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GENEVA

Five quiet places to escape the bustle of Geneva

Not everyone is leaving Switzerland this summer to go abroad for the holidays. It’s just as well, because the Geneva area boasts many out-of-the-way lakeside beaches and an abundance of other quiet attractions as well.

Five quiet places to escape the bustle of Geneva
Athletes start the Thonon Sup Race, a 19km race crossing Lake Geneva between Lausanne, Switzerland, and Thonon-les-bains, France, Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

As the legendary Ella Fitzgerald famously sang, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy”.

While some people prefer the hustle and bustle of beach holidays abroad, especially after more than a year spent quietly either under total or partial shutdown, others long for vacations in more tranquil surroundings.

Luckily, the Geneva area, which encompasses around its lake the canton of Vaud and the neighbouring Haute-Savoie region of France, has a lot to offer.

Keep in mind, however, that even the secluded areas will likely not remain totally off-the-beaten-path in the summer, especially on the weekends. But fewer people will congregate there than in busy public places.

Le Parc des Eaux-Vives, Geneva

From June 13th to 15h, this haven of greenery was off limits to the public because the 18th-century manor house located in its midst, Villa La Grange, served as a meeting point for a summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

But now that both delegations have departed, the vast area overlooking Lake Geneva is again accessible to Genevans and tourists. It is full of paths winding around lawns and old trees which provide a welcome shade on hot, sunny days

Address: La Grange, Geneva

READ MORE: Historic Swiss lakeside villa spruced up for Biden-Putin talks

Ville de Genève

Signal de Bougy, Vaud

About a 20-minute drive from Geneva will take you to a beautiful park which, on a clear day, has magnificent views encompassing the entire length of Lake Geneva — from the city of Geneva to the Chablais Vaudois region— and French Alps.

While the area around the playground, the restaurant and the golf course may be  cluttered, other parts of the park, like the path along a living farm leading up to the enclosed rose garden and beyond, will likely be less congested and more relaxing.

Address: Route du Signal, 1172 Bougy-Villars

Signal de Bougy. Photo: Par Ji-Elle — Travail personnel, Creative Commons. 

Vineyard route, La Côte – Lavaux

From Signal de Bougy, you can take a scenic tour through the narrow but paved (as is customary in Switzerland) roads snaking through local vineyards.

You can start by driving eastward and following signs “Route de Vignoble”, passing though old but picturesque wine-making villages such as Gimel, Féchy and Mont-sur-Rolle, toward Chebrex, Aigle and other domains, where you can also stop for a bit of wine tasting in local cellars.

Vineyard route, La Côte – Lavaux. Photo: Creative Commons

Mount Salève

Perched at an altitude 1,379 metres, le Salève is located in the French department of Haute-Savoie, but only 20 kilometres from the centre of Geneva.

You can access it in less than five minutes by a cable car and spend a day hiking on its trails or just relaxing in fresh air while you admire a bird’s-eye view of Geneva and the Alps with the Mont-Blanc glacier.

Address of the lift: Pas de l’Echelle – 74100 Etrembières

Aerial view on the Salève and Geneva, its Jet d’Eau, Lake Geneva and the Jura mountains in the background. Photo: Creative Commons

Beaches and boats

There are some beautiful little beaches around Lake Geneva, on both sides of the border.

Even in the middle of summer you can find some relatively “hidden” small ones which are not overcrowded by locals or tourists.

In Geneva itself, there is the “Petite Page du Perle du Lac”, a small strip of sand where few people go.

Address: Quai Gustave-Ador 87, 1207 Geneva.

You can also discover the so-called “hidden gems” by taking a ferry from any embarkation point, including Lausanne, Geneva, and stops in between and go to the “French” side of the lake where little towns like Thonon-les-Bains and Evian (of the bottled water fame) have their own beaches.

Or, if you want to venture a little farther afield from Geneva, you can drive the 64 kilometres from Geneva to Passy and its turquoise lake  surrounded by sandy beach and the backdrop of the Alps.

Address: chemin de Mont Blanc Plage, 74190 Passy, France

Image: CGN

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TRAVEL NEWS

The Covid rules you should know if you’re travelling from Switzerland this summer

When it comes to Covid regulations in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe, the situation is certainly much more relaxed than it was last summer. However, certain countries still maintain rules in regards to vaccinations and masks.

The Covid rules you should know if you're travelling from Switzerland this summer

Months ago, health experts predicted that coronavirus will not be circulating extensively during the summer months and won’t strike us again before the weather turns cold in the fall / winter.

But as it turns out, these forecasts were wrong, as Omicron and its highly contagious sub-variants keep infecting increasing numbers of people across Europe.

In Switzerland, the number of reported contaminations has risen from under 10,000 a week in May to 33,108 registered in a span of seven days on June 28, with officials expecting an explosion in cases as summer progresses.

READ MORE: ‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

What does this mean for international travel?

As of right now (and the situation could change in coming weeks), Switzerland doesn’t require either testing or proof of vaccination upon entry. This is also the situation in many other countries in Europe as well as farther afield.

However, some popular European tourist destinations still (or again) have Covid-related entry regulations in place, as well as rules inside the country.

This is an overview of the places where people who live in Switzerland like to spend their summer holidays:

France

Entry requirements:

For vaccinated persons, full vaccination for at least one week must be proven. The last dose must be less than nine months old. Cured people can travel a week after receiving a single dose.

For recovered people: the positive result of a PCR test more than 11 days old and less than six months.

For non-vaccinated persons: a negative PCR test dated less than 72 hours or an antigen test carried out less than 48 hours before departure. Children under 12 are exempt.

On-site measures:

Wearing a mask on public transport, which has not been required since May 16th, is once again strongly recommended — though not compulsory.

Italy

While proof of vaccination or negative test is not required to enter Italy, there are some mask requirements in place in the country.

From mid-June, Italian government extended the obligation to wear FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30th, except on planes. The surgical mask is also still compulsory from the age of six in health establishments.

Portugal

Proof of full vaccination for at least 14 days is required to enter, with the last dose no older than 270 days ago. Swiss Covid certificates should suffice.

For recovered people, proof of recovery dating from 11 to 180 days before arrival in Portugal is required.

The unvaccinated should have a negative PCR test dated less than 72 hours or an antigen test carried out less than 24 hours before departure.

Children under 12 are exempt from these requirements.

Also, all travellers must fill out a passenger locator card before departure, as well as a form required by the Portuguese health authorities before their departure or during the flight.

On-site measures:

Portugal decided on April 21st to end the obligation to wear a mask indoors. However, masks are still required on public transport, hospitals or retirement homes.

These are the regulation for mainland Portugal; those visiting Madeira, can see the rules in this link.

Spain

Since June 2nd, travellers from a Schengen area (which includes Switzerland) are no longer subject to any health checks upon arrival.

On-site measures:

Spain lifted the requirement to wear a mask indoors on April 20th. The mask is, however, still required from the age of six on public transport, in hospitals and retirement homes. Differences may exist between regions, so consult the websites of individual areas.

Austria

Since May 16th, travel restrictions have been lifted. Nevertheless, an FFP2 mask remains compulsory from the age of six for flights to and from the Vienna region.

On-site measures

FFP2 masks are mandatory from the age of 14 on public transport and in pharmacies in Vienna.

Germany

Since June 1st and until at least August 31st, entry restrictions to Germany have all been suspended.

On-site measures:

No vaccination or testing rules on entry, but restrictions remain in some federal states, so check local websites for more information.

Wearing a mask remains compulsory from the age of six on public transport and in medical establishments. To go to the hospital, an antigen test of less than 24 hours or PCR of less than 48 hours is required.

READ MORE: EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023

United Kingdom

There are no more Covid restrictions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and arrivals no longer need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before arriving in the UK.

United States

According to the US Embassy in Switzerland, “air travelers to the United States are no longer required to show a negative COVID-19 test result, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19, prior to boarding a flight to the United States”.

However, there are different requirements for different categories of travelers: “all non-U.S.-citizen, nonimmigrant (not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa) airline passengers traveling to the United States, must demonstrate proof of vaccination prior to boarding a U.S. bound aircraft”.

If you want to find out what the latest requirements are at your destination, you can do so by checking out the websites of their embassies in Switzerland, or official tourist bodies for each country / region.

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