The smurf village in Geneva

Okay, chances of seeing smurfs peeping through the windows of these apartments are small, but it’s still worth to go have a look at the ‘quartier des Grottes’ in Geneva. The neigborhood is nicknamed ‘smurf village’ because of its playful, colorful and quirky flats. 

The district ‘Les Grottes’, behind the railway station of Geneva (north of the city centre), used to have a very bad reputation. In the thirties political refugees lived here in very poor circumstances and home improvement basically didn’t exist. The city then decided to buy the entire area with the intention of demolishing it. But then WWII started and the project was shut down. Nothing happened until the seventies: by then, most of the empty houses, bars and stores in Les Grottes were illegally occupied. The inhabitants slash squatters refused to give up their homes and pleaded for renovation instead of destruction. The authorities finally gave in and brought the area back to life. They set up four unique apartment blocks, a social and architectural experiment that turned out be very successful: the neighborhood went from outcast to tourist attraction. The colors sure smurf things up 😉