It’s so nice when you don’t have to worry about seeing a famous landmark because there’s no way you could miss it. That’s exactly how I felt about the Jet d’Eau in Geneva. I only had one full day of sightseeing in Geneva before I had to fly back home to New York City, and I had a few things to tick off my list. What a relief that the Jet d’Eau, an enormous water fountain in Lake Geneva, was easy to spot from multiple vantage points in this relatively small city. That’s not to say you can see this 459-foot spray of water from every spot in the city. It is possible to visit Geneva and not see the Jet d’Eau. But if you visit Geneva without seeing the Jet D’Eau, have you really been to Geneva?
Actually yes, if you visit Geneva during the Jet D’Eau’s annual routine maintenance. Every year, the Jet d’Eau is shut off; this year it will be off from September 30, 2013, to October 20, 2013. So don’t visit Geneva then! I’m kidding, of course. But it would be a shame to visit Geneva and not see this famous icon. It was first created in 1886 — accidentally. A hydraulic power station was built to deliver water under pressure from the Rhône river to the city’s fountains, households and factories. One day, pressure build-ups forced the engineers to install a special pressure relief valve, which made the water shoot up. This became a tourist attraction and since 1951, it’s a dedicated water pump that hurls 500 liters per second into the air at 124 miles per hour. All this right at the spot where the Rhône empties into the lake. It’s powerful but elegant, just like Geneva itself.