Just ten minutes ride from the bustle of the city of Geneva, visitors stumble on a uniquely "Mediterranean" corner of Switzerland : Carouge. Behind the neatly restored façades, an unexpected world opens in front of us : hidden courtyards, secret gardens, a small world, typically “carougeois”. Getting here from Geneva's city centre could not be easier. Several tram and bus lines cross the River Arve, for centuries the political, as well geographic boundary that separated Protestant Geneva from Catholic Savoy. Indeed, Carouge's past - which essentially amounts to less than 250 years - has much to tell us about the history of its larger neighbour. In 1754, Geneva's rulers agreed to give up Carouge, which became part of the Piedmont-Sardinian Kingdom, the name by which the House of Savoy became known.
Italian architects were drafted to design Carouge, and little by little, the Savoyard village was transformed into a typical Piedmont town. The rows of distinctive two- or three-storey houses that were built in the late 18th Century remain one of Carouge's biggest attractions. One of the features of Carouge's houses is the wooden balconies that overlook hidden inner gardens and courtyards, some of which can be visited by the public.