Travel to CERN

Relocation Coordinator

ATLAS-Canada has engaged (part-time) the services of a relocation coordinator, Alexia Leyval ( to help ATLAS Canadians find accommodation around CERN, and to help with other question/concerns.

Her current working hours are:

  • Monday 9 AM till 4.30 PM
  • Tuesday 9 AM till 4.30 PM
  • Wednesday only mornings 9 AM till 12h00
  • Thursday 9 AM till 4.30 PM
She works mostly by email, receiving requests, investigating options, and then replying. Each request for accommodation should include:

  • Desired accommodation type (house/apt, #of Bedrooms, etc.)
  • Possible locations
  • Date of first occupancy
  • Duration of stay
  • Price range (maximum is most important, of course).
She fields requests for everything from 1-2 months accommodation to places for several years. Her recommendation is to contact her at least 6 months in advance for short term accommodation (2 months in the summer is the hardest) and at least 2 months in advance for stays of a year or more. She is able to do everything from arranging sight-unseen contracts available from when you arrive to having a list of places for you to visit when you arrive (she is also available to take you to see the places).

She will also assist with visa letters, answer insurance questions, help with finding local doctors etc., and has a direct and good working relationship with members of the ATLAS secretariat.

You may also benefit from her wiki.

Please start using her services immediately, and pass the above information on to your group. Everyone in ATLAS Canada can use her services.


  • There is a bank inside CERN; however, it will only accept US, UK and Euro currencies.

  • The bank machines inside CERN as well as in St. Genis-Pouilly will accept your bank debit cards; these will give out Swiss Francs (CHF) and Euros respectively.
  • CERN restaurants and the CERN kiosk do not accept credit cards, so you will need cash. (CHF are preferred at CERN. They will generally accept Euros, but it is inconvenient.)

Cavern Visits


New ATLAS visit web page:

The Visits are restricted to members of the ATLAS Collaboration only

  • Visits are permitted Monday to Saturday between 09h and 17h
  • A visit slot is of 60 minutes duration
  • 7 Persons in one group maximum per hour
Please send a mail to ATLAS Secretariat( with :
  • name of guide
  • preferred visit day and time
  • name of each visitor
  • date of birth of each visitor
Official Guides : ( list)

A short resume of the visits procedure with the new list of authorised guides is available at the following address:

We take this opportunity to remind you that if you wish to visit with a journalist you must in addition inform the Press office,, of your visit.

ATLAS Visitor Centre including 3D Film

The ATLAS Visitor Centre (located on the ground floor of building 3162) including the 3D film (3162-1-G01) is now open.

  • Only officially approved guides are permitted to use the 3D film facilities and to guide groups in the ATLAS visitor centre facilities.
  • Please see the list of guides at the following link:
  • Visits are permitted from 08h00 to 19h00 during the week and on weekends.
  • An ATLAS Guide can take a group of max. 12 people.
  • Visits to the ATLAS Visitor centre (including the 3D film) are limited to 48 people in any one hour visit slot (i.e. 24 pers. downstairs in the AVC and 24 pers. on the 1st floor watching the 3D film with the appropriate number of guides).
  • If you wish to reserve a one hour visit to the AVC & 3D room, please send a request to the ATLAS Secretariat a week in advance ( with the following information: preferred date, time slot, number of people, and name of guide(s).
3D film room reservations:

Check bookings here:


  • The housing link is very useful. Under the links tab, you will also find a list of hotels in the area.

  • The ideal location is to live in the on-site hostels. Note that the CERN foyer will offer you to make your payment in either CHF or the currency of your choice. Unless your credit card charges you fees on foreign transactions, you will save money (3-4%) by making your payment in CHF.
  • The CERN hostels fill up fast so you may have to look for alternatives. The nearest off-site hotels are:
    • Hôtel Balladins in St. Genis-Pouilly (France); 30 minutes walk from CERN. Has internet access, TV, hair dryer, extremely thin walls and worn carpeting but you cannot beat the cost (45 euros). Taxi to airport costs 30 Euros. (Reviewed, 29 Oct 2007)
    • Hôtel Sofia, also in Genis-Pouilly (France); 30 minutes walk from CERN.

  • Hotels near CERN
    • Business Park Hotel besides Holiday Inn in Thoiry (France); Runs scheduled shuttle to/from CERN in the morning/evening (need to book). Free ride from/to airport upon request. Has small kitchenette in each room. Special rate for CERN users. More information in here

Liability Insurance (Responsabilite Civil)

  • Liability insurance is a part of the general insurance system of risk financing. Liability is the obligation to repair the damage (or injury) that was caused to others. [Wikipedia]
  • Around Europe there is a general notion of being insured in case you cause bodily or personal injury or property damage to third parties.
  • Usually called civil liability. It provides support for damage caused to others in an accident where liability of the insured is engaged. In the context of privacy, it includes all damages caused to others by the insured or a minor child or a pet, and insures property loss for which the insured is legally liable.
  • This coverage comes through Home Insurance (Assurance Habitation).
  • An annual home insurance premium payment is approximately one hundred euros (¤), depending on how many rooms (in terms of size) in your apartment/house and how much personal property is worth, according to selected option.
  • Liability limit of 10 million euros became commonplace in France, maybe.
  • There is the French bank office in Prévessin, Bldg. 866<!--, <span class="emphasis">tel.</span> 04 50 28 36 80, from outside France 0033 450 99 10 86, fax 04 50 28 36 87, <span class="emphasis">opening hours</span> Tue 9:00-12:00 and 14:15-16:30, We-Fri 9:00-12:00 and 13:30-16:30--> - Crédit Agricole for this insurance. You need to make an appointment to buy it (or open an account). The bankers are friendly. At least one of them speaks English.
  • For Switzerland, please contact insurance companies such as Generali, Zurich, Winterthur, and Axa.
  • Neither UBS nor UNIQA has this kind of insurance.

Network Access

  • Even though you have a CERN computer account, you will not be able to simply hook up your laptop to the wireless/wired network and access the internet. You will be asked to register on a web page when you do. However, if you are a new user and just registered that morning, note that your information is not updated site-wide until the following morning; hence your registration will fail on that day. (If you have a nice account, you can request network connectivity on this page.)
  • Skype users, please note the CERN restrictions in the link.
  • ATLAS Canada users in Bld. 40 can also make use of the 2 wireless access points ATLAS_CANADA_1 and ATLAS_CANADA_2 (see whiteboard in 40-1-C16 for WPA key)

Electrical Outlets

  • Swiss power outlets are different than European outlets. If you already have an North American to European adapter, you will also need a European to Swiss adapter. These can be purchased at the CERN kiosk. Or, the CERN hostel will lend one to guests, for a deposit.
  • North American to Swiss adapters can be purchased at the Geneva airport, but it takes some hunting.
  • Laptop chargers generally can handle either 110V or 220V power, so you shouldn't need a transformer to use your laptop.

ATLAS Canada PC's at CERN

  • A small cluster of 4 ATLAS Canada pc's has been set up in the open area outside 40-1-C15. Each PC ( ... is an Intel quad-core machine with 8 GB RAM and (as of April '09) two * 1 TB disks.
  • To request an account, send an email to:
  • The scratchdisks are cross-mounted on each PC, and can be accessed as /scratch/atcanpc001, /scratch/atcanpc001b, ...
  • These are public terminals, so please do remove components (mouse etc). and do not leave them screen-locked when you are away, to allow others to have e.g. quick access to email. If you are logged on to the terminal and are going away for more than a few hours, PLEASE LOG OUT so that someone else may use the terminal. Don't lock the screen and go away for the night, weekend etc...
  • Please keep in mind that these are interactive machines, so if you need to submit a CPU-intensive job then "nice" the process (see man nice).
  • In Richard Teuscher's office 40-1-C16, there are spare mice, step-up transformers, network cables and adapters for your NA plugs. You may sign out any of these objects during your stay at CERN.


Reserving a Desk at CERN

Several weeks/months before coming to CERN, please make sure you check with your supervisor as to whether a desk is available for you to use.

If there is no desk available through your supervisor, then please send your request to Alexia LEYVAL ( Depending on the availabilities, she might be able to allocate one desk to you in a Canadian office space.

Summer months are usually very crowded, so we advise you to get in touch with Alexia at least 2-3 months before your arrival.

According to the availabilities, the ATLAS Secretariat ( can also help you to find a desk in one of the ATLAS Open Spaces in Buildings 40, 42, and 510.

Making a desk request should be a normal part of your 3-step travel arrangements to CERN: 1) book hostel, 2) book plane ticket, 3) book desk.


(This is information from the ATLAS Secretariat)

  • Free public transport in Geneva during your stay:
    • On arrival by air (from January 2008), take a free ticket from the ticket machine (baggage recovery area). The "Unireso" ticket, issued free of charge by Geneva International Airport, enables you to use public transport in Geneva city for 80 minutes.
    • In addition, those of you who are staying in a hotel will be given a "Geneva Transport Card" (free travel on the Geneva network, valid throughout your stay) when you check in at the hotel. On the day of your return by air, the card will enable you to return to the Airport. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CERN HOSTEL IS WORKING ON AN 'ARRANGEMENT' FOR THE SAME FREE CARD BUT THIS WILL TAKE SOME TIME.
    • AccesGeneve-TransportsPublics.pdf
    • Bus/Tram Route Planner (in English and French.)


Mobile Phone use while @ CERN

  • If you have a mobile phone on a GSM carrier (Rogers & Fido in Canada) you may be able to use a local SIM and save considerably on calls. Local calls as well as calls back to Canada and calls received from Canada are considerably cheaper than when using your Canadian SIM. The caveat is that the phone must be "unlocked" such that you able to use a SIM card from any carrier, see Unlocked GSM Phone @ Wikipedia. Most phones sold by cell carriers (Rogers etc) are locked and will need to be unlocked in order to be able to use a different SIM. The procedure for doing this is beyond the scope of this, searching the internet may prove fruitful. If you do have an unlocked GSM phone, purchasing a local SIM card is a great way to use your mobile phone while at CERN without incurring huge costs.

  • The small shop near Restaurant 1 in building 60 sells SIM cards from a company called Lebara. Lebara has reasonable rates both locally (CHF 0.39/min) and more impressively calls back to Canada (CHF 0.09/min). For CHF 10 you get a SIM card with a Swiss number and CHF 5 of call credit. Additional call credit may be purchased online as well as at many shops throughout Switzerland, including the shop in building 60. It takes about 10 minutes to apply (some personal information and passport number required) and less than 24 hours for the SIM card to be activated so that calls may be made. The card will expire after 12 months of inactivity.

  • Lebara also has an option to purchase a handset as well as the SIM, but I am unsure of the price for this option.
-- ChrisPayne - 12 May 2008

Canadian Health Insurance

  • If you are traveling to CERN for any length of time it is mandatory (CERN policy) that you have sufficient medical insurance to cover you incase of emergency.
  • Often short-term visits are covered by institute, credit-cards, or private health insurance, but it is your responsibility to check the conditions surrounding the coverage (length of stay, number of trips per year, maximum coverage, etc.). If necessary, additional travel medical insurance is available through a variety of agencies (banks, Travel Cuts, Blue Cross, etc.), but these typically assume that you already have a Canadian provincial government health plan (such as OHIP in Ontario); these agencies will cover the total or some fraction of the cost between what the provincial plan covers and the actual cost. A typical plan might cost about $60 CAD for a 3 week stay at CERN. But be sure to read the fine-print, as with many travel insurance you must call the provider before seeking medical attention (yes this can be difficult if you are seriously injured) or they will not cover the visit/treatment.
  • For long term trips to CERN the procedure for medical insurance is a little more involved. Where "long-term" (depends on which province you have the government health plan with) is the length of stay over which your nominal provincial health plan will not cover you. For example, in Ontario you may be outside of Canada for a period of 212 days in any 12 month period and still maintain your OHIP coverage; so if you are at CERN for longer than 212 days in a 12 month period you could "lose" your provincial health care, and the associated additional travel medical insurance you have purchased. BUT there are certain condtions under which can be absent from Canada for a long-term period and still retain your provincial health care. In Ontario (and probably similar in all provinces) these reasons include study, work, etc. But in Ontario you must notify the Ministry of Health concerning your absence, providing proof of reason for absence (for me that was a letter from my advisor stating that I would be conducting research towards my PhD for one year at CERN).
  • In Ontario I had a very hard time finding a private health insurance plan that would cover me for 365 days, most companies would not cover more than 6 months (due to the OHIP restrictions, even though the province approved my out-of-country health insurance). In the end the only company I could find was Travel Cuts, that offered coverage for a maximum of 365 days, and the cost was about $650 CAD (it might not have been the best coverage, but it had the basics in there).
  • The above are precautions, but you don't want to find yourself sick and fighting with your insurance company to cover the costs; it is advised that you look into the coverage your provincial plan provides and seek additional insurance if necessary. But always read the fine-print

Other sources of Information

  • Another useful link is to the CERN User's office where there is a wealth of information.
  • ATLAS US Wiki
  • U. Michigan is another resource; it has quite a lot of practical information.
  • Relocation Guide from the US LHC Users organization has information from a broader base of users (CMS, ATLAS, Accelerator people). Note also the discussion board which you may find helpful; I am not sure if you need to be US institution to register.
-- AsokaDeSilva - 28 Sep 2007
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