A simple truth is that the holiday season and Switzerland are a match much akin to beer and sporting events. Winter means snow, which means skiing, and now your mind says you need to be drowning in cashmere, eating fondue and drinking mulled wine in a chalet. It’s a George Michael fever dream that everyone dreams of having.
While a Genevois Christmas fails to satisfy Swiss holiday fantasies, the city is on its way to remedy this disconnect. Here are the four stages of holiday manifestation, from artisanal crafts to portable fondue and hot Baileys, illustrated through Geneva Christmas markets.
Level 1: The Quaint - Marché de Noël à la Fusterie
While not the Christmas Market in Geneva you write home about, the Marché de Noël à la Fusterie reflects the importance of the artisan.
The Marché de Noël à la Fusterie is composed of nondescript white tents rotating creators from “Les Artisans Créateurs de la Fusterie”. You may already be familiar with their products if you've speed-walked through Rue de la Confédération at rush hour.
From handmade hats to the couture of independent designers, you're bound to find something memorable to treat yourself for the end of the year. Fusterie gives these artisans the opportunity share their creations every weekend of the year, weather permitting.
Plus, we have to give them credit for confronting the giants of the high-street. The window displays at Globus don't scream "Walk past this and go to the Christmas market next door". But there are some things Globus doesn't have that a Christmas market does.
Level 2: The Solid - Marché de Noël du Mont-Blanc
We’re getting there. Wooden chalets and Geneva's signature roasted chestnuts are some of the things that define the Marché de Noël du Mont-Blanc.
This is a perfect spot if you’re looking for a generous selection of foodstuffs. They range from gourmet nougats to traditional Christmas treats. There's delicious têtes au chocolat (marshmallow mousse coated in chocolate on a wafer base) and Lebkuchen (German gingerbread).
Level 3: The Sunday Afternoon in Christmas Market - Carouge Magique
The city of Carouge has a rich history with the artisan and, with Carouge Magique, it shows. Reserved for the weekends, the Marché de Noël found on the streets of Carouge boasts over thirty stops to grab a bite.
Both local restaurants and shops extend their services out front. They join in on the festivities, which span from Place de l'Octroi all the way down to Place du Rondeau. As one of largest and much akin to a block party, Carouge certainly houses the perfect Christmas market in Geneva for a long stroll.
Plenty of stands offer the must-have hot wine and various other drinks. They keep your hands warm as you browse through endless streets of tents housing an array of farmers and artisans.
Although most of the action takes place on the weekends, the market invites guests to discover their advent calender of daily surprises. Hosted at various venues, doors are opened to a different artisan from the Parcours des Ateliers Carougeois each day for attendees to discover.
Level 4: The Tree-Topper of Geneva Christmas Markets - Noël aux Bastions
Noël aux Bastions wants you to stay. There are many opportunities to have a cozy seat next to a fireside. Or you can stay in a beer garden draped in gold tinsel as you sink your teeth into a half-baguette filled with melted fondue. That’s right: Noël aux Bastions offers portable fondue. This is the kind of beast the rest of the Christmas Markets in Geneva are faced with.
Bastions transforms into the ultimate Christmas market in Geneva with wooden paths weaving through a suburb of chalets housing food trucks. We're talking Geneva staples such as The Hamburger Foundation and Lobster & Co.. And they live harmoniously with stands dishing out winter classics the likes of raclette or sausages with Berner Rösti (if you’re feeling particularly Swiss).
Navigating the crowds with mulled wine in one hand and a Bailey’s hot chocolate in the other, which I desperately tried not to spill onto the sea of children below, I realize - this festival was the result of a deep want for Christmas spirit unseen anywhere else in the city. This is you unwinding in that chalet in the alps to hotel lobby Christmas jazz.
Smiling families huddle around metal fire pits. Young professionals socialize outside the Christmas Pub chalet over after-work pints. Giggling internationals taste-test crêpes and waffles from confectionery stands scattered across the village. These are images of closeness you see when people feel good.
There is the ice skating rink and a program of musical performances, workshops and child-friendly activities, next to the standard Christmas market program. Noël aux Bastions marks itself as the Christmas Market in Geneva.
It offers families opportunities to go out and spend real quality time doing things they’ll enjoy. At the same time, everyone can engage with the community and honoring the city’s artisans.
For an idea of the holiday magic at this Geneva Christmas Market, head on over to Noël aux Bastions's Instagram!