Hot and sunny with a slight breeze in summer, crisp and clear in spring and autumn, rainbow-prone in June—Geneva's weather, when it's good, is spectacular. The Alps glow pink and the Jura fades to silhouette at the end of the day; restaurants set tables outside from March through October.

There are other days—whole weeks of them in winter—when stratus clouds coagulate between the mountains and gray out everything in sight. But relief comes from La Bise, the often bitingly cold north wind that blows in off the lake, clears away la grisaille (the grayness), and reveals sparkling snow-covered peaks.