WHERE TO MEET LOCALS IN GENEVA
by Chené Koscielny
Geneva can be a tough place to meet people, as you no doubt have discovered by now. Not only is there the language barrier, but locals tend to keep to themselves and info about the best bars, cafés and places to hang out, is very much insider knowledge. So, it’s hard to know where to go to meet locals and make friends.
One local, known as Jaumesse, is doing his best to bridge the gap by organising regular social events to bring foreigners and locals together over a shared meal or a glass of wine.
Meeting a « Genevois » is an uncommon experience
Half Chilean and half Colombian, Jaumesse was born in Geneva. While backpacking by himself around the world in his 20s, Jaumesse attended social get-togethers organised to help foreigners meet locals. He made many friends and loved the connection and spirit of these events.
Years later, upon his return to Geneva, he wanted to test whether similar events could work in his hometown.
“My first event was an apero in a bar in Geneva. I found myself quickly surrounded by a dozen foreigners: 12 people from 12 different nationalities.”
They kept asking him: “But you’re Swiss, right? You’re from Geneva?” It was as if they found it hard to believe that they were actually meeting someone from Geneva,” says Jaumesse.
“Even though the foreigners were open, sociable, keen to meet locals and had been living in the city from anywhere between 6 months to 5 years, meeting someone from Geneva was a very, very uncommon experience for them,” he says.
EVENTS TO BRIDGE THE GAP
He realised there was a real lack of contact between foreigners and locals and continued organising events to bridge the gap.
“We usually meet in a popular restaurant, but that also sometimes includes non-standard and authentic places, with tasty food for a decent price. You can come alone or with friends or family, but you’ll sit at a table with people you don’t know. This is a real opportunity to meet new people, to interact. You can also practice a language and meet people from different nationalities. Many people end up making international and local friends for life.”
BEST PLACES TO MEET LOCALS IN GENEVA (according to Jaumesse)
Café des Volontaires – In La Jonction, right next to L’Usine, the biggest alternative venue in Geneva. Café des Volontaires calls itself “100% Genevois” and has a bar offering many local wines and locally crafted beers. The café organises different types of events from dance classes to free concerts and jamming sessions. Every last Thursday of the month sees an exhibition of an up-and-coming local artist.
ADDRESS: place des Volontaires, 26 rue de la Coulouvrenière.
Café Gavroche – This left wing bar has the atmosphere of an old-school bar. One of Geneva’s best-kept secrets, it is a great place to chill. Cultural events include world music events and exhibitions. Mezze platters are available to nibble on – no dish costs more than CHF20. You can reserve (for free!) the basement with tables, chairs and a small stage for get-togethers, reunions and social events.
ADDRESS: 4 boulevard James-Fazy.
La Bretelle – One of the smallest bars in Geneva, but with a great, unique soul. Located only a few minutes walk from Cornavin train station. The venue often offers free concerts, wine-tastings and other events in a festive atmosphere.
ADDRESS: 17 rue des Étuves.
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/lesAmisdeLaBretelle/
L’Ecurie – An alternative bar, café and concert hall, unknown even to many Genevans, offering concerts at weekends. You can’t reserve, but there is a courtyard for busy evenings. The café is located next to and around L’Ilot 13, an interesting communal living project, where you are likely to meet local artists, bankers and students.
The description on the website reads simply: L’Ecurie is a hyper-active venue, a bar, a café in the morning… There is no boss and no wifi. Cheers.
Top Tip: This is by far one the cheapest bars in the city.
ADDRESS: 14 rue de Montbrillant.
La Taverne – This trendy rock/heavy metal bar, offers regular concerts or you can just hang out and try the selection of draft beers.
ADDRESS: 44 rue de Carouge.
La Galerie – Old, small and cute bar with a bohemian atmosphere in Les Grottes. A very authentic bar with regular concerts, events and exhibitions. The bistrot is open throughout the week. The bar is run by a voluntary organisation, which also offers free meals to people in need every Wednesday and Sunday.
ADDRESS: 13 Rue de l’Industrie (Grottes)
Meet locals and foreigners at one of Jaumesse’s social gatherings in a relaxed, open atmosphere.
Events usually take place in restaurants or bars and involve interacting with others over a meal or a drink.