A TOUR OF CAROUGE
by Vivian Holding
I’ve always been fascinated by Carouge – its architecture, its Mediterranean/Italianate atmosphere, its plethora of lively cafés, bars and restaurants, abundance of independent boutiques and local artisans, as well as its market run on Saturday mornings and Thursday afternoons. If I were to choose anywhere in Geneva to live, Carouge would definitely come out top of my wish list.
My love of Carouge has led me to visit more and more frequently recently, in a thirst for knowledge of the history of Carouge. I stumbled across the ‘Guided Tours for Summer 2017’ brochure produced by the Mairie of Carouge and decided to take a closer look.
It’s no surprise that Carouge has a Mediterranean/Italian feel, as it was modelled on the city of Nice in the South of France. Carouge became a district of Geneva only 200 years ago – in 1816, as it previously belonged to the French and then the Sardinians. If you, like me, are interested in knowing a little more about the history of Carouge, then why not give one of the tours a try?
The next tour: The Zig Zag stroll takes place on Saturday (the 29th July 2017). Scroll down to see what other themed tours and dates are available.
I participated in two of the six tours on offer:
Carouge, it’s Craftsmen and Artists
Carouge has always been a place of high creativity. Back in 1790, the city had more than 450 craftsmen specialising in roughly thirty trades – from blacksmiths, edge tool-makers, wood carvers, barrel makers to launderers. Nowadays, similar traditions are kept alive by artists and artisans who make more up to date items such as clocks, jewellery, natural paint products, clothes, handbags and hats.
We were taken to see four artisans – paint company En Matière Décoration to horologist Jean Kazes, jewellery designer Stéso Bijoux and weaver/clothes designer Anne-Claude Virchaux. Each were passionate about their craft and explained about the desperate need to keep their craft alive, their methods of working and why at first glance their prices may appear to be high, in relation to cheaper foreign imports, but the reward of owning something personalised, unique and made with real love can never be replicated.
Carouge and its Hidden Gardens
I would describe this tour as more ‘Carouge and its Hidden Spaces’ as we were shown more than seven different outdoor spaces, well hidden from public. From a secret courtyard with a stunning trompe l’oeil painted wall, to a very modern symmetrical garden hidden behind a building with an incredible history (from brewery to abattoir apparently), a rare chance to admire the stunning balconies and balustrades of an apartment block set just behind the place du Marché, built for the Jewish community hundreds of years ago. We also had the even rarer chance to see the private oasis of Mr and Mrs Pugnat, who own one of the original fifteen buildings to be built in Carouge, a house that has been in their family continuously for over 300 years.
Like the other owners of the properties I saw, Mr & Mrs Pugnat very kindly open up their garden to the public on these special tour days, the kind of Carougeois conviviality that has welcomed people from different countries and religious faiths for the past hundreds of years.
WHERE & WHEN
Organised by the Mairie de Carouge in association with Illico Travel, there are 6 different themed tours available. Tours run on Saturday mornings from now until mid-October and last 1hr15-1hr30. No pre sign-up is necessary, just turn up at the Mairie to obtain your ticket (10chf adults, 5chf children, students and concessions). Although run primarily in French, the majority of tour guides speak several languages (our most recent tour guide spoke six). Her advice was to speak to the guide just before the tour starts and tell them which language you would best understand the tour and they will be only too pleased to assist.
FUTURE TOUR DATES
29th July 2017 – A Zigzag stroll through Carouge
5th August 2017 – Carouge seen from above
12th August 2017 – Carouge, its Craftsmen and Artists
19th August 2017 – Carouge, along the river Arve
26th August 2017 – Carouge, city of energy
2nd September 2017 – Carouge and its hidden gardens
9th September 2017 – A Zigzag stroll through Carouge
16th September 2017 – Carouge seen from above
21st September 2017 – Carouge a sustainable City*
23rd September 2017 – Carouge, its Craftsmen and Artists
30th September 2017 – Carouge, along the river Arve
7th October 2017 – Carouge, city of energy
14th October 2017 – Carouge and its hidden gardens
* takes place on Thursday at 6pm
Mairie de Carouge, 14 place du Marché, Carouge.