LA HALLE DE RIVE – GENEVA’s FINEST FOOD HALL
by Brigitte Taylor
Established in 1969, the Halle de Rive still feels like a traditional market. Most of its 23 merchants – cheese vendors, greengrocers, fishmongers, butchers, bakers, chocolatiers… have stuck to their trade for years, some for generations. Produce is lovingly prepared, proudly displayed and fairly priced, allowing you to buy what you need for a fresh, delicious meal for less than CHF 25 per person. Hard to beat in Geneva.
The liveliest day to visit the Halle de Rive is Saturday, when the experience is enhanced by a street market set up by local merchants behind the Halle building, along Boulevard Helvétique, selling fruits, vegetables, wine, Spanish ham, flowers, cheese, and a wide variety of seasonal products, like zucchini flowers and mushrooms.
Variety is the spice of life, and it will draw crowds – the market is always very busy on Saturdays (particularly after 10am) and can easily overwhelm a newcomer.
YOUR STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO LA HALLE DE RIVE
But don’t worry – we share our step-by-step guide to your first shopping trip to La Halle de Rive.
Arrive early and come in through the main entrance on Rue Pierre-Fatio. Have a coffee at the Bistrot de la Halle, with its dark wood counter and Art Deco painted mirrors – or, if you’re so inclined, head to Juice & Co across the way, for an energetic concoction of kale and mint.
Continue walking down the hall, and stop at the greengrocers, Trésor des Halles. You’ll notice that the quality of fruits and vegetables on offer is superior to that of large supermarkets, while the price is largely the same. Purchase your potatoes, your rosemary, and, if you’re feeling adventurous, your coeur de boeuf tomatoes, to be served with the type of creamy mozzarella you’ll find later in your journey.
Skilfully dodge shoppers, with their carts and wicker baskets, and head to the other side of the hall, to Cavalieri & Fils, for mozzarella di buffala, fresh pasta, and other popular Italian fare.
And since you’re in the vicinity – why not make a quick stopover at Fromagerie Bruand to pick up a few things for a cheese platter to be served after your feast? You can’t go wrong with the three classics: some Brie to start, a slab of Gruyère to get you going, and a powerful “bleu”, like Stillton, for a big finish.
THE MEAT OF THE MATTER
Further along the hall, moving towards the same way you came in, is an Halle de Rive cornerstone: Debarre Decré, the butchers. The meat – lamb chops, côte de bœuf, rib eye steak… – might be a bit pricier than elsewhere, but for very good reason: they boast full traceability of their produce, following each step in the supply chain very closely, ensuring the highest possible quality of every product in their display. They also have an underground drying room for their meat – the proof of a butcher worth their salt.
If red meat is not for you, there are other options for you to explore – such as R. Estevez, with its wide variety of farm-raised poultry, including stuffed quail and pintade (guinea fowl) from Bresse.
If you like poultry, a pintade de Bresse, stuffed with a lemon, slathered in butter, rock salt and rosemary and roasted to juicy perfection, is your very own nirvana-in-waiting.
SWEETS FOR MY SWEET
By now, you are almost sorted, but for one very important element: dessert. For that, head to another Italian stall, the appropriately named Casa Mozzarella for homemade, mouth-watering cannoli.
And with that, you are ready to enjoy some of the finest food Geneva has to offer!
FOR RELUCTANT COOKS
But wait – what if you don’t cook? Or you do, but would like someone else to do the heavy-lifting for you for once? Put your mind at ease – there are some options for you, too.
Magne Traiteur: Marie behind the counter has been manning this stall for 43 years. Every day, she offers shoppers 20+ choices of salads, soups, and other dishes, ready to be enjoyed.
Fouad Traiteur: In the catering businesses for more than 20 years, Fouad’s offering of Lebanese dishes – kébbé, tabboulé, babaganoush… If you can’t make up your mind on what you’d like to try first, ask for a “mezzé” – a sampler that will allow you to discover several at a time.
Le Levantin Traiteur: Take your journey for new flavours one step further – this stall offers traditional meat and vegetarian dishes from Algeria, Iran, Lebanon, Greece, India, Morocco and Turkey.
For more information about the Halle de Rive and each of their businesses, visit their website.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Brigitte Taylor
I’ve grown up in São Paulo, Brazil, and moved to Geneva in 2004 to go to university. It was a tough adjustment (I was simply not prepared for how cold winter is over here), but today I can’t imagine living somewhere else. The quality of life we have here is unbeatable.
Geneva was also where I discovered my passions: writing, photography, food and wine. I talk about these things and more through my Instagram account, @brightaylor