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It’s Monday morning and along with my coffee I am reviewing the weekend’s pictures posted on Facebook. I can’t help but notice the contrast of Saturday’s cold and cloudy Women’s March for Dignity and Sunday’s skiing and ice skating in the sunny Alps and on the lac de Joux.

This is winter in Geneva. We are on a lake surrounded by mountains that create and trap a damp, cloudy weather pattern from December to mid-February. In order to maintain your sanity you’ve got to make a conscious effort to both escape and embrace our winter weather.

Geneva country side

Find the sun: This is imperative and actually not so difficult. The sun is usually not far away; less than a thousand vertical meters.  In fact during times of fog the radio stations announce the height you need to climb in order to find sunshine on your face. Near Geneva you can hike the Saleve or go a little further into the French Alps which are only an hour by car. If you live near the Jura mountains, check if the skating is open on the lac de Joux (Vaud). This past weekend, it was gorgeous.

Skating near Geneva.

Image by Keystone.

If you prefer Switzerland, you can go anywhere by train and bus. I like to head to the Valais. I kid you not that as soon as you reach the other end of the lake and enter the valley, the fog disappears and the sun beats down bringing a smile to your face. The southern exposed resorts of Ovronnaz, Villar and Crans Montana are known for their sun (but don’t expect great snow.)

Sunshine at the end of the lake in Valais..

Sunshine at the end of the lake in Valais..

Get warm: Geneva has two lake-side sauna/spas. The Bains des Pâquis is very low-key with its saunas, Turkish baths and steam baths (check out the blog Winter Heat at the Bains des Pâquis) . It is located on the lake’s edge so after heating up you can plunge directly into the cold water. My Swiss friends tell me this is an excellent form of building up one’s immune system.

Alternatively there is the luxurious Bain Bleu near Genève plage. I have not yet been to this upscale spa with its heated rooftop pool and beautiful Turkish bath but based on the photos I’ve seen it may be worth your money.

If you don’t like saunas, another warm experience is the champagne fondue at the Buvette des Bains des Pâquis. By ordering your fondue outside in the freezing cold, you feel even warmer when you step into the cozy, wood-heated shelter to eat. I found this nice description of one visitor’s experience at Be a TravelBee. Dinners are full so call ahead to reserve.


Picture courtesy of Be a TravelBee.

A new alternative, is the having fondue on one of Geneva’s historical paddle boat’s as it cruises up the lake and back down. Cruises are Friday night’s from 19:30 to 22:15 for CHF 49.00 (adult cheese fondue) and CHF 69.00 (adult Chinese fondue). You must reserve here.

Get out and explore: Try visiting somewhere you haven’t been yet; maybe a museum, the cathedral or a new part of town.

Last week, the American International Women’s Club visited the recently opened Charlie Chaplin’s World near Vevey. The exposition is excellent. We will also be visiting the Läderach Chocolate Factory in February. Need I say chocolate is extremely good for the soul.

Be social. Be with friends: A good laugh, dinner or excursion with friends is always an important aspect of wellbeing. If you’re new to Geneva and a woman, come visit our Club. There is always something going on and it usually includes a warm cup of coffee or tea, maybe a bit of wine, some laughter and always a smile.

Embrace the weather: Sometimes you just have to force yourself to see the beauty in darkness. Personally I love taking walks along the lake or in the fields when the fog is at its lowest. You can’t see a thing but you hear the eerie fog horns of the yellow public transport boats carefully crossing the lake.

Lastly, you just have to be patient. Every now and then at the end of the day something changes in the temperature. The fog lifts and the sun comes out just for a few minutes. Make sure you stop what your are doing, step outside and soak in those rays.

Is there something special you do to keep the winter blues at bay? I am always looking for new ideas so please share.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/