If you’ve been in Geneva long enough, you know there is a bit of a divide between “Rive Droite” and “Rive Gauche” – and I don’t just mean the lake and the Rhone. Although I now live in (and love) the Paquis as one of the only places that comes close to “urban” in Geneva, I was raised in what seems like a land far far away, across the lake, up the lake, and around the bend.
It’s one of the beautiful aspects of Geneva. You can live downtown and enjoy a multicultural environment, with restaurants offering cuisine from around the world, getting around by bike and barhopping with ease. Granted, the city definitely sleeps at some point, and it would be silly to pretend Geneva is anything like New York or London, Madrid, Paris or even Prague. What it DOES have over all of those places though is a breathtaking countryside just minutes away from the increasingly busy downtown area.
A few weeks ago now, in a fit of nostalgia, I scooped my local family and some out of town family that was visiting, and we drove out to Gy, a community that has existed roughly since the 1200s (yeah), and officially established itself as its own ‘commune’, apart from neighboring Jussy, in the 1800s. (Don’t you love Swiss decentralization??) The village is situated on a plateau and has really spectacular views of the Saleve and the Alps, and is surrounded by fields of sunflowers and vineyards. For this reason alone, heading out to this part of the canton is highly recommended.
But getting back to the good part. Aside from its gorgeous environment, Gy is also home to the Ferme de Merlinge, where on Saturdays, from 9:30 to 1:30, you can enjoy a classic, farm fresh brunch with a huge spread of some of the territory’s best products. For a flat, affordable fee, you have access to an all you can eat buffet of fresh out of the oven breads, homemade jams, and perfectly made crepes. For the more savory-inclined, the omelet is out of this world, and they offer enough varieties of cheeses to please everyone-soft and pungent to hard and salty, and from goat to cow’s milk. And don’t walk off without trying the fresh pressed apple cider.
And as if it wasn’t enough to be served with an unlimited supply of grandma’s best, the farm also includes a market where you can buy all of these tasty delights to take them home with you, not to mention walnut oils, raspberry vinegars, and free range chickens.
In addition to the brunch, the farm hosts a number of activities, like a trip through the grape vineyards on a choo-choo train (yeah, it’s mostly for kids, but they’ll let you on even if you don’t really fit in the seats), and wine tastings (while the kids take a spin on the train?). On occasion they also invite you out for the cueillete or fruit picking, though it’s best to call ahead to find out what’s available.
The downsides? I would have to point to two critical omissions from their buffet: 1) no chocolate (NONE!) and 2) no espresso. I know. I know. It hurts. But trust me, even this complete chocoholic would go back any Saturday of the week.
So some logistics to help you get out there: 1) if you don’t have a car, you can take the A bus from Rive to the “Merlinge” stop. Check the schedules ahead of time at http://www.tpg.ch, since it doesn’t run every 5 minutes like every other bus does. 2) brunch available every saturday until December 24th. 3) GO HUNGRY!