This week I’ve (Ros) been to Geneva airport GVA to fetch relatives, which made me think I should jot down a few points to make it easier for any first time visitors.
- Geneva is in Switzerland, which isn’t in the EU. So, don’t forget your passport as you do have to go through a proper customs point between France and Switzerland. (I’ve never actually been stopped but you never know…) Expect long queues at the customs point going there early mornings and leaving work.
- Buy the Swiss ‘vignette’, a €40 sticker which allows you to drive on Swiss motorways. You can get away with not buying the vignette and drive on the A-roads through the city center and get to the airport that way, but it’s a total nightmare and you can get held up and miss planes very easily.
- You can take your dog to the airport and it can go in to help greet the relatives. (Don’t forget to follow the rules for dogs in France, in our Pets section, as these apply in Switzerland too!)
- Parking… There is “kiss and fly” parking, which used to be a decent 5 minute stop and you could at least help get their luggage out, but has now changed to the equivalent of a MacDonald’s drive thru, where the car behind is slowly moving and bumping you along, a bit like an Alton Towers water ride. Only advisable if you fly and aren’t bothered about the kiss these days.
- Use the short term parking (P2) usually plenty of spaces and easy access for ‘arrivals’, so when you’re picking up, but not so easy for departures. For this I tend to use the underground long term car park (P1), which is a spiral thing and can make you dizzy. Only use if confident in the size of your car as the spaces are tight, and that’s an understatement.
- Don’t forget to take your parking ticket with you and pay before you get in the car at the exit for arrivals. (Bit of a warning… The machine gives your card back, but doesn’t give the parking ticket at the same time, slight delay, and I have been known to walk away whilst chatting to my new arrival without taking the ticket. This is expensive.)
- Geneva is in Switzerland. Switzerland isn’t in the EU. Your breakdown cover for Europe may have a clause about Switzerland. I broke down at the car park barrier, blocking the entrance for 7 hours. No break down cover for Switzerland, no help from the airport authorities, and definitely not from anyone arriving. 3 1/2km tailback on the motorway. Had to wait for my husband to come from work with a pick up truck to tow me. Not fun.
- Geneva airport is expensive. You can buy an English magazine or newspaper, but the price is highly inflated, as for chocolate, a cup of coffee or a sandwich.
- If you have a high vehicle (I’ve been known to fetch someone in our 8m mobile home) you have to park in the freight car park (P43). To reach this you have to follow the signs for “fret” (freight) off the motorway and end up near the French side of the airport, so allow more time for this as the walk to the airport is about 15 minutes from here, past the Palexpo exhibition centre. Its not terribly well lit and so take a friend. Check the airport maps at https://www.gva.ch/en/Portaldata/1/Resources/fichiers/institutionnels/fret/plan_fret_acces.pdf
- If when you arrive at the airport there seems to be a very long queue of awaiting traffic and you’re running late, then you can be a bit cheeky and park at the Palexpo exhibition centre, which is a 10 minute walk to the airport, but at least you can park quickly and easily and run! Only do this if you’re confident with directions!
- Keep an eye on arrival times, as flights from the UK can arrive half and hour early, or hours late. If there’s a French Air traffic controller’s strike on, then UK flights get diverted over Germany and this adds flight time.
- Getting out of the airport, follow the signs for France, it’s pretty easy, but don’t get caught at the first junction where you have to leap into the right lane so you don’t end up heading left out of the city.
- gva.com is the Geneva airport website, in English, decent website, with a lot of information. Also phoning the airport is relatively straightforward as the staff generally speak excellent English and so can help if you’re linguistically challenged at the moment!
- Geneva Airport has French and Swiss sides as it is on the border, and so can cause complications. However, all UK arrivals arrive and depart from the Swiss side. Internal French flights leave from the French side. All well signposted and the Airport staff are incredibly helpful. Only really causes stress when your friends hire a car on the French side and arrive ont the Swiss side and then have to drive through Geneva centre… There’s lots of advice online on how to get through the city easily, so print off one of the routes before hand.
Disclaimer : « Alpsfairy.com » was developed to help, to inform, to advise, to find support, to assist in settling down in the Savoies, France. It should be used as a guideline nothing else. I don’t know everything there is to know or to do in the Savoies and in France. Here I am trying my to give it my best shot. Recent changes may not have been taken into account. I endeavour to keep the information as current as possible but some of the procedures can be amended with short notice and the site may not reflect these changes. Really I just want assist you and give direction navigating the minefields of living in France. Don’t be afraid! Different departments and different assistants can give varying advise – with the same ultimate goal just a different way of getting there – stick with it! – Yes, it may take a while! Your personal situation may require a different approach. Please don’t hesitate in contacting me if you have any questions. Again I’m here to help, support you as you adjust and settle down to Your French adventure.