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GENEVA

7 essential apps that make life in Geneva easier for foreign residents

It is nearly impossible to function today without mobile apps that make life easier and more convenient. These essential apps will help international residents navigate life in Switzerland’s second-largest city.

7 essential apps that make life in Geneva easier for foreign residents
A number of mobile apps make life in Geneva easier. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

If you own a smartphone, you probably have a number of applications on your phone already.

Chances are that most of them are the kind that people across Switzerland routinely use, such as the SBB and public transportation app, Twint, Swiss Post app, as well Coop and / or Migros app, among others.

READ MORE: Seven apps to make your life in Switzerland easier

You’ll also likely have food delivery apps like Uber Eats, Smood, or Eat.ch, all of which deliver in Geneva as well.

But if you have just moved to Geneva, or even have lived here for a while, you need some city-specific apps to make your life here more pleasant.

These are some very useful ones ranging from practical to fun — and you are likely to need and use them, even if occasionally:

‘Geneva in your pocket’

This very helpful app offers direct access to practical information about life in Geneva, including weather, maps, and calendar of sporting and cultural events.

It also contains a “street harassment” tab, which allows people who are victims of inappropriate gestures or comments in the public space to immediately report the incidents to the municipal police.

Download the application on Google Play or in the Apple Store

A woman with a phone

Here are apps that make life in Switzerland easier for foreigners. Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Public transportation

The city has a dense network of buses and trams that travel not just in Geneva itself, but also cross the border into neighbouring French towns.

You can see the timetable, buy tickets, and check for any disruptions with the Geneva public transport (TPG) app.

Download the application on Google Play or in Apple Store

Recycling

You know how obsessed the Swiss are about recycling their trash on the correct days and in a correct manner. This has become even more important since September, when Geneva’s parliament adopted new legislation which includes the sorting obligation for households, businesses, and public entities.

This particular app aims to facilitate the task of daily waste management: when to take out your trash, where and how to sort it, and what to do with your bulky items. It’s a must for anyone learning the rules of the country! 

Download the application on Google Play on in the Apple Store.

Cultural trails: walks off the beaten track

The Geneva Cultural Trails application includes seven audio-guided tours centred around various themes: museums and their collections, as well as monuments and their architecture and history.

Download the application on Google Play Store and in the Apple Store

Nature lovers: Geneva Parks

Thanks to the Parcs Genève mobile application, you will be able to geo-locate and recognise nearly 300 trees in the city’s parks.

This application also makes it possible to find the nearest locations of playgrounds, dog areas, public toilets, wi-fi zones, and police stations.

Download the application on Google Play or in the Apple Store.

Geneva airport

If you live in the Geneva area — including parts of Vaud and nearby France — you have likely used the airport on many occasions.

This app allows various travel-related functions, including flight and check-in information, the number of free spots in the various car parks — also keeping track of where your vehicle is parked — schedules of the buses and trains departing from the airport, and other functions.

Download on Google Play or in the Apple store.

Hop delivery

This service will deliver a variety of products right to your door anywhere in Geneva.

You can order food from restaurants, groceries from shops, flowers, from florists, health products from pharmacies, and many other items you may urgently need but forgot to buy.

Download the application on Google Play or in the Apple Store.

READ MORE: 10 essential apps that make life in Zurich easier for international residents

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GENEVA

France or Switzerland: How does Geneva airport’s border divide work?

Geneva’s airport is Switzerland’s second-largest, serving approximately sixteen million passengers per year and with a stunning view of the Alps. That’s not the only thing distinguishing it.

France or Switzerland: How does Geneva airport's border divide work?

Due to geography and planning challenges since the early 20th century, Geneva’s airport borders France on its north side. 

Thanks to an agreement between the two countries in 1960, it’s accessible from and shared between Switzerland and France.

How does it work? 

The airport is divided into two sectors – the French and Swiss. 

In the French sector, only domestic flights to and from destinations within France are accessible. This sector is located within Pier F of the Main Terminal.

All other flights – including international long-haul flights – arrive and depart from the Swiss sector, which constitutes the rest of the Main Terminal. 

READ MORE: What foreign passengers should expect when landing at a Swiss airport

Can you cross between the Swiss and the French parts of the airport? 

You can – if you have a ticket for a flight that day, and you have your passport or identification documents with you. 

This doesn’t involve custom controls if you’re travelling to or from a Schengen country. You will merely be asked to show your ticket and ID. 

Where is the crossing point? 

You can cross between the two sectors from the Swiss side on the Departures level. Follow the ‘Destination France’ signs near the Air France counters. 

What if I’m catching a French domestic flight – do I need to pass through the Swiss section? 

The entire process for French domestic flights takes place within the French sector, so there’s no need to cross over. 

From arrival at the airport to check-in,  to departure, you remain within France for all legal purposes.

Can I enter and exit the airport by car directly from France? 

Yes, you can enter the airport from France, via the town of Ferney Voltaire. There, from the customs post, follow the signs to ‘Aéroport secteur France’.

Where are the Swiss entrances?

If you’re driving to the airport from within Switzerland, many choose to follow the signs from the city centre to Grand-Saconnex where there is the ability to drop passengers off outside the terminal or use one of several short or long-term parking possibilities. 

Driving from Vaud on the A1 motorway, you can exit after Coppet, when the road will split into the one going to the airport (and France) and the other into the centre of Geneva.

The airport also has a train station, which is an eight-minute trip from Geneva city centre, and costs about 3 francs for a one-way ticket.

Buses from the city also stop at the airport (see below).

Is there public transport from the French side?

Yes there are buses and other means of transport. This website shows you have three options, depending from where you travel: namely 272, 66, and 274.

What about parking? 

Aside from the P20 parking on the French side, which has 214 spots, there are also several parking garages on the Swiss side, with thousands of places.

This link shows all the garages, as well as the number of spots available in real time, along with tariffs for each one.

Can I hire cars on both sides? 

Yes, the big car rental firms have outlets on both sides of the airport. However, this is where one very important detail comes into play.

Drivers in Switzerland need to buy a vignette (electronic or physical sticker) that demonstrates that they have paid the road tax levied on all vehicles using the country’s motorways. 

READ MORE: Swiss vignette: What you need to know about Switzerland’s motorway charge sticker

Additionally, there are differences in insurance liability between the two countries, meaning that crossing between the two results in times a vehicle is not covered. 

Therefore, it’s imperative that if you’re renting a car at Geneva’s airport, it’s absolutely essential that you return it on the side that you hired it – otherwise you could be charged sizable fees. 

Another interesting fact:

Geneva is not Switzerland’s only airport that straddles two countries.

Basel’s EuroAirport is entirely within France, with the terminal split into a French and Swiss sector. 

What are your experiences with Geneva’s two airport sectors? Have you experienced any troubles passing between them? Let us know in the comments. 

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