Straddling the Franco-Swiss border is the laboratory of the European Council for Nuclear Research – better known as CERN – the world’s largest physics lab and a place that’s frequently in the news for the activity (or not, as the case may be) of its Large Hadron Collider. The unfathomable LHC is an accelerator which sends particles shooting round a 27km underground ring in the hope that some of them may hit each other and recreate the big bang (or something). For a better explanation and a guided visit of the lab’s facilities (though not, sadly of the LHC itself) book yourself onto a tour – but think ahead as English tours fill up months in advance. Near the main lab, visitors can also stop by a spherical building called The Globe of Science and Innovation, CERN’s outreach building which hosts a small free permanent exhibition helping you get your head around particle physics. Perhaps the most relatable exhibit here is the computer on which Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the world wide web.
With a reputaiton of a world class city in a spectacular setting around an Alpine lake, renowned for its complement of global institutions, Geneva museums and other attractions are in generous supply. The culture on offer includes fine art in several venues, notably the Musee d’Art et D’Histoire. A surfeit of striking architecture includes the mighty Cathedrale Saint-Pierre, its spire rivalled by the towering Jet D’eau water fountain out on the lake. Other famous buildings include the Palais des Nations, a monumental 20th-century edifice now occupied by the UN. Nearby, the range of museum choices encompasses another ground-breaking humanitarian institution, the International Red Cross. Options for day trips extend to the museum at CERN, where you can explore the mysteries of the birth of the universe, and the Salève mountain where you can sit in one of its cafés and contemplate the views. Read on for details of all these and many more.