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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Geneva article click DailyXtraTravel
Situated between the Alps and the Jura Mountains at the very southwest of Switzerland on Lac Lï¿½man, Geneva is the second most populous and the most French of the Swiss cities. With hundreds of international governmental and other organizations based here, it's also a very multicultural scene of many languages and cuisines.
The bars here are mostly small and intimate, sprinkled among the streets around the Gare de Cornavin train station, and easily sampled on foot.
Nathan (6 rue Baudit) is often cited as Geneva's most chic gay bar, a popular hang-out on an obscure back street behind the station. From rue de la Servette go right at the blue "UOG" sign by the Salvation Army building, then look to the left. Their two rooms are bright, modern, casual, and usually full with a young and international crowd from 5 p.m. daily (from 8 p.m. in summertime) until late into the night.
The shopping center beneath the station exits onto rue du Mont Blanc, a pedestrian street lined with shops and sidewalk cafes, which then leads to Pont du Mont Blanc. Here along quai Mont Blanc are more outdoor cafes, along with bike rentals, ferries, and excursion boats. After a short walk to the left along the waterfront, a small fee will admit you onto a narrow spit of land thrusting into the water. Here in summer beyond the pebbly family beach is a small but cruisy narrow park at the point; it's been a meeting place for generations.
The bar and cafe Concorde (3 rue de Berne) is a busy locals' hangout, just off rue Mont Blanc. Here too is the not fancy and not-too-expensive Hotel Lido (8 rue Chantepoulet; Hotel-lido.ch), one of the most convenient lodging options at the center. They give free transit passes to get around town.Hotel Astoria (6 Place Cornavin) is a three-star choice at the station.
Nearby, the super-store Manor (6 rue Cornavin) sells about everything a traveler might need -- cheap -- from groceries and clothes to cell phones and batteries.
Other bars between the station and the waterfront include: Le Phare (3 rue Lissignol), with a young gay and East Village sort of crowd, with a touch of counter-culture ambience, and casual living-room style indoor and outdoor benches; and Twins (11 rue Chaponniï¿½re), a tiny, kitschy gay spot with sidewalk seating. La Bretelle (17 rue des Etuves) brings a hip mix of people to a small nook of a bar. Le Ranch (7 rue Sismondi) is a favorite women's hangout.
A new places to check out this year is Boudoir de la Baronne (3 rue Rossi), open until 5 a.m., with sexy strip shows twice weekly, DJs, and theme nights.
Also here is Fenomeno (28 rue des Pï¿½quis), a mixed club with big open seats, a small dance floor, and frequent events. Algion Bar (16 rue Sismondi) undergoes a transformation from typical Pï¿½quis bar and cafe restaurant by day into a most unusual nightclub by night, with DJs and a marvelous mix of people.
Substation (14 rue de Neuchï¿½tel) is a gay porn shop with videos, dark rooms, and cabins, along with all the magazines and accessories you'd expect.
Across the Rhone River Bains De L'est (3 rue de l'Est) is the most convenient of all the saunas for most visitors. The facility is constantly being renovated and includes a steamroom, Finnish sauna, private cabins, a video lounge, private video cabins, sling-room, an orgy area, with a big new dark room, a solarium, workout facilities, and a bar. Lots of events fill the calendar here, such as naked parties on first Saturdays from 11 p.m. (July 5 and August 2 upcoming), and Sunday cake parties, too. Bears have special nights here every Wednesday. After the quarterly MOA season parties there are all-day Sunday bear affairs from 4 a.m. until 11 p.m. Naked parties on first Saturdays from 11 p.m. Tuesday and Fridays here are mixed. Thursdays here see two-for-one special entry rates.
Avanchets (Avenue de Batista) near the airport, has mixed (gay and straight) action.
Le Nidï¿½poule (26 rue Adrien-Lachenal) serves "fresh French" cuisine, with amiable hosts Phillipe and Lionel attending to every detail. It's close to sauna Bains de l'Est, so make a night of it without going far.
Other local gay restaurant favorites include: Au Platane (91 Boulevard de la Cluse), with a terrace under the trees and serving French and Swiss specialties;La Certitude (7 rue Rossi), with late dining hours until 11 (midnight if reserved ahead); and Le Comptoir (9 rue de Richemont), with South Asian cuisine and sushi ï¿½ la New York.
Le Dï¿½clic (28 Boulevard du Pont d'Arve) is a popular, relaxed, and comfortable gem of a bar located near the Arve River, ten minutes by tram (number 13) from the station. Tube (3 rue de l'Universitï¿½), an old gay favorite, has reopened after many years with a whole new look.
For dancing, Organic Club (4 rue de la Rotisserie) has an intimate but intense party atmosphere, Tuesday through Sunday nights from 11 p.m. Also, there are four gay "Season Parties" at MOA Club (22 Chemin des Bataillles, Vernier), five kilometers outside Geneva (free buses from the station). "Summer" will be on July 10. See Maurocat.com for "Autumn" dates and other events.
Dialogai Center (11-13 rue de la Navigation; Dialogai.org) is a local community and information center that also has film nights and sponsors special parties. 360 Magazine (360.ch) is a French-language guide to gay Geneva, Lausanne, and beyond, and they sponsor events as well.