Geneva is located at the place where water from Lac Leman, known in English as Lake Geneva, leaves the lake and starts flowing down the Rhône River for 354 miles (570 Kilometers), mainly through France, before reaching the Mediterranean Sea.
Much of Geneva’s attractiveness as a city has to do with its setting on the right and left banks of the lake as it narrows down to enter the river.
All you loyal readers of my post The Rhône River in Avignon might recall that by the time the Rhône gets down to the south of France it is seriously polluted. But this is not yet the case in Geneva, where the Rhône has a brief moment of glory as one of the world’s cleanest rivers as it flows out of the lake and through the city, the reason for this unusual cleanliness being that all the gunk has settled to the bottom of the lake. But after a short distance the first tributary comes in, and the murkiness begins.
In the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, by the way, the Rhône is called the Rotten River. This is not because it is rotten in the English sense of the word, but because Rotten happens to be the Swiss-German word for Rhône.
The Jet d’eau is Geneva’s trademark, a water fountain in the harbor that shoots half a cubic meter of water per second up to a height of 140 meters.
Originally it pumped drinking water from the city water supply, but in 1951 the present Jet d’eau was installed in a partially submerged pumping station to pump lake water instead of city water.
Since 2003, the fountain has been operating during the day all year round, except in exceptional circumstances such as frost or strong winds. Except in winter, the fountain also operates in the evenings and is illuminated.
My photos in this post are from 2008. I revised the text in 2018.
See more posts on Geneva, Switzerland.