Rousseau Island (Ile Rousseau)
Rousseau Island (Ile Rousseau is a tree-lined oasis, nestled into a waterfront nook, where the Rhône River meets Lake Geneva. Cross a pedestrian bridge to find the park adorned with benches, trees, and a statute of Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Pop into the café for a snack, or sit and reflect on the picturesque city views.
Rousseau Island has a storied history. It was was originally a fortress—in the 16th century—and later served as a shipyard. After the construction of the Bergues Bridge (Pont des Bergue), it was opened to the public, and today is a lush garden getaway in central Geneva. Consider walking over after a city group tour, or book a Segway tour that crosses the Bergues Bridge to enjoy views of this lovely, little park.
Things to know before you go
- Rousseau Island is a hidden-in-plain-sight waterfront park, making it the perfect place to rejuvenate during a busy day exploring Geneva.
- Photography enthusiasts enjoy the views from Rousseau Island, which offers a unique vantage point of Geneva and nearby bridges.
- Though you'll find a café on the island with snacks and refreshments, there's limited seating, so plan to dine alfresco.
- Rousseau Island is open to the public and free to visit.
How to get there
It's easiest to reach Rousseau Island on foot, by crossing the Bergues Bridge. You can cross the bridge from north side of the Rhône (via the Quai des Bergues) or the south side (via the Quai du Général-Guisan). Though Rousseau Island is tiny, you easily spot the park when crossing the Mont-Blanc Bridge, which faces the island, but does not provide direct access.
When to get there
Rousseau Island is open year-round, but the park is most enjoyable in temperate weather, which normally occurs between May and October. Though spring and early summer may still be chilly, particularly around the water, you miss peak crowds of tourist season in July and August. Weekend afternoons when the sun is shining are busiest, so plan to arrive during the week for a more peaceful experience.
Visiting the English Garden
Located less than a 10-minute walk from Rousseau Island, Geneva's English Garden (Jardin Anglais) is an ideal place to stroll, view historic buildings on Quai Gustave Ador, see the Jet d'Eau fountain, and snap a selfie with the famous Flower Clock. Explore the park's busts of famous Swiss artists to learn about the city's artistic history.
- English Garden (Jardin Anglais)
- Flower Clock (Horloge Fleurie)
- Brunswick Monument
- Barbier-Mueller Museum (Musée Barbier-Mueller)
- Tavel House (Maison Tavel)
- International Museum of the Reformation (Musée International de la Réforme)
- Maison de Rousseau & de la Littérature (MRL)
- Geneva Old Town (Vieille Ville)
- Baur Foundation, Museum of Far Eastern Art
- St. Peter's Cathedral (Cathédrale St-Pierre)
- Geneva Water Fountains (Jet d’Eau)
- Rath Museum (Musée Rath)
- Bastions Park (Parc des Bastions)
- Geneva Museum of Art and History (Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Genève)
- Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO)