Where to go to cool off on a boiling summer’s day in Geneva or neighbouring France? – luckily we’re spoilt for choice, from the beaches of Lac Leman and other nearby lakes, public swimming pools – of which there are many to choose from, to the option of a dip in the river near Jonction.
At thingstodoingeneva we all have our own favourite ‘beach’, which we’ll share with you. If you’d like to add yours, let us know.
BABY PLAGE – sandy beach and swings
by Vivian Holding
Baby Plage may be one of the smallest beaches in Geneva, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in beauty. For me it has always held a special place in my heart since my early days in Geneva with two young children to entertain. The joy of watching my children play on the beautiful clean sandy beach, in the water and on the impressive collection of swings made from recycled tyres that hang from the three huge plane trees will stay with me forever. The swings have been recently updated by the Association Cheetah Baby Plage and the plane trees now shade a large proportion of the beach, so ideal for protecting young children from the sun. There is a buvette at the entrance to the beach, toilet facilities and entrance to the beach is free. Try having a quick dip in the early evening just as the sun is setting over the Jura, it’s truly a magical place.
Top Tip: Get there early to get a spot under the trees
Note: No Dogs Allowed
BAIN DES PAQUIS – interesting people, inexpensive healthy food
by Chené Koscielny
For hanging out with the locals and enjoying an inexpensive day at the beach in the centre of Geneva, this is one of my favourite options.
Somewhat of an institution in Geneva, the Bains de Pâquis is always popular throughout the year because of the inexpensive buvette which offers very good value for money and includes a vegetarian option every day (take a few picnic options for fussy eaters though). The choice usually includes one plat du jour (with a vegetarian plat du jour too), a selection of salads, a Mediterranean platter of cold meats and fruit or cheese and cakes. Ice-creams and drinks are available too.
The beach is pebbly and can get quite crowded on a summer’s day, but we’ve always managed to find a spot. There is a slide for little ones and a climbing wall and floating island for bigger children.
On the restaurant side there are huge sun decks – one side is exclusively for women (we even spotted a group of ladies knitting the other day) and the other side is mixed. Expect to see some topless women sunning themselves.
The Bains de Pâquis also offers events, including breakfast music sessions and Friday night apéro evenings with music – check their website for more details.
For more information about the massages and hammams at Bains de Paquis, check out our article on spas.
Entry: 2chf (adults), 1chf (children over 6) free (children under 6)
Address: Quai du Mont-Blanc 30, 1201 Genève
Facilities: Toilets, Showers, Changing Cubicles, Buvette, Massages and Hammams, Table Tennis Tables, Zip Line, Diving Boards, Lifeguards
Opening Hours: every day, depending on the weather from 7am-11pm (summer). The buvette is open for both lunch and dinner, as well as breakfast from 7am (summer) and 8am (winter)
PLAGE DE LA SAVONNIÈRE – the crayfish, pizza and ice-cream
by Chené Koscielny
A beautiful pebbly beach with enormous lawns and many trees offering loads of shade on a scorching day, the Plage de la Savonnière is a great place to while away a summer’s day.
The atmosphere is festive and international as families and friends celebrate birthday parties and enjoy summer barbecues – there are dedicated barbecue spots, but the little portable barbecues are very popular too. Even though there were many people on the day of our visit, the area didn’t feel overcrowded. We rented paddle boards (CHF20 per hour) from GE Paddle and the friendly instructor took his time to ensure we were safe (they offer private courses and teambuilding sessions too). The buvette, also run by the GE Paddle team – was a real discovery. It is by far the buvette with the best and most unusual food you’re likely to find in Geneva! They offer fresh ‘écrevisses’ – crayfish freshly delivered from the lake every morning and prepared with garlic and parsley, which we will definitely try next time. Don’t miss the Crayfish Festival on the 22nd of August.
The thin crust pizza, (CHF10 for a generous margherita) the best we’ve had in Geneva so far, is made by Sicilian pizza-maker Maestro Calagero. We also tried his arancini – a Sicilian speciality – a deep fried rice ball coated in breadcrumbs and stuffed with gooey mozzarella and tuna (or other fillings). It was yummy and filling for CHF7.50. They also offer paninis, cookies and muffins.
The drinks include freshly prepared juices, local juices, iced tea, beer and wine and a homemade ice cream selection from a popular ice cream parlour in Carouge. The caramelised fig sounded divine!
THE PLAGE DE VERSOIX – wide variety of food and activities
by Geli Carney
Our beach of choice is the one at the Plage de Versoix, a short 15 minutes drive from Geneva with plenty of parking (follow signs for Choiseul). A large grassy park with a pebbly beach (how I hate sand between my toes!), with lots of activities to choose from including paddle boarding, pedalos and boat hire. The Buvette du Port Choiseul (which rather reminds me of Dr Who’s Tardis) offers a wide variety of food and drinks at reasonable prices, including generously filled bagels, homemade cakes and freshly squeezed fruit juice. Live music and a BBQ take place on Thursday evenings during the summer. We often spend a Sunday afternoon there renting paddle boards and weaving amongst the sailing boats in the port, before visiting the cafe to watch the world go by.
Address: Chemin des Graviers 31, 1290 Versoix
Facilities: Public toilets, Buvette, Showers, Water Skiing, Paddle Board Rental, Pedalo Rental, Boat Rental, Petanque
Opening Hours: 9am-7pm from 15th May-15th September
Top Tip: Take rubber shoes for the pebbly beach
Note: No dogs allowed
THE LAC DE PASSY – the scenery and keeping the kids busy
by Melanie Goodman
There is nothing better on a humid mid-summer’s day in Geneva than a trip into the Alps to the Lac de Passy to cool off in the lake. This turquoise oasis of water is encircled by a soft sandy beach against a backdrop of the still snowcapped Alpes. However, this particular beach has more than average to offer regardless of their age: mini golf, aquabiking, paddle board and pedalo hire, go karting and a “parcours aventure” for the energetic. Alternatively, you can relax on the beach where plenty of scattered trees provide shade (although I would recommend bringing your own parasol as these spots are always in high demand on scorchingly hot days) and grab a basic snack from the buvette de la Plage. It’s a truly stunning picture postcard experience – go grab your lilo!
Entry: Free, although from the end of June-end of August there is a 2 euro parking fee
Address: chemin de Mont Blanc Plage, 74190 Passy, France
Facilities: Public toilets, Buvette & Bar Restaurant, Showers, Mini Golf, Aquabiking, Paddle Board Rental, Pedalo Rental, Go Karting, Parcours Aventure, Bouncy Inflatables, Mini Golf
Opening Hours: All Year, although the majority of the facilities are only available from 8th July–3rd September (and surveillance on the beach is from midday to 6pm)
Top Tip: Bring your own parasol or get there early to grab a shaded spot
Note: No dogs allowed on beach, but allowed on the pathways that surround the lake