Eating out in Geneva is a gratifying affair. The city offers a fantastic selection of traditional and local fare, as well as excellent international and ethnic cuisine.
Local Geneva specialities include fresh fish from the lake and a variety of pork dishes, including petit salé (salt pork) and longeole (pork sausage). While Swiss cheese is enjoyed worldwide, Geneva has copious amounts of Raclette, Emmenthal and Gruyere, among other well-known cheeses on offer. These can be tasted in the quintessential Swiss fondue. Traditional Swiss restaurants can be found throughout the city but Place du Cirque and Quay Turrettini host some of the best.
Diners eating out in Geneva will find a variety of international restaurants offering modern, traditional, ethnic or fusion menus. There are good French restaurants in the hotels on Quai Du Mont Blanc and Chemin du Petit Saconnex and on Rue de Lausanne. For Italian eateries, travellers should try Rue de Fribourg, while Spanish food is best on Rue de Coutance. Rue du Prieuré has a delightful Indian restaurant, and there are great cafés on Boulevard Helvetique.
While the prices at top restaurants can be astronomical, the standards are just as high. There are also fixed-price menus available to lighten the load. A 7% service charge is included in all restaurant bills. Many Geneva restaurants close on weekends and especially Sundays, so travellers should call ahead to enquire; reservations are recommended.
A shopping spree in Geneva is one like no other with Swiss jewellery, watches, wine and chocolate being the most popular tourist buys. But among all the shopping malls and boutique-lined streets there are wonderful flea markets to discover, such as the Kane Country Flea Market, which is held on the first weekend of each month. The clothes and book market on the Place de la Madeleine is also great for bargain hunting.
The main area for shopping in Geneva is the Rues Basses, which is made up of Rue du Rhône, Rue de la Confédération and Rue du Marché, where all the best clothing and jewellery can be found. Head down to the Place du Mulard and enjoy browsing in some of the city's most glamorous and expensive shops or, for antique lovers, head to the old town, the best area to shop for antiques and art.
A shopping trip in Geneva wouldn't be complete without the obligatory purchase of the world-renowned chocolates which can be bought from one of the many confectioneries all across the city, but for a real Swiss chocolate decadence head to La Chocolaterie Rohr on Rue du Rhone and Place du Molard. Other popular Geneva souvenirs are the ubiquitous Swiss Army Knife, from established brands like Wenger and Victorinox, and Swiss watches.
Most shops in Geneva open on Monday to Wednesday from 9am to 6:30pm while on Thursday shops close at 9pm. On Friday stores are open from 9am to 7:30pm. Shops open at 9am and close at 6pm on Saturdays and are closed on Sundays. The VAT in Geneva is 7.6 percent and can be reclaimed by non-Swiss visitors for single items purchased for a minimum of CHF 400, as long as the goods are exported within 30 days.
Geneva does not have the ribald party scene or vibrant nightlife culture that travellers might except for a city of its size and importance. The youth of the city tend to go to Lausanne when they let their hair down, while the wealthy expats and local bankers frequent expensive restaurants and gentlemen's clubs.
The city's most lively area is the Plaine de Plainpalais, which features many student bars due to its proximity to the University of Geneva; and the Place du Bourg de Four, near the old Town Hall. The city certainly does have excellent classical music, opera and dance, particularly during the Fêtes de Genève arts festival in early August. Other entertainment options include gambling at the Casino de Divonne and Movenpick Casino on the outskirts of town.
For local listings, visitors should check out the free publication Genève-Agenda, available at the tourist office and hotels, and the quarterly La Clef magazine. Tickets for concerts and shows can be bought from City-Disc at the train station or the UBS Ticket Corner. For a full listing of venues visit www.geneva.info/entertainment.