Lifestyle & Culture

More than just a Christmas Market, Noël au Quai is Geneva’s Winter Wonderland

Ah, the sweet sound of jingle bells, the smell of roasting chestnuts, and the promise of vin chaud (mulled wine; you better learn your French vocab pal if you’re heading to Geneva) to warm our chilly hands – it’s that time of the year again! Geneva’s Christmas Market, Noël au Quai, is back, and it’s ready to turn the Quai du Mont-Blanc into a winter wonderland from now thru Christmas Eve.

The hours here are different than German markets, with Geneva open as late as 1 a.m. (You can see dates and hours here.)

The Quirky Quai

Nestled against the shimmering waters of Lake Geneva, the Quai du Mont-Blanc is shedding its usual serenity to become the backdrop for the most festive fiesta in town. It’s where you take your most
Instagrammable photos
with the Jet d’Eau, and on a very clear day Mont-Blanc (!) Europe’s highest mountain, hop on one of the city’s oldest steamboats, and pretend to be philosophical while gazing at the lake.

Welcome to the Quai du Mont-Blanc, now transformed into the magical setting of Geneva’s Christmas Market. I thought it would be less nice than last year, as the market was at the Jardin des Anglais, but turns out it’s even better and bigger this year!

• Kid-Friendly Capers: Carousels and Yurts

For the little ones (and the young at heart, aka me), a vintage carousel promises to sprinkle magic throughout the market. Meanwhile, the yurt is the go-to spot for a myriad of activities – from crafting and Christmas decor creation to games, face painting, and story time. Because, let’s be honest, what’s a Christmas Market without a bit of whimsical fun for the kiddos? Damn, am I getting old … my friends are starting to have children. The yurt is a great place to drop them while we go have a few drinks at the Christmas Pub.

(Keep reading to learn more about it – I know how to grab my readers’ attention, follow me for more tips).

• Arts, Crafts, and Artisanal Shenanigans

If your idea of a perfect Christmas involves discovering unique gifts, then the artisanal chalets are your holiday haven. With a rotation of local creators and designers each week, you’re in for a treat every time you visit, which is really nice: this Christmas Market is keeping me on my toes, man.

Expect them to share their passion, inspire your gift-giving spirit, and probably convince you to buy that handcrafted snow globe you never knew you needed.

Street Food Galore: Raclette or Vin Chaud? Why Not Both!

For the culinary adventurers, the Christmas Market is a foodie paradise. Whether you’re in the mood for a steaming pot of raclette, a cup of mulled wine, or both, the street food stalls are ready to take your taste buds on a delightful journey.

But the pièce de résistance, you ask?

The grand wooden chalet serving up mouthwatering fondue in the heart of the market for 26 Swiss francs per person, which is a very fair price for Geneva. Book your spot now because melted cheese is always in high demand baby.

Honestly, as you enter the chalet, you get immediately absorbed by the cosy, warm atmosphere, I absolutely love it there. In fact, I would quite happily move in there, although it’s probably for the best that I’m not allowed to. I would most likely transform into a wheel of cheese, wider than I am tall.

Enough rambling, put on your coziest hat, wrap yourself in a scarf because it’s gotten hella cold, hella fast in Geneva, and head to Noël au Quai.

Santa does not exist, but fondue does, and that’s somehow even better … don’t argue with me.

Merry Christmas, y’all xx.

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See more about Switzerland here in Dispatches’ archives.

Read more from Charlotte here.

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Charlotte Laborie grew up in England, Belgium and Switzerland. Charlotte then moved to Paris and graduated from Sciences Po Paris. She is still based in Paris, where she works in marketing.

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