The MBFF family visited La Maison de la Créativité in Conches on the outskirts of Geneva, on a crisp, sunny day last autumn . . . what a magical discovery, for children and adults alike! A house (Villa Calandrini) set in copious grounds and surrounded by woodland, with views of the Salève mountain, and it even has its very own Faraway Tree ®. The house and gardens are a veritable treasure trove for little creative people – workshops and games abound! Our little ones didn’t want to leave!
A little history
The Ville de Genève realised long ago the importance of l’éveil culturel et artistique for the creative development of young children . . . a centre for this was originally located in the Madeleine des Enfants, but a larger space was eventually needed . . . the Villa Calandrini, which is the old annex of the Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève (MEG) became available as the collection moved to its new glorious premises . . . and hence the Maison de la Créativité was born here in Conches on 3rd October 2015.
The Maison de la Créativité is a place where families, crèches, local organisations and after-school clubs come together and work side by side with cultural establishments like museums, libraries, theatres and organisations . . . an intergenerational approach to creativity, that relies on professionals from the world of art and volunteers to function. The aim is also to allow families and children time to escape the bustle of daily life – time to “observer, flâner, écouter, rêvasser” – Maison de la Créativité website.
Le Parc de la Maison de la Créativité – outdoor area
As soon as one enters the grounds to La Maison de la Créativité, a sense of calm pervades . . . having left the car a short walk away, or arrived by bus, bike, or on foot, the approach is natural in itself . . . and then, right away, the delights of the grounds: a kitchen set up outdoors for children to cook up feasts of leaves and other delights, breathtaking views across the hills, a playground, little wagons to play with . . . we are far away from the urban world at proximity . . . and so, just as La Maison de la Créativité intends, we are forced to pause, to observe, to breathe slowly, to listen; we are invited to take our time, to wander, to play, to imagine, to experiment . . . to be creative!
In the Parc, you will find:
- La Cuisine d’Antan – this is a magical outdoor kitchen, where children can cook up a natural banquet of leaves, flowers, acorns, pebbles, twigs . . .
- «Kits Parc & Nature» – a bag, a basket, a suitcase and details of how to go and discover nature!
- an Enchanted Tree! ®
- a playground – with so many corners to explore and activities to try out at La Maison de la Créativité, I must confess that our boys barely even looked at the playground!
Inside the house
When we headed indoors, we were met by the warm and welcoming staff, who gave us a guided tour of the house, explaining each room and workshop along the way . . . it was hard to know where to start . . .
We started by making houses, with wooden slabs and pieces of material! The perfect activity for the sons of an architect!
And then our littlest decided he wanted to head back to his outdoor kitchen, so we took turns eating his delicious nature concoctions, while his big brother wandered from room to room, having so much fun . . . the shadow room, printing fun upstairs, and then time with the artist in residence (we all returned to witness his nature mobile hanging from the ceiling!). There is even a little multi-lingual library, for rest time!
A visit en famille
La Maison de la Créativité has been conceived with love and attention to children’s needs and the accompanying adults . . . everything has been set up to make a visit as enjoyable as possible, and as easy as possible. On-site, you will find:
- toilets for children;
- baby-changing facilities;
- a place to rest / salle hors sac (a room set aside for visiting crèches and school children, but you are welcome to use the facilities to heat up food or make a hot drink!);
- picnic tables;
We personally didn’t consider our timings very well on our visit, arriving about 45 minutes before lunch-time closure one Saturday . . . having not thought ahead to bring a picnic, we headed off to buy from a local supermarket . . . and then we had a long wait before the house re-opened. Our recommendation, therefore, would be to aim to arrive either early in the morning, or to bring a picnic lunch and wait for afternoon opening.
La Maison de la Créativité is open on Wednesdays from 14h30 to 17h30 and on one Saturday per month from 9h30 to midday and from 14h30 to 17h30;
*No reservations are necessary*
October: Wednesday 25th October and during the Toussaint holidays from 23rd to 27th October from 14h30 to 17h30 / Saturday 28th October;
November: Wednesday 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th November / Saturday 25th November;
La Maison de la Créativité is aimed at children under the age of 6 years, with one or two accompanying adults (adults are encouraged to participate and encourage!).
Children 2+ years – 3CHF (for a half-day);
Accompanying adults – 3CHF (for a half-day);
Whole day price – 5CHF (the activities cease over lunch-time 12h to 14h30, but the grounds remain open);
*Please pay with monnaie!*
Arriving at the Maison de la Créativité from le Pays du Mont-Blanc, you are likely to arrive by car (Geneva locals can arrive by bike, on foot or by bus). The chemin Calandrini, which leads up to the grounds, is a private road, so you will have to park on route de Florissant and then come by foot (5mins walking); if you have reluctant walkers, perhaps think to bring a draisienne (push bike). You are permitted to drop-off handicapped visitors at the entrance.
La Maison de la Créativité,
7 chemin Calandrini,
Tel: +41(0)22 810 18 90