Nestled on the alpine shores of Lac Léman, Geneva is a small capital brimming with European Old-World charm. An elegant backdrop of the white-capped Alps and Jura mountains constantly draw the eye upwards, yet there’s plenty to admire at ground level, too. Clustered within the city’s picturesque squares are some of Europe’s most charismatic and eclectic market stalls, each within a stone’s throw of Hotel d’Angleterre. Here’s our pick of the loveliest markets in Geneva.
A 20-minute walk across central Geneva from Hotel D’Angleterre is Geneva’s premier market space: Plaine de Plainpalais. Two markets set up their stalls here throughout the year. The farmer’s market opens on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, attracting organic farmers and spice merchants from as far afield as France to show off their produce. Dotted around the vegetable-laden stalls are a selection of global street food vendors, perfect for an experimental—if not unorthodox—on-the-go taster menu.
Much larger is the so-called marché aux puces, open Wednesdays, Saturdays and—for a truly spectacular array of stalls—the first Sunday of every month. The flea market sells everything from bizarre bric-a-brac souvenirs to one-of-a-kind vintage collector’s items. And with Switzerland’s deep, relatively undisturbed history, the amassed horde of objets historiques would rival that of any auction house or museum. Of special note are the markets’ vintage clothing and antique furniture collections, found on the eastern side of the square.
La Halle de Rive and Marché Helvétique
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, La Halle de Rive is a charming old-fashioned food hall, encompassing 23 picture-perfect artisanal stores that each specialise in a precise area of European haute-fare and hospitality. Many of the stores have been honing their trade for generations, with their wares the product of immense passion and skill. As you drift down its captivating boulevard, the tell-tale scents of years-aged cheeses and month-cured meats, not to mention fresh vegetables, chocolates, wines and even flowers from the resident fleuriste, are a very appealing draw.
If you can ever tear yourself away, outside is yet another of Geneva’s flavourful fruit and vegetable markets: Marché Helvétique. The dazzling symphony of sights, smells and tastes—mostly all of which comprise local produce, particularly from Valais—lines Boulevard Helvétique twice weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
To the south of central Geneva lies Carouge, the city’s historical Italian district, designed by Sardinian architects almost 300 years ago. Its character and architectural style remain proudly distinct from the rest of Geneva, with its townhouses coloured in chthonic reds and yellows of Tuscan villas. Its farmers market, open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, roosts in the Place du Marché amidst a collection of bohemian boutiques and bars that are fast making Carouge’s reputation as Geneva’s most hip district.
Place de la Fusterie Markets
Most famous for its Christmas market, Place de la Fusterie is also host to some of Geneva’s most special markets throughout the year. The square frames some of the city’s most delicate churches and the high Baroque Fusterie temple, while also enjoying the glamour of the neighbouring Rue du Marché, Geneva’s 5th Avenue. Wednesdays and Saturdays are devoted to organic produce, while Tuesdays and Fridays transform the square into an open-air library of rare books and prints. Thursdays are reserved for local craftsmanship, ranging from carpentry to candle-making. And of course, the Christmas Market, open in December, is a dream-coat of bright lights, merry cheer, and everything we love about the festive season.
After a week of market-hopping, see how Geneva’s organic wares are incorporated in the menus of Windows Restaurant at Red Carnation Hotels’ Hotel d’Angleterre.