A pied de la vieille ville

[This entry was originally published 15 Septembre 2013]

View from the top. Old town is uphill, not prohibitively steep but a breather is helpful at the top. Copyright © 2013 Wayne and Elizabeth Saewyc

Today’s destination was Cour de Saint Pierre, the courtyard outside Cathédrale St-Pierre[fr][wp], in the vieille ville. All total, according to Google Maps, we walked at least 5.5 km, not including various side trips.

Walking is not the easiest way to get around Genève. There are buses, trains, and boats which could all have gotten us to vieille ville more easily, but we had stops to make on the way, and we were exploring. Our first side trip was to HSBC, a bank our bank has a relationship with, and which is next door to the elegant Hôtel d’Angleterre on the Quai du Mont-Blanc. Unfortunately, the bank was thoroughly closed, and no they did not have an available ATM (which is what we were really looking for.)

A gorgeous Neo-Gothic funerary piece, if a bit creepy to be found on a waterfront street. Copyright © 2013 Wayne and Elizabeth Saewyc

We then hiked up the street in search of a crossing, and came upon the somewhat grandiose (and creepy when you think about it) Monument Brunswick[fr]. The Duke of Brunswick was under the guardianship of George, Prince Regent of UK and Hanover, until his majority at age 19. Once confirmed as Duke, he embarked on a rule described as corrupt and misguided, and resulting in a popular uprising which eventually placed his brother as the Duke, while he escaped with his fortune and spent most of his adult years between London and Paris, and eventually settled in Geneva. On his death, being unmarried and justifiably loath to have his still-considerable fortune revert to his brother, he left it to the city of Geneva, provided they would raise a monument to him which was a copy of the Scaliger Tombs[wp] in Verona, Italy.

The plaque reads “In Memoriam to Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, 1898-1998″ Copyright © 2013 Wayne and Elizabeth Saewyc

These minor side excursions accomplished, we immediately crossed the street and purposefully strode to the Pont du Mont-Blanc (after dawdling to take pics of a quay-side carousel and a gorgeous deco-style statue to Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary.) However, we were famished, and were enticed to have an al fresco bite at a restaurante in Place du Molard–a tasty large prawn pizza and an insalata caprese made with heritage tomatoes and bocconcini cheese, with a flute of prosecco each to wash it down. The people watching was an equally fabulous part of the meal, as this was in the heart of the upscale shopping district, popular with tourists, and truly eclectic crowds of people wandered by during our meal.

Refreshed, we attacked Rue du Parron and achieved the peak in a flourish. Now the fun bit about all this was we had a goal, but no map, yet had arrived where we planned to get with only a few minor sidetracks. Getting back, on the other hand, would not be quite so straight forward. I’ve re-discovered our route taken only by constant reference to the Geneva tourism site, Google Maps, and the pictures I took.

The cathedral has one of the largest doors I’ve ever seen, which was rather confusing but not a problem – we never tried to enter the church. I did see the entrance to the archeological dig which is taking place under the building and has retrieved artifacts dating back to the 10th century and the city’s Roman history. But more importantly, I discovered a creperie tucked into a corner of the courtyard and which I fully intend to visit early one morning for petit dejeuner.

The buildings around this area are often historic buildings, many of them part of the city government. L’Hôtel de Ville is one of these, and is open to the public outside of business hours. There is also a lot of public art, mostly in the form of murals and architectural elements but also some free-standing pieces. This one, at the entrance to Rue du Soleil Levant, startled us but resulted in perhaps the best photo of the day.

Unknown statue just off Court de Saint-Pierre caught my eye and this picture resulted. Copyright © Wayne and Elizabeth Saewyc
Roofs of different materials, styles, and ages all seem to form a canopy over the buildings and towers which make up the cathedral. Copyright © 2013 Wayne and Elizabeth Saewyc

Having attained the goal and summit, we wandered down Rue du Soleil Levant, poking into open buildings to shoot some architectural pieces. A short jog on Rue du Jean Calvin brought us to Grand Rue which is anything but, down which we ambled past closed shops to another jog on Rue du Jean Calvin and down a steep stretch which wasn’t dignified with a name on Google Maps but is the pedestrian shortcut to Rue du Frank-Martin and thence back into the shopping district along Rue de la rôtisserie.

Our return trip entailed swinging through le gare Cornavin as a short-cut under the railroad tracks, and on to the Coop grocery store to pick up supper ingredients, but otherwise is pretty similar to what Google suggested. I have a whole gallery more photos to upload, but for now it’s time for bed. Writing about the long walk has taken longer than it took to do it, even with the break for lunch!