Geneva is best known to many travellers as the arrival point for a variety of winter ski resorts • notably in the French Alps. Its position close to the French border means it is well used by French travellers as well as Swiss and, while the airport is not big, the city’s reputation as a centre for finance, the United Nations and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) means that it is very well connected.
More than 70 airlines fly here… not bad for an airport that handled just over 13 million passengers in 2011. And the passenger profile • given some of the institutions the city accommodates • is a wealthy one, which feeds into the type of stores and brands housed here. They include Caran d’Ache, Hermès, Montblanc, Givenchy, Ralph Lauren, Furla and Victorinox for example, but it’s not all high end stuff. Sports, surf and casual brands Quiksilver and Roxy, Tie Rack, and Stockout Bongenie, for example, are available although these are mostly in the public zone by the rail station, a good place to pick up basics like sun lotions and T-shirts. The airside lounge area has an internet “corner” together with several food and drink outlets that opens onto a large terraced area where smoking is permitted.
In departures and transit, the offer tends to be upscale as mentioned. Bon Génie for example sells marques such as Max Mara, Gérard Darel, D&G, Just Cavalli, Diesel, Longchamp, Armani Jeans and Marc Jacobs. There is naturally a strong watch presence at the airport and boutiques for brands like Cartier, Chopard, Omega and Rolex are an eye-opener if you want to see superbly crafted timepieces and want to know the ins and out of their manufacture from well-informed staff. Hour Passion and the Air Watch Center also sell a wider choice of watch brands.
You can also have an upscale refreshment break from shopping at Caviar House and Prunier seafood bar or pick something up in their shop, take in a proper Swiss meal of fondue or rösti at Swiss Chalet or chill out in the Montreux Jazz Café. The most high-end eaterie though is Altitude, where gourmet cuisine and a panoramic view of the Jura Mountains go hand in hand. Chains like Burger King and others are also present to cover all bases. For currency services the American Express bureau is found by turning right once passed security, as is the smoking room located near gate A11.
Chocolate, another Swiss speciality, is also abundantly available • this is the perfect airport at which to be delayed! Mouthwatering selections can be found at Planet’choc, Martel Chocolaterie and Chocolaterie Canonica where everything is hand made.
Other stores to watch out for are Schweizer Heimatwerk which has all things Swiss, and Parfumerie Marionnaud which offers an alternative beauty selection to that in the generic duty free stores. For a small airport, Geneva really does punch above its weight when it comes to shopping!
Since the summer of 2011 arriving passengers have the opportunity to shop at the duty free arrivals store operated by the global airport retailer, The Nuance Group. Convenience shopping is key at this shop which clearly segments products to easily identify “hero” categories such as whisky, as well as best-selling products, new items, gifting ideas and special promotions.
- Passenger numbers 2011: 13.1 million.
- Airlines: Just over 70 of which the biggest (by number of routes) are easyJet Switzerland, Swiss Air (including codeshares), Hello Air, Edelweiss Air, Baboo Airlines, Darwin Air.
- Worth knowing: Nuance has introduced a collect-on-return service, allowing passengers at the airport to pick up goods ordered online or in-store upon their arrival into Switzerland • handy of you don’t want to carry heavy duty free items with you on your travels.