A Culinary Landmark in Geneva: La Halle de Rive

Tucked away on a busy street in Geneva, you will find La Halle de Rive. A Genevois institution, it started in another location in the city during the early 20th century. Today, this indoor marketplace boasts 23 vendors, or commerçants, passionate about their work and their products. It also has a small bistro that reopened under new management about six months ago. I recently visited this marketplace for the first time. If you’ve never been there, or if you haven’t been for a number of years, it is time to (re)discover one of Geneva’s hidden culinary gems.

In 1969, the market moved from its location at Place du Pré-l’Evêque to its current location in the Rive neighborhood. You can catch a glimpse of its old location and the move to Boulevard Helvétique 29 in black and white footage shared by Radio Télévision Suisse. While a lot has changed over the years, the currant commerçants are still dedicated to maintaining the high quality of their products for their customers.

Today’s version of La Halle de Rive, early on a Monday morning.

Exceptional Food Products, All in One Place

In addition to its history, another thing that makes La Halle de Rive special is the convenience of having all these amazing food products all under one roof. Plus, these products are being prepared and sold by people who really know them and can answer your questions. Butchers, bakers, cheesemongers and fishmongers line the aisle. Many of the items for sale are prepared onsite, either behind the counter or downstairs in the basement. Of the 23 commerçants at La Halle de Rive, here are some products to look out for:

Fresh fruit and vegetables from Trésor des Halles.

Traditioally Swiss Food Products

During my visit, I picked up the following products, two of which are specialties of Geneva, and three of which appear among the directory of traditional Swiss food products from Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse (Culinary Heritage of Switzerland).

1 – Rissoles aux poires. Made with either pâte brisée (short crust pastry) or pâte feuilletée (puff pastry), they are filled with pears and flavored with cinnamon. You can find them at Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Rückstuhl, which has been in the same family for four generations.

2 – Piora cheese. Produced in the Swiss canton of Ticino and made from raw cow’s milk, Piora cheese has an aromatic flavor. I found it at Fromagerie Bruand, which has more than 300 different types of cheese in stock.

3 – Paté en croute. If you would like to try paté en croute (essentially a meatloaf encased in pastry), I recommend Boucherie Bula Eric Richard. The meat pie I purchased contained pork, morels and pistachios.

4 – Pain genevois. One of Switzerland’s 22 cantonal breads, bakers traditionally make Pain genevois with farine mi-blanche (similar to a white whole wheat). They sprinkle the round, slightly flattened loaves with flour and cut diamond shapes across the top. Like the Rissoles aux poires, I bought this bread at Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Rückstuhl.

Making Paté en croute in the basement of La Halle de Rive for Boucherie Bula Eric Richard

Additional food specialties from Geneva, some of which are seasonal, that you can try to find include:

  • Marmites – In December, look for these chocolate cauldrons prepared for Geneva’s Fête de l’Escalade.
  • Cardons – Either fresh or in jars, this is a thistle-like vegetable with a long history in Switzerland.
  • Longeole – A pork sausage seasoned with fennel from Geneva. You typically serve it with potatoes and lentils or gratin de cardons.

Restaurant Dining or Take Away

If you want to stop for a coffee or a glass of wine, check out the cozy Bistrot des Halles. This restaurant does not have to go far to find its ingredients—it relies on the gourmet products found at La Halle de Rive to inspire its menu. There are Swiss dishes like fondue, with cheese from Muller et Fils. You’ll also find Rognons de veau à la moutarde (veal kidneys with mustard) with rösti, along many other menu options.

If you would rather grab some lunch to go—for a picnic nearby in the Jardin Anglais, for example—there are several commerçants for you to choose from. They include the Magne Traiteur (diverse selection of homemade seasonal dishes), Juice & Co. (vegetarian) or Le Levantin (middle eastern) and more.

Marie Magne, of Magne Traiteur, which has been at La Halle de Rive since 1974.

Culinary Events at La Halle de Rive

New to La Halle de Rive are special after-work apéros. They will be starting this summer, and the association of commerçants will be sharing more information about these events soon. Also, during the month of November, it has recently started hosting an annual event known as the Géni’Halle de Rive. On a Thursday night, the market opens its doors for a soirée. Guests can sample delicious food from all the participating commerçants. For people who like to eat and enjoy supporting local producers, this event presents an excellent opportunity to do both.

La Halle de Rive, Bd Helvétique 29 et Rue Pierre Fatio 15-17, 1207 Genève, +41 (0)22 418 62 30, info@halle-de-rive.ch

9 replies »

  1. In the bottom photo in the lower right corner, there is a round black vegetable with a few little green sprouts- what is that?Amantha

    • Hello Amantha! I believe they are black radishes. I should have bought one! Don’t think I’ve tried them before. Will look at our local farmers’ market next week! 🙂

    • Me too! So many amazing foods to try… I just heard about another one that opened up closer to us. Will be visiting it soon! 😉

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