Geneva is the second most populated city in Switzerland, after Zurich. It is situated right on the edge of Lake Geneva and between the mountain ranges of the Alps and the Jura. It is an important economic city and also has the headquarters of major organisations like the Red Cross and the United Nations and has been voted the third best city to live in the world but also the fifth most expensive. Geneva is of course famous for being the place where various packs have been sign such as the Geneva convention for treatment of prisoners of war.
In the summer residents and visitors alike flock to the shores of Lake Geneva to sunbathe and swim. In the winter is it a hub for skiers flying into the airport and travelling onto one of the numerous ski resorts in the area.
Geneva has always been a border down and was taken over by the Romans in 121BC. It became a Christian strong hold towards the end of the Roman empire and in the Middle Ages was ruled over by a Count under the order of the Holy Roman Empire. It remained so until the late 14th centre when it was allowed to govern itself and the House of Savoy rose to prominence. There was religious upheaval and strife in the 16th century when the House of Savoy was thrown out of power by the Protestant Reformation. But a couple of century’s later and Geneva was influenced by Catholic France and it was not until the Napoleonic wars ended in 1815 that Geneva became part of the Swiss Federation.
Geneva has 82 sites of historic importance and national significance. The entire old city is protected and there are numerous religious and civic buildings forming part of the Swiss Heritage sites.
Geneva has a strange traditional where the secretary of the Parliament of the Canton of Geneva observes a particular chestnut tree and when the first bud is seen, this is the first day of spring, a formal press release is given and local newspapers shout the news. Historically this bud is appearing earlier and earlier.
If you are visiting Geneva and want to take a trip to a ski resort, then click this link to visit TheSkiBug website for airport transfer prices.
There have been two major plane crashes on Mont Blanc, both Air India Flights, one in 1950 and one in 1966.
On November 3rd 1950 Air India Flight 245 had left Bombay and gone via Cairo aiming to land at Geneva on its ways to London. There were 40 passengers and 8 crew on board. They never made it to Geneva airport as the plane crashed into Mount Blanc while flying over France, close to the Swiss border. The last transmission has the plane flying at 4700 metres, but shortly after this the airplane crashed into the French side of Mont Blanc, an area called Rochers de la Tournette, which is at 4,677 metre. There were no survivors and no rescue effort could get near the area due to a bad storm until 2 days later.
Sixteen years later and another Air India flight on its way to New York also crashed into Mont Blanc. There were 117 people on board – 106 passengers and 11 crew. The wreckage was scattered across the south west side of the mountain about 427 metres below the summit. Unfortunately, if the place had been just 15 metres higher it would have cleared the large rock that it hit. As it was the only things that rescuers managed to recover were letters and the odd bag. Although surprisingly a few monkeys being carried to a scientific centre did survive and were found wandering in the snow. Similar to the crash in 1950, the pilot had radioed in a few minutes earlier to say everything was fine and in order and the plane was flying at 5,791 metres, at least 500 metres above the summit of the mountain. However, afterwards it did come out that the pilot had reported passing over Mont Blanc earlier than he should have and the radio controller corrected him, saying he had “5 miles to go”. The pilot apparently acknowledged this but still seemed to begin to descend too early. It is presumed that the pilot mis-understood the comments from the controller as meaning he had already passed over the ridge.
Mont Blanc means “White Mountain” and is the highest mountain in the Alps and in Western Europe. The total height of Mont Blanc actually changes year by year depending on how much snow is compacted onto the summit. The actual rock summit is at 4,792 metres and there is usually around a further 20 metres of snow on the top. It is now a popular climbing place, with 20,000 people climbing to the summit each year but also with several deaths due to avalanches and rock falls. In 2007 two portable toilets were even placed at 4,260 metres for climbers to use and stop the mountain being polluted by waste.
If you are flying into Geneva Airport and need an airport transport to one of the various ski resorts close by, contact www.theskibug.fr who do transfers to the Three Valleys ski resorts.
During the winter months Geneva airport is one of the main airports for accessing the ski resorts in the French Alps. Hundreds of flights bring millions of passengers into Switzerland, from where they make their way to places such as Chamonix, Courchevel, Meribel and Tignes.
The airport started out as a simple airstrip in a field back in 1919, it developed a little through out the next twenty years but it was not until 1937 that a concrete runway was actually built. During World War II, no flights were allowed to leave the country and so any development was delayed until after the war when the first terminal was built. The airport was then connected to the train system and the runway made longer and another terminal built. There are plans for further expansion as the airport struggles to cope with the millions of skiers that fly in from December to April each year.
Geneva airport is located on the edge of the city, around 4km from the centre. You can easily get to the airport from the city centre by train and the train station is attached to the airport and a two minute walk from the departure and arrivals hall. The buses also stop at the airport.
Once you arrive at the airport at the start of your holidays there are a number of options for getting to the ski resort of your choice. There are bus connections from Geneva coach station to places such as Annecy, Chambery and Grenoble, although you will need to get the bus from the airport to the central coach station in the city and then once at the end of the bus line, you will need to change bus or get a taxi to the ski resort.
Geneva airport is directly connected to the CFF Airport railway station and from here you can get the train to Chambery, Annecy, Grenoble, Lyon and many other main towns in France, but again you still need to get to your resort.
Geneva airport is actually right on the border with France and you can access the airport without entering Switzerland. Some people use this option for cheaper car hire but you then need to be wary to stay within France as the car will not be covered for Swiss roads.
The easiest option is to pre-book Geneva airport transfers with one of the many companies offering mini-buses and luxury chauffeur driven cars. Then there is no messing around getting to the coach station, changing buses, having to get an expensive taxi from the nearest bus station. Your transfer driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall, will help you will your luggage, provide a comfortable trip to your ski resort and drop you right at your hotel or chalet door.
It is around a two hour transfer from Geneva to the Courchevel ski area, around an hour or so to Chamonix and Morzine ski resorts and around three hours to Val Thorens, La Plagne areas, Tignes and Val D’Isere.
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