The MBFF family visited 🎨 La Maison de la Créativité in 🇨🇭 Conches (on the outskirts of Geneva), on a crisp, sunny day in 2016 . . . what a magical discovery, for children and adults alike! A beautiful 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 ® (reference to Enid Blyton’s 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 museum’s collection moved to its new glorious premises . . . and hence 🎨 La Maison de la Créativité was born in Conches on 3rd October 2015.
🎨 La 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 volunteers and professionals from the world of art to function smoothly. The aim is also to allow families and children time to escape the bustle of daily life, ant to take the 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 with which to play . . . 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 faraway tree ” (reference to Enid Blyton’s Faraway 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! 😉);
[ 🎨 current workshops – see here for more details about the éspaces créatifs at 🎨 La Maison de la Créativité (these change regularly) ]
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!
Another trip to La Maison de la Créativité
In 2018, I took my then 4 year old and a friend and her son back to 🎨 La Maison de la Créativité, and on this occasion the artist in residence was Théodora Quiriconi – her project was called « Au fil du Temps » . . . the boys LOVED this visit!
Planning a visit en famille
🎨 La Maison de la Créativité has been conceived with love and attention to children’s needs and their 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 also welcome to use the facilities to heat up food or make a hot drink, warm a baby bottle or shelter from the rain!);
- 🍏 picnic tables;
our experience here at MBFF – we personally didn’t consider our timings very well on our first 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 (or to plan a whole day there, with a picnic lunch for the couple of hours when 🎨 La Maison de la Créativité shuts for lunch, as you are permitted to stay on the grounds!).
🗓 opening hours (general public): Wednesdays from 9h30 until midday AND 14h30 to 17h30 / and on ONE Saturday per month from 9h to midday AND from 14h to 17h;
NB – reservations are currently (though not normally!) necessary due to Covid restrictions! / see here;
💶 price: 🎨 La Maison de la Créativité is aimed at children under the age of 8 years, with one or two accompanying adults (adults are encouraged to participate!) / children 2+ years – 3CHF (for a half-day); accompanying adults – 3CHF (for a half-day);
whole day price – 5CHF (the activities cease over lunchtime 12h to 14h30, but the grounds remain open for you to enjoy);
good to know: 💳 cartes bancaires are NOT accepted, so please pay with cash (small CHF change – monnaie – appreciated! If coming from France, please remember to bring some Swiss Francs!);
🚙 getting there: 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 go on foot (5mins walking). If you have reluctant walkers, perhaps think to bring a draisienne (push bike), scooter or pedal bike. You are permitted to drop-off ♿️ mobilité réduite visitors at the entrance.
address: La Maison de la Créativité, 7 chemin Calandrini, 1231, Conches, Switzerland; tel: +41(0)22 810 18 90; website and FB page; @ email: firstname.lastname@example.org FB page: https://www.facebook.com/maisondelacreativite/