Geneva Expat Guide – Geography and Climate in Geneva

Are you planning to be a Geneva expat? There is really a ton of reasons why you would want to consider this place as your new home but going through the basics such as its geography and climate is always a good start.

Geneva is situated at 46°12′ North, 6°09′ East, at the south-western end of Lake Geneva, where the lake flows back into the Rhône River. The city is enclosed by two mountain chains, the Jura and the Alps.

The Geneva area can be seen from the Salève in France where the Jura mountains can be seen on the horizon.

While the area of the Canton of Geneva is 282 km2 (108.9 sq mi), the city of Geneva has an area of 15.86 km2 (6.1 sq mi). The part of the lake that is attached to Geneva has an area of 38 km2 (14.7 sq mi) and is sometimes called Petit lac which is small lake in English. The Canton has only a 4.5 km (2.8 mi) long border with the rest of Switzerland. Out of a total of 107.5 km (66.8 mi) of borders, the remaining 103 are shared with France, with the Départment de l’Ain to the North and the Département de la Haute-Savoie to the South.

The altitude of Geneva is 373.6 meters (1,225.7 ft), and matches to the altitude of the largest of the Pierres du Niton, two large rocks emerging from the lake which date from the last ice age. This rock was chosen by General Guillaume Henri Dufour as the reference point for all surveying in Switzerland. The second main river of Geneva is the Arve River which flows into the Rhône River just west of the city centre. Mont Blanc is only an hour’s drive from the city centre and can be seen from Geneva.

The climate of Geneva is very pleasant. Winters are usually with light frosts at night and thawing conditions during the day, which can be said to be moderately mild.

Summers are pleasurably warm. Precipitation is sufficient and is relatively well dispersed throughout the year, although autumn is slightly wetter than the other seasons. Ice storms near Lac Léman are fairly normal in the winter. In the summer many people love swimming in the lake, and often patronize public beaches such as the Bains des Pâquis and Genève Plage.

Geneva often takes snow in the colder months of the year. The nearby mountains are subject to significant snowfall and are usually suitable for skiing. Many world-renowned ski resorts can be reached by car in just over an hour. The closest skiing destination to Geneva is Mont Salève (1400 m). It is just across the border in France which dominates the southerly view from the city centre. During the years 2000–2009, mean yearly temperature was 11°C and mean yearly sunshine lasted 2003 hours.

Knowing about Geneva’s geography and climate is already an attraction to any would-be Geneva expat. It gives a solid basis on how and why there are many more things to love about Geneva.

Leave a Reply