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Shopping in Switzerland


Many of Zürich's best boutiques lie hidden along the narrow streets between the Bahnhofstrasse and the Limmat River. The fabled Bahnhofstrasse – famous because it's reputedly the most expensive street in the world – is dominated by large department stores and extravagantly priced jewellery. Your shopping adventure might begin more modestly at the top of the street, at Bahnhofplatz. Below this vast transportation hub is a complex of shops known as ShopVille.

Virtually every street in the centre of town has some kind of antiques or collectibles shop. Especially intriguing are "modern antiques" shops, which carry odds and ends from decades past.

The antiquarian bookshops in the upper streets of the Niederdorf area are rich with discoveries – and most have selections of English books.

Many city-centre stores are open weekdays 9am-8pm, Saturday 8am-4pm. Most close on Sunday, with the exception of the shops at the Hauptbahnhof and the Stadelhofen train station. Many smaller shops, particularly in the Niederdorf area, open later in the morning or early afternoon and are closed entirely on Monday.


From boutiques to department stores, Geneva is a shopper's dream come true. The city, of course, is known for its watches and jewellery, but it's also a good place to buy embroidered blouses, music boxes from the Jura region, cuckoo clocks from German Switzerland, cigars from Havana, chocolate, Swiss Army knives and many other items.

The city also has some of the world's most famous auction houses, with sales taking place mostly in May and November. During these periods, myriad social events accompany the auctions. Moreover, the city is an important centre for the world art market and hosts prominent art and antiques dealers.

Geneva practically invented the wristwatch. In fact, watchmaking in the city dates from the 16th century. Be sure to avoid purchasing a Swiss watch in one of the souvenir stores. If jewellers are legitimate, they'll display a symbol of the Geneva Association of Watchmakers and Jewellers. Here, more than in any other Swiss city perhaps, you should be able to find all the best brands, including Vacheron & Constantin, Longines, Omega, and Blancpain, to name just a few. Sometimes there are discounts on such items as cameras. Most salespeople you'll encounter speak English and are very helpful.

The epicentre of luxury shopping is the Rue du Rhône, which alternates Gucci and Valentino with diamond-studded watches and jewels. One block in, at the foot of the Old Town, is the less expensive, trendier street known variously as: Rue de la Confédération, Rue du Marché, Rue de la Croix-d'Or and Rue de Rive.

Galleries, antiques shops, bookstores, and boutiques line the Grand-Rue and the streets radiating from place du Bourg-de-Four. Rue du Mont-Blanc, on the Right Bank, is choked with souvenir stores.

Store hours vary in Geneva. Most stores are open Monday to Friday 8am to 6:30pm and Saturday from 8am to 5pm.





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