|Geneva : Carouge|
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Some 2km south of the city centre, the suburb of Carouge is a quite different experience from Geneva proper. Practically deserted until 1754, the township, now as then beyond the city limits, was granted to Victor Amideus, King of Sardinia (ruling from Turin). The king envisioned Carouge as a trading competitor to Geneva – one day possibly overtaking it – and turned it into a refuge for Catholics, Protestants unable to stomach Geneva’s puritanical ways and, uniquely in Europe for the time, even Jews. Turinese architects developed a chessboard design of crisscrossing streets planted with trees, and low houses with wooden, Mediterranean-style galleries looking into internal gardens. From 1774 to 1792, this hamlet of a hundred people grew to a bustling town of four thousand and, although Carouge never did overtake Geneva, it’s still something of a refuge from the city, its quiet, attractive streets packed with artists’ workshops, old-style cafés and some of the city’s best small-scale nightlife. Its tourist-office tag is the “Greenwich Village of Geneva”, and although the streetlife is considerably less thrilling than that might suggest, it’s still worth a half-day wander.
Trams #12 or #13 from the city centre can drop you at the Place du Marché in the heart of Carouge, still used as a marketplace and starting point for random exploration of the quarter. Rue St-Joseph is shoulder-to-shoulder artisans, from carpenters to milliners – check out the elegant exposed-mechanism clocks of Jean Kazes at no. 21, Anne-Claude Virchaux’s linen-cotton clothes at no. 13, and the delicate artworks of the florist Les Cinq Sens round the corner on Place du Temple. A major feature of Carouge are the delightful internal galleried gardens which lurk behind almost every gate: most are open, so feel free to explore.
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