Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 24 and finishing a masters degree in philosophy, really enjoying it! I’ve been living all my life in Geneva, but this year I’ve been studying in Nottingham, which hopefully has allowed me to improve my English, especially since I’ve been living with English lads with a nice accent. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but now I’m able to talk to them and understand them in clubs, even when I’ve had a few drinks, which is probably the best way to evaluate one’s level… I’m also a substitute french teacher in Geneva.
I have a condition called procrastination, affecting many students I guess, which makes it easy for me to tell what I really enjoy in life: football, music and friends. I can spend hours just listening to music, mainly Dylan and old tunes – Led Zep, Eddie Hazel, Johnny Cash -, but also hip-hop, reggae, and even electro music, dubstep or minimal techno. Whereas for football, I just love this game, mainly to play, but also to watch. As most of my friends are into it, it is a perfect social activity.
Otherwise, I like traveling, I’ve already been quite a few places, and I’m planning on going to Croatia by car this summer for a couple of weeks with some friends. I will definitely try some spots, for last time I went to London I went to a great Blues bar Spotter Deanna Romano recommended and had a great time.
How do you like being a Spotter?
I like being a Spotter, simply because I love the concept. As I said, I’ve been living for almost a year in Nottingham, and I really insisted on finding English housemates. I didn’t want to live with other foreigners in a foreign country, I rather wanted to immerse myself in English culture and have a good glimpse of English habits. And I’ve been quite lucky, my housemates were really nice, all coming from a different part of England, all “cooking” the infamous beans on toast (they eat beans with anything), filling me with English culture knowledge (I’ve put my hands on the Sun newspaper a few times…)!
I guess Spotted by Locals has pretty much the same approach, trying to favour contacts with the real local culture rather than following the touristic paths. I really write about places I go to, very often for some of them, and I have never noticed (touristy) tourists there. These places don’t need tourists in order to survive, so they don’t compromise in fake “typical” decorations or menus.
A nice spotters-story happened to me around September last year. I tend to forget that nowadays people can google you to try to get to know a bit about you. Apparently, one of my housemates’ father googled me and found some articles I wrote on Spotted by Locals. He probably did not read the articles well, and said to his son that I was some sort of food-critique! So on the first night I was in Nottingham, after a few drinks, they all asked me if that was true. And I had absolutely no clue what they were talking about! Eventually after a while we sorted it out and I explained them what Spotted by Locals was. I have to say I’m quite happy that Spotted by Locals is the first thing that someone will find when googling me.
I really love Geneva, and I think anyone would love to live there. It might not be the best place to visit, but it is definitely a very good place to live, and this is why Spotted by Locals is a good idea for a city like Geneva. You have all the advantages of a main European city, but at a human size – for you can move everywhere by bike very easily. The kind of tourism it lives from is a mass-tourism, with big buses touring around the same places. Places like Barcelona or London might be easier to discover by oneself, for the main interesting places are known world-wide. But in the case of Geneva, one needs more insider tips if one is simply to avoid the classic tourist circuits.
My advice when visiting Geneva would be to avoid some big touristic traps, such as the flowered clock – what’s the matter with that anyway? – or even the “Jet d’eau”. In my opinion, the real asset of Geneva is its parks, and its walkable size. Walking from the Old town to the Parc Lagrange will take around 30 minutes. Walking or even biking around the city, from les Bastions to Lagrange would be a must do.
What do you know about Geneva what no tourist will know?
Probably how cosmopolitan this city is. Almost all of my best friends’ parents come from another country than Switzerland. And with its proximity with France, one could really question the national feeling of the Genevans. Furthermore, it is often said that the old Genevans are more attached to their city than to their country. Anyway, this is just to say that Genevans are quite open, despite some recent troubled votations. Even if it isn’t always easy to get close quickly, for they are not as straightforwardly open as Americans or more Latin people, I know that my generation is keen on meeting new people, and can generally speak English quite well, which helps a lot.
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
It would be a nice, warm summer day. I would probably go for a jogging in the morning at the Parc Bertrand, provided I wake up early enough!
Then I would go have breakfast on the terrace of La Clemence with my roommates. In the afternoon I would probably go play cards at la Barje, then go pick up some pizza at Manor’s foccacceria and bike to the Parc Lagrange to see a free concert and picknick there.
I’m definitely going to have this day this summer!