INTRODUCTION – CAROUGE, SAUCY CHARM
A touch of Greenwich Village, an air of mystery inspired by the Marais in Paris and a pinch of Mediterranean color: a unique mixture for a unique city.
Separated from Geneva by the Arve, a peaceful river at times tumultuous, Carouge inspires idle wandering and gentle reverie. Small town houses, some opening on intriguing courtyards of hidden greenery, give the city its Mediterranean atmosphere.
Royal City – and an air of freedomCarouge was founded by Victor-Amédée III, King of Piedmont-Sardinia, a descendant of the Dukes of Savoy and predecessor of the future kings of Italy. Having coveted Geneva for a long time hoping to make it its capital one day, Savoy had to resign itself to recognizing the independence of Geneva following the embarrassing defeat of the Escalade in 1602 and the Treaty of Turin in 1603. Victory-Amédée III opted then for a different strategy: to found another town at the gates of Geneva, just on the other side of the Arve, to compete with its powerful neighbor. He called upon architects from Turin, then capital of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, to build the new town. The little hamlet, which then comprised 17 houses, metamorphosed rapidly into a small town of extraordinary unity and harmonious architecture. Declared a “Royal City” in 1786, blessed with two weekly markets, Carouge grew rapidly in population, which was not exactly a coincidence as Victor-Amédée III strongly wished his new city to eclipse Geneva. He didn’t hesitate to abolish all the toll gates on Savoy soil to encourage travelers and merchants to stay in Carouge instead of crossing the Arve and paying the toll to enter Geneva. He also showed an avant-garde religious tolerance in permitting the installation of a large Jewish colony with its synagogue, as well as authorizing a Protestant pastor to minister in Carouge despite the city being Catholic. This little fresh air of freedom incited numerous Geneva Protestants, subjected to the austere rules of the Consistory, a veritable tribunal charged with ruling on all questions of faith and morals, to head for Carouge to dance, sing and drink their fill, all forbidden on the other side of the Arve.
CAROUGE – YESTERDAY AND TODAY
The French Revolution put an end to this expansion. The Sardinian city became the capital of the Department of Mont-Blanc, and subsequently joined the 36 Communes Réunies (united townships) attached to the Canton of Geneva in 1815, following the decision at the Congress of Vienna. This decision didn’t seem to please the inhabitants of Carouge, still loyal to their King, as they continued for a long time to close their shutters on the Swiss national holiday. Today the party spirit has returned to inhabitants of the Sardinian city. Of the “Catholic Carouge”, there still exists a joie de vivre and a conviviality, which the number of picturesque restaurants wouldn’t contradict.
Gianna Loredan et Christine Ansermet
Carouge the city of craftspersons
Carouge is undouptly the city of craftspersons! Its streets lined with the beautiful arcades of 18th century craftsmen houses, a reminder that in 1790, the city boasted some 450 craftsmen. The tradition is kept alive today by ceramists, stylists, watchmakers and jewelers. carouge is an invitation to stroll from shop to shop, chance upon a unique object, or enjoy the sun on the terrace or a café at Place du marché.
The neighborhood also features magnificent courtyards and secret gardens to be discovered with a guide!