Geneva is a convenient yet expensive gateway city to a hike in the Swiss Alps. The international airport is just a 6 minute train ride from the city center with onward trains and buses to other Swiss and French destinations. Don and I met here after arriving from different international cities. We then took the bus to Chamonix, France for the start of a two week hike through the Swiss Alps on the “Chamonix to Zermatt: The Classic Walker’s Haute Route,” described in the Cicerone guidebook by Kev Reynolds.
Getting to Chamonix
Geneva to Chamonix is an easy 1:15 hour bus ride. We took the Swiss Tours bus that departs the Geneva bus station, a 7 minute walk from the train station, and drops you at the Chamonix Sud bus depot, a 10 minute walk through town to the start of the Cicerone route to Zermatt.
For access to the train and bus station this upscale hotel has a convenient location with a short walk to both, the bus station being less than 5 minutes from the hotel. The neighborhood also has a number of restaurants within easy walking distance.
Rooms are comfortable and quiet with all the amenities of a hotel at this price point including a Nespresso type coffee machine. On site they have a bar, restaurant, sauna and gym. Service is friendly and helpful.
Instead of paying for the hotel’s expensive breakfast we picked up pastries and coffee at the boulangerie across the street from the hotel.
Geneva is a super expensive restaurant town. I don’t know if we ever have spent more on ordinary meals. The quality is certainly reasonable but the prices extraordinary.
Lunch at Au Petit Chalet
Located near the train station, Au Petit Chalet makes a good lunch stop with the option of dining outdoors on a pretty summer day. The menu includes – salads, pizzas (good chewy pizza crust) and mains, all made with quality fresh ingredients. However, it is expensive, over 50CHF ($50USD) for a simple lunch of 1 salad, 1 pizza and 1 beer.
Dinner at La Caravane Passe
La Caravane Passe is a Lebanese’s restaurant located around the corner from the Eastwest Hotel. Arriving just after 7 on a warm summer evening without reservations the outdoor tables were full. When the host realized that we really wanted an outdoor seat they were kind enough to bring out another table and chairs for us.
Unfortunately the food was just OK. The traditional Mediterranean menu is somewhat limited and repetitive. Food preparations were not terrible but not scrumptious either. The eggplant was too vinegary, the chicken kabobs room temperature and the yogurt dip overly garlicy.
We ordered and shared the traditional kebab plate with chicken, beef and lamb and the Egyptian vegetarian plate with falafel, eggplant, hummus and lentil rice.
Dinner at Les 5 Portes
Les 5 Portes is a causal bistro type eatery with a limited menu of simple, well-prepared dishes without fancy sauces.
We started with the mixed salad and the stuffed artichoke. The artichoke was way overcooked and presented more as a bowl than an edible component of the dish. The vegetable filling was a well-seasoned ratatouille.
For mains we ordered the lamb shank served with oven roasted potatoes and the half chicken served with jus and French fries, all well executed. Service is friendly and efficient.
August – September, 2019
For links to all the posts in this series see the Chamonix to Zermatt page.