Springtime Activities for families au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond)

We have one more bank holiday this May 2018: Pentecôte . . . and then it is full steam ahead with school and work . . . until the summer holidays!

Until the summer activities post, I thought it might be useful to have a general list of activities available for families & children au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) at hand in one list . . . so, if you reside au Pays du Mont-Blanc, or if you are visiting the Pays du Mont-Blanc in May and June, then perhaps this post will be of use to you for some fresh ideas for springtime activities for families, come rain or shine . . . 

*NB – please check opening hours, wherever you decide to head!*


Colour code for listings:

Chamonix Valley (Chamonix, Argentière, Les Houches, Servoz & Vallorcine)

Passy & environs

Sallanches, Combloux, Cordon & Domancy

St Gervais, Le Fayet & environs

Megève, Praz-sur-Arly & environs

Les Contamines & environs

Further France

Switzerland

Italy


SPRINGTIME FAMILY EVENTS OVER THE SPRINGTIME

For sports events over the springtime, see recent MBFF post: «Sports Events for Families au Pays du Mont-Blanc».

Une Saison au Haras (Annecy) – 9th May to 14th October 

From spring until autumn, the old 19th century horse stables of Annecy (once on the outskirts of town), which at their apogee housed 120 horses, become a hive of activity: temporary art installations/events (Iles aux Brumes), concerts, yoga, African dance, and the Rucher du Haras (beehives) / programmeopening hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 14h to 19h / address: 19 rue Guillaume Fichet 74000 Annecy / tel: 04 50 33 88 88;

© Annecy Tourisme
New exhibition at the MEG (Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève) – from 18th May until 6th January 2019

I am excited about the prospect of our next visit to the MEG to see the new temporary exhibition: «Afrique: les religions de l’extase», which will run from 18th May until 6th January 2019 / remember that the MEG has some fabulous children’s workshops, and free visits and activities on the first Sunday of each month!

«Afrique: les religions de l’extase», next MEG temporary exhibition © MEG
La Nuit Européennes des Musées au Pays du Mont-Blanc – Saturday 19th May

There are special events for La Nuit Européenne des Musées in the Chamonix Valley and in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Saint Nicolas de Véroce / check the website for the full 2018 programme, with activities scheduled all over France! / for more details, check also MBFF post (coming!);

Les Grandes Médiévales d’Andilly (Andilly) – 19th, 20th & 21st May AND 26th & 27th May

The famous medieval festival in Andilly – knights in shining armour, princesses, castles, fortresses, jousting, birds of prey . . . plenty to keep the whole family entertained / see website for more details;

© Les Grandes Médiévales Andilly
Festi’Léman (Evian et Chablais) – 19th & 20th May
Each day from 10h to 19h on the Quai Baron de Bionay in Evian: culture & history, environment, gastronomy, flora & fauna, concerts, exhibition «Le thermalisme à Evian», water sports, art, music, animations, dance . . . / see here for more details ;
© Evian Tourisme
Fête de la Nature – 23rd to 27th May

«Fête de la Nature» (12e édition) is back for another year in France / with lots of Portes Ouvertes and free workshops / the theme this year is «Voir l’invisible» / see website for more details and to check for events that are taking place close to home / a day dedicated to the iconic gypaète barbu in the Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval on Sunday 27th May from 10h to 17h (we went last year, and combined the small exhibition with a lovely walk!

Ballet Gala Night (Geneva) – 23rd May

The Ballet Gala Night will be held on 23rd May in the Théâtre du Léman in Geneva / see here for more details Geneva!

© Ballet Gala Night / Geneva Dance Events
Festival Frictions at Château Rouge (Annemasse) – 24th to 26th May

Theatre, music and circus . . .  / see programme here;

Frictions © Annemasse / Château Rouge
Festival Poussière du Monde (Parc Bernasconi, Grand-Lancy, Geneva) – 25th May to 10th June

World music and dance at this nomadic festival, hosted in yourts! / programme / address: Parc Bernasconi, Grand-Lancy, Geneva, Switzerland;

© Festival Poussière du Monde
Rendez-Vous aux Jardins – 1st to 3rd June

«Rendez-vous aux jardins» is a festival celebrating gardens, and the the theme this year is «l’Europe des Jardins» / see website or FB page for more details / our very own Jardin des Cimes in Plateau d’Assy is soon to re-open, and will be partaking in this festival, with a guided visit of the magical gardens (free for under 18s for this festival) – see here / for more information about Le Jardin des Cimes en famille, see MBFF post;

© Chevalvert / RDV aux Jardins 2018
Festival International du Film d’Animation (Annecy) –  11th to 16th June

The international animated film festival returns to Annecy this year (and with a fabulous poster!) from 11th to 16th June! / see website for more details and programme / events for the whole family, including outdoor cinema screenings;

© Festival International du Film d’Animation
Fête de la Musique – 21st June

La Fête de la Musique is a fabulous opportunity to head out with family and friends and to support your local musicians / last year the MBFF team headed out to the quais in Sallanches (and it didn’t RAIN!!!) / check local bars/restaurants/tourist offices nearer the date to see what is scheduled / official website;

© La Fête de la Musique
Chamfest festival- (Chamonix) – 15th, 16th & 17th June

Chamfest is the new family festival, which will be held in the Planard parc de loisirs in Chamonix, over 3 days! / lots of fun activities for the whole family, including the presence of Peppa Pig ® / see website for full programme and to book tickets . . .

© Chamfest / Chamonix All Year
La Fête de la Montagne (Sallanches) – 23rd & 24th June

A fun-packed programme of mountain activities for the whole family in the centre of Sallanches and up higher . . . illuminations, climbing, hiking, VTT electrique, caving, activities at the Centre de la Nature Montagnarde . . . / see pdf programme;

© sallanches.com
Les Journées des Saltimbanques (Bonneville) – 29th & 30th June

Back for a 14th edition, this is a festival in Bonneville dedicated to street art and theatre! / spectacles, circus, dance, theatre, acrobatics, music . . . / see programme here;

© Bonneville Culture & Animations

CHILDREN’S WORSHOPS, THEATRE & GUIDED VISITS

*NB – for more ideas for WEDNESDAY activities for children au Pays du Mont-Blanc during the school term, please see post: «les mercredis – workshops, sport & creative activities for children au Pays du Mont-Blanc»

Guided visit at Musée Alpin (Chamonix)

Le Musée Alpin à Chamonix © montblancfamilyfun
Anaka Plasticienne (Servoz) – plexiglas workshops on Saturdays
Anaka workshop © montblancfamilyfun.com

Though Anaka won’t be re-opening her shop in Servoz this summer, she will still be offering workshops at her atelier on Saturdays from 21st JuneInitiation à la Peinture à Rebours sur Plexiglas / address: route du Mont , Servoz / see FB page for more details / my elder son, a friend and I took part in one of Ananaka’s workshops last summer at the Musée Montagnard in Les Houches – we had a fabulous time painting plexglas sheep, and Anaka was delightful company;

«Qi Qong for children»/Montessori workshops at Le Jardin des Cimes in Plateau d’Assy (Passy)

Qi Qong pour les enfants is one of the new workshops on offer at the Jardin des Cimes on Wednesdays, from early June / price: 5€ / for 7 to 13 year olds / reservations: Catherine Charles 06 60 75 92 18 or contact@naturawen.fr / there will also be Montessori workshops on Wednesdays, either for 0 to 2 year olds or for 3 to 6 years olds / see FB page for more details;

© Le Jardin des Cimes
Atelier «Couleurs & Sens» (Sallanches)

Isabelle Nicolazzo’s Atelier «Couleurs & Sens» in Sallanches – creative workshops for children + adult on Wednesday mornings or afternoons / she also offers adult workshops / see website for more details;

© Atelier Couleurs & Sens
La Ferme les Montagnards (Ormaret, Combloux)

On Tuesdays (10h to midday) and Thursdays (14h30 to 16h30), you can have a guided visit of La Ferme Les Montagnards in Ormaret, Combloux / Delphine will show you how a bovine farm works and what daily life is like on a farm: 65 cows for milking, 40 pigs, rabbits . . . / price: adults 8€; children (3-12 years) 6€; FREE for under 3s / *both mini MBFF members loved their crèche/garderie visits here!*address: 4 chemin des Poses, Ormaret, 74920, Combloux / reservations necessary: Delphine +33 (0)6 21 02 18 99 / FB page;

Guided visit: «Laurenzio, granit du Mont-Blanc» (Combloux)

On Fridays at 17h, there is a guided visit: «Laurenzio, granit du Mont-Blanc» – in Combloux – learn about the métier des graniteurs, from the extraction of granite to the finished product (chimneys, work surfaces, the fountains adorning our mountain villages, tables, etc . . .) / address: 340, route de la Barme, 74920, Combloux/ price: 5 € and under 15s free / reservations OT Combloux: 04 50 58 60 49;

«Laurenzio, granit du Mont-Blanc» © combloux.com

*NB – for more ideas for children’s activities on Wednesdays au Pays du Mont-Blanc, see post Les mercredis – workshops & creative activities for children.


CHILDREN’S STORYTELLING

Our local médiathèques offer some regular storytelling sessions . . .

  • Sallanches – now that the new Médiathèque Ange Abrate is open to the public, there are regular storytime sessions (l’Heure du Conte) for children of different age groups, in the Salle de l’Heure du Conte (upstairs): Wednesdays for 3 to 4 year olds and 5+ years and one Saturday per month for les tout-petits – see below for upcoming sessions / address: 81 place du Commissaire Chesney / tel: +33 (0)4 50 93 95 49 / website;

  • L’Heure du Conte (3+ years) – Médiathèque (Le Palais) Megève – Wednesdays at 17h – FREE! – no reservations needed – upcoming dates: 16th and 30th May and Wednesdays 13th & 27th June / address: Espace Jeunesse, Médiathèque, 247 route du Palais des Sports, 74120, Megève / tel: +33 (0)4 50 91 57 70;
  • L’Heure du Conte (bébés lecteurs) – Médiathèque (Le Palais) – Megève – Saturdays at 10h30 – for children 0 to 3 years – FREE! – no reservations needed – upcoming dates: Saturday 19th May, Saturday 9th June / address: Espace Jeunesse, Médiathèque, 247 route du Palais des Sports, 74120, Megève / tel: +33 (0)4 50 91 57 70;

During the school holidays there are storytelling sessions/spectacles/puppet shows organised across the network of many of the bibliothèques/médiathèques and Tourist Offices au Pays du Mont-Blanc: Chamonix Valley, Combloux (above Tourist Office), Saint-Gervais-les-Bains (L’Heure du Conte at the library on Thursdays at 11h (for 4+ years) . . . check the tourist office agendas to keep informed! / check also FB page for the network of médiathèques of the Chamonix Valley.


OUTDOOR & NATURE

Springtime strolls & gentle hikes for families

The snow is continuing to melt up high (two weeks behind the usual annual melting time on the high cols apparently!), making accessible some of the medium-high altitude family walks . . . and here are some of the lovely low-altitude walks to enjoy en famille with small children:

*NB – on higher altitude walks, please do check snow cover before heading out, as this winter season has left not just snow, but damage to paths!*

  • Chamonix’s «Parcours d’Orientation du Bois du Bouchet» – 4km orienteering route / possible with cross-country buggies;
  • Les Houches’ «Parcours Orientation Lac de Chavant» – orienteering route / possible with cross-country buggies / 18 grey bornes to find and follow;
  • Servoz’s «Parcours Orientation»  orienteering route / 13 grey bornes to find and follow / parcours leaves from Servoz train station;
  • Plaine-Joux & Lac Vert – are lovely spots to head, whatever the season! / Maison de la Réserve Naturelle de Passy  reserve open to the public for visits at the weekend  13h to 18h30 (check opening hours with Passy Tourisme) / FREE / address: Maison de la Réserve Naturelle de Passy, 321 chemin des Parchet / tel: +33 (0) 4 50 90 23 07;
Lac Vert, Passy (albeit autum!) © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Lac de Passy – the buvettes at Lac de Passy are now open for the season, as well as the Passy Accro Lac accrobranche ®, the new Espace VTT, the bouncy castles and Karting du Mont-Blanc (check opening hours over bank holiday!) – all the perfect complement to a walk around the lake / NEW playground nearly complete too;
Lac de Passy – sandcastle and digger fun © montblancfamilyfun
  • Lacs des Ilettes a jeu de piste is available for Lacs des Ilettes from Sallanches Tourisme / also fun to explore/picnic at the Cascade d’Arpenaz (no buggies here and be very vigilant with small children next to the waterfall!);
Springtime paddle at Lacs des Ilettes © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Sallanches’ «Le Sapin Président»  forest discovery trail leading to the Sapin Président, a 271 year old pine tree with huge dimensions / not possible with a buggy / *NB – please check accessibility of this route after the winter with Sallanches Tourisme*;
  • Combloux’s «100% bio» – loop around the Plan d’Eau Biotope and beyond / 30mins / possible with cross-country buggies;
  • Combloux’s «Sur Les Traces des Graniteurs» – on the trail of the old granite workers / 1h30 / this hike can also be done as a guided visit;
Sur la traces des graniteurs, Combloux © combloux.com
  • Cordons’s «Forest Discovery Trail» – for more details in PDF see here / 1 hour loop in the forest / not possible with a buggy / *NB – please check accessibility/winter damage on this route with Cordon Tourisme*;
Forest Discovery Trail in Cordon © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Saint-Gervais-les-Bains’ parcours orientation: «A la découverte de Saint-Gervais» and the «Boucle des Maisons Fortes» – 1 hour / both available as free leaflets from Tourist Office in Saint-Gervais;
  • Saint-Gervais-les-Bains: «Charlotte la Marmotte au Bettex» – not yet tried this one, but you can do it with a buggy / explanatory panels along the way / check snow cover with Saint-Gervais Tourisme;
Charlotte la Marmotte au Bettex © Saint-Gervais-les-Bains Tourisme
  • Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval – one of my favourite places to hike / there are lots of different hiking possibilities and the village of Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval is also very quaint (it is one of les Plus Beaux Villages de la France) / one hiking route at Cirque de Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval possible with a buggy;
  • Doussard: La Réserve Naturelle du Bout du Lac – Doussard, at the bottom of the Lac d’Annecy, has a lovely buggy-friendly walk / see here for more details;
Doussard, au bout du lac © montblancfamilyfun
  • Saint-Jorioz: sentier thématique des roselières – “une balade familière par excellence le long de la plus grande roselière du lac d’Annecy. La zone protégée est jalonnée de panneaux d’informations et abrite de nombreux oiseaux aquatiques et poissons . Le sentier est idéal pour les poussettes, les draisiennes et les vélos Aller-Retour de 4,5km au départ de l’embarcadère de Saint-Jorioz jusqu’au lieu-dit Le Beau juste avant Duingt. En été, vous pourrez vous rafraîchir à la plage  de sable blanc de Saint-Jorioz et craquer en récompense pour des petites glaces” – Randos en Famille (a post to come on Randos en Famille!) / see post;
  • Col de la Forclaz: the Bisse du Trient (irrigation channel from 1895 bringing water from the glacier du Trient to the Col du Forclaz) family walk – *UPDATE 7th May 2018! – this path is not yet open for hiking; too much damage from mudslides this winter and work needed on the path – perhaps one for late spring/early summer! / we discovered this family walk last summer, thanks to CosmoJazz . . . we no longer have children in buggies, but we did see people arriving with all terrain buggies (we also saw people arriving with children on push bikes, which I would most vociferously not recommend, as there is a steep fall down one side of the path!) / the easy path follows the course of the Bisse du Trient, with a parcours ludique along the way, and at the end of the walk you are rewarded with a view of the Trient glacier and a café, La Buvette du Glacier (open in June) / aller-retour walk: 6,5km / *NB: if small children are walking, it is imperative to hold their hand at all times, there is a steep fall!*;

See MBFF post Family Hikes – tips for hiking with small children for some more ideas for gentle family strolls . . .


Mountain refuges and buvettes re-opening . . .

Our local mountain refuges and buvettes have been having a tough time clearing paths of snow, trying to get ready for the spring and summer season! Let’s support them by planning a family walk (but do check snow cover first!) / see here for some ideas / La Cascade du Dard (Buvette La Cascade du Dard); Le Chapeau in Le Lavancher (La Buvette du Chapeau); Floria (Chalet de la Floria) on the Petit Balcon Sud; Le Refuge de Varan (Passy)Refuge de Doran (Sallanches) . . . and lots, lots more . . . Refuge de Loriaz set to open mid-June;

Refuge de Mayères, Sallanches © montblancfamilyfun.com

Parks, Woods & Gardens

The magnolia trees and many other trees may have already blossomed, but fine weather days over the springtime would be the perfect opportunity to visit a garden, park, forest or castle grounds . . . (still to admire: irises, day lilies, rhododendrons):

  • Parc Couttet – in the centre of Chamonix, this is a great place to picnic and to let little ones run around;
  • Bois du Bouchet in Chamonix – makes for a perfect springtime buggy walk (snow cover permitting!) or a tour on a draisienne (push bike) . . .
  • Le Paradis des Praz – it is lovely to stroll / take a bike ride through the Paradis des Praz in Les Praz / the lovely buvette is now open! / FB page;
Le Paradis des Praz © Le Paradis des Praz
  • Jardin des Cimes – in Plateau d’Assy (Passy) / a magical garden with lots of workshops and activities for the whole family / due to re-open for the season on 26th May / for more information about Le Jardin des Cimes en famille, see MBFF post;
Le Jardin des Cimes © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Sallanches walk – though most of the blossom is now gone, this is still a lovely buggy stroll in the centre of Sallanches / see MBFF post Sallanches Springtime Family Stroll (a little of Sallanches’ history, and some playgrounds and a coffee stop too!) / you can pick up a history leaflet from the Tourist Office / *good to know: Centre de la Nature Montagnarde, the Médiathèque Ange Abrate and lovely bookshops along the way!*;
  • Le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet – there is a playground, accrobranches ®, grass for games, duck pond, paths for buggy walks, short hiking trails / see MBFF post for more details;
  • Jaysinia alpine garden in Samoëns – a unique alpine garden, clinging to a hillside, and you can combine with a walk through town or a walk in Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval . . .
  • Les Jardins de l’Europe, Annecy – a lovely place to head, right next to Lac d’Annecy / perfect for buggies/draisiennes/pedal bikes / playgrounds and picnic spots / access to Lac d’Annecy bike piste;
  • Le Jardin des 5 Sens, Yvoire these are pretty walled gardens, divided into themed sections based on the fives senses, in the medieval lakeside town of Yvoire / there is a special quizz available for children: the bee «Méliflor» accompanies children 6 to 11 years, and the herbalist «Floritou» guides the older 12 to 14 year olds / opening times: from 10h to 17h30 / price: adults 12€, children (6 to 18 years) 7€, children under 6 years FREE, family price / address: rue du Lac, 74140, Yvoire (you must park outside the town walls) / tel: +33 (0) 450 72 88 80 / website;
  • Les Jardins de l’Eau du Pré Curieux – located at the western entrance to Evian, and accessed by a solar-powered boat which leaves from the centre of Evian / home to a wetland research and information centre, and a discovery trail through the park presents the various water ecosystems: ponds with fish and waterlilies, mountain streams, marshes / opening hours: until 30th September 2018, daily from 13h45 to 15h30 / price: family price 36€, adults 12,60€, children 8,10€ / address: Embarcadère du Casino, quai Baron de Blonay, 74500, Évian-les-Bains / tel: +33 (0)4 50 75 04 26;
  • Les Jardins Secrets, Vaulx – une évasion bucolique et originale sur 7000m2” – Les Jardins Secrets / a little history – the story began in 1980, when Nicole and Alain acquired a farm with lots of land in Vaulx, and settled there with their 3 daughters . . . the farm was in a very run-down state, and needed lots of renovation . . . and then Alain set to work, with the whole family lending a hand, to the gardens.  The gardens began to attract the attention of the public, and it was decided to open them to visitors: in 1994, the gardens opened to the public . . . / opening hours: until 7th October 2018, every day, see here for exact opening hours / price: adults 8,50 €, children (4 to 12 years) 4€  and under 4s FREE / address: 1561 route de Lagnat, 74150, Vaulx / tel: +33 (0)4 50 60 53 18 / website;
  • Château de Voltaire – *UPDATE – both castle and gardens now shut until June re-opening (following renovations) / see here for more details;
  • Lyon’s Parc de la Tête d’Or – lots of green grass and paths, a boating lake, a carroussel, a large playground and a small zoo . . . Lyon’s Parc de la Tête d’Or is a destination to spend many hours . . . / see here for more details / address: place du Général Leclerc (main entrance), 69006, Lyon 6ème;
  • Fondation Pierre Gianadda – the gardens of this wonderful museum – which change with each season – are part of the appeal of a visit / see MBFF post for more details;
  • Botanical Gardens (Conservatoire et Jardins Botaniques de Genève CJBG) in Geneva, Switzerland –  as well as the beautiful trees, plants and greenhouses, this park has a wonderful wooden playground, a magical carrousel in the warmer months, a small animal park and plentiful grass for running around and picnics / there is also a restaurant/snack bar on-site / see here to read post / FREE!
  • Le Parc des Eaux Vives/Parc de la Grange in Geneva – a lovely park that descends towards the beach on Lac Léman / address: quai Gustave-Ador, Geneva, Switzerland / / website;
Parc de la Grange Geneva © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Château et Jardins de Prangins – located between Geneva and Lausanne, next to Lac Léman, the Château de Prangins is surrounded by a park of 5 hectares, an orchard and a historic potager (largest in Switzerland, with historic fruit, vegetables, medicinal plants, flowers, etc . . .) / the Musée national suisse is housed within the 18th century castle (the largest in Switzerland open to the public) / exhibitions («Noblesse oblige! La vie de château au 18e siècle») / children’s activitiesopening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10h to 17h / price: adults CHF10 and children up to 16 years free, FREE to visit the gardens / address: Musée national suisse, Château de Prangins, avenue Général Guiguer 3, 1197, Prangins / website;
© Château de Prangins
  • Arboretum Vallon d’Aubonne in Switzerland – address: chemin de Plan 92, Aubonne, Switzerland / tel: +41 21 808 51 83 / website;
  • Domaine et Jardins d’Iris Vullierens – we visited these stunning gardens over the Pont de l’Ascension, highly recommended! / iris gardens: the collection of irises at Vullierens was created by Doreen Bovet, the Californian wife (and mother of the current owner of Vullierens) of Bernard Bovet de Mestral / sculptures: in the gardens of Vulluriens, there are 72 sculptures in 30 hectares of land, from 21 Swiss and internation artists / the Étienne Krähenbühl ‘s Le Bing Bang is donged every day at at 15h! / for families and children: Le Royaume du Roi Lézard is a new, magical addition for children/families in the gardens / most of the route is possible with a buggy or you can leave buggies at entrance / be sure to ask for the map at the entrance / see here for more details / opening hours 2018: until 17th June (for irises), 10h to 18h (café, shop and gallery open) and summer: 14h to 17h (café and shop shut, snack bar at entrance) / price: adults 15CHF, children (12 to 16 years) 5CHF, children (up to 11 years) FREE / dogs ALLOWED on a leash / picnics NOT permitted / address: Château de Vullierens, Vullierens, Switzerland / tel: +41 21 869 88 80 / website / FB page

For some more springtime flower destinations (further afield France and Italy), see MBFF post Springtime Blossoms & Flowers.


Playgrounds

There are many fantastic playgrounds au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . some have more options for little ones, some more for older children.  See the Playgrounds topic on the homepage of the MBFF website, or to have a peruse of MBFF’s favourite (tried and tested!) playgrounds, see here.


Biking, Skateparks, Espaces VTT & Pumptracks

We have plentiful scope for bike rides au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . and also, Espaces VTT, Skateparks and Pumptracks can be lots of fun! *NB – remember to wear a HELMET and protective gear!

  • Chamonix Skatepark – located behind the Centre Loisirs Richard Bozon and next to the parapente landing field in the Bois du Bouchet / bowl (depending on weather) and more! / 800m² / beginner’s area / address: Bois du Bouchet, 74440, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc / Facebook page;
  • Servoz Pumptrack – the pumptrack in Servoz is located next to the playground and tennis courts / address: chemin de a Grangiat, 74310, Servoz;
  • Lac de PassyNEW Espace VTT, just behind the mini-golf beside the lake! / for children 4+ years;
Espace VTT, Lac de Passy © montblancfamilyfun
  • Sallanches Skatepark – located behind the hospital, with great views of Mont-Blanc / picnic tables available and lots of green grass for ball games / see MBFF post for more details / address: rue de l’Hôpital, 74700, Sallanches;
Sallanches Skatepark © montblancfamilyfun
  • Louparc – Combloux Skatepark & Pumptrack – with picnic tables, a terrain multi-sport, a playground and a small skatepark all on the same site as the pumptrack . . . and stunning views of Mont-Blanc, this is the perfect spot to come en famille! / located just behind the Mairie/school / address: rue de la Mairie, 74920, Combloux / see MBFF post for more details;
Combloux pumptrack © montblancfamilyfun
  • Praz-sur-Arly – Ludik Park is located next to the Arly river, at the Base de Loisirs des Belles / see here for more details;
  • Les Contamines-Montjoie Skatepark – located in the Espace Omnisport des Loyers / spacious: 1600 m² / address: Espace route de Notre-Dame de la Gorge, 74170, Les Contamines-Montjoie;

Accrobranches ®

We have plenty of accrobranches ® au Pays du Mont-Blanc, and some special destinations a bit further afield too . . .

  • Accro’Park in Les Gaillands (Chamonix) – from 3 years / springtime opening: weekends from 13h30 until 19h (last entrance 16h30) / see here for more details;
  • La Forêt Magique (Tines) – for children 4 to 16 years and Parcours Wistitis for 3 to 4 years / opening: 1st May 2018 (weekends only) and July to September 10h to 18h every day / address: Les Liarets, Les Tines, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc / tel: 33(0)6 21 12 13 94 / website;
  • Aéroparc Passy Plain-Wood (Plaine-Joux) –  parcours from 3 years / see here for more details / opening hours: 10h to 17h30 address: 300 chemin des Parchets, Plaine-Joux, 74190, Passy;
Plain’Wood Passy Plaine-Joux © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Passy Accro-Lac (Lac de Passy) – parcours Pitchounes from 2 years / new giant air-bag! / May & June on Wednesdays and weekends 13h30 to 18h30 FB page;
  • Via Curalla (Via Ferrata) – in Plateau d’Assy, re-opened on 8th May / you can rent equipment from buvette on-site / see here for more details;
  • Mont-Blanc Parc Aventure in le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet – now run by guides / from 90cm height / see here for more details;
© Mont-Blanc Parc Aventure
  • Acrobatic Island in the Parc Patrice Dominguez in Les Contamines-Montjoie – from 3 years / opening hours: 13h30 to 18h / see here for more details;
  • Filenvol – we went to Filenvol last autumn and had a fabulous time! / the concept is to run and jump and slide within large nets suspended from the trees (no need for harnesses!) . . . giant trampolines in the trees! / there are hammocks (adults can bring a book!), a small buvette and plenty of spots for picnics here / opening hours: 10h to 17h/18h / price: see here / address: 396 chemin du Vallon, 74560, Monnetier-Mornex (near Salève/Annemasse) / website;
Filenvol © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Acro’Aventures Reignier – located between Annemasse and La Roche-sur-Foron / address: route des Rocailles, 74930, Reignier / website;
  • Acro’Aventures Talloires – lots of adventures to be had up in the trees here, and with stunning views of parapente departures and Lac d’Annecy: Parcours Aventure, Chasse au Trésor, Vélopark, Course d’Orientation, and Foret des Sens (open to buggies) / for children from 1m in height / address: route de Planfait, 74290, Talloires / tel: 06 07 56 90 58 / website;

Outdoor Climbing

As the weather warms, we can begin to climb outdoors / here are some suitable spots of families:

  • Les Gaillands – in Chamonix (check opening, as huge landfall over this winter season!); Les Houches (at Lac des Chavants); Servoz; Vallorcine;
  • Lacs des Ilettes in Sallanches;
  • Le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet;
Vallogrimp at Les Gaillands in Chamonix © montblancfamilyfun.com

Lakes for Swimming

As the weather and the lake waters warm under the springtime sun, our local lakes au Pays du Mont-Blanc start to get busy with bathers and water-sport enthusiasts (and not just walkers/cyclists!). Here are our local lakes:

  • Lac de Passy –  in Passy (20 mins drive from Chamonix) / see here for more details;
Swimming in Lac de Passy © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Lac des Ilettes in Sallanches (25 mins drive from Chamonix) / see here for more details;
  • Lac Biotope (Plan d’Eau Biotope)  in Combloux (30 mins drive from Chamonix) – opening early June / see here for more details;
  • Lac in the Parc Patrice Dominguez  lots of other family fun to be had in this park in the summer in Les Contamines-Montjoie (40 mins drive from Chamonix) – lake not yet open, but some of the activities are already available / see here for more details;
  • Lac de l’Etape  a summer option! / small lake at altitude, also in Les Contamines-Montjoie (access either by the Télécabine de la Gorge (this is located near the Parc Patrice Dominguez) – check opening hours – or on foot (quite a hike!) / *good to know: if you book to have lunch at the restaurant here, then you ride the télécabine for FREE!

And lakes a bit further afield . . .

If you would like to head a bit further away, to a larger lake for swimming . . .

  • Flumetbase de loisirs;
  • Lac d’Annecy (plenty of beaches, walks, water sports: Annecy itself, Doussard, Talloires, St Jorioz, Sévrier . . . );
  • Lac de Bourget – see here for some recommended beaches;
  • Lac Léman (beaches both in France and in Switzerland / Excenevex, for example, near Yvoire);
Lac du Bourget © montblancfamilyfun.com

Water sports – canyoning and rafting

Canyoning and rafting can be fun in the rain (light rain!) for older children (competent swimmers!). With the huge quantity of snow that fell during the winter season, the rivers are flowing with great vigour au Pays du Mont-Blanc this springtime!  There are several companies offering water fun! Au Pays du Mont-Blanc, we have the Arve river for rafting and other fun water sports, and a couple of locations for canyoning (Canyon de Barberine, Belle au Bois (Megève):

  • Session Raft – open from April / from 6+ years / see website for more details;
  • Oxo Canyoning website / mini-canyon offered to children 6+ years;
  • Ecolorado – activities for 7+ years-  website
  • TNA cable park (Arenthon) – you may have seen this small lake on a drive to Geneva/Annemasse etc . . . here you can try out wakeboarding or water-skiing! / open 10h/12h to 18h / website;
© Session Raft

  • Les Grottes de la Balme in the Isère – the caves are located 40mins drive to the east of Lyon, 2 hours from Chamonix / the temperature in the caves is between 12° et 15°C all year round (bring jumper) / no dogs allowed, no camera flash / picnic spot at entrance to village, with rain shelter, WC and playground / tel: +33 (0)4 74 96 95 00! / address: rue des Grottes, 38390, La Balme-les-Grottes / website; 
© Grottes de la Balme
  • Les Grottes de Cerdon in l’Ain located one hour from Lyon, Grenoble and Annecy and 40 minutes from Bourg-en-Bresse, in the Jura mountains / visiting time: 1h30 / visit follows path of ancient underground river, shaped by glaciers / the temperature in the caves is between 14° and 4°C (bring jumper) / wear suitable shoes / little train for beginning of visit / guided visit or independent visit with audioguide / parc préhistorique: there are lots of workshops on offer during the school holidays like les ateliers de la préhistoire, holiday visits for children 4 to 7 years, caving for children and more . . . see here / price: adults 9,50€ and children 6,50€ / address: D-1084, 01450, Labalme / tel: +33 (0)4 74 37 36 79 / website;
  • Lac Soutterain St-Léonard – not too far from the Pays du Mont-Blanc is the Lac Soutterain St-Léonard – located between Sion and Serre in the Valais, Switzerland, this is the largest underground lake in Europe (300m long x 20m wide w 10m deep) / ambient temperature all year of 15° / 3D animations, guided tours by boat / opening hours (from 17th March until November): 10h to 17h (July and August from 9h) / price: adults CHF10, children (5 to 15 years) CHF6 and under 5s FREE / address: rue du Lac 21, 1958, St-Léonard / tel: +41 (0)27 203 22 66 / website
Lac Soutterain St-Léonard © Lac Soutterain St-Léonard
  • Bex salt mines (Salines de Bex), located between Martigny and Montreux in Switerland, are another great underground option available from 24th March 2018 – here you discover the origin of the Sel des Alpes in the underground labyrinth (several kilometres open to the public) / the excavation techniques used from the first gallery of 1684, up to modern times / opening hours: every day 9h to 12h30 and 13h30 to 16h30 / address: route de Gryon 31, Bex, Vaud, Switerland / tel: +41 24 463 03 20 / website
© Salines de Bex

Farm Visits  
  • Family farm visit at La Ferme «Les Montagnards» – on Tuesdays and Thursdays, family visits of the farm / see above for more details;
  • Visit to Ferme Le Gaec Val Mont-Blanc – the Paget family farm / cheese-making and tasting at this dairy farme / visiting hours: every Wednesday from 16h to 17h / address: 777 route de Saint-Gervais, Gemoëns, 74920, Combloux / tel (reservations): 06 16 33 71 74;
  • © combloux.com / Gaec Val du Mont-Blanc
  • Visit to Chèvrerie Les Cabrettes – FREE guided visit every Thursday 10h to 12h / this goat farm is located on the hillside at St Roch / flock: 100 chèvres alpines chamoisées, 45 chevrettes, 6 boucs, 2 ânesses / cheese for sale every day (except Sunday morning) 10h to 12h and 16h30 to 18h30 / address: Ferme des Cabrettes, 74700, Sallanches / reservations: 04 50 47 87 87 / 06 30 01 80 73;
  • Visit to La Ferme de l’Aberieux – nestled into the start of a walking path, this farm has 25 milking cows from the Tarentaise breed / sale of cheese: tomme de Savoie, bleu fermier, raclette de Savoie, fromage blanc, faisselle, yogurts, confiture de lait, l’abérieux (fromage à pâte molle) and butter / opening hours: every day except Sunday morning / Albert can show you how to make cheese in the morning (reservations required) / cow milking from 17h30 / participation: 3€ and free for under 12s / address: 490 chemin du Pont de la Flée, 74700, Cordon / tel: 06 76 12 41 67 / website;
  • Visit to La Ferme des Roches Fleuries – you can visit this animal farm and buy produce too / FB page / address: 1510 route D’Orsin, Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains;
  • La Ferme de Chosal (Copponex) – an absolutely FABULOUS pedagogic farm, with animals, green-houses, land-art walks, workshops, an ethical/social spirit, seedlings and plants to buy / see website for more details / MBFF post with LOTS more information about our recent visit to come;
La Ferme de Chosal © montblancfamilyfun.com

Animal Parks & other animal frolics 
  • Le Parc de Merlet Animal Park in Les Houches – this lovely animal park opened for the 2018 season on 1st May and is a fantastic place for young walkers to spot chamois, ibex, llamas and more! / you can visit much of the park with a good buggy, but you’ll need a baby carrier for the higher path / sand-pit, parcours ludique, restaurant on-site / see here for more details regarding opening hours and admission prices and any special events scheduled / MBFF post and recommendations for a family visit/parking here;
  • Saint-Bernard kennels in Les Houches  learn all about the beautiful and fascinating Saint-Bernard breed here at the Les Houches chenil / opening hours spring holidays: 10h to 11h30 and 14h to 17h (shut on Sundays and Monday morning) / address: 223 chemin des Vorziers, La Fontaine, 74310, Les Houches / tel: 04 50 47 23 60 / website: here;
Saint-Bernard kennels Les Houches
  • Parc des Oiseaux in l’Ain – located in Villars-les-Dombes (in the Ain)halfway between Lyon and Bourg-en-Bresse, in the heart of les Dombes / opening hours of park: 9h30 to 18h / price: adults 19€, children (3 to 12 years) 14€, free for under 3s / address: Le Parc des Oiseaux, 01330, Villars Les Dombes / tel: +33 (0)4 74 98 05 54 / website;
  • Les Marécottes Animal Park in Switzerland – is open all year round! / April 2017 saw the birth of a baby black bear (Mirus) and marcassins (baby sangliers) . . . see the Marécottes Facebook page / *good to know: known for its summer swimming pool set within the rocks, Les Marécottes is also lovely in autumn, winter and springtime!* / restaurant, picnic spots, playground / getting there: see here / *you can take the train from the Chamonix Valley to Les Marécottes!* / address: Zoo et Piscine des Marécottes, rue des Combasses 3, 1923, Les Marécottes, Switzerland / tel: +41 27 761 15 62 / website for more details & exact opening hours;
© Zoo des Marécottes
  • Barryland Musée et chiens du Saint-Bernard in Martigny, Geneva  this is a wonderful, interactive museum for children / for more information, see MBFF post or website / opening hours: every day (except 24th & 25th December) 10h to 18h / price: CHF12 and children 8+ years CHF7 / address: Fondation Barry/Barryland – Musée et chiens du Saint-Bernard, rue du Levant 34, 1920, Martigny, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)27 720 49 20 / website;
Barryland – Musée et Chiens du Saint Bernard © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Parc Animalier d’Introd (Italy) – this lovely animal park in the Aosta Valley has re-opened after winter hibernation, and would make for a lovely Easter weekend visit en famille / website;
Parc Animalier d’Introd © montblancfamilyfun.com

Ecomusées / Nature Centres
  • L’Ecomusée PAYSALP Musée Paysan & Croq’Alp  address: 628 avenue de Savoie, 74250, Viuz-en-Sallaz / website;
  • Le Hameau des Alpes in La Clusaz – learn about the rich culture and patrimoine of La Clusaz . . . learn about how skiing has evolved, learn about Reblochon, learn about a traditional oven, learn about the old greniers, an old sawmill . . ./ opening hours: 10h to 12h and 14h to 19h / price: 3,50€ to 6€ and under 5s free / address: Hameau des Alpes, 44 route de la Patton, 74220, La Clusaz / tel: +33 4 50 66 94 34  / website;
  • La Maison du Salève  a visit to La Maison du Salève makes for a wonderful family day out, preferably on a fair weather day as the gardens are lovely and there are walks to enjoy en famille nearby . . . originally an 18th century farm from the Chartreuse de Pomier, La Ferme de Mikerne has been renovated to host a cultural centre recounting the history of the Salève mountain and its environs: the permanent interactive exhibitions: «Le Salève, une montagne et des hommes» (children over the age of four) and «Le Salève côté nature» (children from 3 to 12 years) / current temporary exhibition: «Paysages Sonores» until 30th May 2019 – 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) / opening hours: 10h to 18h / price: 6€, children (6 to 18 years) 3€ and free for children under 6 years / address: 775 route de Mikerne, 74160, Présilly / tel: + 33 (0)4 50 95 92 16 / website;
  • l’Ecomusée du Lac d’Annecy in Sévrier – take a trip back in time and follow the history of the 19th century lakeside inhabitants / programme / opening hours: May, June & September, Monday to Friday 14h30 to 18h and July & August, Monday to Friday 10h to midday and A4h30 to 18h and Sunday 14h30 to 18h / address: route de l’Eglise, 74320, Sévrier / tel: 04 50 52 41 05 / website;
  • Ecomusée du Bois et de la Forêt (Thônes) – a visit of an authentic 19th century sawmill / open Weds and Sat afternoon for individual visitors in May / website;

Maison de la Créativité (Conches, Geneva)

La Maison de la Créativité gets a whole section to itself, as it is difficult to fit this magical creative hub under one heading! The MBFF family are huge fans of this centre for creativity for families in Conches, near Geneva . . . we discovered the house and grounds of La Maison de la Créativité one sunny Saturday of autumn 2016, and we are hoping to visit again soon!  A house and gardens full of treasures for children, wonderful creative workshops, an outdoor “kitchen”, a playground, incredibly welcoming staff . . . see post for more details / no need to reserve! / aimed at babies, toddlers and children up to the age of 6 years / address: 7, chemin Calandrini, 1231, Conches, Switzerland / tel: +41(0)22 810 18 90 / website / parking: on route de Florissant, and then a short walk (or bring drésienne!) / price: 3CHF for children 2+ years and adults, under 2s for free / open Wednesdays 14h30 to 17h30, and one Saturday per month 9h to 12h and 14h30 to 17h30 (you are welcome to picnic on the grounds as you wait for afternoon opening, or just after a morning visit / there is also a salle hors sacs and baby changing facilities) / next openings: May – Wednesdays 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th & Saturday 26th and June – Wednesdays 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th & Saturday 29th.

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