• Cath

Travel in Geneva with food intolerances

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

Geneva, Switzerland  April 2016

We decided to spend a weekend in Geneva before flying home after our time in Annecy. Luckily my husband had the forethought to book us a self catering serviced apartment rather than a hotel room, because it is SO EXPENSIVE to eat out. We were not prepared for the prices.

We went looking for a raw food / vegan restaurant that we had read about online called Vital Way, but it seemed to have disappeared, and we could not find it at the address given. Another vegan restaurant in Geneva that no longer exists is Helveg Cafe, which apparently closed in December 15. I am mentioning this because you might read about them on other websites then be disappointed when you can't find them!

So our first meal was from the supermarket! I spent €26 on a salad, salad dressing, hummus, trout carpaccio, and a fresh carrot and orange juice. It was quite eye opening!

I found the Free From section in the supermarket, and we bought some rice and pasta sauce and pork  to make a very simple cheaper meal (plus leftovers for breakfast!).

The next mistake we made was to think that anything might be open on a Sunday. All the restaurants seem to close on a Sunday, even if the internet says otherwise! And supermarkets are also closed on Sunday. Good luck trying to eat out in Geneva on a Sunday!

So instead I am going to tell you about the places I researched, but didn't get to try!

We had read about this reasonably priced chicken restaurant called Chez Ma Cousine (about €25 for a main course as opposed to €50 for a main meal, as was the case in other restaurants.) I was really looking forward to eating there, but we walked past it on Saturday to check it out as a venue for Sunday and discovered it was closed Sundays. The next plan was to visit an area called Carouge (an Italian quarter). The internet promised a gluten free cafe that would be open on sundays called Hanse Cafe. We got there and that was closed for Sunday too! (I think we were just unlucky that weekend, as Hanse cafe is normally supposed to be open.) Next door to Hanse there was a little cafe called Calme that was open, and had some gluten free offerings. There are options, but I just decided to survive on my emergency can of organic baked beans that I had in my suitcase. (living like a backpacker!) I am not a fan of spending a small fortune on cafe food anyway.

If money is no object or you want to treat yourself to a gourmet meal you could try these places:

Rasoi by Vineet in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (one michelin star) Indian restaurant

Lefloris. The chef there recreates his best recipes for clients that are gluten or casein intolerant.

French is the main language that is spoken in Geneva, but Switzerland itself has four official languages that vary according to location : French, German, Italian, and Rumantsch.(No idea what that is!!) If you are planing to eat out it is a good idea to print off some translation cards.

So my summary of Geneva might not be as helpful as you were hoping, because we cooked for ourselves, and due to everything being closed on a Sunday we didn't get to eat out.

Anyway, hopefully this might give you some insight if you are planning a trip there, and a couple of ideas about places to try!  (but not on a Sunday!!) It should also warn you to be prepared for high prices, and definitely pack some food and snacks to take in your suitcase!

We almost ended up getting stuck in Geneva, as we got a message at 5pm on Sunday telling us our 9.45pm flight home with Easy Jet had been cancelled. We hotfooted it to the airport immediately, and we were one of the lucky few who managed to squeeze onto the earlier 7.15pm flight home. Phew! I can only imagine the chaos at the Easy Jet counter that night with 300 people stranded at the airport!

If you have any experiences of eating out with food intolerances in Geneva then leave me a comment! :)

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