Arriving at Geneva airport without a pair of skis or a bankers briefcase, you might appear like an item of lost luggage. However, swapping my salopettes for shorts, I discovered this city was the perfect weekend break for outdoorsy types, who may wish to avoid the agonising pain of the dreaded ski boot.
A punctual Swiss seven minute complimentary train from the airport placed me right into the city centre, and a short walk from the Mandarin Oriental hotel, which offers bedside views of the river Rhone and the best Indian restaurant in the city, Rasoi by Vineet, Mains start from CHF 24 (www.mandarinoriental.com)
Having always used Geneva as a one-night stand on my way to various ski resorts, I thought I owed it to this city, to get to know her a little better. I could either run circles around her, or glance over the top of her. I chose the latter. Regular and reliable city buses will whisk you to the cable car at Mont Saleve, which will transport you to an altitude of 1,100 metres in less than 5 minutes and is one of the attractions included in The Geneva Pass alongside all your public transport. (26 CHF – www.geneve.com/en/see-do/geneva-pass). Being our first date, I opted out of the downhill mountain biking, and paragliding that was on offer, and started off on a moderate level promised hike. I would class the grade as, not gasping, but definitely aware of how much fresh mountain air you are breathing in. The reward well worth it. On the south east-side, you will wonder the view of perfect daisy-filled meadows, like a scene out of the Sound of Music, framed by the Alps and on a clear day the Mont-Blanc massif. Less than a minute walk, through a clearing, you can survey the whole of Geneva and the enormity of its lake.
High on mountain air, I was chomping at the e-Bike, that was my ride to the countryside for a wine tasting at Domaine Les Perrieres (wwww.lesperrieres.ch) Pedalling on the flat, and letting the electric part of the bike do all the work on even an inch of gradient, was my realisation that summers in Geneva allow you to achieve all the outdoor benefits but with half the work.
Countryside and Mountains covered, it seemed logical to explore the lake. However having fitted in my weekly exercise quota in one day, I was relieved to hear this expedition could be done from the comfort of a dining room. We board the “Savoie”, built in 1914, which was restored to its former Belle Epoque splendour in 2006 and is the perfect vessel to watch the sun set over Lake Geneva and fantasy house shop, as you sail pass bankers millionaire row. The gourmet menu is designed by Michelin-star Chef Philippe Chevrier (3 courses: CHF 65 4 courses: CHF 82).
An absolute must is a visit to Bains Des Paquis, a public swimming bath, built in the 1930s on Lake Geneva, also included in the Geneva Pass. The ‘city beach’ lies just a few metres from the famous Jet d’Eau which features on nearly every Geneva postcard. Sunbathe, swim, and for the thrill seekers, take a plunge from the 10m high diving board.
After all this activity, finish off your weekend like a local and brunch at Restaurant du Parc des Eaux-Vives (www.parcdeseauxvives.ch). An 18th century manor house serving an upmarket all you can eat Buffett every Sunday between noon and 3pm. Over indulge in the Swiss chocolate fondue and literally roll out with your carry on to catch your obviously on time flight home.
Alice Rickard was a guest of Easyjet (www.easyjet.com; Flights from London Gatwick from £35 one-way) and Mandarin Oriental (www.mandarinoriental.com; superior river view room from 495 CHF.
Visit www.geneve.com or call 0041 22 909 70 70 for more information