Staying in France while visiting Geneva?
May 3, 2007 3:01 PM   Subscribe

For a visit to Geneva, would it be advisable and convenient to stay in a nearby town in France? Which town? Which hotel? Convenience is key!

My boss is going to Geneva for a conference and then staying afterward for a week's vacation. We're having a hotel emergency, in that it turns out the hotel hosting the conference does not have a room for her from May 22 - 27 (this is once the conference is over). Apparently it's some sort of holiday that week (?), and I cannot find a room for her. She's going to be sleeping on the street!

So my question is, how big a deal would it be for her to stay in one of the neighboring towns in France -- Annemasse comes up in hotel results a lot, for example, and also Ferney-Voltaire. Because the EU is so open, she can just take the train back and forth with no problem, right? There wouldn't be any border crossings or customs to deal with? (She won't have a car.) I'm assuming that as long as I get her a hotel that's near a train station, it would be painless -- is that correct?

How long would the journey be from Annemasse into Geneva? Are there other towns I should check out, also? Does anyone have any specific hotel suggestions? It would have to be very convenient to Geneva and very hassle-free - a very short train ride, and a very short walk to the train station.
posted by thatgirl to Travel & Transportation around Geneva, Switzerland (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I lived in St. Jean de Gonville while working in Geneva in 1999 and it was quite an easy commute across the border. It is common to go back and forth and I only remember having to stop to show my passport once. I'm sure that the situation is the same on the train. Then again, it was a pre-9/11 world; I'm not sure how things might have changed since. If you ask me, the French countryside is much nicer than Geneva proper which can be cold and transitory. Saint Genis is nice, but I don't recall the hotel/transport circumstances there. Good luck!
posted by B-squared at 3:23 PM on May 3, 2007

I've stayed in Ferney and don't think there is a train that goes into Geneva from there. There is a bus though and it's an easy 10 or 15 minutes ride into Geneva. It usually cruises through border control but I've been on it once or twice when the bus was stopped and passports checked.

If you want convenience over luxury, the Hotel Median is not that bad. It's close to the airport and the bus into Geneva stops only about 100 yards away. Right down the street is the Hotel Stars which is dirt cheap but a real dump. It's close to the bus stop though (just across the street).

There are probably a few nicer places to stay in Ferney but those are the most convenient to Geneva.
posted by gfrobe at 3:23 PM on May 3, 2007

When I lived in Geneva I did my grocery shopping in Ferney-Voltaire, so it's definately reasonable. Annemasse seems a bit closer but it's not as nice. You could also look into Gex.

Also, Switzerland isn't part of the EU, so yes, there are border crossings. The ones near FV are small and quick, the ones south near Annemasse see a lot more traffic so are often busier. You can take the bus and/or train to both FV and Annemasse.

The Geneva Airport is really in France on the north side of the city, next to FV, that might be more convenient for your boss too.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:24 PM on May 3, 2007

Here is a map of the bus system, FV is on the north, Annemasse the south. Sorry it's in French, I couldn't find the english version.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:28 PM on May 3, 2007

I just realized you wanted convenient. I should have been clearer, it's do-able, but not convenient to stay outside of Geneva unless you have a car.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:31 PM on May 3, 2007

Best place to look is in Nyon (in CH). It's no more than 15 minutes into the city. Several lovely small hotels and very frequent trains into the main station or the airport.
posted by michswiss at 12:52 AM on May 4, 2007

Also just to mention, there are several border crossings in the area that are completely uncontrolled. You'd have to be observant to notice you'd changed countries.
posted by michswiss at 12:55 AM on May 4, 2007

Neither Annemasse nor Ferney are particularly nice towns, but both have reasonable transport into Geneva, although I suspect Annemasse would have more, and is bigger than Ferney and is more of a "town". Customs shouldn't be a problem from either place though.

You can check public transport itineraries and times here.

I second Nyon as an option if Geneva itself is not possible. It's a nice little place in its own right (on the lake) and links into Geneva main station (Cornavin) are frequent and fast.
posted by jontyjago at 1:17 AM on May 4, 2007

Is she desperate to spend the holiday in Geneva, or would it be easier to go to another city for the week? Lyon, Bern, Zurich, or Turin are all close enough that she could easily catch a train there for a few days, then come back to catch her flight home from Geneva.
posted by jacalata at 1:45 AM on May 4, 2007

I crossed the border from Geneva into France a couple of times, and never even showed my passport. This was 2002 at the height of post-9/11 paranoia.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:54 AM on May 4, 2007

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