The Geneva Countryside
My last trip to Geneva showed me that it is the place to visit whether you love the water, prefer a city break, are a nature affectionado or, in my case, gladly welcome all three. Let me explain…
Our lovely Guides for our weekend trip, Lucie and Julia from Geneva Live (the brilliant website by the Tourist Board), explained that welcoming each of these three aspects into your holiday will have you’ll feel totally re-energised when you find yourself back at your desk on Monday morning. A city alone can be pretty tiring, but with a bit of country air in your lungs (and, er, wine in your veins) thrown into the itinerary, you’ll be feeling a whole lot fresher. Now that I’ve experienced it, I totally see what they mean.
I talked about my favourite water-based things to do in Geneva in my last post (think rooftop pools and lake boating trips) but now to hero all things green. Welcome to the Geneva countryside.
Now don’t run away, this isn’t no walk in the park. I’m talking about cycling – WITH WINE!
On May 20th each year, the vineyards around Geneva’s countryside open their cellars to the public. We were luckily enough to be in town for the 30th anniversary so we made the most of joining in the celebration.
Geneva Open Cellars Day
Hire an e-bike to visit as many of the 90 ‘caves ouvertes’ as you like (we only managed 3!) and prepare to have the best day ever. Either walk, drive, take the shuttle buses or cycle, the latter I definitely advocate choosing. The e-bikes we rented are new and easy for anyone to use. Whilst they take a little getting used to – you’re powered forward the minute you put your foot down – you’ll be ever so thankful when your bike gives you a boost up the steep country hills up to your bottle of vin.
The ride from one stop to the next is beautiful. Get lost down country lanes, fly over bridges, past fields of horses and past pretty streets of houses. After around 45 minutes of pedalling, we arrived at our first stop (it takes a while when you’re taking as many photos as us). We joined around 100 other people along with at least 30 young people dressed in togas (don’t ask). You can taste as much wine (from last year’s crop) as you can handle whilst staying level-headed enough to steer a bike, whether rose, white or red is your thing. You pay to loan your wine glass at your first stop then you can pop it in your bike basket and take it around the tour with you.
Secure yourself a ticket at one of the open cellars that hold BBQs and fill up on freshly grilled sausages and potato salad with hot cheese and crusty baguette after you’ve worked your way around the region’s grapes. The open cellar hosts like ours at Domaine des Esserts right on the most westerly point of Switzerland, are so friendly and amenable, allowing you to wander around their land and have a good chat. We really could have stayed there all day. When we were finally dragged away, we left our e-bikes behind for the van to ship them home. As much as I loved the ride, there was nothing quite like driving back in a taxi after a long day pedalling!
Find out more about the various boozy and non-boozy e-bike tours you can try ›
What I wore on Open Cellars Day:
If I’ve whetted your appetite for the open air, there’s one more thing you must do within your Geneva weekend – take a cable car up a mountain!
The Mont Salève is an incredible vantage point from which to get an idea of the scale of Lake Geneva. When you’re in the city, the lake feels pretty large, but once you step back (read: trip up a mountain) and squint, you can just about make out the city’s famous water jet as a mere speck in a narrow estuary.
We weren’t the only ones to enjoy the view. This is a prime spot for paragliders to launch themselves off from. I can only imagine how thrilling it must be to look down on the city whilst dancing around in the sky. Apparently you can also trek, mountain bike and climb here but we opted for the more endurance based ‘luncheoning’ on the terasse.
To get to the base of the mountain, take the 28 bus which departs every half hour from ‘Mont Blanc’ in the centre of Geneva and then it’s a short walk across the French/ Swiss boarder (a very easy but strange experience) to get to the cable car. It’s usually 13CHF to board the car but it’s free with a GenevaPass which you can get for free at most hotels in Geneva (natch!)
Find out more about the Mont Saleve cable car here ›
Another big thank you to Geneva Live – The Genevan Tourist board for inviting us to explore Geneva and its beautiful surroundings.
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