Eaux-Vives, Geneva, Switzerland

Les Eaux-Vives is a popular district of Geneva, Switzerland and a former municipality in the canton of Geneva. The district is located on the left bank of Lake Geneva. In the heart of the city and by the lake, Eaux-Vives Cité is a district steeped in history, friendly and lively. Eaux-Vives Cité is one of the eight great districts of Geneva. At the heart of the city, along the left bank of Lake Geneva, it is located between the Plainpalais Jonction and Champel districts. To the east, it borders the towns of Cologny and Chêne-Bougeries.

The Old Town is an administrative center. Rue de l’Hotel-de-Ville welcomes the government and parliament of the canton of Geneva. Les Eaux-Vives is home to the former Geneva town hall, where civil marriages are now celebrated by the civil status service. In this district appreciated by tourists, the inhabitants of Eaux-Vives Cité benefit from a wide cultural offer: theaters, museums, concert halls… If the road traffic is very important in Eaux-Vives, the nuisances are counterbalanced by the proximity of the lake and the docks, where it is good to stroll. The presence of the large Bastions, Eaux-Vives and La Grange parks, several friendly places and numerous terraces, notably bordering the Place du Bourg-de-Four, make it a neighborhood conducive to meetings and leisure.

With the suburb of Saint-Gervais, in the Grottes Saint-Gervais district, the Cité sector covers the area of the old medieval fortified town. A maze of alleys, courtyards and passages leads to many monuments that are part of Geneva’s heritage: Saint-Pierre Cathedral, Town Hall, Maison Tavel, the oldest in Geneva… Some passages were used to deliver reinforcements in secret, like the Monnetier passage, which can be visited every year at the Escalade.

The Eaux-Vives Cité district is surrounded by water. Its route runs along the left bank of the lake between Genève Plage and rue de l’Arquebuse, limit of the Junction. At the edge of the lake, the Gustave-Ador quay is lined with high-end buildings dating mainly from the turn of the 20th century. Several of these buildings are topped with illuminated signs that illuminate the harbor in the evening. You can also see the water jet, famous emblem of Geneva, which is one of the curiosities of the district.

Although in the heart of the city, the district benefits from many green spaces. The Promenade de la Treille, the oldest in Geneva, is home to the longest wooden bench in the world. Its chestnut tree, which announces spring every year, is one of the curiosities of the district. The Parc des Bastions hosts the university. The densely populated area of Eaux-Vives is bordered by two of the city’s largest parks: Parc La Grange and Parc des Eaux-Vives, which offer a breath of fresh air in the heart of the city.

While the history of the City, in the heart of Geneva, is long and agitated, the Eaux-Vives developed especially in the 19th century, after the construction of a port and merchant docks.

The hill of the current Old Town was already occupied in Antiquity by the Allobroge oppidum of Genua, renamed Genava during Roman colonization. From the eleventh century, the city was cramped in its enclosure dating from the third century. Trade intensified and an ephemeral castle was built on the Place du Bourg-de-Four to watch the passage. The fortifications were extended several times until the end of the 14th century. From the 16th century, we saw the appearance of mansions in the upper town and near the Bastions.

During its history, the City has often changed appearance. In times of peace and prosperity, it opened and sometimes even destroyed its ramparts. On the other hand, faced with the threat, it took refuge behind its fortifications and could go so far as to raze its suburbs, as in the days of Escalade. In the middle of the 19th century, the city opened definitively with the demolition of the fortifications. The Old Town is now linked to the Tranchées district and the former Saint-Léger suburb.

The territory of the current Eaux-Vives sector was gradually conquered from the marshes. In the Middle Ages, it was called the Faubourg du Temple. Like all the suburbs of the city, it was razed in the 1530s to prevent the Savoyard enemy from advancing under cover. After peace with Savoy in 1603, the artisanal suburb is slowly being rebuilt.

The commune of Eaux-Vives is created by a decree of June 13, 1798 establishing a municipal administration of municipalities on Geneva territory. When the French troops left, the Geneva constitution of 1814 left the regime established previously.

Until around 1830, the town did not start major works but improved its public lighting. In 1836-38, the port of La Scie was erected, the first large port outside the walls of Geneva. The edge of the lake becomes a lively merchant quay.

A subscription was organized in 1838 with a view to building a new Protestant temple which was inaugurated in 1842. This building, an early example of neo-Gothic style showing Tudor arches of English influence, is by the Geneva architect Jacques-Louis Brocher. The revolution of 1846 had important repercussions on communal life, in particular as regards the new charges incumbent on the municipality (salaries of the teacher and the pastor, maintenance of the school and the temple, etc.). With the law of 1849, the old fortifications were removed around Geneva and the streets of Eaux-Vives and de la Terrassière became extensions. The question of merger is already beginning to arise.

The demolition of the fortifications in the 1850s precipitated the urbanization of the district. At the start of the 20th century, the City’s acquisition of La Grange and Eaux-Vives parks halted urban expansion.

From the 1860s, signs of progressive urbanization were evident. Around 1880, the city of Geneva and the municipalities of Plainpalais and Eaux-Vives joined forces to build a network of collecting sewers on the left bank. At the end of the decade, the first railway line linking Annemasse to the new Vollandes station, now Geneva-Eaux-Vives station, came into service. In 1862, it was the construction of the Mont-Blanc bridge that linked Eaux-Vives to Pâquis by road.

The beginning of the xx th century is an era of prosperity with the creation of the avenue Pictet-de-Rochemont, which generates many buildings, transforming roads into streets and construction of the new town hall from 1907. In 1912, the municipality issued offers for the purchase of a property that would later become the Eaux-Vives park; this came into the possession of the town in 1913. At the same time, William Favre donated to the city of Geneva the La Grange park located on the territory of the municipality. During World War I, the economic situation is difficult and a significant debt is agreed to provide for the many families in difficulty. In 1904, the municipality located near the Schifflände determined its own municipal coat of arms with the image of a ship. In 1913, the municipality acquired from private ownership an area that makes up what is now Geneva’s large Parc des Eaux-Vives city park near the lake shore on the Quai des Eaux-Vives.

It was in the 1920s that the merger process with the city of Geneva took place. A first vote took place in 1926, during which the Eaux-Viviens rejected this possibility. It was during a second vote, in 1930, that the administrative merger law, which put an end to the autonomy of Eaux-Vives, was adopted. The town was incorporated into the city of Geneva in 1931.

Today Eaux-Vives is one of the four administrative districts (section) of the City of Geneva. Eaux-Vives also refers to an area in the area of the former village of Eaux-Vives, for example between the city center near Rive, Lake Geneva, the Parc de la Grange and the route de Frontenex. The June 21, 2019 The Eaux-Vives beach was inaugurated by the Geneva authorities.

Eaux-Vives Cité district
Stroll in Eaux-Vives Cité! If the edge of the lake and the large parks are popular places for the public on sunny days, thematic routes are also available to discover the district:

the Cultural Trail of the Trenches will take you to discover the Trenches, place of residence of illustrious personalities and which brings together several important museums, such as the Museum of Arts and History, the Baur Foundation or the Natural History Museum;

The Old Town Cultural Trail will take you through the historic center of Geneva to discover the archaeological site of the cathedral, the history of the Reformation, the urban customs of yesteryear at Maison Tavel, the Zoubov and Barbier collections. Mueller, the work of Rousseau and our public authorities;

the thematic itinerary “From site to museum: strolling through the heart of the city” crosses the Eaux-Vives Cité district, steeped in history and culture. During the walk, the public can discover points of interest and anecdotes related to the theme “at the heart of heritage”. An exceptional concentration of museums with rich collections plunges you into the history of Geneva.

Historical heritage
The Eaux-Vives Cité district conceals many curiosities, many of which are emblematic of Geneva and its history. Temple des Eaux-Vives (1841-1842), Protestant church built by Jacques-Louis Brocher. The monumental town hall of Eaux-Vives (1905-1909) is due to the architect Léon Werner Bovy.

The Jet d’eau: Geneva’s main attraction
A tourist attraction for over a century, emblem of Geneva and the Eaux-Vives district, the Jet d’eau was first created for practical reasons. From 1886, it was used as a safety valve for the Forces Motrices building at Coulouvrenière and only measured 30m.

In 1891, it is moved in the harbor, to the 600 th Anniversary of Confederation and transformed into light column 90m. Today, it reaches 140m in calm weather and a speed of 200km / h when it starts. Do you know that its center is hollow? It is a circle of water filled with air!

The official chestnut tree of the Promenade de la Treille
On the ramparts of the Old Town, the pleasant and shaded Promenade de la Treille offers a panoramic view of the parks and monuments that surround the old fortified town. It is there that the official chestnut tree of the Treille is planted, used by the Geneva government to indicate the arrival of spring: since 1818, the sautier de la République has observed the hatching of its first bud to officially announce the beginning of the spring. spring.

From the 18th century, this esplanade became the meeting place for the whole city. The crowd is so dense that we decide to install a huge bench of 120 meters. It is said to be the longest wooden bench in the world.

Les Pierres du Niton: a former place of worship to measure the water level
Off Port Noir rise the two boulders: the Niton stones. According to legend, it was the giant Gargantua who threw them from the Salève in the harbor, while he was playing puck. They could have been a place of worship during prehistoric times. Two Bronze Age axes have been discovered at the foot of the larger stone. Some also think that “Niton” would be the deformation of the god Neith of the Gauls or of the Roman god of water, Neptune. The place would have served as a place of offerings to this god.

As early as 1820, these stones were used to determine the average water level of Lake Geneva, ie 373.6 m above sea level. They then served as a reference for leveling calculations for the whole of Switzerland.

The Flower Clock: thousands of plants to tell the time
Created in 1955, the flower clock perfectly combines Geneva watchmaking and botanical know-how. On average, more than 20,000 flowers give an hour each year in the English Garden. A true showcase for the city of Geneva, this plant creation is renewed four times a year thanks to the work of the goldsmiths of a team specializing in mosaiculture, the art of creating shapes by association of plants.

The corraterie mascaron: a heroine of Escalade
Who owns the woman’s head, with a headdress and ruff, which overlooks the entrance to building n ° 7 de la Corraterie? According to tradition, this is the Mother Kingdom, which entered Geneva history for having knocked out a Savoyard soldier with a tin pot during the Escalade in 1602. Every December 12, Geneva confectioners make thousands of chocolate pots in memory of this 60-year-old woman from Lyon, mother of 16 children, containing marzipan vegetables.

The shore market: the countryside in the city
On the occasion of the Helvetic market, farmers from the Geneva region meet every Wednesday and Saturday in the heart of the city, on Boulevard Helvétique, which is covered for the occasion with fruits, vegetables and local products. The Rive sector, home to many offices, then traded in its three-piece suit for the aprons of market gardeners, butchers and other cheese makers.

The Neptune: witness to 2000 years of navigation on Lake Geneva
Listed as a historical monument since 1993, the Neptune belongs to the family of large flat-bottomed boats and Latin sails which sailed on Lake Geneva from the 13th century. 27 meters long and 8.5 meters wide, it was primarily used to transport Meillerie stones and other construction materials. In 1971, coming to the end of its operation, it was saved from demolition by the State of Geneva, which bought it and restored it. This witness to nearly 2000 years of commercial navigation on Lake Geneva requires major works every 25 years. It can now be rented for all types of events.

Walks in the district
The edge of the lake and the large parks are popular places for the public on sunny days, thematic routes are also available to explore the neighborhood.

The cultural trail of the Trenches
This path will take you to discover the Trenches, place of residence of illustrious personalities and which brings together several important museums, such as the Museum of Arts and History, the Baur Foundation or the Natural History Museum.

Thematic itinerary “From site to museum: stroll through the heart of the city”
The “From site to museum” route crosses the Eaux-Vives Cité district, steeped in history and culture. During the walk, the public can discover points of interest and anecdotes related to the heritage of the district and the City. An exceptional concentration of museums with rich collections plunges you into the history of Geneva.