Right in the middle of the Old Town next to the Town Hall, this café-restaurant seems to have a rather mythical status in Geneva thanks to its long history (it opened in 1808) and its status as the café of choice for Swiss politicians throughout the ages. But this isn’t a fusty, old-fashioned kind of place. Since its renovation and reopening in 2005 under the baton of two dynamic local chefs, Papon has complemented its historical roots – evident in the beautiful stone cellar in which it is located – with modern Swiss flair. The menus draw on local, seasonal produce and change every couple of weeks. A well-priced set menu of the day draws in local office workers, as does the quiet and sunny outdoor terrace which leads on to the leafy promenade overlooking pretty Bastions park. Book ahead to get a seat outside in summer.
Eating out in Geneva restaurants is part of the fabric of the city and for local office workers and businesspeople a long lunch in a local restaurant is an essential part of their working day, forging fruitful partnerships over a filet de perch and a glass of local chasselas. Given the amount of money swirling around the shores of Lake Geneva, this isn’t a city with a dearth of high-end restaurants, and at the five-star hotels, such as the Four Seasons restaurant Izumi, you’ll find haute-cuisine of all flavours. Those with less fulsome budgets are better catered for in the Old Town where modern Swiss and European food is easy to come by and usually good quality. Likewise in Carouge, Geneva’s pretty Italianate suburb which is packed with classy restaurants like Café des Négociants and bars and sees fewer tourists than the Old Town. While little in Geneva is cheap, the city’s recent predilection for food trucks and burger joints means there are more budget options than ever.