Les Clefs D'Or
Les Clefs D'Or

Your Key To Geneva – Seasons through traditions! 2019 Les Clefs d’Or Award Nominee – Switzerland

Geneva with its stunning location on the banks of Lake Geneva and surrounded by the impressive Alps offers something for everyone, no matter the season. Let me unlock its secrets for you.

Stroll around the old town’s cobblestone streets and head to the Parc de La Treille to sit down on the world’s longest wooden bench. That’s where the official chestnut tree of Geneva is located, whose first buds marks the official beginning of Spring. Since 1818, as spring approaches, an official person comes here every day to record the first buds arriving, which is then registered on a parchment-roll in the town hall. It’s a real tradition.

During summertime, I love to organise for my guests an exclusive experience: switching on Geneva’s iconic “Jet d’eau” accompanied by the dedicated person who watches it all day long.

Renting a boat with a private skipper and go fishing on Lake Geneva, which happens to be the largest lake in Western Europe, is another memorable summer experience. Or enjoying a homemade picnic provided by the hotel featuring Swiss local products such as Gruyere cheese and dried meat from the canton of Valais on your private boat facing the impressive mountains.

In mid-September, the landscape is changing. Autumn is here and a great way to enjoy the colourful panoramas is by discovering Geneva’s beautiful vineyards. Most of them are family affairs and they produce some of Europe’s best wines which are mainly savoured by the locals as they are rarely exported. Did you know that vines have been grown in Geneva for over 2000 years? “Domaine des Balisiers” is one of the vineyards I like to send my guests to for enjoying a glass of local “Chasselas”. Santé!

When you see bakeries and pastry shops displaying pots made of chocolate, Geneva’s festival of L’Escalade, celebrated on the 11th-12th December, is approaching along with winter time.

In 1602, the troops of the Duke of Savoy tried to assault the city. “Mère Royaume”, a brave cook, threw her cauldron over the heads of the soldiers climbing the walls. To commemorate this, the locals participate in a fun and friendly race taking place in the old town and eat pot-shaped chocolate. Speaking of chocolate, don’t miss indulging in a hot, Swiss chocolate from Auer shop. It’s a must!

No matter the season, Geneva is an extraordinary city worth exploring. Let me give you the keys to the city, it will be a real pleasure for me.

Raphaëlle is a candidate for the 2019 Les Clefs d’Or Award. This article has been published in its original form.

Meet the Author
Raphaëlle Grandgirard

I was born and raised in France where I studied Hospitality.

Being a concierge is not only a job but a way of life and I consider myself as a very fortunate person. I love helping and surprising my guests by guessing what they really need.

At home, I am always organising surprises as well for family and friends. Food is another passion of mine. One of my favourite pastimes is enjoying food and creating memories with friends around a table.

Since 2006, I started working as a page girl in London and then, step by step, I became a concierge. After a few years in London and the South of France, I arrived in Switzerland in 2014 to work at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Geneva.

Every time I push open the door of the hotel, I know I am in the right place.

I have been a proud Member of the prestigious Les Clefs d'Or since 2016. In order to make sure that I am ready, I only applied for Les Clefs d’Or Society after 10 years of being a concierge.

Geneva is the city where I have chosen for me and my family to settle down.

Mandarin Oriental Geneva

With its superb location on the right bank of the River Rhône in the heart of the city, Mandarin Oriental Hotel is a special place to stay and discover Geneva.

It’s a five-star hotel where you get to experience Swiss tradition at its best, unparalleled service, luxury and fine dining. This unique combination makes it ideal for both business and leisure travellers.

The hotel features 181 elegant rooms with many suites enjoying private terraces and views of the river, Old Town and surrounding snow-capped mountains. Our two restaurants include the top-notch contemporary Indian establishment Rasoi by Vineet and the new Yakumanka by Gaston Acurio serving Peruvian cuisine by the world acclaimed chef.

At sunset, as people are getting ready for their evening out, I like to suggest that they enjoy a nice house cocktail in our MObar, facing the river Rhône.

The property opened in 1950 and was the first luxury hotel built in Europe after World War II. Today the hotel is on the list of Historical Heritage Landmarks.


+41 22 909 00 00

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