A visit to La Maison du Salève makes for a wonderful family day out . . . originally an 18th century farm from the Chartreuse de Pomier (La Ferme de Mikerne – see here for more history), the building has been renovated to host a cultural centre recounting the history of the Salève mountain and its environs (a permanent interactive exhibition) and temporary exhibitions . . . and the gardens and surrounding nature host workshops, discovery walks and more . . .
We have now visited en famille twice: once in springtime (with a 4 year old and a one year old), with all the beautiful spring blossom set magainst a blue sky, and again this past weekend (with two walking youngsters this time!), a somewhat overcast and cold autumnal day this time – but the leaves were beginning to change colour and it was still a lovely visit and refreshing walk!
The Salève is a little mountain (1379m) with a rich history:
- rock-climbing (known locally as la varappe) took off here, and it became one of the sites for alpinists to train for summiting Mont-Blanc!
- thanks to big historical personalities like Horace-Bénédicte de Saussure and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Salève has long been a site of exploration for naturalists and geologists!
La Ferme de Mikerne
The old farmhouse itself hosts a permanent exhibition, as well as changing temporary exhibitions:
Permanent exhibition: «Le Salève, une montagne et des hommes» – this exhibition is aimed at children over the age of four, and it explains the history of the Salève mountain: its proximity to Geneva, the curiosity of scientists and sportsmen and women; «Le Salève côté nature» is aimed at children from 3 to 12 years (a story cabane, games . . . );
Temporary exhibition: each year there is a new temporary exhibition; the current exhibition is «Paysages Sonores» . . . where you can discover the sounds of nature surrounding le Salève; with a smartphone and earphones, you will enter different nature habitats: the forest, the alpage, humid zones and villages / price: 2€, free for children under 6 years;
The Garden – l’Espace Mikerne
It is worthwhile to visit La Maison du Salève on a fine weather day, as it is lovely to explore the gardens outside – there are picnic tables, a small climbing frame, and the start of «Le Parcours de Découverte», which explains the history/geology/special features of the area surrounding the Salève mountain. There is also a Salle Hors-Sac in the old kitchen of the farmhouse, for slightly colder days, or if you get caught out by the rain. The garden is part of the Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux and it also houses insect hotels.
Family walk – «Le Parcours de Découverte»
La Maison du Salève is the starting point for many great walks, including a short boucle, perfect for families – «Sur les pas des Charteux de Pomier». Monks settled near le Salève in 1170, and they left their mark on the land; this walk highlights many of their contributions. The walk starts in the garden of La Ferme de Mikerne, and it takes about 1 hour to complete, with lots of stops along the way!
From the garden, you head towards the car park and then right into the woods, along the GR de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle (the pilgrims’ route of Santiago de Compostella), and you head to the Chartreuse de Pomier after emerging from the woods, which was a site of prayer and meditation for over 600 years (and now hosts banquets and weddings; handy hint – if open, the WC here are very warm and welcoming on a cold day!); from here commences your return journey, past la Ferme de la Quory. There are explanatory panels along the way to keep little ones entertained. When we did this walk last weekend, we made lots of cabanes in the woods!
For families with older children, there are plenty of longer walks in the environs and you can pick up a map at La Maison du Salève. There is also the famous Téléphérique du Salève, which leaves from nearby Etrembières and from the arrival point of the télécabine, you will have views of Geneva, Lac Léman and the Alps, as well as plenty of hiking opportunities!
Workshops & Visits
La Maison du Salève organises lots of wonderful nature workshops in the environs throughout the year: butterfly hunts, apple-picking, apple juice-pressing . . . see here for the Animations Automne/Hiver 2017 – 2018.
Our last visit to La Maison du Salève coincided with its 10 year celebrations and the Journées Européenes de la Patrimoine. The atmosphere was festive, the garden had been decorated by children, and we came away with the most delicious bag of apples, pears and plums (we all agreed that they were the tastiest apples we had enjoyed in a very long time!).
La Maison du Salève is open all year-round, except in January, 1st May, first Sunday in September and 25th December:
February to June and September to December: Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays, from 14h to 18h;
July & August: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10h to 18h;
School holidays (Zone A): Tuesday to Sunday, from 14h to 18h;
Senior citizens (60+ years) & students: 5€;
Children (6 to 18 years): 3€;
Children under 6 years: FREE!
Families: 15€ (2 adults and up to 4 children)
*GOOD TO KNOW: pay once and come back a second time for FREE! Keep your ticket to the Maison du Salève; you can come back within the year for FREE, as long as you are accompanied by someone else who is paying for their own entrance!*
The Maison du Salève has a lovely giftshop; a great place to pick up presents to do with nature and local produce!
La Maison du Salève
775, route de Mikerne
Tel: + 33 (0)4 50 95 92 16
Parking: there is a car park situated a short 100m walk from the house; and there is handicapped parking next to the house;
Getting there by car/bus:
From Geneva – A40 exit St Julien en Genevois, then RD 1206, direction Cruseilles;
Bus – Lisha T72: Genève – Maison du Salève (stop Pomier) – get off at bus stop Chartreuse de Pomier, then walk 1km to La Maison du Salève;
From Annecy – A40 exit Cruseilles, then RD 1206 direction St Julien en Genevois;
Bus – Lihsa T72: Annecy – Maison du Salève (stop Pomier) – get off at bus stop get off at bus stop Chartreuse de Pomier, then walk 1km to La Maison du Salève;