Join me on a walk through Geneva, Switzerland

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:

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!

You can enjoy hanging around les Bains des Paquis, or l’Horloge Fleurie (= the Flower Clock)… And a must-see is le jet d’eau de Genève, the famous water jet on the lake!

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:

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!

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Allez, salut 🙂


Join the conversation!

  • Chere Geraldine, j’ai visite Geneve en mille neuf soixante trois et puis j’ai reste a une petite ville qui s’appelait Leysin. La, j’ai travaille avec une famille francais pendant une mois aussi j’ai fait le ski sur le montagne. C’etait une bonne fois. Vous remarqerez j’ai un nouveax email.

    • Bonjour Annette. I spent a summer working in Leysin in 2001 and it was amazing. I have been back a few times. So lovely.

  • I remember going over the St Gotthard Pass
    once upon a time from Switzerland and down
    to Como in Italy. Switzerland is such a beautiful
    country ~ stunning scenery 🙂

  • Very interesting and beautiful Geraldine. I have traced my ancestors to Berchier and Fey located in the canton of Vaud Switzerland. Of course this is the french speaking section as I understand it and it is my desire to one day visit that area and other parts of Switzerland and France. Although I see evidence of my ancestors back to the 1600s, my great, great grandfather apparently moved to France and departed from Le Havre to the United States arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1867.
    Thanks again for the videos of these beautiful areas. Merci beaucoup. Jules

    • That’s fascinating, Jules!

      Hope you get to see the canton of your ancestors one day 🙂

      Have a great day,

      – Arthur, writer for Comme une Française

  • Merci, Géraldine. J’y suis allée l’année dernière pour rendre visite à une amie française et sa famille. J’ai adoré le chocolat à Genève. Miam, miam! 😋

  • Also worth a mention in the list of international organisations in Geneva is CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) which operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world – the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Thousands of scientists and engineers work there from across the world. As well as the many physics discoveries, the World Wide Web was invented at CERN by Tim Berners-Lee.

  • Please forgive my response in English, but I feel more comfortable.
    I am so envious of both of your discussing France. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this will be my first year in almost thirty, that I was unable to spend almost two months in the South, specifically,
    St Raphael, on the water. My dreams to return will have to wait til
    Much warmth,

  • Thank you, Géraldine, for taking us to these beautiful places! I enjoy each one so much! This one was very special since it is personally special to you and your family. Merci! À la prochaine!

  • J’adore ton histoire. J’apprécie quand tu nous montrais les beaux endroits. Tu resembles ta belle mère!

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