/ moving to switzerland - tips/partners/clubs (lake geneva area)
I'm wondering if anyone has any advice about a potential imminent move to Switzerland, Lausanne/Lake Geneva area, from London.
I'm big (like we all are?!) on my outdoors activities. Cycling, running, mountaineering, climbing etc... and I would be really keen to keep all those up and meet some like minded people who I can build friendships with as well. Unfortunately, I don't speak French (anymore!) so am wondering if there are any expat clubs out there that people know off, and how easy it is to integrate with them?
e.g. would love to find mid-week climbing partners, work out the best climbing-gyms & crags to visit for meeting people and so on!
Any tips are welcome - or your experiences of having made such a move.
Thank you :)
Learn French! If possible book yourself onto a multi-week intensive course so that you arrive with a usable level. Because Switzerland has several languages people are quite forgiving of non native speakers (such as certain Swiss politicians speaking French...) which makes things less intimidating.
Putting the effort in to becoming fluent has made things much more fun for me especially with the Swiss alpine club. That said I also made the decision to avoid the "expat" community as much as possible and to try and integrate.
I recently moved back to the UK from Geneva, partly due to my inability to integrate with the local climbing scene! Strongly recommend getting decent French asap - heinous work commitments, incompetence and laziness prevented me and I somewhat regret it.
The only recommendation I can make for making contacts are to get to the local walls, list below, or there is a email list run by CERN through which you might be able to arrange partners : http://info-climbing.web.cern.ch/info-climbing/
You will have no trouble finding skiing/snowboarding partners, try the (huge) CERN ski club, or use the various ex-pat forums such as www.glocals.com (although these are really not to everyone's taste).
Climbing wall options in the Geneva area include :
- Panstructure in Vernier - http://www.panstructure.ch - bouldering only, and you will frequently find yourself topping out into an enormous cloud of ganja smoke... ;-)
- Queue d'Arve sports centre (but it's shite - the panels are ancient fibreglass, the routes change once a decade and it's something like 36chf to get in)
- Vitam Parc in St-Julienne en Genevois - http://www.vitam.fr/en/page/climbing-zone - the best roped-climbing option IMHO
I used to live in Geneva about 20 years ago and it was the pinnacle of my outdoor life. There is so much you can do there. I joined the local CAF section (not CAS) and did a few things with them before meeting a regular climbing partner. French would help but mine was very schoolboy level and I managed. It was difficult to get into the Geneva climbing scene but in general it was difficult to get to know locals anyway. I still miss those sunny evenings on the Saleve and the weekends in the mountains that are on the doorstep.
I used to speak some French, and so will try to resurrect that! Sounds like it is key to feeling part of the community. Currently plan is to move to Lausanne (or near there) in August, after a bit of travelling beforehand. So will land in the middle of the high season. Will be very keen to make the most of it and get out...
I suppose will have to get used to doing more of my training at real crags then in indoor walls, like in London, which will be great, but will be keen on finding some easier stuff to access midweek for more regular sessions, and integrating with the local climbing community will be a big thing for me.
As I'm a terrible skier, it will be one skill I'll be trying to improve. People on the whole seem very positive about it and the lifestyle, which attracts me, so I'm looking forward to it!
Fingers crossed... :)
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