An Insider’s Guide to Luxury Week in Geneva

An Insider’s Guide to Luxury Week in Geneva

Sotheby's Jewellery specialist and eight-year resident of Geneva, Marie-Cécile Cisamolo takes us on a tour of the picturesque Swiss city as it bursts into life for the annual Sotheby's Luxury Week auctions and a citywide celebration of gems and jewels.
Sotheby's Jewellery specialist and eight-year resident of Geneva, Marie-Cécile Cisamolo takes us on a tour of the picturesque Swiss city as it bursts into life for the annual Sotheby's Luxury Week auctions and a citywide celebration of gems and jewels.

I ’ve been living in Geneva for eight years, now, ever since moving here in 2015. I was born in France but started my career in London, where I stayed for six years, working in jewellery and auctions. Then, I came here where the jewellery scene is simply the best!

Marie-Cécile Cisamolo

Geneva is the hidden gem of Europe. Sometimes, I meet people who have never visited Geneva and they have this impression that it is going to be very boring, but really Geneva is right in the middle of Europe. In Geneva, you are three hours away from Italy, and right next to France. Life here is wonderful. You can go swimming after work in the lake during summer and, in the winter, you go up the mountains and ski every weekend! If you fancy a weekend break out of town, you can just drive 20 minutes from the centre of town and be in the middle of a field surrounded by nature, or on the beach, or on a terrace overlooking the slopes, high up in the mountains. Quite amazing!

Each November, the whole jewellery world comes to Geneva for the auctions, which started in the 1960s. So much so that, a few years ago, a trade fair, GemGenève, was launched around this week. Everyone who is anyone is here during Sotheby's Luxury Week.

"Everyone who is anyone is here during Sotheby's Luxury Week"

When walking down the street, you can hear people speaking Italian, English, French, Chinese, Yiddish, Hindi - the whole world is here, and the atmosphere is really pumping! And of course, at Sotheby’s, we offer our guests several exciting exclusive events, such as a wine tasting with Hospice de Beaune, private VIP tours of our Magnificent Jewels auction exhibitions, a rare watches event, a whisky event - there’s so much happening!

Auction: Sotheby's Luxury sales

These are the biggest luxury auctions in Europe They take place twice a year and really, they are the last word in luxury with handbags, jewellery, whisky and wine.

Sotheby’s Geneva
2, Rue François-Diday
Geneva 1204

Patek Philippe Museum

Museum show: The Patek Philippe museum 

It’s simply a really cool museum. Here, you can discover the whole history of Patek Philippe, from its beginnings in 1839 to the latest new models from 2023. I remember visiting Geneva before moving here, and although I am not a watch aficionado, I was really surprised to find I was totally drawn into the history of the place and its design. I really enjoyed it! It’s a beautiful building, an oasis of calm and luxury in the middle of the city.

 Patek Philippe Museum
Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 7, 1205 Geneva 

Place du Marché, Carouge (Image: Sarah Najjar)

Market: Marché de Carouge

Just five minutes away from the centre of town is the Marché de Carouge, a neighbourhood street market. It’s really picturesque - multicoloured umbrellas stretch out against the sky, and there is great local food, flowers, cafés, croissants, and after all that, on a sunny day, you might decide to sit at a terrace and enjoy an Aperol spritz. This is where you should come to find the best cheese and chocolate. Well, it is Switzerland, after all…

Marché de Carouge
Place du Marché, 1227 Carouge

Bookshop: Letubooks

Letubooks is an art bookshop, one of the oldest shops in Geneva. It’s in the old town, next to the cathedral. The former owner Bernard Letu was a very kind and charming man who founded the shop in 1973, until it was taken over by two equally charming women, Alix and Julia, who are currently restoring the shop. It is one of the largest collection of jewellery, art and photography books in the world.

Rue Jean Calvin 2, 1204 Geneva

Maison Belkii: A refined, festive space in the heart of downtown Geneva (Image: India Belce-Kennedy)

Bar: Maison Balkiii on 'La rue de la Soif'

This is the main bar area - literally, La Rue de la Soif translates to ‘street of thirst’! In Geneva, this is where you go after work on Friday for a drink. Everyone goes there. If I had to point to one particular place, I’d choose Maison Balkii as my current favourite hangout, for its atmosphere and great, great cocktails!

Maison Balkii
Rue Henri-Blanvalet 16, 1207 Geneva

Hôtel les Armures (Image courtesy Hôtel les Armures)

Hotel: Hotel des Armures

If you plan on coming to Geneva during Luxury Week, my first advice is to book well in advance. If you are looking for a special place to stay, you should try to secure a booking here. Why? Because the Hotel des Armures in the middle of the old town, down a small quaint alleyway, and it is a refreshing change from the chain hotel brands. It’s very Swiss. The hotel itself positively exudes a cute chalet vibe and has a great restaurant serving the best fondue in town, though that statement will spark an animated debate during any conversation in Geneva!

Hotel des Armures
Rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre 1, 1204, Geneva

Parc de la Grange (Image: T. Parel / Ville de Genève)

Outdoor space: Parc de la Grange

I’m recommending this for its views of the lake and old buildings. It’s so gorgeous here, you can enjoy the whole view of Lake Geneva and then behind you, there is a super 18th century villa, a rose garden, and an orangerie. The plus is that in the summer, they have a completely free music cool electronic music festival. It’s beautiful!

Parc de la Grange
Avenue Alice-et-William-Favre 19, 1207 Genève

(Image: CGN/B. Francey)

Hidden gem: A Paddleboat Steamer tour of Lake Geneva

You can take this boat from the centre of Geneva and it takes you around the lake, while you can enjoy food and beverages on the way. It stops at beautiful towns and cities, such as Evian, and you can get out and explore - or just relax on the boat!

Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Europe - it’s so deep, you can scuba dive in it - and it actually covers two countries, being situated between France and Switzerland. It is very relaxing. Being in Geneva, makes you feel like you’re on holiday even though one day you’re on the beach or in the mountains, and the next day you go to work!

More details at CGN La Suisse

Follow Marie-Cécile Cisamolo on Instagram at @mariececilejewels

Browse the Geneva auction catalogues below

Jewelry Luxury Week

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