When I had my first baby 9 years ago, I had just moved to a new town 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . I was quite lonely and keen to find baby activities and playgroups in order to get out and about and to socialise a bit!
Progressively, I discovered the 🌈 playgroups that were available locally for parents and babies . . . but even with these weekly meet-ups, weeks could seem very long in the mountains when ☔️ RAIN or ❄️ SNOW hampered visits to the local playground! Over the years I realised that there were – in fact – many more activities available than I had originally realised . . . and in a transient, innovative, creative region like the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc – where 🎨 artists, 🎼 musicians and ⛷ sports folk abound – every year there appear to be more activites on offer for babies and pre-schoolers! (and, remember, once children reach 4 years, there are PLENTY more opportunities for creative workshops and sport!).
This article is an effort to group together many of the activities available for babies and pre-schoolers au Pays du Mont-Blanc (🇫🇷🇨🇭🇮🇹 and beyond), over the different seasons. I do hope that it will be of use to you – whether you are living 🏔au Pays du Mont-Blanc, a part-time resident, or visiting for the holidays with a little one in tow.
For a more general list of family activities 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, then see the season articles . . . eg AUTUMN ACTIVITIES for families au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond);
[ NB – please do not hesitate to contact me with any more ideas, especially if you organise activities for babies and pre-schoolers yourself! ]
Colour code for listings:
Chamonix Valley (Chamonix, Argentière, Les Houches, Servoz & environs) and Vallorcine
Passy & environs
Sallanches, Combloux, Cordon & Domancy
Saint-Gervais, Le Fayet & environs
Megève, Praz-sur-Arly & environs
Les Contamines & environs
🇫🇷 Further France 🇫🇷
🇨🇭 Switzerland 🇨🇭
🇮🇹 Italy 🇮🇹
Please go to separate article 🗓 WEEKLY PLANNER for babies & toddlers au Pays du Mont-Blanc for this detailed list . . . I hope you will find it easy to navigate!
[ NB – and please always check the running of events before attending, as the activities are subject to change and cancellation (weather, seasonal changes, holidays . . . ]
NEW for expectant parents – Chamonix maternity!
From 1st October 2020, Maternité de Sallanches will be opening its doors at the Chamonix hospital/medical centre . . . there, the sage femmes will be offering:
- des consultations gynécologiques et obstétricales;
- des COURS DE PORTAGE avec Eloise le jeudi;
- des consultations d’ACUPUNCTURE avec Virginie le mardi;
- des cours de préparation à la naissance YOGA avec Julie le mardi ET jeudi;
A cocooning room has been set up for you! / RDV: 04 50 47 30 19;
Breastfeeding meetings (réunions allaitement) & special future and new parent meetings
🍼 réunions allaitement – a new initiative from the Maternité of Sallanches, there is a special breastfeeding meeting on one Tuesday per month at 10h / reservations: 04 50 47 30 19 / good to know: there are also now meetings for new fathers & expectant fathers!
And, another new initiative for 2019 : séance bien-être for mothers at the hospital . . .
[ also good to know: new papas can now stay overnight at the hospital with new mamas and babies! ]
⇒ and look at this new zen room at the Maternié de Sallanches:
Les Parents d’Abord (Chamonix Valley)
Nid d’Eveil (Chamonix Valley)
A doula, Leslie Dunand, to accompany you during your pregnancy, birth of your baby, and during the postnatal period too / tel: +33 (0)18.104.22.168.04 / website;
[ IMPORTANT! AND, les mamans, I know this is much easier said than done – as those first weeks and months (hey, and even years!) are a tough juggling act, but DO make time for your own emotional and physical health and well-being! Book a 💦 spa day with a friend, or a massage or relaxation or 🧘♂️ yoga session . . . And, if you find that you are struggling, then do not suffer in silence – do not hesitate to discuss with family and friends or to seek help (mention to your gynecologist or sage femme or généraliste. Being a new mum (or dad) is a joyous, but often difficult period, when insecurities and doubts come out to play, even for the most skilled and talented mamas! And, it is a period when you’ll be just SO EXHAUSTED, as sleep – or lack of – becomes a whole new minefield! ]
Coffee mornings for new parents
🌈 « La Pause Café » (Les Pelerins, Chamonix) – in partnership with the EPDA, this is a meeting group for parents to chat / 🗓 from 15h30 to 17h on Thursdays (subject to change, so do check) / see here;
Café des Parents (Viens, vis et deviens, Plateau d’Assy)
” Venez discuter, échanger, papoter, argumenter, découvrir… entre parents lors des cafés parents. Ce mois-ci, venez échanger et papoter avant de récupérer vos enfants à l’école. Vous pouvez aussi les amener s’ils sont avec vous. Thème de ce mois-ci : ” poser un cadre bienveillant avec ses enfants”. / donations welcome / FB page;
address: 183 impasse des Champeys, Passy / tel: 06 44 08 61 96;
🌈 « La Pause Café des Parents » (Vouilloux, Sallanches) – “le lien parents/enfants” at the Espace Animation in Vouilloux is not aimed specifically at parents with toddlers; it is, instead, a group for parents to meet and discuss family issues, and children are welcome to come along – a play area is set up for them. One Wednesday every month there is an Espace Ludo (games) set up for parents with children / 🗓 when? on certain Wednesdays (except during the school holidays and bank holidays) from 14h30 to 16h / parking: there is free parking just outside the Espace Animation and a great playground on-site! / more information here;
address: Espace Animation, 625 rue Cancellieri, 74700 Sallanches / tel: +33 (0)4 50 47 84 68
There are some 🌈 PLAYGROUPS (FREE!) available for babies and toddlers and their parents or carers, 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . .
🌈 « ChamCats Carers, Mums n Tots » (Chamonix) – takes place in the ⛪️ Salle Paroissiale (Church Hall) of the Presbytery of the Protestant Church near the train station, in the centre of Chamonix. The playgroup is run by the lovely Barbara & Iona, and is open to all babies and toddlers (and parents, grand-parents, carers . . .) until they reach a school-going age. There are plenty of 🧸 toys and books to keep little ones busy while the grown-ups chat, ☕️ drink coffee and tea and 🍰 eat cake and biscuits (people take turns to bring cake). This Chamonix playgroup is especially lovely in the spring and summertime, when all adults and children tend to spill out onto the lawn /
address: Salle Paroissiale of the Presbytery of the Protestant Church, passage du Temple, 74400, Chamonix / tel: +33 (0)6 23 04 78 10 (Barbara Falkiner);
Le Robinson Sunday arts with Alison (Chamonix) – over the month of September, art sessions with Alison at the bucolic, family-friendly Le Robinson!
🌈 « Kitschinn Kids Family Mornings » (at Kitschinn Les Houches) – [ note: this has not yet resumed for September 2020 ] on 🗓 Wednesday morning, 9h until 11h / family mornings, with cake and games and toys for the kids / art and craft sessions;
🌈 « Bulles de Jeux » Chedde (Passy) – is a playgroup for children up to 4 years of age. There are lots of games and activities on offer here and children can meet other children and parents and child-minders can chat with other parents and child-minders, and expecting parents are also very welcome / 🗓 when? every Friday morning (except during the school holidays and bank holidays) from 9h to 11h15 / FB page: see here for more details;
🌈 Les Ateliers Montessori: « Viens, vis et deviens » (Plateau d’Assy) – for children 3 to 9 years at the Plateau d’Assy – more information here or on website / café des parents and workshops on offer! / ideal location: fields, forest, garden, potager, chickens . . . / address: 183 impasse des Champeys, Passy & tel: 06 44 08 61 96 / FB page;
🌈 « Méli Mélo » playgroup (Sallanches) – is a great place for parents, grandparents and family members keen to meet other parents, grandparents and family members, while letting their little ones (up to the age of 4 years) play happily indoors; a large indoor play area is open, with playground features, lots of toys and colouring facilities / 🗓 when? every Monday morning AND now afternoon (except during the school holidays and bank holidays) from 8h45 to 11h15 AND 13h30 to 16h / parking: there is free parking just outside La Maison de la Petite Enfance / more information here;
address: Maison de la Petite Enfance, 515 avenue de Saint-Martin, 74700 Sallanches / tel:+33 (0)4 50 90 63 10;
🌈 Le Kids Club – l’univers Billy Bosteu (at Le Palais Megève) – a new initiative for the 2019 & 2020 winter season: a children’s playcentre – you can leave the kids, while you enjoy the activities at Le Palais;
🌈 « A Petits Pas » (Praz-sur-Arly / Megève) – ameeting place for parents & carers with small children (under 6 years) (Lieu Accueil Enfants Parents – LAEP) / 🗓 when? it is open on Tuesdays from 9h to 11h / more information here;
address: ground floor of the crèche « Les Pralinous », 195 route de Megève, Praz-sur-Arly; tel: +33 (0)4 50 58 77 84
[ ➡️ see also: MBFF article 🌈 Baby and Toddler Playgroups au Pays du Mont-Blanc for more information . . . ]
🌈 NEW & EXPECTANT PARENT FB GROUPS & PAGES 🌈
You might find in useful to join these FB groups:
🌈 « ChamCats Carers, Mums n Tots » (Chamonix) – linked to the weekly meet-ups / mostly buy & sell and French lesson information;
🌈 « Être Parents à Chamonix » – a Chamonix FB group / meetings, stages, workshops;
🌈 « Mamans de Sallanches » – a FB group, set up by Andrea B-S, a Sallanches mama! – ” rencontrer, échanger, partager ” / meetings, stages, workshops, buy & sell;
🌈 « Le Carnet d’Alouette » – a FB page, with ideas for events au Pays du Mont-Blanc;
🌈 « Des Mamans et Papas qui bougent au Pays du Mont-Blanc et Vallée de l’Arve” » – another FB group, run by local Amélie S, with ideas for events and activities;
🧘♀️ Ananda Yoga Studio (Chamonix) – there are often pre-natal (autumn 2019 – Fridays at 9h) or post-natal yoga classes / see website for more details and to check current schedule (subject to change);
🧘♀️ Yoga – Pregnancy Yoga (Saturdays at 9h30) & Baby Yoga (Mondays at 10h) with Abi Cross at the Mercure Hotel Les Bossons – see Abi’s FB page for more details (subject to change);
🤸♀️ Baby Gym MJC Chamonix (Gymnase, Ecole J Balmat) – for children 15 months to 4 years, Tuesdays at 17h / see here for more details;
🧘♀️ Acro-Yoga sessions from association Tanc’il y a des Poètes / see FB page;
🧘♀️ L’Etape (Argentière) – children’s yoga / see here;
🤸♀️ Baby Gym at the FJEP in Passy – for children 18 months to 3 years, with an adult, Wednesday 9h15 to 10h15 / annual price: 90€ per year / see here for more details;
🧘♂️ Anicha Yoga (Sallanches) – offers some prenatal yoga / see here;
🧘♀️ La Bulle de Qi (Sallanches) – offers some children’s yoga . . . / see here;
🧘♂️ Cercle de Yoga (Sallanches) – offers some children’s yoga . . .
🧘♀️ Yoga – Un Chemin de Vie (Combloux) offers yoga classes for pregnancy and for children too / FB page;
🧘♀️ Yoga Enfants (Sallanches) offers yoga classes for children from 3 years / see flyers below;
🤸♀️ Pitchoun’Gym at MJC Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – for 3 to 5 year olds on Tuesdays from 17h30 to 18h15 / an annual price to pay, see website for more details;
🧘♀️ Le Palais in Megève has occasional family yoga classes . . .
🤸♀️ Marnaz Baby Gym –
Chamonix Valley – many options for parent and baby massage, including with the lovely Iona from ChamCats! / browse the list here of places to have a massage;
👩👦🧘♂️ Sallanches (La Maison du Bien-Etre) – meditation and relaxation workshops for children, and binome parent and child – Les Ateliers de Zébrus / not for younger children just yet, but keep an eye on the FB page to see if this develops . . . 🇨🇭 recommended by a friend!
Be Harmonie (Passy) – massages for pregnant ladies, massages for new mums or learn the art of baby massage with Sophie! My own experience of baby massage (10 years ago now, and not with Sophie!), was quite memorable: baby pooed ALL over me, and my milk started spurting everywhere! It wasn’t very relaxing, but I learned some great massage rituals! / tel: 07 66 04 34 01 / website and FB page;
👩👦 Have a look also at massage classes offered by Le Cocon de Lily and motricité with Lucie Mansart . . .
There are a few 🎼 music groups now for babies and toddlers au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
🎼 Académie Musicale du Mont-Blanc (Sallanches) – the Académie Musicale du Mont-Blancis run by Kaori / éveil musical for little ones, instruments and more! / trial sessions available / see FB Page for more details;
Alti’move (Chamonix) – various dance classes, and specifically for 4 to 6 year olds:
⭐️ BABYMOVE ⭐️ – Tuesdays 16h45 until 17h45 / website / firstname.lastname@example.org;
🎶 Eveil gestuel
🎶 Relation Musique Mouvement
🎶 Jeux en musique
🎶 Apprentissage de l’échauffement
🎶 Imagination, Exploration, Création
🎶 Travail de la musicalité/du ressenti
Try also Alpes Show Dance and Attitude Dance Studio in Sallanches for more young children dance classes!
🎼 check, also, dance and music classes at: EDMI Chamonix, MJC Chamonix, FJEP Passy, Ecole de Musique et Dance Sallanches, MJC Saint-Gervais and Le Palais Megève.
📚 Médiathèques & Bibliothèques 📚
We have some fantastic 📚médiathèques & bibliothèques 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, with areas dedicated to young readers, and some have 🎲ludothèques available (a place to play wit or /rent out games) and these are great options for ☔️ RAINY DAYS . . . here are the larger ones (but you’ll also find smaller ones in all the communes, with plenty of super workshops and storytelling sessions:
- 📚 Chamonix Médiathèque – located near the Centre Sportif Richard Bozon / see here for more details;
- 📚 Médiathèque Ange Abrate (Sallanches) – the new médiathèque, located between the Centre de la Nature Montagnarde and a great playground, opened its doors to the public on 17th March 2018 / the children’s area is upstairs and has comfortable rugs and beanbags (and toilets nearby!) / there is a whole programme for children, with storytime for 3 to 4 years olds every other Wednesday, and a storytime for 0 to 3 year olds once a month, on Saturdays / see here for more details and opening hours;
- 📚 Megève Médiathèque – located within Le Palais, so next to lots of sports facilities and the playground! / see here for more details;
📚 📚 📚
📚 Children’s Storytelling 📚
Our local 📚 médiathèques offer some regular storytelling sessions . . .
L’HEURE du CONTE at the Médiathèque Ange Abrate in Sallanches
📚 Storytime for children takes place on certain Wednesdays in the Salle de l’Heure du Conte / website / address: Médiathèque Ange Abrate, 81 place du Commissaire Chesney, 74700, Sallanches;
- Wednesday 23rd September AND 7th October 2020 at 10h30 – for 3 to 4 year olds;
- Wednesdays 16th & 23rd September AND 14th October 2020 at 16h – for children 5+ years;
- Saturday 19th September AND 10th October 2020 at 10h30 – for tiny ones (18 months to 3 years);
There are also sometimes spectacles organised / see current programme here;
The Espace Jeunesse, furnished with beanbags and rugs, and the Salle de l’Heure du Conte are located upstairs (with WC located nearby, very practical!).
Les Histoires de Charlotte, spécial “Rentrée des Classes” (Bibliothèque Fernand Braudel, Saint-Gervais)
every FIRST Wednesday of the month (except school holidays) at 16h / for 4+ years / FREE! / see here for more information /
address: Bibliothèque Fernand Braudel, 450 avenue du Mont d’Arbois, 74170, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
L’Heure du Conte at the Médiathèque Le Palais Megève
[ note: this activity has not yet resumed! / see agenda for updates ]
There is a regular 📚 storytelling session organised at the Médiathèque in Megève (located within Le Palais) every Wednesday (or alternate Wednesday out of season) for children 3+ years (as well as a session one Saturday per month for bébés lecteurs, for little ones from 0 to 3 years) / for children 3+ years – 17h – FREE! – no reservations required / also, 📚 L’Heure du Conte (bébés lecteurs) one Saturday per month at 10h30 – for children 0 to 3 years – FREE! – no reservations needed / address: Espace Jeunesse à la Médiathèque, 247 route du Palais des Sports, 74120, Megève / tel: +33 (0)4 50 91 57 70;
📚 « Mot à Mot » à la médithèque (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – Tétines et Comptines, every other Wednesday in a cosy section of the bibliothèque / for babies up to 3 year olds / FREE! / inscriptions: 04.50.47.52.65 or email@example.com / more information here;
[ good to know – the 📚 médiathèques throughout the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc have regular spectacles, ateliers, films for children throughout the year! / check their websites and FB pages to keep up-to-date ]
📚 Librairie Les Carnets d’Albert (Sallanches) 📚
For little ones, it is worth checking out the events calendar at the bookshop 📚 Librairie Les Carnets d’Albert on the Place Charles Albert in Sallanches . . . there are sometimes readings of books for small children or workshops / address: 220 place Charles Albert, 74700, Sallanches / FB page to follow for information;
🎭 Theatre & Spectacles 🎭
During the 🍁 Toussaint holidays, the excellent 🎭 « Les Petits Asticots » festival arrives 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, with lots of entertainment for children: theatre, circus, music, magic, dance, workshops . . .
. . . and in August, there is a FABULOUS children’s festival in Sallanches, 🌈 Les Enfants d’Abord: workshops, music, spectacles . . .
. . . and a little further away in Le Grand-Bornand is the yearly end of August children’s festival 🌈 Au Bonheur des Mômes:
You will also find 🎭 children’s theatre throughout the year in :
- 🎭 Chamonix – Une Montagne de Spectacles and EDMI;
- 🎭 Les Houches – Salle d’Animations, Espace Olca and Lac des Chavants / see Les Houches Animations;
- 🎭 Vallorcine – Salle de la Ruche;
- 🎭 Argentière – L’Etape;
- 🎭 Servoz – Salle Jean Morel;
- 🎭 Passy – Parvis des Fiz & FJEP / Plateau d’Assy – Cinéma du Plateau;
- 🎭 Sallanches – Salle Léon Curral & Médiathèque Ange Abrate;
- 🎭 Domancy – la Tour Carrée;
- 🎭 Combloux – Tourist Office and Plan d’Eau Biotope (summer);
- 🎭 Cordon – Echo du Jaillet and see website agenda here;
- 🎭 Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – Théâtre Montjoie;
- 🎭 Megève – Tourist Office agenda or Le Palais website agenda;
- 🎭 Praz-sur-Arly – see agenda here;
- 🎭 Les Contamines-Montjoie – Salle d’Animations;
- 🇫🇷🎭 Cluses – Théatre des Allobroges and L’Atelier Cluses;
🎭 🎭 🎭
🎬 Cinema & Film 🎬
- 🎬 Cinéma Vox (Chamonix) – children’s films, sometimes in VO / see here;
- 🎬 Ciné Mont-Blanc (Sallanches) – as well as a wide selection of children’s films, there is sometimes a children’s session on Sundays at 11h (sound and light geared towards younger viewers, and shorter films) and special children’s spectacles / see here / be sure to sign up for a Cinépass!
currently at the Ciné Mont-Blanc, especially for little ones:
🎬 film festivals:
- the children’s film festival 🎬 « Festival CinémAnimation », now aimed directly at schools, takes place in the Chamonix Valley in December;
- and the 🎬 « Festival Cinémino», shows children’s films in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Plateau d’Assy during the February holidays;
- further afield, in 🇫🇷 Annecy, is the annual 🎬 « Festival International du Film d’Animation Annecy » (see here);
There are a host of 🏛 MUSEUMS au Pays du Mont-Blanc and beyond for ☔️ RAINY DAYS, and it can be a relaxing visit with a snoozing baby in a baby-carrier or interactive with a pre-schooler . . . see the following articles for more details:
- 🖼 Chamonix Valley museums – see here;
- 🖼 Le Musée Montagnard (Les Houches) – see here;
- 🦌 Sallanches – the Centre de la Nature Montagnard (currently SHUT for renovations, but a small annex open in the centre of town while works being carried out);
- 🇫🇷🖼 museums in neighbouring Annecy (🏰 the castle, the Palais de l’Île . . . ), 🌳 La Maison du Salève (Présilly) and museums in 🇨🇭 Geneva and Martigny (see below);
[ ➡️ see article 🖼 Museums & Exhibitions au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) for more information concerning opening hours, prices, and current exhibitions at all of the above museums (and plenty more suggestions too) ]
🇨🇭 Muséum Genève (Natural History Museum) – this fabulous museum
has been still is our go-to ☔️ RAINY DAY option! / see MBFF post for more details / there are plenty of workshops on offer on Wednesdays and Saturdays, running alongside the permanent & temporary exhibitions / website;
address: 1 route de Malagnou, 1208, Geneva, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0) 22 418 63 00;
🇨🇭 MAMCO (Musée d’art moderne et contemporain) in Geneva – the 🖼 MAMCO in Geneva offers fabulous 20 minute guided tours – « Mini Rendez-vous » – for very young children (2 to 4 years) on Wednesdays at 15h15 . . . for older children, there are 45 mins guided tours – « Les Petits Rendez-Vous » – on the first Sunday of the month in French and English, at 11h (highly recommended by the MBFF team!) . . . located in the Plainpalais area of Geneva, there is lots to do before or after a visit . . . there is a great playground at the MEG museum around the corner, and also a playground & skatepark in the Plainpalais square / website: www.mamco.ch;
address: 10 rue des Vieux-Grenadiers, CH-1205, Genève / tel: +41 22 320 61 22;
🇨🇭 MAH (Le Musée d’Art et d’Histoire) in Geneva – the 🖼 MAH in Geneva is housed in a magnificent building, has a great play area for children next to the café and restaurant, and offers guided family visits one Wednesday per month at 10h30, 14h30 and 15h30, « Visites à tout petits pas » – each month, a new theme to discover the museum and its works with little ones 3 to 5 years (accompanied by an adult) / supported by the Fondation Genevoise de Bienfaisance Valeria Rossi di Montelera / FREE! / duration: about 30mins / more information: www.mah-geneve.ch or MBFF article / address: rue Charles-Galland 2, 1206, Geneva;
🇨🇭 MEG (Musée Ethnographique de Genève) – one of MBFF’s favourite museums in Geneva, we have taken part in lots of the creative workshops and a storytelling session here . . . at this museum, you travel the world with your children . . . there are even workshops and storytelling available for babies and toddlers! / on the first Sunday of the month: 🎵 Baby Bazaar (0 to 2 years) éveil musical – from 14h to 15h15 and from 15h30 to 16h30, accompanying adult required, FREE! / « Cap sur . . . avec Tohu Wa Bohu » éveil musical (from 2 years, with accompanying adult) from 15h45 to 16h45, music, song, dance, FREE! / see website for more details, or see MBFF article / good to know: fabulous playground on-site!*
address: Boulevard Carl-Vogt 65-67,1205, Geneva, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)22 418 45 50;
🖼 🖼 🖼
Somewhere in-between a 🌈 museum and a creative playcentre, a whole new breed of interactive centre has taken off in recent years, where children can explore, understand and create through DOING . . . here are some suggestions not too far from the Pays du Mont-Blanc for babies & toddlers:
🇫🇷 La Turbine in Cran-Gévrier (near Annecy) – Le Centre de Culture Scientifique Technique et Industrielle de Haute-Savoie is an innovative pedagogic centre equipped for families to learn about science in an interactive way / 🖼 upcoming exhibitions: « Très toucher » (for 7+ year olds) and « Touche àtout » (for 3 to 6 year olds), from 15th September 2020 until 7th March 2021; flyer / opening hours: from Tuesday to Sunday, 14h to 18h / FREE entry on first Saturday of month! / website;
address: place Chorus, Cran-Gevrier, 74960, Annecy / tel: 04 50 08 17 00 ;
🇨🇭 Exploracentre (Geneva) – a new interactive exhibition space in Plainpalais (Geneva), where the only rule is that it is “ forbidden to NOT touch ”! / for the whole family, to learn about the world, science, how things function . . . / 🖼 current exhibition: « Fabriq’Expo » – playing at being an engineer! / website;
🇨🇭🎨 La Maison de la Créativité (Conches, near Geneva) – see MBFF article about this FABULOUS creative centre; the MBFF family are huge fans of this centre for creativity for families . . . we discovered the house and grounds of 🎨 La Maison de la Créativité one sunny Saturday of autumn 2016, and I re-visited with my 4 year old just last year! A house and gardens full of treasures for children, wonderful creative workshops, an outdoor “kitchen”, a playground, incredibly welcoming staff . . . / no need to reserve! / aimed at babies, toddlers and children up to the age of 6 years / website / parking: on route de Florissant, and then a short walk (or bring draisienne!) / price: 3CHF for children 2+ years and adults (take small 🇨🇭 CASH!), under 2s for FREE / 🗓 open Wednesdays 9h30 to midday AND 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 and there is also a salle hors sacs and baby changing facilities);
AUTUMN 2020 – you currently have to book online for your session!
address: 7, chemin Calandrini, 1231, Conches, Switzerland / tel: +41(0)22 810 18 90;
Forest Schools au Pays du Mont-Blanc
There are a few 🌳 forest school options now 🗻 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, and you can sign up for these either on a termly, holiday or ad-hoc basis (depending on each organisation). Here are the ones known to me:
- 🌳 Faire l’Ecole Buissonière (Chamonix Valley) – bilingual groups on Wednesdays during the month of September / booking page / FB page;
- 🌳 dehOrs (Chamonix Valley) – sessions on a Wednesday from this new forest school, led by two accompagnatrices de montagne / FB page / website;
- 🌳 Ecole Montessori du Mont-Blanc (Argentière) – not a forest school per see, but with a huge onus on outdoor activities, this is a bilingual school for children, from 3 years to 12 years / FB page / address: 351 chemin de la Rosière, Argentière;
- 🌳 Les Poussières d’Etoiles Montessori Chamonix (La Joux) – a new forest Montessori school, open from November 2020! / see website and FB page for more details;
- 🌳 EXPLORE (Chamonix Valley) – private group on FB, sporadic forest outings;
- 🌳 Les Ateliers “A l’écoute de la forêt” (Viens, Vis et Deviens, Montessori in Plateau d’Assy) – for 5 to 12 year olds, on Wednesday afternoons / run by Aurélia Mignon, part of Association L’École Buissonnière – activités nature en forêt / more information on website;
- 🌈 Crèches Wild Child (Magland) – a crèche, rather than a playgroup open to all, but worth a mention as the ideology veers more towards forest schools than other crèches in the area / tel: 06 78 57 73 69 / website and FB page;
Whether living in the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc or visiting with a baby or toddler, you are treated to a mountainous playground! Equipped with an all-terrain buggy (stroller!) or baby-carrier, then you are set to go and explore! Come ❄️ wintertime, many of the playgrounds will have a coating of snow (and ice underfoot!) and so will not always be available for an outing, but there are plenty more options for babies and toddlers in the ❄️ snow (see below) . . .
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.
🌲 🌸 🌲
We have 🌲 beautiful forests, 🌳 parks and 🌸 gardens here 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and a little beyond) . . . here are some ideas:
- 🌲 all year-round – Parc Couttet in the centre of Chamonix is a great place to picnic and let little ones run around;
- 🌲 all year-round – Les Gaillands (Chamonix) is a great place to climb, or watch the climbers, sit on the grass, picnic, stroll through the woods along the river, and there is an accrobranches ®;
- 🌲 all year-round – the Bois du Bouchet in Chamonix is perfect for a buggy walk, a tour on a draisienne (push bike), watch parapentes land, the parcours d’orientation, or to pull a luge in the snow;
- 🌲 all year-round – Lac des Chavants in Les Houches – buggy strolls, woods, climbing, playground, picnics, the parcours d’orientation; see here;
- 🌲 autumn, spring and summertime – the lovely 💦 Paradis des Praz in Les Praz;
- 🌲 early autumn, spring, summer – 🌸 Le Jardin des Cimes in Plateau d’Assy is magical and easily accessible with a decent buggy, or with young walkers / a delightful spot to come for lunch at the café / also, workshops for children / see here for more details and current prices;
- 🌲 autumn, spring, summer – the beautiful, magical woods and boulders of Médonnet & La Pesse (Nant-Cruy) – boulders, caves, cabanes-making (do be vigilant with small children on the boulders and in the woods, after the July storms!) / an article to come in autumn!
- 🌲 all year-round – Le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet – there is a playground, grass for games, accrobranches ® paths for buggy walks, short hiking trails, a new Via Ferrata for older children, the petit train during the summer months (and the renovated Thermes Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc, of course!) / see MBFF article for more details;
- 🌲 autumn and summer – Parc du Pontet in Les Contamines – many of the sports activities in this park (summertime) are aimed at older children, but there are certain activities to entertain little ones: bouncy castles, walking with donkeys with Anes et Mômes (read about our experience here), the artificial lake with sand, pedalos, playground . . . / in winter, this becomes the Parc Nordique . . .
- 🌲 all year-round – Botanical Gardens (Conservatoire et Jardins Botaniques de Genève – CJBG) in Geneva, Switzerland – this park has a wonderful wooden playground in the shade, a magical carrousel in the warmer months, a small animal park and plentiful grass for running around and picnics (and beautiful trees, plants and greenhouses obviously!) / see here to read MBFF article;
🌲 🌸 🌲
Depending on where we live (or are holidaying!), there are 🌲 many great buggy (or stroller or pram depending on semantics and design!) walks au Pays du Mont-Blanc. Do bear in mind that – depending on the terrain – most of the walks will be less bumpy with an all-terrain buggy! (these are for hire from many of the Tourist Offices or sports shops). Here are some of our tried and tested favourite buggy walks, all between 30mins and a couple of hours (depending on refreshment or picnic stops!):
- 🌲 Chamonix – centre of town (plenty of lovely cafés along the way) / river walks (Arve and Aveyron) – be careful next to the water! /🌲 Le Bois du Bouchet / Les Bois and Les Praz (including Le Paradis des Praz) / Les Gaillands to Les Bossons (stopping for refreshments or lunch at Hotel Aiguille du Midi);
- 🌲 Les Houches – Lac des Chavants and into the woods (a playground here, and restaurant La Guinguette an added bonus!);
- 🏡 Servoz & Argentière – a buggy walk through the traditional old villages;
- 🌲 Passy, Plateau d’Assy & Plaine-Joux – 💦 Lac de Passy (lunch and refreshments at Buvette des Criques) / 🌸 Le Jardin des Cimes;
- 🏡 Sallanches – town walk (historical walk, two possible playgrounds and refreshments by the river! / see MBFF article) / La Braconne woods / Lacs des Ilettes (picnic or refreshments in summer at Le Transat);
- 🌸 Combloux – « 100% bio » loop around the Plan d’Eau Biotope & Ferme d’Isidore (30mins);
- 🏡 Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – La Boucle des Maisons Fortes (visiting the architecture from the Middle Ages to modern times in the centre of Saint-Gervais), with the playground at the end of the walk / in 🌳 Le Fayet, Le Parc Thermal is easy to navigate with a buggy and has a wonderful playground, picnic spots and le petit train during the summer months;
- 🌳 Les Contamines-Montjoie – walking through the Parc du Pontet up to the pretty Notre Dame de la Gorge, along the river and up to the lovely church (now a sentier découverte);
- 🇫🇷🌳 Annecy – town centre, Jardins de l’Europe and Parc Charles Bossons / good to know: fabulous art installation Annecy Paysages festival from June until September (see MBFF article here);
- 🇫🇷💦 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;
- 🇫🇷💦 Saint-Jorioz – roselières walk, perfect for buggies / see here for more details;
- 🇨🇭 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. We discovered this family walk a couple of summers ago, thanks to CosmoJazz . . . we no longer have children in buggies, but we did see people arriving with all terrain buggies – BUMPY, but possible (I’d recommend baby-carrier!) . . . 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 / NB – if children are walking, it is imperative to hold their hand and be extremely vigilant, as there is a steep fall! / aller-retour walk: 6,5km / see here for more details;
[ good to know: see website 🌳 Randos en Famille for lots more superb ideas for baby-carrier and buggy walks, suggested (and tried and tested by families) ]
[ ⇒ for some suggested baby-carrier walks, see below in winter & snow-shoe section . . . ]
🌲 🌸 🌲
My boys started to use a 🚲 draisienne (push bike) around the age of two years . . . as well as being a fantastic way of gaining balance before moving onto a pedal bike (often without the need for stabilising back wheels), they also became fairly autonomous, without the same need for being carried or buggies for certain short walks; this was merciful for my problematic back!
- 🚲 Chamonix – up and down the Arve river, next to the central playground / the Bois du Bouchet / river walks (be careful newt to the water);
- 🚲 Les Houches – Lac des Chavants and into woods;
- 🚲 Lac de Passy – around the lake, into the woods and the Espace VTT in the woods next to the mini-golf for older siblings (4+ years);
- 🚲 Lacs des Ilettes – around the nature reserve lake (3rd lake);
- 🚲 Praz sur Arly – at the playground in Praz-sur-Arly, there is a little bike park set up next to the river in the woods, Ludik Park;
- 🚲 Les Contamines-Montjoie – Le Parc du Pontet, and up the river towards Notre Dame de la Gorge, are good push bike areas (and there is a playground here too!);
- 🛹 skateparks & pumptracks – many of our towns and villages au Pays du Mont-Blanc are now well-equipped with a skatepark (Chamonix, Sallanches, Combloux, Les Contamines-Montjoie at les Loyers) and / or pumptrack (Servoz, Combloux, Saint-Gervais, Megève, Les Contamines-Montjoie at les Loyers) . . . little ones can use a push-bike or scooter here, but you will need to be vigilant as these areas are multi-generational and so there will be much bigger folk wizzing by! . . . MBFF are also big fans of the skatepark in 🇨🇭 Plainpalais, Geneva (perfect to combine this with a museum visit in the area).
🌲 🌲 🌲
Though climbing classes and clubs generally start for children at 4+ and 6+ years, there are plentiful accrobranches ® au Pays du Mont-Blanc (during the warmer months), and many have a parcours for 2/3 year olds . . .
⇒ see separate article here;
And a little further afield:
- 🇫🇷🌳 Filenvol – we have now been to Filenvol twice, and both times had a fabulous time! The concept is to run around in large catamaran nets suspended from the trees, and to slide down the net slides . . . giant trampolines in the trees, so much fun! You can picnic here / see MBFF article for more details / website;
- 🇫🇷🌳 Criq Parc (Saint-Jorioz) – a park with obstacle courses and filets in the trees;
- 🇫🇷🌳 Talloires & Reignier Acro’Aventures – for children from 1m in height / see website for more details / also, the Foret des Sens in Talloires is open to buggies and fabulous; see here;
💦 💦 💦
💦 Swimming pools are another great option with babies and toddlers and some of our pools au Pays du Mont-Blanc offer classes for young swimmers with adults . . . we have public pools in:
- 💦 Chamonix;
- 💦 Sallanches (and new pool due to open end of 2020!);
- 💦 Marlioz (Passy);
- 💦 Saint-Gervais-les-Bains (and Le Fayet Parc Thermal pool is being renovated);
- 💦 Le Palais, Megève;
- 🇫🇷💦 further afield, there is the large aquatic centre, Vitam in Neydens . . . and 🇨🇭 Les Bains de Saillons in Saillon, Switzerland (just past Martigny) has lots of activities for children especially during the summer months & 🇨🇭 Bains de Lavey (Switzerland) for children 4+ years;
💦 Chamonix – at the Centre Sportif Richard Bozon in Chamonix, there are both indoor (there is a 25m indoor pool with lanes and a children’s pool with rapids, water jets and a slide) and outdoor pools (the outdoor area is large and comprises the 50m Olympic pool, a children’s pool, slides and a children’s paddling pool / babies and small children – as well as the indoor children’s pool and the outdoor paddling pool and slides, the Centre Sportif Richard Bozon offers special swimming classes for babies and toddlers: Saturday morning at 10h (NB – please check!), 🐟 the Jardin d’Eau offers plenty of fun for babies and toddlers (from 6 months to 3 years) with one or two adults accompanying; at 11h is 🐟 the Petits Poissons option for children from 3 to 5 years. Lots of toys are put out and the pool is slightly warmed for these classes. See here for more details / parking: there is some free parking at the sports centre, depending on availability; otherwise there are paying car parks nearby / NB – opening hours change with each season, so for up-to-date information, please check the official website;
address: Centre Sportif Richard Bozon, 214, avenue de la Plage, 74400, Chamonix; tel: +33 (0)4 50 53 23 70
Bubbles swimming lessons (Chamonix) – from babies upward! / details in flyer below;
💦 Sallanches – Sallanches pool comprises an indoor pool and small outdoor paddling pool (with a small slide; bring your own toys). There is a large grassy area for summer picnics, and the pool opens its door in the warmer months. There is also a small refreshments bar open in the summer months / 🐟 bébés nageurs (per session or with carnet) and 🐟 Jardin Aquatique on Saturdays (3 to 5 years, on a yearly basis) are offered by Mont Blanc Natation / good to know – plans are underway to build a new swimming pool complex in Sallanches, near La Braconne restaurant (due for completion in 2020!);
Envol Coaching bébés nageurs – Saturdays 9h30 to 10h15 AND l’école de l’eau 10h15 until 11h (not every week) / schedule and more details on website;
💦 Marlioz (Passy) – the pool in Marlioz, Passy is a “piscine tournesol“, opening up in the the warmer months to the spacious grassy area outside. There is a shallow end to the pool, but no paddling pool available, making it a more ideal pool for older children learning to swim or already competent swimmers;
💦 Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – the pool in Saint-Gervais was renovated and re-opened a couple of years ago. It comprises an indoor swimming pool, warmer children’s shallow pool and paddling pool with toys, and an outdoor pool with slide. There are grassy areas for picnics and a refreshment bar/café / 🐟 baby swimming: Bébé Plouf (for babies from 6 months to children 3 years, with an accompanying adult) on certain Saturdays, 9h45 to 10h30 and 10h30 to 11h15, water 32 degrees / good to know – located near pumptrack, mini-golf and tennis courts;
💦 Les Thermes et Bains de Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc (Parc Thermal Le Fayet) – 🐟 Séance « Maman Bébé Papa » – babies (6 months to 3 years) can discover 34°C water at the famous Thermes Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc; session run by a coach / 🗓 when? Saturday & Sunday mornings, 9h until 10h30 (access from 8h30) / and family sessions for 3 to 13 year olds on Saturday and Sunday mornings, 10h30 until 12h30 and Sundays during school holidays 14h until 16h (please check schedule; subject to change) / more information, price & reservations: 04 50 47 54 57 or firstname.lastname@example.org / website;
💦 Megève – Megève’s renovated sports centre Le Palais has both indoor and outdoor pools / indoor pools – there is one pool for swimming (25m x 12.5m), another for children and a 💦 baby paddling pool (with slides, water features and warm water, LOVELY!) / 🐟 Bébés Nageurs Aquakids classes – on some Sundays from 10h to 11h15 (check schedule); water heated to 32 degrees; 11,50€ per session / 💦 outdoor pools (June until September) – there is an Olympic pool (50 x 21m), and two children’s paddling pools, one with animal/water features / for rent are parasols and lounge chairs / Pentagliss – 3 adjacent outdoor slides; for 6+ years / 🗓 opening hours of indoor pools: for opening hours (which change over the year), see megeve.com / REMEMBER that boys and men must wear a slip; if you arrive with shorts, you will be asked to buy a slip!
🇫🇷💦 Vitam – this huge indoor and outdoor parc aquatique in Neydens (near Saint-Julién-en-Génévois) is a great option for little ones, especially on rainy days! It is ideally situated within a shopping centre and also has an indoor play centre. On Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, from 9h to 9h45, there is a baby swimming class – 🐟 Aquabébés – for children 6 months to 5 years (also during school holidays) / see here for more details / good to know – Wednesdays are now half price!
🦌 Le Parc de Merlet Animal Park (Les Houches) – the wonderful Parc de Merlet 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 (open end of spring until early autumn), admission prices and any special events scheduled / MBFF article and recommendations for a famiły visit, see here / 🗓 open spring until early autumn;
🐶 Saint-Bernard kennels in Les Houches – learn all about the beautiful and fascinating Saint-Bernard breed here at the Les Houches chenil / 🗓 opening hours: July and August, 10h to 11h30 and 14h30 to 18h, rest of the year 10h to 11h30 and 14h to 17h (shut on Sundays and Monday morning) / website: here;
address: 223 chemin des Vorziers, La Fontaine, 74310, Les Houches / tel: 04 50 47 23 60 ;
🦌 Domaine le Coulairon (élevage de rennes in Megève) – reindeer in the Pays du Mont-Blanc, and here you can visit the élevage! / various formules available (you need to book in advance): formule découverte, visit + goûter, and visit and dinner (in a typical Finnish Kota!) / you can also visit the bergerie / 🗓 opening hours: OPEN ❄️ winter season (SHUT in summertime!) website / FB page;
address: 1850, route de la Côte 2000, Megève / tel: 06 80 57 21 94;
🇨🇭🦌 Les Marécottes Animal Park in Switzerland – April 2017 saw the birth of a 🐻 baby black bear (Mirus) and marcassins (baby sangliers) . . . see the Marécottes Facebook page or website for more details and current prices and opening hours / getting there: see here / 🚞 you can take the train from the Chamonix Valley to Les Marécottes! / 🗓 good to know: this animal park is open all year-round and we visited this park in December, and the winter sunlight was magical;
🇨🇭🦌 Conservatoire et Jardins Botaniques de Genève (botanical gardens) – there is a small animal park with deer and ducks here, and the gardens are lovely all year-round / FREE to visit!
🇨🇭🦌 Parc aux Animaux du Bois-de-la-Bâtie (Geneva) – set over an area of 2,5 hectares, there are about 300 species of indigenous fauna here, including some endangered species and conservation projects! You’ll find explanatory panels about the animals on your route around the park / 🗓 opening hours: every day (November to March: 8h to 18h) / FREE to visit! / website / address: Le Bois-de-la-Bâtie, chemin de la Bâtie, Geneva, Switzerland;
[ ⇒ for more options for 🦌 animal parks en famille further afield, see separate article here ]
🐷 🐓 🐷
A 🐷 farm visit is really enjoyable en famille and we have several options au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond):
🐓 La Ferme Les Montagnards (Ormaret, Combloux) – on many Tuesdays and Thursdays of the year, you can have a guided visit of La Ferme Les Montagnards (Tuesdays at 10h and Thursdays at 14h30) / 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 / this wonderful farm also organises lots of children’s workshops during the school holidays – butter-making, reblochon, creative workshops / good to know: both mini MBFF members 💙 LOVED 💙 their crèche and garderie visits here! / reservations necessary: Delphine +33 (0)6 21 02 18 99 / FB page / MBFF article;
address: 4 chemin des Poses, Ormaret, 74920, Combloux
[ good to know: underway is the Pays du Mont-Blanc not-for-profit project to collectively buy a farm in Domancy: Une Ferme pour Tous . . . there are sure to be plentiful family activities on offer! ]
🏔 other farms to visit au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
- 🐂 Ferme Le Gaec Val Mont-Blanc (Gemoëns, Combloux) ;
- 🐑 Chèvrerie Les Cabrettes (St Roch, Sallanches) ;
- 🐂 La Ferme de l’Aberieux (Cordon) ;
- 🐑 La Ferme des Roches Fleuries (Saint-Gervais-les-Bains) ;
- 🐑 La Chèvrerie au Coeur du Montjoie (Saint-Gervais-les-Bains) – 16h30 to 19h30;
🇫🇷 further afield: 🐓 La Ferme de Chosal (Copponex) – an absolutely FABULOUS pedagogic farm, with animals, green-houses, a land-art walk, workshops, an ethical & social spirit . . . / 🗓 opening hours: every day, though the pedagogic farm will be shut in January (Sentier Art et Nature will remain open) / see website for more details;
address: 98 route de l’Usine, Chosal, 74350, Copponex;
🐴 🐺 🐴
🐴 Les Anes et les Mômes (Le Parc du Pontet in Les Contamines-Montjoie) – leading a donkey on a walk really is a lovely experience, especially in the beautiful setting of Notre Dame de la Gorge . . . for more information about our family experience see here / . . . this activity was recommended to us by friends who said that it had encouraged their children to walk enthusiastically! It certainly worked for us (except for the plentiful arguments about whose turn it was on the back of Ernest the Donkey!) / website;
🐺 Chiens de Traîneaux – we had a fabulous family outing with 🐺 3D Nordic in Praz-sur-Arly a couple of winters ago . . . Jonathan & Sandrine and their doggy friends now spend their autumn and winter in Swedish Lapland, but they still offer canirando in the spring and summertime (older children), and holiday workshops for older children, and you can visit their kennels in Flumet. Other companies offering chiens de traineaux excursions locally:
- 🐺 Chamonix Valley – Huskydalen;
- 🐺 Passy & 🐺 Cordon Tourisme – Les Granges de Heidi;
- 🐺 Megève – Au Mont du Villard du Nord;
- 🐺 Les Contamines-Montjoie – Voyageurs d’Hiver – you can also visit their kennels in the Parc Nordique (parc du chien polaire) / tel: 06 21 83 52 39;
🐺 HUSKY EVENTS – every January is the « Grande-Odysée Savoie Mont-Blanc », which passes through Megève . . . and the first weekend in February is the « Conta Musher Race » in Les Contamines;
🐎 PONEY-LUGE & SKI JOËRING – little ones are too young for ski-joëring (being pulled along on skis behind a horse or pony), but at the Ecuries des Ducs stables in Combloux, little ones can try out poney-luge; for 1+ years / ski-joëring for 4+ years (and with Piou Piou level of skiing, or know how to take téleski); bring skis and helmet!
🇨🇭🐶 Barryland – Musée et chiens du Saint-Bernard (Martigny, Geneva) – this is a wonderful, interactive museum for children and there are often litters of gorgeous, playful puppies! (check FB page for details!) / website / Randonnées Hivernales with Saint-Bernard at Champex-Lac!
🚂 🚂 🚂
Children often love 🚂🚃 trains and train journeys . . . luckily, there are some memorable train journeys (big and small!) au Pays du Mont-Blanc!
- 🚂 Montenvers cobble train & Mer de Glace – the iconic cobble train departs from Chamonix (behind SNCF train station) and heads up to the Montenvers glacier and ice grotto! (NB – always check opening hours of ice-grotto, to avoid disappointment!) / see here for MBFF post;
- 🚂 Tourist train in Chamonix (summertime) / see here;
- 🚂 Mont-Blanc Express from Le Fayet to 🇨🇭 Martigny – with a carte d’hôte, you can take this train for FREE between Servoz and Vallorcine / a lovely excursion, with views of the snowy peaks through the upper windows . . . / see here for more details;
- 🚂 Le Parc Thermal – see MBFF post for details about le Petit Train, the tiny steam train for children, that runs in the park during the summer months (Wednesdays and weekends);
- 🚃 Le Tramway du Mont-Blanc – is the highest-reaching cobble train in France, leaving from Le Fayet or Saint-Gervais and reaching up to the Nid d’Aigle (2372 m) / journey up through forests and fields of ❄️ SNOW / open from 22nd December / see here for more details;
- 🇨🇭🚂 Swiss Vapeur Parc – a park in Switzerland dedicated to steam trains! / website;
🎢 🎢 🎢
We have a couple of 🎢 amusement parks au Pays du Mont-Blanc, and all season luges too! And there are a few great options a little 🇫🇷 further afield too:
🎢 Luge 4S (Le Jaillet, Megève) – this is located at the departure station for the télécabine du Jaillet, next to Palais des Sport / from 3 years / opening hours here;
🇫🇷🎢 Speed Dragoz (Les Carroz) – new for winter 2018 / 2019 season, and with a virtual reality option! / see here;
🎠 Parc de Loisirs du Pontet (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – open during the summer holidays, with bouncy castles and plenty more games and sport;
🇫🇷🎠 Le Parc des Epouvantails (Andilly) – part of Le Petit Pays (Les Grandes Médiévales, Le TOUT Petit Pays and Le Hameau du Père Noël), a visit to 🇫🇷 Le Parc des Epouvantails comes highly recommended by MBFF! My first visit was accompanying a school sortie, and I’ll be honest by saying that I didn’t have high hopes for a park inhabited by scarecrows! And then, I was bowled over by how lovely this enchanting park was, and the children all had a fabulous time. As a visitor, you play classic, familiar games, but in BIG versions (Jeu de l’Oie, pick-up-sticks, wheelbarrow races . . . ), there are farm animals, a giant labyrinth in the trees, spectacles in collaboration with the 🦅 Aigles de Léman, there is lots of shade, wide paths for buggies, picnic areas in the shade . . . my elder son and I had so much fun that we headed back with the rest of the family later in the summer. Everything here has been meticulously planned / 🗓 opening dates: end of June weekends and then July and August and first weekend after La Rentrée , from 10h to 19h / website / MBFF article;
address: la Forêt des Moulins (20 mins from Annecy or Geneva, direction de Cruseilles, RD 1201) / tel: 04 50 32 73 64;
⇒ see seasonal articles for more options . . .
🏖 🏖 🏖
We have some 💦 fabulous lakes au Pays du Mont-Blanc, and many are equipped with facilities for families:
- 💦 all year-round – Lac de Passy – 🏖 plentiful sand at the beach! / playgrounds and slides / see here;
- 💦 all year-round – Lacs des Ilettes (Sallanches);
- ☀️ summertime – the lake in Le Parc du Pontet in Les Contamines-Montjoie (and a pedalo lake too);
- ☀️ summertime – L’Etape lake in Les Contamines-Montjoie – at the top of the 🚡 Télécabine de la Gorge, small pedalos available, pebble beach;
- 🇫🇷☀️ summertime – Base de Loisirs de Flumet – a lovely small lake, with 🏖 a sandpit / cafés and restaurants / playground nearby;
- 🇫🇷💦 all year-round – Plage d’Excenevex (near Yvoire) on Lac Léman – 🏖 a large, sandy beach here (and you really feel like you are at the seaside!);
🎾 🎾 🎾
Most 🎾 tennis clubs offer tennis lessons to children from 4+ years of age . . . 🎾 Chamonix’s Tennis Club offers a tennis workshop to children 2 to 4 years in the summertime, the Stage Baby Tennis! And the 🎾 Ecole de Tennis Passy-Saint-Gervais also has lessons for children 4+ years:
. . . and 🏐 babyHand in Chamonix, for 3 to 5 year olds AND their parents!
🎠 🎠 🎠
There are 🎠 festivals and events a-plenty throughout the year au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) . . .
🌱 SPRINGTIME – 🐣 Easter egg hunts . . . / re-opening of certain parks and walks (Parc de Merlet, Les Gorges de la Diosaz, Jardin des Cimes) after winter hibernation / « Les Petits Princes du Printemps » in Megève / 🇫🇷🤺« Les Grandes Médiévales » in Andilly (AMAZING, highly recommended!);
☀️ SUMMERTIME – ☀️ « Festival Les Enfants d’Abord » in Sallanches / 🇫🇷 « Festival Au Bonheur des Mômes » in Le Grand St-Bernard / see ☀️ SUMMER EVENTS post, nearer the date!
🍁 AUTUMN – 🍁 harvest festivals and 🐄 foires agricoles in the Pays du Mont-Blanc / 🍁 Toussaint Holidays – « Festival les Petits Asticots » au Pays du Mont-Blanc (theatre, music, storytelling, magic, circus, dance, workshops) for little ones and bigger ones / 🍁 « Les Petits Princes de l’Automne » in Megève;
❄️ WINTERTIME – 🎄Christmas markets & events, storytelling, spectacles, 🎅 visits from Santa, ⛸ seasonal ice-skating, 🛷 sledging . . . / see 🎄Christmas articles (markets and events), nearer the date!
🍏 🍓 🥦
With a baby snoozing or or awake in a buggy or baby-carrier, it can be fun to head to a 🍏🍓🥦 bustling MARKET . . . there is so much colour and so many different smells and sounds to disvover!
⌈ please confirm details before attending (subject to change) ⌋
SATURDAY – 🍇 Chamonix (8h to midday) /🌶 Sallanches (8h to 13h);
SUNDAY – 🍞 Marché Paysan & Pain de Chibon at restaurant La Sauvageonne (from 10h to 12h30);
TUESDAY – 🍞 Marché Paysan & Pain de Chibon (parking de Carrefour Chamonix), 15h to 19h / 🥦 Chedde in Passy (8h to midday) / 🍆 Les Contamines-Montjoie (8h to midday) / 🥦 « Le P’tit Marché Paysan de Produits Locaux » (Sallanches, 16h30 to 19h30) – support local producers & local economy, local agriculture and their short growing seasons, and help to create a social link; each week there are several local producers; address: GAEC Les Armaillis, 74700, Sallanches; tel: 06 63 04 32 35; see here for more details;
WEDNESDAY – 🍞 Marché Paysan à la ferme Les Houches & Pain de Chibon (from 15h to 19h) / NEW SUMMER 2019 – Mon Marché au Plateau (Plateau d’Assy) / 🌶 Combloux (8h to midday) / 🍒 Le Fayet Market (8h to13h, in front of the Gare SNCF);y
THURSDAY – 🍐 Saint-Gervais-les-Bains (8h to 13h);
FRIDAY – 🥦 Megève (8h to 13h);
Don’t despair with the arrival of ❄️ SNOW, as come ⛄️ wintertime, there are plenty more options . . .
The 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc is equipped with ⛷plentiful ski areas for very small children (jardins des neiges), where it is free to ski with little ones . . . these are generally located at the bottom of ski stations, but some can also be found at the top of a cable-car, allowing you the flexibility to travel up the mountain as a family to gain altitude and views!
⛷ ESF (Ecole de Ski Français) offer lessons to children from the age of 3 years, with ⛷ Club Piou Piou. The Piou Piou areas are also largely (with a few exceptions) at the bottom of the ski station pistes in an enclosed area, and many have a magic carpet. You can book group or private lessons.
Here is a list of some of the Piou Piou areas, as well as ski stations with a magic carpet:
- ⛷ Chamonix – Domaine des Planards (see here) / Le Savoy Nursery slopes / Brévent – mini-funiculaire « Funi 2000 » takes you to a Beginner’s area, with the green piste Verte 2000 and a drag-lift / Flégère beginner area – La Trappe chairlift allows access to two green pistes, La Trappe and Libellules (there is also a fun-zone, with play features;
- ⛷ Les Houches – Lac des Chavants / Le Tourchet / Le Prarion (stunning views!) / Bellevue beginner slope (see article here);
- ⛷ Argentière – Les Chosalets (1252m) / Le Tour – La Vormaine (superb! see article);
- ⛷ Vallorcine – La Poya (see article here)
- ⛷ Passy Plaine-Joux – the Espace des Lutins (softplay, magic carpet, baby changing facilities, indoor space and more, superb!) / and Plaine-Joux is now also equipped with a covered tapis roulant (Le Gypaète) so that even small children can be autonomous quickly (this ski station is HIGHLY recommended by MBFF for families; see here);
- ⛷ Cordon (see here) and Combloux (softplay Tanière de Tilou at Le Cry; see here);
- ⛷ Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – Bettex / Saint Nicolas de Véroce (see article here);
- ⛷ Megève – La Caboche, Mont d’Arbois, La Princesse and Le Jaillet;
- ⛷ Praz-sur-Arly – at the bottom of ski pistes; see article here;
- Les Contamines-Montjoie – Jardins des Neiges Les Loyers (1200m), Nivorin or l’Etape by cable-car (1500m) / see article here;
⛸ ICE-SKATING is a great activity with the little ones here au Pays du Mont-Blanc. All of the ⛸ice-skating rinks, both the indoor all-year round ones and the ⛸ seasonal outdoor ice-skating rinks (from December until March), have chairs and sliding penguins & seals available to help little ones find their balance (or have a rest while the adult pushes them around the rink. There are all year round ⛸indoor ice-skating rinks in: Chamonix, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Megève(see MBFF post for more details). And for information about seasonal outdoor ice-skating rinks, see MBFF article Seasonal Ice-Skating au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond).
⛸ special ice-skating sessions for young children:
- ⛸ Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – Jardin des Glaces avec Charlotte la Marmotte sessions during the school holidays / when? 10h to midday on Tuesdays (check hours; subject to change) / for 3 to 10 year olds / see website;
- ⛸ Megève (Le Palais, patinoire Olympique) – Jardin des Glaces, for children under 9 years, accompanied by an adult / parcours, games . . . / on some Sundays during the winter season, 9h to 11h / price: 4€;
- ⛸ Les Contamines-Montjoie (Patinoire Jean-Christophe Simond, Les Loyers)– Jardin des Glaces on Wednesday and Sunday mornings (winter season), 10h to midday, with music and accessories for children / see website;
See MBFF’s article about 🛷 designated downhill sledging areas au Pays du Mont-Blanc for a list (with map) of safe places to sledge with wee ones . . .
When you have very young children, but of an age when they can sit up on their own, there are 🛷luges suitable for easy walks, which you can either buy or rent out. Ideally, a walk pulling a luge will be fairly flat, perhaps in 🌲 a forest (for shelter, if snowing), or around a lake, through a pretty alpine village . . . and perhaps ending at a designated luge piste, for a little downhill fun! Over the years, the MBFF team have had some ❄️ magical féerique walks of this type in the winter wonderland Narnias of:
- 🛷🌲Chamonix’s Bois du Bouchet – this lovely walk can combine nicely with a downhill luge session at the sledging zone near the parapente landing field . . . and you are close enough to the centre of town for a warm-up drink or lunch;
- 🛷 Argentière village;
- 🛷🌲 Plaine-Joux – along the chemin du Chatelet towards the Chatelet d’Ayère refuge . . . you can rent out a luge that can be pushed from Skifiz / please note that you can no longer get all the way to the Chatelet d’Ayère refuge via this path, as there was rockfall and part of the route is now cut off for safety reasons);
- 🛷 Lac de Passy– there are even some little slopes for some downhill giggles, if there is fresh snow!
- 🛷 Lacs des Illettes in Sallanches – when there is lots of snow!
- 🛷 Megève at La Livraz – this is a great area to drag a luge, as it is fairly flat . . . there is also a small sledging piste right next to the Maison Nordique (salle hors sacs, picnic tables, and restaurant with play area, recommended!);
- 🛷 Praz-sur-Arly – you can take the luge along Boucle de Cassioz snow-shoe trail. Easy to access from the bottom of the ski pistes, refreshments at la K-Bane;
- 🛷 Les Contamines-Montjoie – you can walk along the river at Notre Dame de la Gorge and there is also sledging in the Zone Nordique / Curly’s Fish & Chips makes a welcome stop!
- 🇮🇹🛷 in Italy, Val Ferret is a lovely place to go for a walk with a luge!
[ REMEMBER – please do check ❄️ SNOW CONDITIONS before setting out on any of these walks (Lac de Passy and Lac des Ilettes will only prove fruitful if there is good snowfall at 500m!!! – see article here ]
❄️ ❄️ ❄️
The 🥾 following suggested walks are fairly short (max 2 hours aller-retour), and have a stop for refreshments (these stops are seasonal and some ❄️ shut for winter, so won’t be open for snow-shoe walks – do check!) . . . how far you can walk with a baby-carrier or backpack, or how comfortable your little one is over long distances, is clearly subjective . . . this list is just a starting point for comfortable short walks! / if you have a favourite walk, please let me know, and we can add it to the list!
- ❄️ Chamonix – la Cascade du Dard (Buvette La Cascade du Dard) / Le Chapeau in Le Lavancher (La Buvette du Chapeau – usually open in winter, please check!) / Le Caillet refuge (check opening hours for winter) / up to La Buvette des Mottets (open in winter, depending on snow cover) / La Floria (only summer) / Cabane du Cerro (summer only);
- ❄️ Les Houches – Charousses alpage (picnic in summer) / Le Prarion boucles (winter too);
- ❄️ Argentière – La Crèmerie du Glacier (summer and winter);
- ❄️ Vallorcine – chemin des Diligences (with a stop at Ferme des Trois Ours – not winter!) / Cascade de Bérard waterfall (Buvette Cascade de Bérard open in winter, or Hotel du Buet) / Loriaz huts (a longer aller-retour);
- ❄️ Servoz – Le Mont up to the Lac Vert / Chalet Tête de la Fontaine (Le Mont) / 💦 Les Gorges de la Diosaz (from spring until autumn and entrance fee);
- ❄️ Plaine-Joux – boucle du Lac Vert and Le Châtelet d’Ayères – both great snow shoe trails / Himalayan suspension bridge up to Lac Vert;
- ☀️🌲 Sallanches – « Le Sapin President » (forest discovery trail leading to the Sapin Président, a 271 year old pine tree with huge dimensions), no refreshment stop here, just picnics / ❄️ walks to the refuges of either Doran (part gravel road, part forest), Mayères or Tornieux (forest walk), with lunch and snack options at the restaurants during the summer months (see sallanches.com for more ideas);
- ☀️ Combloux – « Sur Les Traces des Graniteurs » (on the trail of the old granite workers; 1h30) / walk Ferme d’Isidore & Plan d’Eau (lunch at Le Dandy or in centre of Combloux);
- ☀️ Cordon – « Forest Discovery Trail » (for more details in PDF see here; 1 hour loop in the forest and picnic stop with tables in the forest);
- ☀️ Le Fayet – Le Parc Thermal has a great boucle, crossing a bridge with views of the waterfall (behind the Thermes); ❄️ icy and dangerous in wintertime!
- ☀️ Les Contamines-Montjoie – Notre Dame de la Gorge up to Refuge du Nant-Borrant / ❄️ wintertime – walks in the Domaine Nordique / sentier découverte along the river;