For history buffs: the Beau Rivage Geneva started operations in 1865 and since then they have had many famous guests. Empress Sissi of Austria spent her final days here before being assassinated while boarding a boat to Montreux. She was returned to the hotel and died shortly after. In 1918 documents were signed in the Masaryk Salon creating Czechoslovakia. Other famous guests have included Sarah Bernhardt, Charles de Gaulle, composer Richard Wagner, boxer Sugar Ray Robinson(who enjoyed sardines with strawberry jam for breakfast at the Beau Rivage), drummer/singer Phil Collins, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Jean Cocteau, King Farouk of Egypt and many more.
Since 1987 it has also been the Geneva location for Sotheby’s jewel and watch auctions, of which the most spectacular must be the auction of the Duchess of Windsor’s collection of jewels. It was also the first hotel in Switzerland to have an electric elevator (third in the world) and the first in Switzerland to offer wireless LAN connections to guests.
Back to the tour!
Waking up early we headed down for breakfast. An elegant enclosed terrace overlooks the lake and provides a perfect backdrop for enjoying a relaxing breakfast.
Checking our weather app we found we were in for another beautiful, sunny day.
Like the Beau Rivage in Neuchatel, the buffet isn’t large but offers a great selection of local produce. Freshly baked breads were delicious and there were several types each day.
After breakfast it was back up to the room to get ready for our first full day of the trip. As you can see from how I am dressed the first day was quite formal.
A quick bus trip found us at Plan Les Ouates, an industrial area on the southern side of Geneva. I know what you are thinking, luxury watches in an industrial area? Plan Les Ouates is no ordinary industrial area. Locals give it the nickname Plan Les Watches as it is home to many Swiss watch brands (Rolex, Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, Piaget, amongst others). It is also home to several Swiss beauty/cosmetic brands like Clarins.
The fence with construction work behind is part of The Patek Philippe Factory. This new extension will house the dial factory, jewel and case manufacturing a watchmaking school and more. Patek Philippe is bringing everything in to one location rather than having departments spread out.
Upon arriving we had a quick coffee, met our guides and then headed in to the lecture room/ auditorium for a presentation about the Patek Philippe brand.
After the presentation we were broken in to two smaller groups to begin our tour of the factory. Sadly we were not able to take photos inside the factory areas, but it was fascinating to see how the parts are manufactured and machined. The size of some of the watch parts is mind blowing and then you think how hard it is to do polishing and finishing on a piece that is less than 1mm in size.
After the tour it was time for lunch which was in the private dining salon. Mr. Thierry Stern was our host for lunch. What a lunch it was! A three course lunch prepared by a chef poached from a Michelin star restaurant, we were informed that he also prepared the menus for the 2 staff cafeterias. These are not your ordinary run of the mill staff cafeterias either.
Lasagne style Zita pasta # 18, eggplant confit, poultry and Pata Negra ham.
Brittany lobster, cauliflower and curry foam.
Lemon cheese cake, thin vanilla crepes.
Coffee and chocolates ended our meal.
After our fabulous lunch we got on the bus for the short journey back to central Geneva for our tour of the Patek Philippe Watch Museum. WOW what a museum! The Patek Philippe Watch museum houses thousands of watches and pocket watches, and has examples of clock and watch making from the 1500’s right up to the year 2000. In the collection are pieces owned by many historical figures, Kings, Queens, aristocrats, Popes, Presidents, industrialists(think Getty’s, Astors, Graves, Chrysler), artists, actors etc.
Mr. Philippe Stern has built up a fabulous collection and continues to add to it, waiting for fine examples at auction or being offered for sale by other private collectors. The museum is broken in to two sections, Antique watches 1500’s to 1800’s and the Patek Philippe collection 1839 to present. There is so much to see that we will definitely be going back for another visit, you could spend a whole day looking at these masterpieces of horlogerie. My favourites were any of the enamelled antique pieces and the beautiful jewelled pieces from the Art Deco period.
Photography was not permitted in the museum but we managed to get the one below.
After a wonderful 2 hours in this fascinating museum it was back to the Beau Rivage for a quick freshen up and then to dinner at L’Observatoire Restaurant. We knew it was short walk from our hotel but didn’t realise it was in the hotel next to ours, Hotel D’Angleterre. The hotel is very old school British in style, very elegant and sophisticated. They even have a proper cigar lounge with wood panelling and buttoned leather chairs and sofas.
Offering views over Lake Geneva and the Alps, L’Observatoire is the private dining salon within Windows Restaurant at Hotel D’Angleterre.
I love a unique butter presentation!
Mille-feuille of crispy potatoes, vegetable puree flavoured with truffles and crispy chips.
Veal medallion Gamay jus, stuffed vegetables and mushroom filled potatoes.
Caramel pear, pink praline custard and orchid ice cream.
After our second three course meal of the day we were very glad it wasn’t too far back to our hotel and another good night of sleep.