Sunday, 17 September 2017

Geneva Rive Droite Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 8.6 km (5.3 miles), terrain: flat with one easy hill, gain 68 meters

Geneva has so much going for it: a beautiful lakeside, an old town, two rivers, mountains to the east and west, sailboats and steamers gliding past on the lake... You really have to get out and enjoy the water views.

So this run does just that, following the northern shore of the lake, plus an extra turn inland to head through the botanical garden and take a look at the United Nations campus up the hill.
Rive Droite runner
The northern shore is referred to as the Right Bank (Rive Droite), and it's lined by a nice promenade and a string of parks and mansions. The town's oldest, most elegant hotels line the lakeside there, and the steamboats head off for tours up the lake. And another great thing is, you get a view of the Alps across the lake, towards the tallest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc.

So, don't leave out this route if visiting this beautiful town!

We'll start in the heart of downtown, right near the lake, at the Place du Molard, lined with restaurants and the Globus department store. One of the old town-wall towers still stands at the north end of the square.

So turn north, run past the tower and continue over the zebra stripes to the water just a few steps ahead, with its Promenade du Lac.

The waterside Lacustre Restaurant and a water-taxi landing are right there, along the promenade.

NOTE: The yellow water-taxis are part of the Geneva public transportation system, and are included with your visitor's free transport card. Make sure to ride them! 
The waterfront at Molard, with water-taxi
You're now facing right towards the Rive Droite, where we'll be running. This spot is where Lake Geneva (Lac Leman in French) empties out into the Rhone River, soon becoming France's biggest river. France is just a few kilometers away, up past the airport.

To get to Rive Droite, we need to cross one of those several bridges to either side. Let's turn left and take the first bridge to that side: it's for pedestrians only, and nice and quiet.

So run along the Promenade du Lac, right next to the water till the bridge, then turn right and cross the Pont des Bergues, with its little defensive fort, L'île Rousseau.

At the far side, turn right and start running along the Rive Droite. Normally you can take a little sidewalk under the next loud street and bridge (Pont du Mont Blanc), but some construction blocked it when I was there last week, so I had to cross at the traffic light above.
Quai du Mont-Blanc
Past the bridge, we're now running along the Quai du Mont-Blanc, passing the main tour-boat landing. The traffic is loud here, and the sidewalk is right next to the street, but soon you can run along the promenade, a bit off to the side, and you'll be out of the worst downtown traffic.
A steamboat heading off for a lake tour
You'll pass the Beau Rivage, Geneva's most elegant hotel. The neighborhood behind it, rising uphill to the train station, is known as the red-light district. But it seems pretty tame, and is a quiet residential area with a lot of shops and hotels.

At the 1-kilometer-mark, you'll pass the next water-taxi landing that connects to Rive Gauche across the lake.
The lighthouse at night
After a little marina, you'll see a narrow spit of land going out to a nice old lighthouse. This is the Bains des Pâquis, and a public beach and swimming pool line the walkway. There is a fun restaurant/bar that I can recommend. Across the water, you'll see one of Geneva's landmarks, the huge fountain called the Jet d'Eau (water jet), created for practical reasons to relieve the water pipes of excess pressure.

You might want to run out to the little lighthouse and take a look!

Now the lakeside takes a turn to the left and you continue northwards along Quai Wilson along the promenade past another marina, with great views to the Alps across the lake during nice weather.
A runner along Quai Wilson
Soon, things will get even better. At the 2-km-mark, the street will veer off to the left and you'll now have quiet lakeside parkland to run in, at Parc Mon Repos. There are a series of mansions here, each with a park-like garden.
In Parc Mon Repos
You'll pass a long building on the left with a couple of statues, that's the World Trade Organization.
More parkland
At the 3-km-mark, you'll come to a green, metal gate into a small, waterfront section of the Botanical Garden, and continue for 100 meters. Then, just before reaching the fence at the other side of the garden, turn left and take the paved footpath under the nearby Rue de Lausanne road and into the main part of the Botanical Garden.
Greenhouse in the Botanical Garden
The path curves to the left and takes you to a round greenhouse. Just before the greenhouse, turn right to head uphill to the further greenhouses. What a great park, with interesting plants and gardens in every direction!
A rockgarden
Turn left and head south past the rock gardens and giant oak trees to the southwest exit of the park.

Exit onto Avenue de la Paix, a busy street with a lot of new UN buildings on the other side.

Turn right and continue uphill along Avenue de la Paix, heading under the train tracks at Sécheron station. Right after that, the main UN campus lines the right side behind a stout fence, at the 4-km-mark. This was originally the League of Nations headquarters, the precursor to today's UNO.
The UN
Soon, you'll come to the main entrance to the UN, with its lines of flags. Across the street is the Place des Nations, with its giant broken chair sculpture.
The broken chair
This is our turn-around point: now head back downhill and follow the same way back home, maybe following some different paths through the Botanical Garden and the parks. Now you'll get to see everything from the other direction: enjoy!
Heading home

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