Being at CERN

Here we collect some accumulated knowledge useful for people coming from IFAE to CERN. Please feel free to add the pieces of information that you think might be useful to the other members of the group.

First time at CERN

Before leaving you should visit the ATLAS Collaboration web page, in particular the section General -> General Information, and make sure that you don't forget at home any document that you might need later on in Geneva. Go through the Registration instructions. If possible, fill in the CERN registration form and the ATLAS registration form beforehand, and get them signed. You will also need a declaration from your home institution; ask your advisor about this.

Non-UE citizens staying at CERN more than three months need a visa (you can find more information about the visa process at this link from the users' office ).

Where is...

In the map below (follow this link to explore the map) you'll probably find most of the places that you need to know in the area. If you want to find a particular building at CERN, use this map instead. For moving around with public transportation, see the TPG website.


Flying in

There is a CERN shuttle that runs about every hour (Mon-Fri, 8:00--19:00). You can find its schedule and pickup/dropoff locations at this link. They might ask you to show your CERN card when you get on the shuttle. Otherwise you can use public transportation (see Enter 'Aeroport' as your origin, and 'CERN' as your destination. You can either take the Y line (direct, does not run very frequently), or get a bus to reach 'Blandonnet' where you can get on the tram 18 going to CERN. Starting from 1 January 2008, the GVA airport offers every passenger arriving in Geneva a free bus ticket: get your ticket at the machine in the baggage reclaim hall. If you have a lot of luggage, you might want to try and arrange for someone to pick you up at the GVA arrival area.

Registration etc.

The usual steps are:

The US ATLAS website also has a very useful page describing the registration process.

The IFAE offices

The IFAE group has three offices at CERN:

  • 104/1-A20 (Bld.104, first floor, room A20) : "hadronic group"
  • 32/S-A18 (Bld.32, "S" floor, room A18) : "trigger, pixels and computing" groups
  • 40/R-C08 (Bld. 40, "R" floor, room C08) : "TileCal and top" groups

Computers, printers

All offices have wifi (both CERN and eduroam). If you want to use the CERN network, you need to register your laptop here. You can find a list of available printers at the printservice. Each printer can be configured from your laptop, or print directly from lxplus, e.g. lpr -P 104-RC12-MCANON.

The nearest printer is

  • Bld. 104 104-RC12-MCANON (by the coffee machine, to scan use the code 2201).
  • Bld. 32 32-SB02-CAN
  • Bld. 40 40-RC-CORBW

printing on OSX

In order to set up a printer on OSX, go to Settings>Print&Scan and click the + symbol to add a new printer. In the Add Printer dialog, select the IP tab, and enter the following information:

Protocol: Line Printer Daemon - LPD / Address: <printer name> / Queue: <printer name>

todo Add info about server accounts


The phone number in the office is

  • Bld. 104 +41-22-76-74026
  • Bld. 32 +41-22-76-76063
  • Bld. 40 +41-22-76-71125

From each one of the phones above you can reach:

  • any other CERN phone (just the last 5 digits that you get from the CERN phonebook)
  • the Geneva local area (0-022-xxx xxxx)
  • the French local area (10-04-50 xx xx xx).
If you want to get a swiss mobile, you can find some on sale the post office.


Anyone still using it, really? you can get a fax number from your account management page MyAccounts -> Services. Then you can send/receive faxes from your email.

Quick practical stuff


  • Cash: there are ATMs at CERN (restaurant 1, next to UBS, get CHF) and in Saint Genis-Pouilly (get EUR). If you have a Bank of America account you can get cash from BNP in Saint Genis (see its location on the map); this bank is associated with Bank of America, and allows you to withdraw cash without any extra fee.
  • Using your credit/debit card: you might want to check here the eventual fee you'll pay for your transactions
  • ...


  • At the CERN housing website you can find information about the CERN hostel, as well as a list of hotels in the area.
  • You might want to check the CERN market for sublets
  • todo add here info about the mini-apart


  • Go to the TPG office at Gare Cornavin and get a weekly/monthly regional pass (good for all trams and busses in Geneva).
    • If you live in Saint-Genis, you'll want to get a multi-region pass including zone 86, for Ferney-Voltaire, add zone 87.
    • There is a discount if you're age 25 or under.
  • for schedules, stop locations, etc.


  • Mailing list: please subscribe to the atlas-ifae mailing list.
  • Mobile phones: there are several prepaid cellular services, many of which can be bought at the post office or convenience store:
    • Yallo - Very cheap calling to USA ($0.03/min), reasonably priced prepaid data.
    • orange
    • ...
  • Bring a phone w/ global capability and a SIM card slot, or purchase a cheapo one at the CERN postoffice.

Health insurance

Please consult this page with useful info from the Users' office

CERN: Buying, shipping, and EDH


Buy stuff

Useful contacts at CERN

Useful links

Things to do and see in the area

Get delicious bread, pastries, wine, and pizza (see IFAE Cern map). Take a guided tour of CERN (see visits service). Attend some summer student lectures. Walk by the locations listed on the unofficial CERN tourism map

References for new students


Physicists (or people at CERN) use a lot of jargon, and they love acronyms.

< Anecdotal evidence > : NewStudent : "Where can I find all these acronyms?" Professor : "You can look them up in the TDR." < /Anecdotal evidence > smile

If you are getting lost, you can find some explanation of these acronyms at the following links: ATLAS-related, general-HEP-CERN-related, general-HEP-FNAL, very-general

Scientific computing

It is very likely that you will spend most of your time writing code to analyze some sort of data. Please learn and use the Best Practices for Scientific Computing (see reference on p.18). Get familiar with the tools of the trade: python, c++, and the ROOT framework. There are many tutorials available on the web. In particular, for ROOT we can recommend the CERN summer student tutorial, the tutorial at Columbia U., and the tutorial at Duke U. Just pick one of them and work on it. If you like using Jupyter notebooks, you might want to check the SWAN service out.

Major updates:
-- DavideGerbaudo - 07-Jul-2013

Initial skeleton -- DavideGerbaudo - 07-Jul-2013 First version -- DavideGerbaudo - 11-Jul-2013 IFAE version -- DavideGerbaudo - 28-Jul-2017

Responsible: DavideGerbaudo
Last reviewed by: DavideGerbaudo - 29 Jun 2017

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