Born in New York to Swiss parents, Chef Fabian Affentranger moved back to Geneva as a child and has spent more than 25 years here. The owner of two beloved local restaurants–Chez Calvin since 2017 and Crudo7 since 2023–there is also a seasonal pop-up at the Four Season Hôtel des Bergues called Le Chalet des Etoiles Aux Bergues.
“Geneva is a beautiful and charming pocket-sized city where life is peaceful, and citizens are friendly and attached to family values,” he says. “The proximity to France and Italy and the presence of numerous international organizations gives it a very cosmopolitan feeling while remaining small. And Geneva has seen a fantastic evolution of its food scene with openings of fun concepts and the arrival of very talented chefs.”
For first-time visitors to Geneva, he recommends taking a round-trip boat trip from Lake Geneva to Evian, France. “The views over the city from the water are spectacular,” he says. Read on for his in-depth tips on Geneva.
For breakfast and coffee
Geneva has many lovely coffee shops. The best coffee on the go is served at Utopia in the vibrant Eaux-Vives neighborhood. Make sure to order their oat milk flat white and a homemade banana bread. For people watching, head to historical Café Léo and order an Italian espresso–make sure to sit on their cute sidewalk furniture and enjoy the city.
For lunch or dinner with a local friend
Café des Banques, Le Socrate & Entrecôte Saint-Jean are my go-to spots to catch up with friends! All three places are cozy, intimate, unpretentious and are run by fabulous restaurateurs & chefs who make you feel like home on every single visit!
For a friend visiting from out of town
Take the tiny narrow elevator at the Four Seasons Hotel and head up to IZUMI, its Japanese-Peruvian inspired fine dining rooftop restaurant. The service is top-notch—trust the chef for a tasting menu and enjoy the views over the Alps, the Salève, Lake Geneva and the cathedral. Order a Wasabi martini, the hotel manager’s creation! Trust me, the out of towner will move here.
For a more traditional Swiss experience head to Restaurant les Armures in the heart of the Old Town serving the best Cheese Fondue. Make sure to walk there, the neighborhood is beautiful.
For a family dinner
Brasserie Lipp! It’s a classic and has been around for years. It serves excellent French Cuisine and is open from 11.30 a.m. to midnight seven days a week, extremely rare for Switzerland. I have many family memories there; all big occasions and big decisions were made there.
Take your significant other to the medieval village of Hermance and book a table in the Garden at the “Auberge d’Hermance.” If it's winter, ask for a table by the fireplace. It is paradise just 20 minutes out of the city center. Make sure to order the truffle toasts and their organic chicken baked in a salt crust; for dessert, Crepes Suzette made tableside.
Favorite museum to visit over and over again
MAMCO–it’s our own little MoMa. It’s in an old factory in the “Quartier des Bains” showcasing mainly modern and contemporary art. Also, they host a monthly “Night Opening” with music and cocktails. A must. My significant other took me there recently, we had a blast!
Favorite museum for first-timers
Favorite neighborhood to wander in
During the day, the old town for sure! It’s car-free, full of very cute cobblestone streets, art galleries and antique dealers. Check out the longest bench in the world, situated on the lovely Promenade de la Treille and end your walk with a chilled glass of rosé on the Place du Bourg de Four, where students, politicians & lawyers mingle at all times.
At night you must wander through Les Eaux-Vives for bar hopping and festive dining. You will find my two restaurant locations, Chez Calvin & Crudo7.
For a dose of nature
Hike up Mont Salève, the most iconic mountain close to Geneva. It is actually located on the other side, in France, but considered the “protector” of Geneva. The views over the city and Mont Blanc are a must!
You will find all the ritzy stores up and down the famous Rue du Rhône and Rue de la Croix d’Or. Bongénie and Globus are located just there and considered Switzerland's most glamorous stores. For a more intimate and low-key experience, hit the neighborhood of Carouge. Not only is it charming, but it’s full of designers and cute vintage stores. Piece of advice: do it on a Saturday, their market day, and stop at Fromagerie De BLEU! for some exquisite cheese and at 20G for a glass of natural wine.
Favorite food shopping
Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, all year-round you will find all the local farmers taking possession of the “Marché de Rive!” A must!
The Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues for its history, its service, its rooftop spa and fine dining restaurants, but also its prime location and timeless luxury.
The newly opened citizenM offers a good value in the city center with a great boutique experience.
The newly renovated Hôtel Longemalle, located on the rue du Rhône is full of history and has rooms with lovely balconies, and a great Lebanese restaurant.
L’Énigme de la Chambre 622 by award-winning Swiss author Jöel Dicker. It’s an intrigue about a Swiss banker in Geneva and Verbier. A must-read!
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