You have perhaps heard that saying ☔️ “ there’s no such thing as bad weather; just badly dressed people “ ? (I heard this several times on a couple of work trips to 🇮🇸 Iceland!) . . . that may well be, but even the strongest of resolves can be broken by days and days of 🌧 rainy weather in the mountains (especially when you can no longer actually see those beautiful mounains!). Yes, certainly, we can all just put on our waterproofs, but I don’t know too many small children that are happy to play in heavy ☔️ RAIN for days on end, even if they do enjoy splashing in puddles!
Several ☔️ RAINY DAYS in a row can hit us during any season here in the mountains . . . mountains are notoriously unpredictable and fickle like that!
So, I have put together this article so that you may have a go-to list of options for ☔️ RAINY DAYS 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc. I understand that a 🌦 slight summer drizzle is different to 🍁 cold, torrential autumn or winter rain, so there are lots of options on this list, to deal with different types of seasonal rain!
When ☔️ RAIN hits at the weekend, the MBFF family first checks to see what the weather is like through the Mont-Blanc tunnel in 🇮🇹 Courmayeur or over in 🇨🇭 Switzerland (Geneva or Martigny). The sun can often be shining there, while it is pouring 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc! But sometimes it is raining EVERYWHERE in the proximity, and there are limits to how far one can go to escape the rain for a day!!! And on those days, we need some INDOOR OPTIONS!
➡️ for ☔️ RAINY DAYS ideas for babies and toddlers see MBFF articles: Baby & Toddler activities au Pays du Mont-Blanc and Weekly Planner for Babies and Toddlers au Pays du Mont-Blanc;
Colour code for listings:
Chamonix Valley (Chamonix, Argentière, Les Houches, Servoz & Vallorcine)
Passy & environs
Sallanches, Combloux, Cordon & Domancy
St Gervais, Le Fayet, St Nicolas de Véroce & environs
Megève, Praz-sur-Arly & environs
Les Contamines & environs
🇫🇷 Further France 🇫🇷
🇨🇭 Switzerland 🇨🇭
🇮🇹 Italy 🇮🇹
🌧 ALL SEASON RAIN 🌧
Here is a list of lots of your indoor options – play centres, museums, sports centres, swimming pools, ice-skating, indoor climbing and tennis, médiathèques, cinemas . . .
- 🎾 Centre Sportif Richard Bozon (Chamonix) – a huge complex with swimming, climbing, gym, and both indoor and outdoor tennis courts and squash courts available / see here for more details / tel (tennis): 04 50 53 28 40;
- 🎾 Tennis Les Iles (Argentière) – reserved for sporting clubs / tel: 04 50 54 09 59;
- 🎾 Tennis Club de Passy – both indoor and outdoor courts / see website for more details / address: 410 rue du Stade, 74190, Passy (not far from Mountain Store) / tel: 04 50 78 10 93;
- 🎾 Tennis & Squash Municipales & Tennis Club du Mont-Blanc (Sallanches) – outdoor courts and two indoor tennis and squash courts / opening hours: see here / address: 283 avenue Albert Gruffat, 74700, Sallanches / tel: 04 57 44 41 83;
- Indoor Pétanque (bouldrome) & Archery (Sallanches) – see here;
- 🎾 Megève (Le Palais) – the largest indoor sports complex in the Pays du Mont-Blanc, with: swimming, climbing, spa, médiathèque . . . / tennis: with a terrain en Taraflex and ping-pong too / tel: 04 50 21 15 71;
We have several 💦 public swimming pools au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . you’ll find baby pools in Chamonix (and also an indoor slide), Saint-Gervais and Megève (you’ll need to check opening hours, as these vary over the year):
- 💦 Chamonix (Centre Sportif Richard Bozon) – see here;
- 💦 Marlioz (Passy) – see here;
- 💦 Sallanches – see here;
- 💦 Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – enjoy the artwork of 2KM3 artists while there ! / see here;
- 💦 Le Fayet (Parc Thermal) – being renovated;
- 💦 Megève (Le Palais) – see here;
Further afield, you have the 💦 bigger option of parcs aquatiques, with slides and other features:
- 💦 Vitam Parc (Neydens, near St-Julien-en-Genevois) – see here;
- 💦 Aquariaz (Avoriaz) – see here;
- 🇨🇭💦 Aquaparc (Le Bouveret, Switzerland) – with seasonal activities, see here;
good to know – don’t forget swimming trunks (NO boxers!) for boys and men, else you’ll have to buy some!
💦 for SPA DAY options en famille, ➡️ see below . . .
We have three ⛸ INDOOR ice-skating rinks au Pays du Mont-Blanc (also offering ice-hockey, curling and other ice sports )/ please check exact opening times directly with each ice-skating rink / see MBFF post ⛸ Ice-Skating rinks au Pays du Mont-Blanc for more information:
- ⛸ Chamonix – address: 165 route de la Patinoire, 74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc / tel: +33 (0)4 50 53 12 36 / opening hours;
- ⛸ Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – during the school holidays, Charlotte la Marmotte (the Saint-Gervais-les-Bains mascot) is present every Tuesday at the indoor patinoire from 10h to midday – for children 3 to 12 years – penguins and pandas available to support youngsters while skating – children under reponsibility of accompanying adults / address: 67 impasse de la Cascade, 74170, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains / tel: 04 50 93 50 02 / opening hours;
- ⛸ Megève – the olympic ice-skating rink is located within Le Palais / lots of special children and family events and spectacles here / see here for more details;
We have some fabulous 🧗♂️ indoor climbing walls for rainy day climbing 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
🧗♂️ Chamonix – located within the Centre Sportif Richard Bozon / for children 6+ years (and children 6 to 14 years must be accompanied by an adult) / see here for details;
🧗♂️ Les Houches – the climbing wall in Les Houches is called Mont Blanc Escalade / see here for more details;
🧗♂️ Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – the indoor climbing wall in Saint-Gervais is located in one of the pillars of the Pile Pont / there is an outdoor bouldering wall too / open Tuesdays and Thursdays between 19h and 21h / you must bring all of your own equipment / tel: 04 50 47 73 40 / see here for more details / more information through MJC Saint-Gervais;
🧗♂️ Megève – Le Palais’ mur d’escalade / see here for more details;
🧗♂️ various gyms are also available through climbing and alpinism clubs and the CAF (ENSA, Passy Club d’Escalade, Sallanches’ Gymnase du Rosay);
🧗♂️ Arkose blocpark (Vétraz-Monthoux, near Annemasse) – indoor climbing, dedicated to BOULDERING! / 1800m² of luminous climbing space / also kids’ area, chill-out space, work zone, yoga classes and restaurant! / price & special classes: see website / opening hours: 8h until midnight / website / address: 10 allée des Chênes, 74100, Vétraz-Monthou;
⛷ ⛷ ⛷
⛷ INDOOR SKI CENTRES ⛷
There are ⛷ TWO NEW INDOOR SKI CENTRES in the Vallée de l’Arve: the first opened in Cluses, and Passy’s centre opens its door to the public in early November . . . not at all the same concept as those artificial ski slopes found in the UK to prepare British teens for their first ski trip abroad – these tapis are constantly moving and can be tilted to the steepness required and slowed down or the speed increased; you learn to perfect your technique!
- ⛷ Ski Indoor 4810 (Passy) – MBFF was invited to try out a session en famille over the Toussaint holidays – we had heaps of fun, though it was very clear that the boys had way better ski technique than their mama! / FB page / address: 545 route des Outards, Passy;
- ⛷ TDVC Indoor Ski Lab (Cluses) – with a lounge area and bar / FB page / address: 7 rue du dr Gallet, Cluses;
📚 📚 📚
If it is ☔️ raining or you have very small children to entertain, why not visit one of our 📚 médiathèques au Pays du Mont-Blanc? There are three big ones, with superb children’s areas (and sometimes storytelling sessions and ludothèques too) in:
- 📚 Chamonix (see here);
- 📚 Sallanches (see here);
- 📚 Megève (in Le Palais) (see here);
- 📚 and there are smaller bibliothèques in the other towns and villages au Pays du Mont-Blanc, offering wonderful storytelling, spectacles and films over the school holidays;
📚 do check opening hours before planning a visit, as these vary from day to day!
🌈 🌈 🌈
For ☔️ RAINY DAYS, there is 🌈 Le Parc en Folie softplay in Sallanches’ industrial zone / see FB page for more details / address: 1431 avenue André Lasquin, 74700, Sallanches / tel (Sabrina): +33 (0)6 37 16 47 32 (a fabulous place to organise children’s birthday parties!);
FURTHER AFIELD: for more ideas for 🌈 larger softplay centres a bit further afield, ➡️ see MBFF post Softplay, Indoor Play & Bouncy Castles au Pays du Mont-Blanc.
And for older children, who have outgrown the idea SOFTPLAY, then you could try:
🤸♀️ R’Jump Léman (Zone Commerciale de l’Aérodrome, Annemasse) – a 1300m² trampoline park (40 trampolines of all types: slanted, flat, with a slack line) and also a foam pool for jumps! Also a lounge space and ☕️ snack bar / for children over 6 years (except on Wednesdays and Sunday mornings, which are reserved for families!) / good to know: documents to print and hand in on arrival (see website)! / NO jeans and anti-slip socks required (2€) / website / 🗓 opening hours: see website / price: 14€ for one hour / address: 9 rue des Esserts, 74100 Annemasse;
🤸♀️ Elevation Indoor (Neydens) – this is a freestyle indoor parcours centre, with trampolines / opening hours: see general opening hours here / see website or FB page for more details / address: 13 rue du Jura, Neydens / tel: +33 (0)4 50 74 02 83 / NB – if you go for the first time, under 18s must supply: copy of identity card or passport of PARENT; adults must provide copy of of identity card or passport;
🖼 🖼 🖼
We have plenty of fabulous 🖼 local museums au Pays du Mont-Blanc, some offering temporary exhibitions and family and children’s guided visits and workshops over the school holidays:
- 🖼🏔 Le Musée Alpin (Chamonix) – see here;
- 💎🏔 L’Espace Tairraz & Musée des Cristaux (Chamonix) see here;
- 📷🏔 La Maison de la Mémoire et la Patrimoine Janny Couttet (Chamonix) – see here;
- 🖼🏔 Le Musée Montagnard (Les Houches)– see here;
- 🦌 good to know – please note that the 🦌 Centre de la Nature Montagnarde in Sallanches is currently SHUT for renovations, re-opening planned for 2020 (small annex open in the meantime in the old médiathèque, near the church);
- 🖼🏔 Maison Forte de Hautetour in Saint-Gervais – see here;
further afield, you have fabulous museums (again, many with workshops for children) in:
- 🇨🇭 Geneva – 🦌 Muséum (Natural History Museum) / 🖼⚱️MAH (Musée d’Art et Histoire) / 🖼 MAMCO (Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain) / MEG (Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève) / 🔭 Le Musée d’Histoire des Sciences . . . and many more;
- 🇨🇭 Martigny – 🖼 Fondation Pierre Gianadda / 🐶 Barryland – Musée et Chiens Saint-Bernard;
- 🇫🇷 Cluses – 🕰 Musée de l’Horlogerie et du Décolletage;
- 🇫🇷 Annecy – 🏰 Le Château d’Annecy, 🏰 Le Palais d’Ile, 🎥 Le Musée de Film d’Animation;
- 🇫🇷 Evian – 🖼 Le Palais Lumière;
- 🇮🇹 Aosta Valley (Italy) – 🏟 the Roman ruins in Aosta or the FABULOUS 🖼📷 Forte di Bard further down the valley in Bard;
[ ➡️ for ideas about what to go and see, and more information concerning opening hours and prices, have a look at MBFF article 🖼 Museums & Current Exhibitions au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) (regularly updated) ]
And a whole new breed of interactive centr has taken off in recent years, where children can explore and create and understand through doing . . . here are some suggestions not too far from the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc:
🌎 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 / 🖼 current exhibitions: 🧪 « T’es sûr-e? » (learning about the quirks of 🧬 SCIENCE and how it can sometimes fool us! / for children 7+ years / 🗓 opening hours: from Tuesday to Sunday, 14h to 18h / good to know: FREE entry on first Sunday of month! / address: place Chorus, Cran-Gevrier, 74960, Annecy / tel: 04 50 08 17 00 / website;
🇨🇭🎨 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! / website / highly recommended by MBFF (article to come!);
🇨🇭🎨 La Maison de la Créativité (Conches, near Geneva) – see MBFF article about the FABULOUS creative centre for under 6s / open to public on Wednesdays and one Saturday a month / SHUT over summer holidays;
🇨🇭 Espace des Inventions (Lausanne) – a place for families and children to experience and experiment with science, technology and art, through the exhibitions / current exhibition: « L’ARBRE – de la petite graine à la vieille branche » – trees in science & nature, and as represented in 🎨 art / for children 7+ years / workshops for children here / 🗓 opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 14h to 18h and Sunday and bank holidays, 10h to 18h / FREE entry on first Saturday of month! / website / address: Vallée de la Jeunesse 1, 1007, Lausanne, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)21 315 68 80;
There are 🎬 TWO big cinemas au Pays du Mont Blanc:
- 🎬 Cinéma Vox Chamonix (see here / there are a selection of films in VO);
- 🎬 Ciné Mont-Blanc in Sallanches (see here / occasional films in VO / Cinékids at 11h on Sundays – special screenings adapted for wee ones!);
🎬 and there are also lots of smaller screens with a good selection of films (some foreign language films in VO with subtitles), so ➡️ see post Cinemas au Pays du Mont-Blanc for more information:
- 🎬 Le Grand Soir Cinébus (Les Houches) – every other Wednesday at the Espace Animation at 17h;
- 🎬 Cinéma du Plateau (Plateau d’Assy) – website Cinéma du Plateau d’Assy / address: 34 rue de l’Eglise, 74480, Plateau d’Assy, Passy;
- 🎬 Théâtre Montjoie from MJC (Saint Gervais) – MJC cinema / address: Théâtre Montjoie 190, rue de la Vignette, 74170, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains / tel: 04 50 52 30 03;
- 🎬 Panoramic (Megève) – holiday film screenings;
🏎 🏎 🏎
🏎 Visit an indoor KARTING TRACK 🏎
Summer 2018 saw the opening of an 🏎 indoor karting centre – Urban Kart’in – in La Roche-sur-Foron! We’ve not yet been to test it out, but it gets rave reviews! A 🏎 karting piste “Made in Italy“, with a bridge and tunnel for driving indoor karts ” Made in France 100% électrique “ (unique in Haute-Savoie and Savoie) / for 7+ years! / 24 karts (18 for adults and 6 for children) / best to reserve: 04 50 03 66 78 / website;
🎳 🎳 🎳
🎳 Spend an afternoon or evening BOWLING 🎳
The 🎳 bowling alley in Chamonix recently SHUT down (to make way for a new hotel), so the 🎳 only bowling alley au Pays du Mont-Blanc is now in Sallanches – Le Bowling du Mont-Blanc (there are also laser games, a new Escape Room, and a restaurant and bar on-site) / good to know: it is opposite the Ciné Mont-Blanc / see website for more details;
🎮 🎮 🎮
🎮 Visit a VIRTUAL REALITY centre or ESCAPE ROOM 🎮
For teenagers and older children, then perhaps a visit to a 🎮 virtual reality centre or escape room (where you work as a team to solve puzzles against the clock, in order to be “let out” of the room!) will offer up some amusement on a ☔️🌧 RAINY DAY?
- 🎮 Escape Game Chamonix (Chamonix Sud) – the first escape room in Chamonix! / 12+ years (within family booking) / website / address: 26 Place Edmond Desailloud, Chamonix Sud;
- 🎮 Escape Room at the Bowling du Mont-Blanc in Sallanches – NEW!
- 🎮 Challenge the Room (Ville-la-Grand) – website: https://www.challengetheroom.fr/escape-game-annemasse/
- 🎮 Laser Game Evolution (Ville-la-Grand) – website / address: 14 rue de Deux Montagne, 74100, Ville-la-Grand;
- 🎮 Cortex Virual (Annemasse) – website / address: 12 rue Germain Sommeiller, Annemasse;
- 🎮 E.Réel (near Annecy) – website / address: 486 route des Prés Rollier, 74330, Sillingy);
There are no 🐟 aquariums or vivariums to visit au Pays du Mont-Blanc, but there are a few options around 🇨🇭Lac Léman . . .
🇨🇭🦎 Vivarium Elapsoidea (Meyrin) – address: 32a, rue Cardinal-Journet, 1217, Meyrin, Switzerland / tel: +41(0)22 785 60 60 / website / recommended by MBFF!
🇨🇭🐟 Musée du Léman & Aquarium (Nyon) – a museum dedicated to the history of Lac Léman and an aquarium too! / new permanent exhibition: « Petite Nature? » (36 questions to decode the the secrets of the lake!) / 🖼 temporary exhibition: « Plouf: une histoire de la baignade dans le Léman » – the vocabulary associated with taking a “dip” or a swim, the 121 swimming spots on Lac Léman, the architecture on the lakefront, the quality of the lake water, sportsmen and women and tourists, fashion, beliefs and habits over the passing of time . . . and the artists, the famous faces who frequented the lake! / 🗓 opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, April until October, 10h to 17h and November to March 14h to 17h / price: CHF8 and free for children under 16 years / good to know – FREE every first Sunday of the month; 1 x entrance = free access to the Musée Romain and the Château de Nyon (valid 12 months) / l’atelier Créa’lac – every 3rd Sunday of month, a workshop for children at 15h30; CHF 7 per child (museum entrance free) / super playground right next door and picnic spot! / address: quai Louis-Bonnard 8, 1260, Nyon, Switzerland / tel:+41 (0) 22 316 42 50 / website;
🇨🇭🦈 Aquatis (Lausanne) – we’ve not visited yet, but Aquatis Aquarium & Vivarium in Lausanne has been open to the public since October 2017 / restaurant on-site: Piranha, with a view on the piranha pool! / 🗓 opening hours: November until March 10h to 18h, every day; April until October 9h to 19h, every day / price: CHF29, children (5 to 15) CHF19, under 5s FREE / see website for more details / address: AQUATIS Aquarium-Vivarium, route de Berne 144, 1010, Lausanne, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)21 654 23 23;
There are still some ways to enjoy NATURE in the ☔️ rain!
🌲 Visit an ÉCOMUSÉE 🌲
🌲Ecomusées explore nature and customs of yesteryear, and some have some outdoor activities and exhibits, so they generally work better on fine weather days . . . but with fabulous indoor exhibitions, they are still good ☔️ rainy day options!
🌲La Maison du Salève (Présilly) – 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 / MBFF post here / website / address: 775 route de Mikerne, 74160, Présilly;
🌲Le Hameau des Alpes (La Clusaz) – learn about the rich culture and patrimoine of La Clusaz . . . learn about how skiing has evolved, about the making of Reblochon cheese, learn about a traditional oven, learn about the old greniers, and an old sawmill . . . / website / address: Hameau des Alpes, 44 route de la Patton, 74220, La Clusaz;
🌲L’Ecomusée PAYSALP (Musée Paysan & Croq’Alp) – website / address: 628 avenue de Savoie, 74250, Viuz-en-Sallaz;
🦇 🦇 🦇
Not too far from the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc, you have 🦇 several underground options for ☔️ rainy days:
You can book to visit the 🦇 Grotte de Balme (near Magland) with a guide through Sallanches Tourisme! / a great spéléologie visit! / read more about this cave here;
And a bit further afield, there are some other magnificent caves to visit (perfect for a rainy day or a very hot day, as caves stay at a very constant temperature!) . . . / remember to take baby carriers, as buggies are not permitted;
🐻 Musée des Ours et des Cavernes (near Chambéry) – a museum (decorated to make you feel like you are in a cave!) exploring the world of cave-dwelling bears! / 🗓 opening hours: from October until April, during the school holidays, 14h to 18h (SHUT Saturdays), see website for spring and summer opening / address: Musée des Ours et des Cavernes, Epernay, 73670, Entremont-le-Vieux (in Parc Naturel Régional de Chartreuse) / tel: 04 79 26 29 87;
🦇 Les Grottes de la Balme (Isère) – the caves are located 40mins drive to the east of Lyon, 2 hours from Chamonix / the temperature in the caves is between 12° et 15°C all year round (bring jumper) / no dogs allowed, no camera flash / picnic spot at entrance to village, with rain shelter, WC and playground / tel: +33 (0)4 74 96 95 00! / address: rue des Grottes, 38390, La Balme-les-Grottes / holiday workshops / website;
🇨🇭 Bex salt mines (Salines de Bex) – located between Martigny and Montreux in Switerland, are another great underground option – here you discover the origin of the Sel des Alpes (salt was once as precious as gold!) in the vast underground labyrinth (several kilometres open to the public) and learn about the excavation techniques used from the first gallery of 1684, up to modern times / 18°C: all year round! / small train / 🗓 opening hours: from March until December, see website / address: route de Gryon 31, Bex, Vaud, Switerland / tel: +41 24 463 03 20;
spring to summer opening caves . . .
🦇 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 / 🦇 re-opening, after hibernation, in April! / parc préhistorique: there are lots of workshops on offer during the school holidays like les ateliers de la préhistoire, holiday visits for children 4 to 7 years, caving for children and more . . . see here / price: adults 9,50€ and children 6,50€ / address: D-1084, 01450, Labalme / tel: +33 (0)4 74 37 36 79 / website;
🇨🇭💦 Lac Soutterain St-Léonard – not too far from the Pays du Mont-Blanc is the 💦 Lac Soutterain St-Léonard – located between Sion and Serre in the Valais, Switzerland, this is the largest underground lake in Europe (300m long x 20m wide w 10m deep) / ambient temperature all year of 15° / 3D animations, guided tours by boat / 🗓 opening hours (from 17th March until November): 10h to 17h (July and August from 9h) / price: adults CHF10, children (5 to 15 years) CHF6 and under 5s FREE / address: rue du Lac 21, 1958, St-Léonard / tel: +41 (0)27 203 22 66 / website;
🚂 🚂 🚂
Children generally love 🚂 trains and train journeys . . . and once in the train, you are out of the 🌧 rain! 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! / see here for MBFF post;
🚈 Mont-Blanc Express from Le Fayet to Martigny – with a carte d’hôte, you can take this train for FREE between Servoz and Vallorcine . . . and it goes as far as 🇨🇭 Martigny in Switzerland! / a lovely excursion, with views of the snowy peaks throught the upper windows . . . / see here for more details;
🚃 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 / see here for more details;
🏰 🏰 🏰
There are some fabulous 🏰 castles in Savoie Mont-Blanc – perfect for a rainy day (NB – most of these hibernate over the winter months!): 🏰 Château de l’Echelle (La Roche-sur-Foron) / 🏰 Château de Thorens / 🏰 Château de Faucigny / 🏰 Château d’Annecy and more (see below) / 🇨🇭 in Switzerland, the fairytale 🏰 Château de la Bâtiaz (Martigny), Château de Chillon (Lac Léman, near Montreux) & 🏰 Château de Gruyères . . .
🏰 Château de Montrottier (Lovagny, near Annecy) – children can get dressed up in medieval costumes during their visit to this castle! / 🍏 picnics in the park and parcours interactif / Chasse aux Pommes-Pidoux hidden in the castle / photos on the throne! / family price: 22€, adults 8€ and children 6€, children under 5 years free / address: Domaine et Château de Montrottier, 60 allée du Château, 74330, Lovagny / website / good to know: the castle is located near the Gorges du Fier, also fabulous for a family visit;
🏰 Château de Menthon Saint-Bernard (near Annecy) – a fairytale 12th century turreted castle, with an imposing position above Lac d’Annecy! / 🗓 opening hours (vary according to season) and price: see website (July & August every day 12h until 19h) / son et lumière shows in summertime;
🏰 Château & Domaine de Ripaille – good to know: ask for the le parcours spécial enfant / price: adults 9€; children (7 to 15 years) 4.5€ and free for under 7s; family 23€ / great to combine with 🌳 walk in forest or a visit of to the port in Thonon-les-Bains (pretty and great playground) / 🗓 opening hours on website;
🏰 Château de Voltaire – one of France’s Monuments Nationaux, this castle is open all year-round, with beautiful gardens / get up close and personal with Voltaire . . . / website;
And in the neighbouring 🇮🇹 Aosta Valley in Italy there are also several 🏰 castles in strategic positions along the valley (most of these are open throughout the year) . . . The MBFF tribe has visited a handful of these Aosta valley castles and the guided visits have been superb. See Valle d’Aosta Tourism website for a complete list of the castles open to the public and opening hours (mostly, you will visit as part of a guided tour).
Here are some of the 🏰 castles in the 🇮🇹 Aosta Valley:
- 🏰 Sarre Castle – once the hunting & holiday residence of the House of Savoy;
- 🏰 Sarriod de la Tour Castle – set among orchards, looking out over the Dora Baltea river;
- 🏰 Fénis Castle – towers, crenellated walls and fairy-tale charm make this castle a popular visit;
- 🏰 Forte di Bard – once a near-impregnable fortress . . . now a complex of museums, art exhibitions & events, restaurant and hotel / the MBFF tribe LOVE this fortress and its exhibitions; see here for MBFF article);
Try out PAINTBALLING or LASER GAMES!
🏔 Au Pays du Mont-Blanc, there are paintball & lasergame zones in: the Chamonix Valley, near Lac de Passy and in Megève . . . in a light summer drizzle, these would be still fun. You generally wear a suit and you’re meant to get dirty anyway, right?
- Chamonix Paint-Ball (Chamonix) – paintball & lasergame (12+ years) / website / address: route de la Promenade des Crèmeries, Chamonix / tel: 06 07 36 01 51;
- Paintball Mont-Blanc (Les Tines) – is located in the forest in Les Tines (8+ years) / website / address: Les Liarets, lieu-dit Les Tines, 74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc;
- Fiz Paintball (near Lac de Passy) – five different zones to play (classic, forts, jungle, speedball, airball) for 8+ years / website / address: Lieu-dit « Les Îles » (autoroute A40, sortie n°21 « PASSY – SAINT GERVAIS »;
- Paintball Experience Megève – paintball, lasergame, archery tag, airsoft . . . / 6 games areas / for 6+ years / website / address: chemin du Thorbiau, 74120, Megève;
💦 A SPA DAY or THERMAL BATH day en famille 💦
A 💦 thermal bath or spa day can be a lovely way to relax en famille, and you have superb (and larger) options in 🇨🇭 Switzerland, just past Martigny, where the whole family will be welcome. In a light drizzle, the outdoor baths would also be fine . . .
Here, 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, we have some smaller options for thermal springs and spas and children’s soins . . . but children often have to be 14+ years for entrance:
💦 QC Termes Chamonix – 14+ age entrance / recently open, 💦 QC Terme Chamonix Mont-Blanc (run by the same company that owns QC Terme Pré Saint-Didier in Italy) / features: pools, whirlpools, hydrojets, Vichy forest showers, salt room & halotherapy, saunas, steam baths, chromotherapy, a Japanese bath, a Kneipp path, relaxation rooms, an olfactory space / massages & treatments / check the website for more information . . . / address: promenade du Fori 480 ,74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc;
💦 Les Granges d’en Haut (Les Houches) – this is one of my favourite spas au Pays du Mont-Blanc: small, stunning views and friendly and professional staff! / it is run by Deep Nature and there is: an outdoor Finnish sauna and Nordic bath on the terrace, and indoors there is a small swimming pool, lounging chairs, hammams and sauna / good to know – there are also yoga and pilates classes held here / booking a massage or treatment allows you entry to the spa and pool; or you can simply purchase entrance to the spa and pool for 29€ / Deep Nature also offers a series of children’s soins / see website for more details / address: 1000 route des Chavants, 74310, Les Houches / tel: +33 (0)4 85 30 00 17;
💦 Résidence & Spa (Vallorcine) – the Spa du Mont-Blanc by Cinq Mondes is open to non-hotel visitors by reservation / there are also children’s soins available (children must be accompanied by an adult) / see website for more details / address: Résidence & SPA Vallorcine Mont-Blanc, Chef Lieu, 74660, Vallorcine / tel: +33 (0)4 50 54 75 20;
💦 Les Thermes de Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc (Le Parc Thermal, Le Fayet) – these thermal baths (famous for the curing properties of its thermal waters), have been renovated and re-branded and offer: a parcours through the spa facilities, massages, and they sell their own products / for 13+ years / family option: « Accueil Famille » from 3 to 13 years on Saturday and Sunday mornings AND « Maman Bébé Papa » – with a coach, exercises . . . (see here) / produce for sale / website / address: 355 allée du docteur Lépinay, Le Fayet, 74170, Saint-Gervais les Bains;
➡️ see post: Chamonix Valley Spas & Massages for more ideas for spas in the Chamonix Valley;
🇨🇭 further afield in Switzerland, where families with small children are well-accommodated:
🇨🇭💦 Les Bains de Saillons (Valais, Switzerland) – set among terraced vineyards, with a view of the little castle atop the medieval bourg, this spa and aquatic centre has both indoor and outdoor attractions . . . three thermal pools (32 to 34°C), a semi-Olympic pool (28°C), a thermal river (120m long), hammam, sauna and jacuzzi and more . . . / there are restaurants and hotel facilities on-site! / price: adults CHF24 to 28, children (4 to 16 years) CHF13 and FREE for under 4s! / address: route du Centre Thermal 16, 1913, Saillon, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)27 602 11 11 / *NB – keep a watchful eye on children in the river rapids; it can get very busy!*
🇨🇭💦 Les Bains de Lavey (Vaud, Switzerland) – have a lovely location and are reserved for 4+ years /🕯candle-lit evenings on Thursdays / address: route des Bains 48, Lavey-Morcles, Switerland / FB page / website;
🇨🇭💦 Leukerbad (Loèche-les-Bains, Switzerland) – much further afield, but worth a mention as these thermal baths have a beautiful setting, amidst the snowy mountain peaks . . . a visit here is a real escape, a mix of well-being and fun! / there are 10 pools (between 28°C and 43°C!), and a new bassin aventure, two dedicated pools for children and waterslides (one with inflatable rings) / price: adults CHF 25 to 30, children (8 to 16 years) CHF 14 and free for under 8s and open to all children from birth! / massages for children & parents available / website;
🇨🇭💦 Les Bains d’Ovronnaz (Valais, Switzerland) – nestled in a cirque of mountains, there are two outdoor pools here, and indoors there is a children’s paddling pool / massages for children & parents available / restaurant on-site (Panoramic Alpine Spa under renovation, due to fire damage) / website;
🇮🇹💦 Pré St Didier QC Termes (Aosta Valley, Italy) – this spa, through the Mont-Blanc tunnel and a bit further, is reserved for 14+ years (for ultimate parent and adult relaxation!) / website;
🌦 LIGHT SUMMERTIME DRIZZLE 🌦
In the summetime, ☔️ rain can be light and fleeting, and doesn’t have to mean that we spend our day indoors . . . so here are some outdoor activities . . .
🌲🌳 Forests & Woods 🌳🌲
On a day with some drizzle or short ☔️ rain showers (NOT 🌩 thunder and lightning!) then shelter in the 🌲forest can be a marvellous thing . . . we are surrounded by woods here au Pays du Mont-Blanc, here are some suggestions:
- 🌲Bois du Bouchet in Chamonix – makes for a perfect buggy walk, or a tour on a draisienne (push bike) . . . / also the parcours d’orientation / you can stop for 🥤 drinks and snacks at Le Robinson or La Crèmerie;
- 🌲Lac des Chavants woods (Les Houches) – a great place to make a cabane, and there is also the parcours d’orientation, a playground and 🥤 La Guinguette café on-site;
- 🌲Le Paradis des Praz – this is a lovely stroll or bike ride, with ☕️ buvette / FB page;
- 🌲La Pesse woods & boulders (near Médonnet) – DO NOT 🧗♀️ climb the boulders in the rain, as this is very dangerous! / cabanes to be made in this ethereal forest location near Cordon and Combloux . . . / parking: a small lay-by on route de Nant-Cruy and then access to boulders and forest via sentier piéton La Pesse, sentier VTT 42;
When it’s not 🌧 raining too heavily, a visit to a 💦 gorge can be a great option to fit in a short walk (seasonal opening generally from late spring until early autumn; please check opening hours) – the 💦 water will be running with power and it will be a sensory experience! Though do please be careful on the walkways, as they will be slippery!
🏔 Au Pays du Mont-Blanc, we have :
- 💦 Les Gorges de la Diosaz (Servoz) – open from early May until late September (weather dependent) see MBFF article for more details / website;
- 💦 Les Gorges du Bonnant (Le Parc Thermal, Le Fayet) – open all year-round / see MBFF article for more details;
and a little further afield . . .
- 🇫🇷💦 Gorges du Fier (near Annecy) – open every day from 15th March until 15th October 2019 / see website for more details;
- 🇫🇷💦 Les Gorges du Pont du Diable (La Vernaz) – see website for more details / good to know: porte-bébés (3,5kg to 20kg) at your disposition (but please bring your own, if you have one) / address: Le Jotty, 74200, La Vernaz / tel: 04 50 72 10 39;
- 🇨🇭💦 Les Gorges Mystérieuses de Tête-Noire (near Finhaut, Switzerland) – website (AMAZING!);
- 🇨🇭💦 Les Gorges de Durnand (near Martigny, Switzerland) – see here for more details;
- 🇨🇭💦 Les Gorges du Trient (Vernayaz) – see website;
- 🇨🇭💦 Gorges du Dailley (Salvan) – see website;
💦 Canyoning & Rafting 💦
💦 Canyoning and rafting can be fun in light rain for older children (competent swimmers!) and families. 🏔 Au Pays du Mont-Blanc, we have the 💦 Arve river for rafting and other fun water sports (and further afield the 💦 Giffre in Samoëns and the 💦 Dora Baltea in the Aosta Valley), and a few locations for 💦 canyoning: 💦 Canyon de Barberine, 💦 Canyon & Torrents de Balme (Cordon), 💦 La Belle au Bois (Megève), and futher afield 💦 Canyon de Chalamy in the Aosta Valley / there are several companies offering rafting & canyoning:
- 💦 Vallogrimp (Chamonix Valley) – canyoning offered to children 9+ years every Friday over the summer holidays / see website for more details;
- 💦 Session Raft (Passy & Chamonix)– from 6+ years / stages for teenagers over the summer / see website for more details;
- 💦 Oxo Canyoning – mini-canyon offered to children 6+ years / website;
- 💦 Ecolorado – activities for children 7+ years / website;
- 💦 local tourist offices also offer canyoning options;
Don a pair of 👢 wellies and head to a local farm on a 🌧 drizzly day . . .
🏔 Au Pays du Mont-Blanc, we have:
🐓 La Ferme Les Montagnards GAEC (Ormaret, Combloux) has FAMILY VISITS scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with plenty of workshops over the school holidays / see FB page / be sure to book;
🐏 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 Ferme Le Gaec Val Mont-Blanc – the Paget family farm / cheese-making and tasting at this dairy farm / visiting hours: see here / address: 777 route de Saint-Gervais, Gemoëns, 74920, Combloux / tel (reservations): 06 16 33 71 74;
🐏 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;
🇫🇷 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 / see website for more details / address: 98 route de l’Usine, Chosal, 74350, Copponex;