Tucked away on a busy street in Geneva, you will find La Halle de Rive. A Genevois institution that has existed at its current location since the late 1960s, La Halle de Rive 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, plus a small bistro that reopened under new management about six months ago. I recently visited this marketplace for the first time. If you have never been to La Halle de Rive, or if you haven’t been for a number of years, it is time to discover one of Geneva’s hidden culinary gems.
In 1969, La Halle de Rive moved from its location at Place du Pré-l’Evêque to a newly constructed building, and 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 RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse). While a lot has changed over the years since this video was filmed, you can see when you visit this marketplace that the commerçants are still dedicated to maintaining the high quality of their products for their customers.
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 have been prepared onsite, either behind the counter or downstairs in the basement of La Halle de Rive. Of the 23 commerçants at La Halle de Rive, here are some products to look out for:
- Fresh mozzarella made in Geneva from Casa Mozzarella
- Little breads from Le Levantin that remind me of English muffins
- Chocolates, like the Pavés genevois, and pastries from Pâtisserie Ducret
- Thinly sliced dried bison from Chevaline de Rive
- Summer rolls from Traiteur Nguyen
- Arancinis from Cavalieri & Fils
During my visit to La Halle de Rive, 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 poires (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, which is essentially a meatloaf encased in pastry, I recommend Boucherie Bula Eric Richard. The meat pie I purchased contained pork, morels and pistachios. During my visit, I watched some of the staff from this butcher hand-making these impressive paté en croute in the basement at La Halle de Rive.
4 – Pain genevois: One of Switzerland’s 22 cantonal breads, Pain genevois is made with farine mi-blanche (similar to a white whole wheat). These round loaves are sprinkled with flour and have diamond shapes cut across the top. Like the Rissoles aux poires, I bought this bread at Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Rückstuhl.
Additional food specialties from Geneva, some of which are seasonal, that you can try to find at La Halle de Rive 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. It’s typically served with potatoes and lentils or gratin de cardons.
Restaurant Dining or Take Away from La Halle de Rive
If you want to stop for a coffee or a glass of Swiss Chasselas wine, there is the cozy Bistrot des Halles, where the kitchen is open and preparing food all day long—from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays. 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, and Rognons de veau à la moutarde (veal kidneys with mustard) with rösti, among others.
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, such as the Magne Traiteur (diverse selection of homemade seasonal dishes), Juice & Co. (vegetarian) or Le Levantin (middle eastern).
Culinary Events at La Halle de Rive
New to La Halle de Rive are special after-work apéros, which will be starting this summer—the association of commerçants will be sharing more information about these events soon. Also, during the month of November, La Halle de Rive 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 in which 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.
Mark your calendar! The third edition of the Géni’Halle de Rive will take place on Thursday, November 1, 2018.
La Halle de Rive, Bd Helvétique 29 et Rue Pierre Fatio 15-17, 1207 Genève, +41 (0)22 418 62 30, firstname.lastname@example.org