Pâquis Sécheron, Geneva, Switzerland

Pâquis Sécheron is a district of Geneva (Switzerland) located on the right bank of Lake Geneva. In the heart of the city and by the lake, Pâquis Sécheron is a lively, multicultural and young district. Pâquis Sécheron is one of the eight districts of Geneva. It covers a large area north of the right bank of the lake. Rue des Alpes separates it from the Grottes Saint-Gervais district. The rue de Montbrillant and the route de Ferney form the border with Servette Petit-Saconnex. The town of Pregny-Chambésy succeeds Pâquis Sécheron north of the Chemin de l’Impératrice.

The Pâquis sector itself stretches between the lake and the Montbrillant railway area, and between the rue des Alpes and the avenue de France. This is where the lively heart of the sector beats, with its restaurants, bars, the Mont-Blanc and Wilson quays and the Pâquis baths. It is also the most urban and densely populated area of the neighborhood. Formerly made up of meadows, Pâquis Sécheron has undergone considerable development during its history. Today it is a dynamic and lively district, where the population is involved in improving their living environment. It is also a lively area, with many popular bars and baths.

The multicultural character of Pâquis makes it a symbol for Geneva. To walk in Pâquis is to visit the world. In its restaurants, we discover flavors from all over the world. Many nationalities come together in the streets. The cosmopolitanism of the Pâquis is further accentuated by the presence of international organizations and international districts where delegates from all over the world live. Tourists, members of embassies, Pâquisard-es and Genevois-es all meet on the quays and in the parks, where it is good to stroll in fine weather.

Formerly made up of vast fields, Pâquis Sécheron has gradually attracted luxury hotels, cabarets and artists. Evolution of the neighborhood: from meadows to luxury hotels.

Originally, the Pâquis are pastures that extend to the lake. They are outside the city walls, in the former commune of Petit-Saconnex. When the first buildings appear along the current rue de Lausanne, their inhabitants continue to graze cows, horses, donkeys, goats and sheep by the lake.

In the 19th century, the district changed. In place of the small port of the Fossé Vert, the square and the garden of the Alps are being built. Stylish horse-drawn carriages replace the cows by the lake. The pastures give way to pretty houses surrounded by gardens and luxury hotels. But the city of Geneva is cramped and extends beyond the ramparts. The region between the station and the lake is then covered with streets at right angles and Pâquis Sécheron becomes a “modern” district.

From the beginning of the 20th century, bistros, cabarets, music halls, brothels and then brothels multiplied north of Pâquis. From now on, very lively places and luxury buildings come together.

The residential sector of Sécheron
North of Avenue de France, Sécheron is an urban area surrounded by parks, international organizations and the railway. On the other side of the CFF tracks, between the Voie hollow and the Place des Nations, a new residential district has been built in recent years as an extension of the building complexes in Vermont.

The international sector of Nations
The Nations sector is an important center of activity for the City of Geneva. It is also a place appreciated by tourists. Many international organizations are based there. There are among others the European headquarters of the United Nations (UN) and that of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC). This district starts from the Place des Nations, redeveloped in 2007 into a public space with water games. Its floor is made up of alternating granites, the colors of which symbolize the diversity of nations, and strips of concrete, a traditional material from Geneva. There is also the work ” Broken Chair “, which is one of the curiosities of the district.

The large parks of the right bank
The sector extends to the border with the municipalities of Grand-Saconnex and Pregny-Chambésy. Closer to the lake, it also includes the large parks on the right bank: Mon-Repos park, Moynier, Perle du lac, Barton, William Rappard, Botanical garden and Ariana park.

Discover a selection of the curiosities of the Pâquis Sécheron district, most of which are steeped in history.

The Bains des Pâquis
The Bains des Pâquis have been part of the history of the district since 1872. Initially private, they are called “Bains Henri”, after their owner. In 1889, they became municipal and a lighthouse was erected there in 1911. In 1931, they were completely rebuilt. Threatened with destruction in 1988, they were saved by a popular initiative. Today, whether for fondue, sun or sauna, the Bains des Pâquis are a place very popular with the Geneva population, who come in droves, summer and winter. A 1952 advertisement praised “Pâquis-Plage, the official establishment of the City of Geneva. Baths of Water, Air and Sun ”.

“Broken chair” of the Place des Nations
At the heart of international Geneva, the Place des Nations provides a platform for citizens of the world to challenge public opinion and diplomats. The monumental “ Broken chair ”, created by the Geneva artist Daniel Berset, stands on it. This amputated chair symbolizes the fight against anti-personnel mines.

Trees that bear witness to history

Metasequoia, living fossils
True living fossils, metasequoia have existed for over 200 million years.In 1943, the discovery in China of several living specimens of this conifer, which was believed to have disappeared forever, aroused enormous interest. Noting that this tree is endangered, the Arnold Arboretum in Boston distributes the seeds collected during an expedition to China to several botanical gardens. Some of them were sown in Geneva in 1948. Today, visitors to the Botanical Garden can admire three specimens of this tree, which already rubbed shoulders with dinosaurs!

The plane trees of the Botanical Garden, colossi of 300 years
The alley of plane trees in the Botanical Garden is home to some of the oldest trees in the canton. The age of these specimens is estimated at 300 years. Indeed, they already appeared on a plan of 1728, deposited in the archives of the cadastre of the canton. From the top of their peaks (the highest culminates at 37 meters with a circumference of 4.5 meters) they saw the neighborhood transform. They witnessed, among other things, the arrival of the railway, the construction of the Swiss road and the creation of the UN.

Brunswick monument
Linguist, horseman and musician, the Duke of Brunswick Charles d’Este-Guelph is also an original and a paranoid. In 1830, a revolt drove him out of his duchy located in present-day Germany. He first settled in Paris, where he made his fortune, then in Geneva in 1870. When he died in 1873, this duke left no heir. He then decides to bequeath his considerable fortune to the City of Geneva in exchange for a beautiful funeral and a monument to his name. Until that time had never been built a mausoleum in Geneva. The realization of the Brunswik monument in 1879 in the Jardin des Alpes, therefore aroused much debate. As the Duke demands in his will, the monument mimics the tomb of the Scaligeri family in Verona, Italy, a work of the 14th century. 14 years later, the equestrian statue placed at the top of the building wavers. She went down and placed on the esplanade.

If the right bank of the lake and its many parks are ideal places for strolling, thematic routes also allow you to discover the district.

The Cultural Trail of Nations
The Nations Cultural Trail will take you to meet six museums:
the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens;
the Museum of the Swiss in the World;
the International Museum of the Red Cross;
the Ariana Museum;
the League of Nations Museum;
the History of Science Museum.
Practical information is available in French and English.

Thematic walking route “From the spirit of Geneva”
The “In the spirit of Geneva” walk will take you to discover the many international organizations in Geneva, and more particularly the Pâquis Sécheron district. Along the way, near the Place des Nations, you will discover the headquarters of the main international organizations that work for a better world and shape the “Spirit of Geneva”.

Related anecdotes
An empress died on the quays, Casanova conquered two Genevans at Mon Repos, a century-old artist painted the UN fresco…

Assassination of Empress Sissi
On September 10, 1898, Elisabeth de Wittelsbach, better known under the pseudonym Sissi, was murdered on the Quai du Mont-Blanc. The Pâquis district then goes down in history. The murderer is an Italian anarchist named Luccheni. He wanted to kill the Comte de Paris, but the latter had postponed his trip to Geneva. He then decides to stab Empress Sissi when she leaves the Hotel Beau-Rivage. The unfortunate woman thinks she is only injured and embarks aboard the Geneva boat. She must quickly return to the quay and dies. The boat is no longer sailing, but is still moored at the Eaux-Vives quay. A statue in honor of Sissi stands at the scene of the drama.

The centenary author of the UN fresco
When the fresco that illuminates the entrance to the United Nations was unveiled in 2009, its author, Hans Herni, was over a hundred years old. To celebrate the event, 56 other Geneva centenarians are invited and can hear the artist explain his work: “I have tried to make this fresco as transparent as possible, in order to give the illusion of piercing the walls of this UN, wonderful non-belligerent organization! ”.

The Palais Mascotte, the “Geneva Pigalle”
In the heart of Geneva nights since 1887, the Palais Mascotte is one of the oldest cabarets in Geneva. This popular dance hall in the rue de Monthoux saw the majority of foreign artists passing through until it closed at the end of the 90s. Its atmosphere and decor inspired more than one, including Enzo Corman who dedicated his piece Palais to it. Mascot. In 1999, a motion was even presented to the Grand Council to classify it as a “historic monument”. After its long closure, it reopened in May 2008.

Casanova’s frolics on the shores of Lake Geneva
The Mon-Repos property, bequeathed to the City in 1898, is the first public park on the shores of Lake Geneva. Previously, this elegant villa has seen many famous hosts, including Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, author of The Little Mermaid, and Casanova, the famous Italian libertine with 122 conquests. In his “story of my life”, he recounts a fine dinner with two Genevans in the villa which had been loaned to him by his banker Robert Tronchin. After having housed an ethnographic museum and then the first French-speaking television studio, the villa is currently the seat of the Henry-Dunant Institute.

In art
The French painter Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot produced in 1842 an oil on canvas called “Le Quai des Pâquis in Geneva”. This work is exhibited at the Museum of Art and History;
In his childhood, Jean-Jacques Rousseau spent his Sundays at Pâquis in the studio of one of his uncles. He evokes memories of it in his Reveries of a solitary walker;
Towards the end of his life, the painter Ferdinand Hodler lived in a building on the Quai du Mont-Blanc. From his window, he paints his last landscapes: the harbor with its swans and the peaks of the Alps in the distance;
The famous French writer Chateaubriand stayed in 1831 at the Place de la Navigation. Not far from there, a street and a square bear his name;
In the 19th century, the Geneva writer Henri-Frédéric Amiel celebrated the Pâquis in verse: “The Pâquis, rich neighborhoods / Where flourishes, among the sites, / Notre Bohème, / Beautiful places, included by the Grant, / But where, at night, going home / Is a problem ”.