my name is Brenda and I have been living with my family in London for tha past 9 years, now planning to relocate to Geneva for work reasons. We have 2 kids aged 4 and 2.
We recently came to Geneva to visit the city and we were quite optimistic since a few friends told us it's a beautiful one.
We were quite confused though as we realised the city centre was really empty (we visited on a Friday and Saturday) and we couldn't find any good pedestrian area with cafes to have a stop with the kids for example. We walked around the train station area where we had the hotel for mere conveniency (not judging the city from that area of course) and then we walked around Eaux-vives and in the Old town, climbing towards the highest streets. The only lively place was the high street in the old town, however there was nothing apart from jewels and chain stores, and the only option to get some breakfast was to enter a COOP.
We found the buildings generally quite 'decadent' and not well-kept, certainly some looked empty, and the area by the lake was empty too. On the rive gauche the sidewalk is just a few metres away from the street, making it not so pleasant for a stroll with kids or a run (there were people running, although I would not run next to a busy road.
What did we do wrong? Is there any life in the city centre that we have missed?
Where are the nicest green spaces with playgrounds?
I assume people living in Geneva don't live the city centre as much as Londoners and they might have more a routine of weekend trips, but still it felt really strange to wander in desert streets..
We are planning a second trip and maybe try other itineraries, both in terms of city centre and also in residential areas since we must decide where to look for a house. Any advice on that would be also appreciated. We are visiting schools on both sides of the lake (we look for a Montessori school), although the office would be close to the UN so we are not sure how feasible would be to commute from the Rive Gauche.
We liked Cologny and Chambesy, which are similar on a very smaller scale to the area where we live in London, slightly up the hill, tidy, very clean and super green.
Ideas and recommendations from both expats and Genevians are very welcome.