Old Town (Vielle Ville)

The Old Town, also known as the Vielle Ville, is a warren of cobblestone streets, tall grey stone buildings leaning in towards each other like they are whispering secrets, the smell of wood smoke and the clatter of a café tucked around a corner. Compact and all neatly wrapped up in the town walls, and perched on a hill: this is where Geneva began, and where most of the city's myths and legends were formed. The celebration of L'Escalade, every December 11th, is a commemoration of the time when the plucky Genevois held off the pushy Italian Savoyards ... in 1602. "L'escalade" means to climb, which the Savoyards tried to do -- up Geneva's city walls. For you to visit the Old Town is easier -- although only slightly. No one will try to pour hot soup on your head (an important part of the Escalade commemoration) but to reach the old town it will take a steep walk up many stone steps or a cobblestoned ramp called the Promenade de la Treille. Go up this ramp and when you reach the top (worth the effort) you will find the world's longest *straight* bench, at 126 m (413 ft. The world's longest *curvy* bench is reportedly in the Park Güell in Barcelona). The heart of the Veille Ville is the Place du Bourg de Four. From here a wander down Grand Rue will take you past the Hotel de Ville (not a hotel, but the stately City Hall -- which houses the Alabama Room, famous for the location of the signing of the First Geneva Convention on the humanitarian rules of war in 1864, and where, in 1872, Britain and the US settled their differences over British support for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The League of Nations also assembled here for the first time in 1920.) and the Cathedral, where Calvin launched his brand of Protestantism (which gave rise to Puritanism and Presbyterianism). You will also pass the house where Rousseau was born (Grand Rue no. 40) and the place where Borges died (Grand Rue no. 28) -- Genevoises are proud of their philosophical heritage. The Old Town is no museum, however, but a bustling maze of trendy wine bars, design boutiques and antique booksellers. At the Place du Bourg de Four you will find, in almost any kind of weather, a dedicated throng out at the café tables sipping espresso, and watching the world -- and letting time go by.




Maison Tavel
Vielle Ville (Old Town)
Place du Bourg de Four
Promenade des Bastions


Au Pied de Cochon
Chez ma Cousine

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