Coming to CERN for the first time

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The CERN facility spans two cites; Meyrin in Switzerland and Prevessin in France. While the CMS detector is located at the opposite end to the Swiss cite, the facilities and offices that most CMS members will use when visiting CERN are all in the Meyrin cite.

The purpose of this WorkBook chapter is to give users a few tips to make their first visit to CERN as smooth as possible.

Before coming

Have your documentation ready

Before coming to CERN, you must make sure you have all of the required documents. You should work your way through the checklist on the User Contracts Registration page of the Users Office. This page contains most of the information you need for coming to CERN.

Note that you will need proof of your medical insurance (including workplace cover), and additionally must supply a copy of your contract or other documentation providing your employment at your home institute.

Useful information about CERN

On arrival

On arrival at CERN, your first stop should be the CERN Reception at Building 33. If you are staying in the CERN Hostel, you can collect your keys from here also, unless you arrive outside normal hours, in which case your key will be waiting for you at the security office.

Language and Currency

The main language at CERN is French. Most of the scientists speak fluent English, and often several other languages. The support staff can generally converse in English, though many locals cannot.

In Switzerland, Swiss Francs (CHF) are the local currency, while in France the Euro is used, and there are few places which will take either currency. The exchange rate is approximately CHF 1.5 = EURO 1. The automatic teller machines in the main building (building 50) on the Meyrin site provide cash in either currency.

Getting around

The number 9 bus will take you from the main site (Meyrin) into the centre of Geneva for CHF3 (you must provide the correct change for the bus).

A recommended point to get off for your first trip into town is the main tran station, Gare Cornavin. This puts you essentially in the centre of town, and it's very easy to find the bus back to CERN!

Note that you can also borrow bikes from CERN for free during your stay.

Living in France

It is much cheaper to live on the French side of the border - hotel rates are much less, food is cheaper, ...

If you plan to live in France while visiting CERN, and you are not an EU citizen, you are likely to require a "Protocole d'Accueil", even if you don't usually require a visa to visit France. This needs to be filled out and submitted well in advance of your trip.


See the Dosimetry Service web pages for information about getting a dosimeter (and note the medical certificate requirements that exist in some cases). You should wear a dosimeter when at CERN. It is compulsory if you will be in any radiation controlled areas, e.g. around a radioactive source in a laboratory.

Further information

Users FAQ

Must of the information in this workbook chapter was sourced by following links in the CERN Users Office FAQ, which is a very useful document to consult if you have a problem or question.

-- JennyWilliams - 22 Feb 2006

Responsible: JennyWilliams
Last reviewed by:

This topic: CMSPublic > WorkBookComingToCERN
Topic revision: r3 - 2006-02-28 - unknown
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