A tour of old Geneva


By Linda Bourget-Steen

The sun was just coming out of the clouds as we arrived, on Thursday, November 17, at the square Philibert Bertelier where a tower of the old fortifications still stands. Jo Perry had organised for a guide to take us around the old Geneva.

We saw the place where , as the story goes, Mère Catherine Cheynel poured her soup onto the French soldiers and thus woke up the guards and saved the city from invasion. This was on December 12th, 1602 and the Escalade,  with its race, costumed procession, pumpkin soup, chocolate pot full of marzipan vegetables commemorates this important date.

We stopped in front of the statue of Henri Dunand, the founder of the Red Cross, and then walked into the Parc des Bastions which used to be the botanical garden. The reformation wall reminds us that in 1536, Geneva was the first protestant city of Europe. Calvin was very influential in politics, architecture and laws.

In the Parc des Bastions
In the Parc des Bastions
Reformation wall
Reformation wall

We walked in front of the oldest bookstore in town and the square Bourg-de-Four, the former market square. We went into the Cathedral, built in the 1160ies and later stripped of most of its decorations, saints, and stained windows when it became protestant.


At the “place du Marché” where the canons are, one of the mosaics depicts Julius Cesar in 58BC after burning the bridge that linked the two sides of the Rhône to minimise invasion risk. On the other mosaics, Geneva is shown in the Middle Ages and later as a very important city.

We climbed at the top of the Maison Tavel to see the amazing model of Geneva in the 1850ies, then walked down to the Place du Molard with its lit cobble stones and finished the tour by the lake.
Some of us stayed and we had a delicious pizza at the café Molino.
Thank you Jo for organising the event on such a beautiful day !!!

In the French article “Le saviez-vous … petits secrets de Genève” you will find additional photos.