SUMMER ACTIVITIES for families au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond)

I thought it might be useful to have at hand on one general list some of the activities available for families & children au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) this summertime . . . so, if you reside au Pays du Mont-Blanc, or if you are visiting the Pays du Mont-Blanc this July & August, here are perhaps some fresh ideas for summer 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


SUMMER WATER FUN!

Lakes for Swimming

During the summer months, our local lakes au Pays du Mont-Blanc start to get busy with bathers and water-sport enthusiasts, and there are several events planned too. Here are our local lakes:

  • Lac de Passy – this base de loisirs is heaving with activity during the summer, and has several NEW amenities this summer 2018 (playground, climbing frames and slide, espace VTT, pontoons, electric trottinettes) / wibit inflatable play zone on lake and bouncy castles / see here for more details;
  • Lacs des Ilettes (Sallanches)  this summer = new sand / bouncy castles from Le Parc en Folie . . . / FREE summer navettes from centre of Sallanches / see here for more details;
  • Plan d’Eau Biotope (Combloux) – a lake naturally purified by plants / see here for more details;
  • Lac de Javen (Megève) – not a swimming lake, but worth a mention as it is a brilliant family destination: fishing (you can BBQ your own fish on Wednesday evenings!), restaurant, play area for children, summer concert in August;
  • Lac de Baignade in the Parc Patrice Dominguez (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – and lots more family fun to be had in this park in the summer! / see here for more details;
  • Lac de l’Etape (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – a small lake at altitude, access either by the télécabines 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!*
Swimming lakes au Pays du Mont-Blanc © montblancfamilyfun.com

And swimming lakes a bit further afield . . .

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

  • Flumetbase de loisirs / summer fête on 22nd July, with waterslide and other water games;
  • Arenthon – for TNA Cable Park watersports and wibit inflatable play zone / website;
  • Lac d’Annecy – plenty of beaches, walks and watersports: Annecy itself, Doussard, Talloires, St Jorioz, Sévrier . . . (baby & toddler water-skiing offered at Doussard and Sévrier!);
  • Lac Léman – with beaches both in France and in Switzerland / Excenevex, for example, near Yvoire (France);
  • Lac de Bourget – see here for some recommended beaches;
  • Lac d’Aiguebelette – a beautiful lake near Chambéry;

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Ephemeral summer waterslides, wibit parks & parcs aquatiques and paddling zones

See separate MBFF post – SUMMER SPLASH – for more ideas about waterslides at our local swimming pools au Pays du Mont-Blanc, further afield parcs aquatiques, paddling pools, campsites with fabulous water parks and ephemeral summer waterslides . . .


HIKING & STROLLING EN FAMILLE

Summer strolls & hikes for families

*NB – don’t forget suncream, sunglasses, sun hats, warm clothing, waterproofs, first-aid kit, maps, emergency equipment and mountain rescue phone numbers . . .* / You may be hiking en famille with older, good walking children or perhaps heading out with walking toddlers or babies in baby carriers . . . for some inspiration for family hikes au Pays du Mont-Blanc (both high and lower altitude) check out MBFF posts:

MBFF Favourite Family Hikes © montblancfamilyfun.com

There are some new parcours d’orientation to try out in the Chamonix Valley, and the new presentation of hikes on the Chamonix Tourist Office website is superb / your local tourist offices also have plenty of ideas, with some free and some priced maps!

Pays du Mont-Blanc maps and guides © montblancfamilyfun.com

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Mountain refuges and buvettes

Our local mountain refuges and buvettes had a tough time clearing snow from the hiking paths to enable our access this springtime . . . now up and running for the summer season, there are still some patches of snow near a handful of them! / see here for some ideas . . .

  • some ideas for buvettes for shorter day hikes en famille (with little ones): La Cascade de Bérard (Vallorcine)La Cascade du Dard (Buvette La Cascade du Dard) in Chamonix; Le Chapeau in Le Lavancher (La Buvette du Chapeau); Floria in Chamonix (Chalet de la Floria) on the Petit Balcon Sud; Buvette du Glacier (Col de la Forclaz, Suisse);
  • a night in a mountain refuge can be lots of fun en famille / the MBFF family have tried out: Refuge de Loriaz (Vallorcine), Refuge de Varan (Passy), Refuge de Doran (Sallanches), Refuge de Miage (Bionassay), Refuge Nant-Borand (Notre Dame de la Gorge) . . . /  see Refuge en Famille calaméo;
Refuge de Mayères, Sallanches © montblancfamilyfun.com

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Forests & Woods

On a hot day, shelter in the forest can be a marvellous thing . . . as well as some walking paths, there is also plenty of scope for the imagination and creativity! We are surrounded by woods here au Pays du Mont-Blanc, but here are some suggestions:

  • Bois du Bouchet in Chamonix – makes for a perfect shady buggy walk (snow cover permitting!) or a tour on a draisienne (push bike) . . . / you can stop for drinks/snacks at Le Robinson or La Crèmerie;
  • Le Paradis des Praz – this is lovely to stroll / take a bike ride through the Paradis des Praz in Les Praz / very refreshing in summertime! / FB page;
  • Médonnet – boulders and cabanes to be made in this ethereal forest location near Cordon and Combloux . . .
  • Cordon – «Forest Discovery Trail» – a great, annotated family trail through the woods / or simply a picnic at Les Plaines . . . / departure point: picnic area des Plaines / parking: Parking des Plaines (no tarmac on road above Lezaive d’en Haut) / more information;

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Parks & Gardens

Summer wild flowers, rhododendrons, foxgloves . . . the perfect opportunity to go hiking in the mountain meadows, or to visit a garden, park, or castle grounds . . . For more information about gardens and wild flowers, see MBFF post Springtime Blossoms & Flowers au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and nearby);

Au Pays du Mont-Blanc:

  • Parc Couttet (Chamonix centre) – this is a great place to picnic and to let little ones run around / right next to La Maison des Artistes, with plentiful musical entertainment;
  • Jardin des Cimes (Plateau d’Assy in Passy) / a magical garden with lots of workshops and activities for the whole family / for more information about Le Jardin des Cimes en famille, see MBFF post;
Le Jardin des Cimes © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Le Parc Thermal (Le Fayet) – there is a NEW playground, accrobranches ®, grass for games, duck pond, paths for buggy walks, short hiking trails / and soon a new Via Ferrata! (from 22nd July) / see MBFF post for more details;

Further afield:

  • Jaysinia alpine garden (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 and near the centre of the Old Town / perfect for buggies, draisiennes and pedal bikes / playgrounds and picnic spots / access to Lac d’Annecy bike piste / near pedalos and beaches;
  • 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 (Lac Léman) 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 (Evian) – 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 (Ferney-Voltaire) – visit the castle and grounds where Voltaire once lived / 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 (Martigny, Switzerland) – 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 and for information about current temporary exhibition;
  • 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 / buvette, paddling pool and playground / summer concerts / 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  summer: until 28th July, 13h30 to 18h, SHUT Mondays (re-opening again for some days in autumn), 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

Nature Reserves – Les Aiguilles Rouges & Carlaveyron, Passy & Les Contamines-Montjoie

The Pays du Mont-Blanc has several gems of biodiversity: les Réserves Naturelles des Aiguilles Rouge et de Carlaveyron and les Réserves Naturelles Nationales de Passy et des Contamines-Montjoie.  As well as gorgeous spots for family hikes, picnics and wildlife spotting, during the school holidays there are workshops and other animations organised for families.

Au Pays du Mont-Blanc:

Haute-Savoie has a total of 9 réserves naturelles, and there is plenty of family animation offered by Asters and FRAPNA all year round.

Réserves Naturelles Haute-Savoie © CEN Haute-Savoie
Réserves Naturelles Haute-Savoie © CEN Haute-Savoie

Animations further afield:


Chilling on a summer terrace

Perhaps you need to relax after a few days of intense sporting activity in the mountains?  There are lots of lovely restaurants and cafés located in our mountain towns and villages . . .  some with lovely shady terraces or/and with access to a play area or near a playground!  Here are a handful of suggestions: remember to reserve!

Chamonix Valley:

  • La Crèmerie and Le Robinson (Chamonix) – both in the Bois du Bouchet, with lots of green grass, shade (La Crèmerie has curtains that you can draw!), play area (Le Robinson);
  • L’Hermitage Hotel (Chamonix) – a gorgeous quiet garden to have an apéro and let the little ones play / website;
  • L’Oustalet Hotel (Chamonix Sud) – I would head here regularly when my  elder son was a baby/toddler, to enjoy the delicious cakes / large lawn outside (though do be watchful of the swimming pool!) / also a great rainy day indoor location, with carpeted floors! / website;
  • Le Paradis des Praz (Les Praz) – the ultimate terrace, in the forest, next to a gurgling stream, playground, sand-pit, pony rides . . .
  • Hotel Aiguille du Midi (Les Bossons) – lots of grass, play area for children, delicious menu and shady terrace! / address: 479 Chemin Napoléon, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc / tel: 04 50 53 00 65 / website;
  • Restaurant La Cha (Le Prarion, Les Houches) – without too much effort, access via Le Prarion gondola, then short walk / lovely terrace, pétanque, children’s games and a bouncy castle too! / see here for more details;
  • Rockypop (Les Houches) – playground and more for children! / see here for more details;
  • Les Guingettes (Lac des Chavants, Les Houches) – right next to lake, with lovely terrace / near to playground / see here for more details;

Pays du Mont-Blanc:

  • l’Esplanade 2KM3 (Saint-Gervais-les-Bains) – not much shade, so an evening place . . . / lots of beanbags! / just opposite playground / for food, plenty of restaurants in town / see here;
  • Le Clubhouse (Saint-Gervais-les-Bains) – a lounging area and right next to tennis courts, mini-golf and short walk to new pumptrack and swimming pool / see here;
  • La Buvette des Criques (Lac de Passy) – right by the water’s edge . . . very friendly staff, lots of shade, place to put your bikes . . . / see here;
  • Restaurant l’Ecureuil (Passy) – a lovely terrace overlooking a small lake with huge fish! / small playground on campsite / fabulous menu / see here;
  • L’M l’Atelier (Sallanches) – right next to playground, plenty of shade, on the river, fabulous food / see here;
  • Le Transat (Lacs des Ilettes) – right by the water’s edge and sand / see here;
  • Le Darbelin Chez Mireille (Cordon) – beautiful location, children’s play area / see here;
  • Lac de Javen restaurant (Megève) – fish your own dinner and BBQ it on Wednesday evenings / restaurant / play area for children / summer concerts / see here;
  • Les Belles (Praz-sur-Arly) – snack/buvette with summer BBQs / with a covered terrace / planned for autumn – glass closings, to enjoy without wind or cold! / see here;
  • Restaurant Le Chalet du Lac (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – in Le Parc Patrice Dominguez, with view of playground / see here;
  • L’Etape restaurant (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – a ride on bubble lift, to get to this lovely swimming lake, with pedalos! / playground, parcours / lovely terrace! / see here;

Playgrounds, Parcours Freestyle & Outdoor Bouncy Castles

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.

*NEW for summer 2018Lac de Passy has a fabulous NEW playground at the beach end of the lake (all sand, so children can take off their shoes!), and a couple of new climbing structures dotted around the lake and a slide in les criques area / Louparc in Combloux – a pumptrack, a skatepark, a terrain de sport, a new playground and a parcours for freestyle running & jumping (older children)! / Le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet has a NEW playground too! / *good to know – the Palais des Sports playground in Megève is moving across the road – construction in progress!*

Bouncy castles & trampolines:

The season is upon us, and bouncy castles & trampolines are popping up:

  • at vide greniers and local festivals;
  • Restaurant La Cha (Le Prarion, Les Houches) – a gondola ride and short walk to arrive at this mountain restaurant with imposing views, a relaxing terrace (for parents) and bouncy castle (for children!);
  • Lac de Passy (provided by Mont-Blanc Kids);
  • Lacs des Ilettes (provided by Le Parc en Folie);
  • Carillon du Bettex (Saint-Gervais-les-Bains) – giant games and château gonflable every Tuesday 10h to midday (until 28th August) / FREE entertainment from Saint-Gervais-les-Bains-Tourisme;
  • Lac de Javen in Megève – trampoline and more / address: chemin de la Rée, 74120, Megève;
  • Le Parc Patrice Dominguez in Les Contamines-Montjoietrampoline géant: 06 63 21 49 45 AND bouncy slide into lac baignade;

Bike Parks, Espaces VTT & VTT parcours

We have plentiful scope for bike rides au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . and also, bike parks and espaces VTT can be lots of fun en famille, or to try out new skills! / Some of the following bike parks are at altitude (requiring a télécabines) and some have very easy access, meaning that even little bikers can have some fun! / *NB – remember to wear a HELMET and protective gear!*

  • More and more of the Véloroute Mont-Blanc to Léman bike route keeps appearing . . .
  • Les Houches bike park – 3 different downhill circuits! / see here for more details
  • ArgentièreDescente des Marmottes (Charamillon/Le Tour) – a green piste from top of Charamillon bubble lift to Le Tour / Descente des Chevreuils (Balme/Charamillon) – a blue piste from Col de Balme to Charamillon / Descente des Cerfs (Charamillon/Le Tour) – a red piste from top of Charamillon bubble lift to Le Tour;
  • Lac de PassyNEW espace VTT, just behind the mini-golf beside the lake! / for children 4+ years;
Espace VTT at Lac de Passy © montblancfamilyfun
  • Saint-Gervais-les-BainsLe Charlotte bike park and Le Wizz / access from top of Mont d’Arbois bubble / see here for more details;
  • Praz-sur-Arly – Ludik Park is located next to the Arly river, at the Base de Loisirs des Belles / perfect for little peddling legs! / see here for more details;
  • Les Contamines-Montjoie Parcours VTT Les Clarines – see here for more details;

Pumptracks & Skateparks
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Saint-Gervais-les-Bains pumptrack – new pumptrack near the tennis courts, swimming pool and new tir à l’arc!
  • Megève pumptrack – near the Palais des Sports;
  • 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;

For more information about pumptracks (or to even learn what one is!!!) see MBFF post Pumptracks au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . .

*NB – remember to wear a HELMET and protective gear!*

Sallanches Skatepark © montblancfamilyfun.com

Karting & Electric Trottinettes
  • Karting du Mont-Blanc (Lac de Passy) – for children 7+ years (1.25m minimum) / open from 14h AND also in morning from 21st July / address: Lac de Passy (Parking des Criques) / tel: 04 50 93 75 37 or 06 80 14 68 19 / website;
  • Trot Top (Lac de Passy) – la trottinette électrique tout terrain / see here for more details;
  • Nash Mountain Games (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – there are new quad karts in the Parc Patrice Dominguez (Parc du Pontets) / FB page;
  • Mountaincart (Les Carroz) – NEW ACTIVITY!!! / until 2nd September, head down a parcours of 4km, with 600m of dénivelé / access via Télécabine de Kédeuze / for children measuring above 1m40! / information here;
  • MK Circuit (Scientrier, betwen Bonneville and Annemasse) – available for children 7+ years (1.25m minimum) / address: 2930 route de l’Arve, 74930, Scientrier / tel: +33 (0)4 50 25 53 47 / website;
  • Mountain E-Park (Les Gets) – motos for children / address: 529 route de Gibannaz, 74260, Les Gets / tel: 06 76 96 88 98 / FB page;

Accrobranches ® & Grimpe d’Arbre

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 / see here for more details and opening hours;
  • La Forêt Magique (Tines) – for children 4 to 16 years and Parcours Wistitis for 3 to 4 years / opening: 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! / FB page;
  • 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
  • Côte 2000 accrobranches (Megève) – from 5+ years and1,15m / several parcours only 2m from ground, as well as parcours high in trees /website
  • 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 La Forêt des Sens (open to buggies) / for children from 1m in height / address: route de Planfait, 74290, Talloires / tel: 06 07 56 90 58 / website;

Grimpe d’Arbre ®

It’s just a matter of time before this fun nature activity heads our way here au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . do your children (or you?) enjoy climbing trees?  Well, this acitvity takes tree climbing to the new level (think tree surgeons!), with ropes and pulleys and instructors, taking in the nature sights and sounds en-route . . . . and even the possibility to have a goûter or lunch up the tree on a platform!

  • L’Hêtre Agile (Taninges) – not too far from Le Pays du Mont-Blanc! / see workshops on offer here /L’Hêtre Agile will be at children’s festival Bambins et Compagnie in Sixt-Fer-et-Cheval (26th & 27th July) / website;
  • Association Plein Arbre (Annecy) – special workshops this summer (13th, 14th, 15th July): you can picnic high up in the trees! / website;

Outdoor Climbing & Via Ferrata 

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

  • Chamonix Valley – Les Gaillands in Chamonix; Les Houches (at Lac des Chavants); La Joux (Argentière); Col du Montets (Vallorcine)ServozVallorcine;
  • PassyPlaine-Joux (blocs d’escalade) and Larses & Barmus (for more experienced);
  • Falaise d’escalade des Ilettes (Sallanches);
  • Rocher d’escalade de Cordon;
  • Médonnet (near Combloux/Cordon/Sallanches) – bouldering in a beautiful forest;
  • Le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet;
  • Rochebrune (Megève);
  • Rocher d’escalade de la Duchere (Les Contamines-Montjoie);
Vallogrimp’ at Les Gaillands in Chamonix © montblancfamilyfun.com
Médonnet boulders © montblancfamilyfun.com

Via Ferrata:

  • Via Ferrata des Evettes (Flegère, Chamonix) – see here for more details;
  • Via Curalla (Plateau d’Assy) – you can rent equipment from buvette on-site / see here for more details;
  • Via Ferrata du Parc Thermal (Le Fayet) – soon to be inauguratedon Saturday 21st July!
  • Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval – see here for more details;


© Grottes de la Balme
© 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 / summer holidays: Fridays 20th & 27th July: Les Nocturnes des Grottes by l’Association Herit’âges – discover more about the people that shaped the history of the caves / 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» (Ormaret, Combloux) – on Tuesdays and Thursdays, family visits of the farm / also workshops for children during the holidays and farm shop;
  • Visit to Ferme Le Gaec Val Mont-Blanc – the Paget family farm / cheese-making and tasting at this dairy farme / visiting hours: see here / 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 – 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 / see here for more details / 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 is a fantastic summer destination 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: 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;
Saint-Bernard kennels Les Houches © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • Canirando – companies offering canirando excursions locally (weather dependent): Huskydalen (Chamonix), Les Granges de Heidi (Passy), Cordon Tourisme, 3D Nordic (Praz-sur-Arly)Au Mont du Villard du Nord (Megève)Voyageurs d’Hiver (Les Contamines-Montjoie)
  • Visit of husky kennels:  you can visit the 3D Nordic husky kennels in Flumet;
  • Les Aigles du Léman – a whole park dedicated to birds of prey, near Lac Léman / *NEW for this summer: Terre des Aigles (the largest aviary for birds of prey in the world!) / address: route du Moulin de la Glacière, Domaine du Guidou, 74140, Sciez-sur-Léman / tel: +33 (0) 4 50 72 72 26 / website;
  • 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;
  • Zoo des Marécottes in Switzerland  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 also has a lovely 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 makes for a lovely 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 / summer workshops / 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 / website;

One thought on “SUMMER ACTIVITIES for families au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond)

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