Over the summer holidays, Baby-Cham (the owner of the company and her little helpers) went to test out a couple of the new parcours d’orientation (orienteering routes) in the Chamonix Valley. You may have seen some of the maps in your local tourist offices or on large panels on-site? The Chamonix Valley has developed 6 orienteering routes for you to enjoy, many of them in the SHADE of forests (perfect for a hot day!):
- the Bois du Bouchet (Chamonix);
- Lac des Chavants (Les Houches);
- le Château Le Lac (Servoz);
- Argentière la Moraine;
The routes are available for FREE from you local tourist offices, or you can print them out from here, from the Chamonix Tourist Office website.
What is orienteering?
Orienteering is a sport in which one follows a very precise route from a given map. As it is a fun activity for the whole family, it can be a great motivation to get everyone outdoors and enjoying nature, and to develop navigational skills at the same time. To do orienteering, you will need to understand the concept of reading a map (to align it with the terrain, to understand a “legend”, to understand a map’s scale, and to pinpoint landmarks). The Chamonix Valley orienteering routes are made up of balises (grey posts), planted in points on the terrain where they stand out, and which are outlined on the map; you need to stamp these au fur et à mesure.
Some words about Baby-Cham, from owner Claire (Chamonix resident with two young children, who really understands the needs of all family members whilst on holiday. Living in the valley means she can be involved with every booking, thus enhancing the personalised service provided):
Baby-Cham provides a high quality babysitting service, allowing parents to relax on holiday, safe in the knowledge that their children are exploring the valley with our experienced, responsible ‘accredited’ nannies. Catering for children aged 2.5 months to 15 years in many languages, and special needs upon request. All our nannies arrive with a bag of age appropriate toys and books, to help keep children entertained. We also have a range of children’s equipment for hire, such as 3 wheel mountain buggies and travel cots, as well as some great toy packages that parents can rent during their stay.
contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
contact phone number: +33 (0)6 48 61 31 92
Baby-Cham’s orienteering experience
These family-friendly orienteering routes are comprised of approximately 20 signs (orange and white landmarks) located on noticeable posts (balises) around public walking paths. Orienteering maps are supplied for free from the Tourist offices in Les Houches Centre or Chamonix centre.
Orienteering is extremely child and pram friendly, each map taking you around the area on a clear path/track. The pillars are often located a little bit into the woods; you can occasionally see where they are by a little path or they are more obvious still. That said, we did not find every stamp, so it’s not as easy as it sounds! The children absolutely loved doing this; they were so excited once they spotted a pillar and were raring to find the next one. The maps are self-explanatory, there is a photo on either the front or side of the map showing you the pillar you are looking for. Each pillar has a stamp set into it with a number, and the location is shown by a circle on the map, so all we needed to do was walk to the area, and then the children had to run around and find the stamp pillar. Once they had found it, they inserted the map into the pillar’s mouth and stamped it!
Lac des Chavants (Les Houches)
We headed to Les Houches, Le Lac des Chavants parcours for our first discovery. The parcours in Les Houches was fabulous, as being set in the woods, makes for a shady activity on a hot day. We spent 1h30 there; three-quarters of the way around our 8 year old started to lose focus, but we got there in the end and the children were extremely happy that they had completed the course. *good to know* – just up from Le Lac des Chavants, at the Prarion ski lift (2 minute walk), there is a super bakery, so we all enjoyed a well-deserved pastry for our morning’s work.
Le Bois du Bouchet
The next location we went to was Le Bois du Bouchet site, which starts near the parapente landing field in Chamonix. We went on a very hot afternoon, 32°C, armed with plenty of water, sun hats and two friends, a 6 and 9 year old. Once again, the kids were really excited to look for the pillars and this time knew exactly what to do. The track was pram friendly, it took us 1h30 again to complete, and ended with an ice-cream at the Tennis Club de Chamonix. The 6 year old was so into it he outshone the rest of the team with his energy for discovery, as long as he could hold the map! A truly fun, active family few hours out and about and also it was FREE!
Baby-Cham’s overall opinion of the parcours d’orientation: the children we so pumped with the activity that they decided to make their own orienteering map in the garden for their friends and talked the whole way home about how they were going to design it !
Thank you to Baby-Cham for the recce and the thumbs up – MBFF can’t wait to get out there and try out some of the parcours d’ orientation ourselves! And thank you to the Chamonix Valley for putting them together for us!