks, and why it has such a fond place in my heart.
Bonjour I’m Géraldine, your French teacher.
Welcome to Comme une Française.
Today, like every Tuesday, I’ll share some French-speaking culture with you.
C’est parti !
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1 - Geneva, a Swiss city near France
Geneva is a city in Switzerland, right across the French border.
The city is placed between mountains (most notably, le Salève) and le lac Léman (= the Leman Lake, or the Geneva Lake). This large lake is surrounded by the most beautiful villages and other Swiss cities.
Around Geneva, people mostly speak French.
That’s not the case in all of Switzerland, though! Depending on where you are in Switzerland, other languages are more commonly spoken.
For the most part (as a very inaccurate recap):
- Western Switzerland speaks French
- Southern Switzerland speaks Italian
- Northern and Central Switzerland speak German
- Eastern Switzerland speaks le romanche, a local language that’s only spoken in this country
Switzerland isn’t part of the European Union, even though it’s surrounded by EU countries. But it’s still very easy to visit, coming from France, as it’s part of the Schengen area — a designated area of 26 countries where there is no border control (thus no need for passports and so on).
Fun fact: My parents met on a train while travelling home to Paris, from Geneva!
2 - Geneva, international center
Switzerland is famous for its cuckoo clocks, its cheese and its pristine mountains. But Geneva is also a big international center.
There are a lot of high-end watchmaking companies here… and big banks, of course.
It’s also a city for international cooperation, and is home to the offices of:
- l’Organisation des Nations Unies [ONU] (= the United Nations),
- l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé [OMS] (= the World Health Organization),
- l’Organisation Mondiale du Commerce [OMC], (= the World Trade Organization)
And many more!
3 - Geneva, the “protestant Rome”
Geneva is also a big center for European protestantism, historically. This is where Jean Calvin and other 16th-century reformers in the area developed their new religious tradition: Calvinism.
The city gave shelter to many protestant French refugees at the time. Nowadays, some major protestant organizations still have their headquarters in Geneva.
In the video above, you can see me at le Mur des Réformateurs (= the Well of the Reformers), featuring statues of Calvin and other protestants leaders.
4 - Geneva and the Red Cross
In 1863, in Genève, a group of citizens, including Henry Dunant, became tired of the horrors of European wars. They wanted to make a change. So, they created La Croix-Rouge (= the International Red Cross Organization).
Of course, this organization’s flag is just like the Swiss flag, with inverted colors!
I used to volunteer for the Red Cross and that’s what gave me the idea of teaching French with Comme une Française! You can learn more about my story in this video.
(Also, the flag is a big plus. ;))
5 - Spending a day in Geneva
Genève is a pretty cool to just walk around in and explore.
There are lots of parks, old buildings, fun museums, and pretty views!
Want to continue exploring French-speaking Europe, from the comfort of your own home? Follow me on my holiday in the area, with more videos:
- Walk through a French village (and buy a baguette) with me
- Hike a French trail from the Middle Ages with me
À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!
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Allez, salut 🙂