Learning French in Lausanne, and winning over the hearts of the people of Geneva

Olga Johnson lives and works in Geneva, where she founded and runs Christie's Bakery tea rooms in Plainpalais and Corsier.

Olga Johnson took French courses at Lémania in 2009. She tells us what she does now and what memories she has of her time at Lemania

When and why did you set up Christie’s Bakery?

The idea of the bakery appeared 7 years ago when I started baking at home with my daughter. My creations became popular very fast and I started to looking for the ways to grow my hobby into a business. That is how I opened first tea room in Geneva, PlainPalais. By the way, my daughter’s name is Christina and Christie’s bakery is named by her.

What do you offer your customers at Christie’s Bakery?

I started to offer various international desserts: from Eastern European famous honey cakes to American red velvet and British cupcakes. More and more people were asking about something « salé,» and that is how the brunch concept appeared. Now we keep this idea of international food and sweets as Geneva is a very international city and everyone will find something familiar and tasty just as back home in my tea room.

Before settling in Geneva, you had several contacts with Switzerland. Which were the most memorable?

The first time I came to Switzerland was just for 4 days as a tourist in 2008. I visited Geneva, Lausanne, Gruyère, Montreux, and was amazed by the beauty of the country and said I want to live here.

What made you want to learn French and how did you get started?

I came up with a plan for how to move to Switzerland, and it was very important to learn French. Back in Kiev I started to learn it with a private tutor, but the progress was very slow. I understood that the best way to learn it was to dive into the surrounding French language: to live in Switzerland and study the language at school. That is how I found Ecole Lemania and decided to take a course there.

You attended the language section at Lemania in 2009. What memories do you have of the experience?

I came in the autumn 2009 and stayed for 3 weeks, learning French and living at school with other students. During the stay I met a new friend, Natalia, with whom I am still in touch and we have met in different countries during all these years. The school is a great place to meet new people! I visited lots of places in Switzerland, participated in lots of activities organized by the school, went again to Geneva and my dream to live here became stronger.

Geneva is a very international city. Is it still useful to be fluent in French?

Yes, definitely. If you want to integrate in local life, communicate with local people and understand their jokes, language is a key factor. Also if you are starting a business in Geneva you will have to communicate with state organizations and offices only in French. Knowing language helps yo find clients, participate in networking events, gives understanding of legislation and shows your willingness to be a part of community.

Christie’s Bakery

4, rue de Hesse Geneva
+41 22 808 01 65

38, route de l`Eglise Corsier (Ge)
+41 22 751 80 22

Dr. David ClaivazCEO, Lemania Swiss Group of Schools