When one hears the name “Geneva,” images of a large lake, high-end shops and pristinely manicured public parks typically come to mind. However, there is a more eclectic side to Geneva that many tourists never experience: Les Pâquis. Once used as a wide-open area for grazing cattle, Les Pâquis is now Geneva’s most eclectic neighborhood. The eight square block area bordered by Parc Mon- Repos, Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), Rue de Lausanne and Rue des Alpes, is a bustling web of streets full of restaurants and shops.
Locals come here to peruse a diverse array of boutiques, curio shops, art galleries, local designer clothing and jewelry studios. Bargain shoppers should head to the Rue des Pâquis for great deals on books (new and rare), silver and semi-precious stone jewelry, kitchenware, vintage designer clothing, antiques and oriental rugs, among other goodies.
The varied selection of ethnic restaurants (most of them very affordable) in Les Pâquis is sure to please even the pickiest of foodies. Options include Japanese sushi, Moroccan tagines, Chinese stir fry, Pad Thai, as well as various eateries serving innovative “fusion” cuisine. After dinner, relax at a Middle Eastern salon where you can smoke shisha (hookah, water pipes) with flavored tobacco and drink while perched on large silk cushions. Be sure to bring cash when dining out in Les Pâquis. Many restaurants in this area don’t take credit cards.
Some favorites include:
The Melting Pot (Swiss, European)
8 Rue de la Navigation
Tel: +41 (0)22 731 31 51
9 Rue de l’Ancien-Port
Tel: +41 (0)22 732 47 74
Gelato Mania (Italian ice cream)
25 rue des Pâquis
Tel: +41 (0)22 741 41 44
In addition to simply strolling the streets of Les Pâquis and soaking up the local ambiance, be sure to visit these two popular sites.
Sainte Trinité Church
Les Pâquis is home to one of Geneva’s most famous architectural sites, Sainte Trinité Church. Designed by an Italian architect Ugo Brunoni, Sainte Trinité is shaped like a large sphere and has a unique window pattern that creates fascinating light patterns on the interior.
16 Rue Ferrier
Tel: +41 22 732 79 25
Located on the edge of Les Pâquis, the expansive Parc Mon-Repos spans hundreds of acres along Lake Geneva’s western bank. Parc Mon-Repos (meaning “Park of my rest” or “restful park”) is where Genevans from all social strata and backgrounds come to relax. Here you’ll find students lounging on the grass near investment bankers in suits strolling by senior citizens chatting on benches near the lake. Parc Mon-Repos is also an excellent place for walkers; a wide path runs along lakefront, and several smaller paths branch off and wind through the trees that separate the park’s numerous open fields.
Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for EuropeUpClose.com