The ❄️ snow on the ski pistes starts to soften under the golden ☀️ spring sunshine, and slowly disappears from alpine town and village centres . . . and then the ski stations shut . . . 🌷 spring flowers shoot up overnight . . . and 🌳parks and 🌷 gardens re-open . . . and then it is the season once again for hiking . . . a season when we can sometimes start off by ⛷ skiing in the morning, and be 🚲biking and 🧗♂️ climbing by the afternoon . . .
This article is a full list of 🌷 SPRINGTIME ACTIVITIES available for families & children 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) . . . so, if you reside 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, or if you are visiting the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc from March until June, then hopefully this article will be of use to you for some fresh ideas for 🌷springtime family fun, come 🌧 rain or ☀️ shine!
➡️ for information about 🐣 Easter egg hunts Easter events, see separate MBFF article :
➡️ and for information about children’s activities during the spring holidays, see post: L’AGENDA des VACANCES de PRINTEMPS au Pays du Mont-Blanc (to come):
Colour code for listings:
Chamonix Valley (Chamonix, Argentière, Les Houches, Servoz and environs) & Vallorcine
Passy & environs
Sallanches, Combloux, Cordon & Domancy
Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Le Fayet, Saint Nicolas de Véroce & environs
Megève, Praz-sur-Arly & environs
Les Contamines & environs
🇫🇷 Further France 🇫🇷
🇨🇭 Switzerland 🇨🇭
🇮🇹 Italy 🇮🇹
SPRINGTIME family events . . . as well as new 🐰 animal births and 🌷 fresh flowers rising from the snow, springtime is also the time for new exhibitions – ➡️ see article Museums & Exhibitions au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) – and cultural events and festivals . . .
In chronological order, here are some of the events planned this springtime au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond):
🇫🇷 « Petit Patapon » : festival itinérant petite enfance en Haute-Savoie (Annecy & environs) – from 30th March until 4th May 2019 🇫🇷
A bit further afield, in Annecy & environs, itinerant children’s festival « Petit Patapon », will run for 5 weeks, from 30th March until 4th May 2019 / spectacles, storytelling, cinema, workshops, games and more for children 0 to 3 years and 4 to 6 years / website / programme;
🇨🇭🌷 « Fête de la Tulipe » (Morges, Switzerland) – from 30th March until 5th May 2019 🌷🇨🇭
🐰 « Magic Mont-Blanc Festival » (Chamonix) – from 10th until 14th April 🐰
Back for a second year, is the « Magic Mont-Blanc Festival » at Le Majestic in Chamonix / magic spectacles and workshops for children / see chamonix.com and Service Culturel for more details and bookings;
🇨🇭🐰 « Pâkomuzé » – from 13th until 28th April 2019 🐰🇨🇭
🐰« Pâkomuzé » is an initiative for children and families during the Easter holidays in Vaud, Switzerland / 39 museums and other locations put on creative activities and workshops, many FREE! / see website for booking details & programme / where? in 39 museums in Vaud, Switzerland!
🇫🇷🏰 « Les Légendes de Menthon » – Fête Médiévale & Fantastique (Château Menthon-Saint-Bernard) – 20th, 21st & 22nd AND 27th & 28th April 2019 🏰🇫🇷
The association Il était une fête introduce you to knights, princesses and troubadours and fantasy, legends and music too! / medieval costumes and horse shows and night spectacle / more information here;
🎼 « Musilac Mont-Blanc » (Chamonix) – from 26th until 28th April 2019 🎼
Its first year in 2018 was a resounding success, so Musilac Mont-Blanc is back again this year! / musical acts? among others, Eagle Eye Cherry, Rodrigo & Gabriela, Charlie Winston . . . / website, programme ane tickets;
🇨🇭🐻 New exhibition at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle (Geneva) – from 13th April 2019 until 19th January 2020 🐻🇨🇭
Each year there is a BIG temporary exhibition at this fabulous museum, the two last ones being Dinosaures and Fourmis . . . this new exhibition will plunge you into the world of PREDATORY ANIMALS: « Prédations » – animals whose strategy it is to kill to eat! Kill, eat, survive – a natural cycle, present since the birth of time, far from the image of Big Bad Wolf and Jaws. The life of a predator is often difficult and dangerous, a ” catch me if you can ! ” challenge with its prey! And we humans in this chain; are we the worst type of predator, seeing as we are omnivores and meat eating is a choice? / more information . . . / MBFF article about this museum;
🦌 Parc Animalier de Merlet (Les Houches) re-opening – Wednesday 1st May 2019 🦌
The wonderful 🦌 Parc de Merlet in Les Houches will come out of winer hibernation on the 1st May . . . / MBFF article;
🇫🇷 Une Saison au Haras (Annecy) – from 9th May until 13th October 2019 🇫🇷
From spring until autumn, the old 19th century horse stables of Annecy – once on the outskirts of town, and which at their apogee housed 120 horses – become a hive of cultural activity: temporary art installations & events, concerts, outdoor film, yoga, dance, markets, and the Rucher du Haras (beehives) / programme / opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 14h to 19h / address: 19 rue Guillaume Fichet 74000 Annecy / tel: 04 50 33 88 88;
🚴♀️ « Carnavélo » (Passy) – Saturday 11th May 2019 🚴♀️
🚴♀️ Becyclable (a workshop which repairs bikes for a nominal fee; website) is organising the first Carnavélo in Passy! A carnaval with bikes, costumes obviously encouraged! / the idea is to use and introduce you to the new bike routes in Passy, in a festive and friendly way! / RDV at 14h at the workshop (175 rue Paul Corbin, 74190, Passy), with departure at 14h30 / goûter for children on return to workshop (children remain the responsibility of accompanying adults!) / inscriptions FB page;
🌙 « La Nuit Européennes des Musées » (15e édition) au Pays du Mont-Blanc – Saturday 15th May 2019 🌙
Last year, the MBFF family headed to the Musée Alpin in Chamonix for this event, and we had a very special welcome from the school in Vallorcine; the children were our animateurs for the evening, and had organised a fabulous treasure hunt for us!
There are special events organised for La Nuit Européenne des Musées in the Chamonix Valley and in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains & Saint Nicolas de Véroce / check the website for tmore information and programme;
🇨🇭📚 New exhibition at the MEG (Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève) – from 17th May 2019 until 5th January 2020 📚🇨🇭
The MEG is one of my favourite Geneva museums, and I am excited about the prospect of our next visit there to see the new 2019 temporary exhibition: « Il était une fois: la fabrique des contes », from 17th May 2019 until 5th January 2020 / this exhibition will recount the rich tradition of storytelling, often ancient in origin, from 🇫🇮 Finland to 🇬🇷 to Greece, from Spain 🇪🇸 to the Alps – an immersive voyage through European storytelling / MEG website information;
🇫🇷🌷 « La Fête de la Nature » – 22nd to 26th May 2019 🌷🇫🇷
« La Fête de la Nature » is back for another year in France / with lots of Portes Ouvertes and free workshops / see website for more details and to check for events that are taking place close to home;
🇫🇷 « Festival Frictions » at Château Rouge (Annemasse) – from Thursday 23rd until Saturday 25th May 🇫🇷
A 3-day spring festival of theatre, dance, music, puppets . . . / free spectacles / see programme here;
🇨🇭 Ballet Gala Night spring edition: « Russian Ballet Jewels » (Geneva) – Saturday 23rd May 2019 🇨🇭
The Ballet Gala Night will be held on 23rd May in the Théâtre du Léman in Geneva / see here to book tickets;
🌷« Les Folies Végétales » – re-opening of Le Jardin des Cimes (Plateau d’Assy) – weekend 25th & 26th May 2019 🌷
The spring season for these magical gardens up in Plateau d’Assy will launch with « Les Folies Végétales » the weekend of 25th & 26th May / plants for sale / website / MBFF article;
🚴♀️ Rando VTT – Dré dans L’Darbon (Domancy departure, Lac de Passy and further) – Sunday 26th May 2019 🚴♀️
This year will be the 10th edition of this fabulous family bike event! / family circuit around Lac de Passy and into the woods) / the MBFF team took part a couple of years ago / website;
🇫🇷🎪 « Les Grandes Médiévales d’Andilly » (Andilly) – 8th,9th & 10th June AND 15th & 16th June 2019 🎪🇫🇷
The famous yearly medieval festival in Andilly – knights in shining armour, princesses, castles, fortresses, jousting, birds of prey, lots of spectacles . . . plenty to keep the whole family entertained ALL DAY! / see website for more details and to buy tickets / the MBFF family cannot recommend this fabulous festival enough; post to come!
🇨🇭🎼 « Festival Poussière du Monde » 15e édition (Parc Bernasconi, Grand-Lancy, Geneva) – (9th until 26th May) 🎼🇨🇭
World music, dance & storytelling at this nomadic festival, hosted in Mongolian yurts! / programme / address: Parc Bernasconi, Grand-Lancy, Geneva, Switzerland;
🌷 Rendez-Vous aux Jardins – 7th, 8th & 9th June 2019 🌷
« Rendez-vous aux jardins » is a festival celebrating gardens, and the the theme this year is « Animaux du Jardin » / see website or FB page for more details / our very own Jardin des Cimes in Plateau d’Assy will be partaking in this festival, with a guided visit of the magical gardens (free for under 18s for this festival) / for more information about Le Jardin des Cimes en famille, see MBFF article;
🇫🇷🎬 Festival International du Film d’Animation (Annecy) – 10th to 15th June 2019 🎬🇫🇷
The international animated film festival returns to Annecy this year (and with a fabulous poster!) from 11th to 16th June! / see website for more details and programme / events for the whole family, including outdoor cinema screenings;
🇨🇭⛵️ Bol d’Or Mirabeau (Lac Léman, Geneva – 14th until 16th June ⛵️🇨🇭
The famous regatta on Lac Léman! / see website for more information;
🎵 Fête de la Musique – 21st June 2019 🎶
🎶 La Fête de la Musique is a fabulous opportunity to head out with family and friends and to support your local musicians / last year the MBFF team headed out to the quais in Sallanches (and it didn’t RAIN (it oftens rains on this day!) / check local bars, restaurants and tourist offices nearer the date to see what is scheduled / official website;
At the start of the spring season, we can still enjoy the ❄️ snow and winter sports, especially up high! And then, from mid-April, our “outdoors” here in the mountains turns away from skiing and towards hiking, climbing, biking . . . the season to head out and enjoy 🌷 springtime blossom and flowers . . . but the skiing is still firmly on the agenda until the resorts shut, mid-March to early May (depending on altitude and snow conditions).
The ⛷ lower ski stations au Pays du Mont-Blanc, like Passy Plaine-Joux, Cordon and Combloux will shut mid to late March, but you will still have opportunities for spring skiing at some of the higher altitude resorts . . .
Here is a list of the ⛷ski resorts that will be shutting around mid-April, and their predicted fermetures (depending on snow cover):
- ⛷ Les Planards – until mid-April;
- ⛷ Grands – Montets – closing date 1st May 2019;
- ⛷ Le Balme & Le Tour – Vallorcine & La Vormaine – closing date 14th April 2019;
- ⛷ Brévent – Flégère – closing date 14th April 2019;
- ⛷ La Poya – either 7th or 14th April 2019, depending on SNOW!
- ⛷ Les Houches – Saint-Gervais – closing date 14th April 2019;
- ⛷ Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – closing date 14th April 2019;
- ⛷ Praz-sur-Arly – closing date 5th April 2019;
- ⛷ Megève – closing date 14th April 2019 (except La Princesse, which is now shut!);
- ⛷ Les Contamines-Montjoie – Hauteluce – closing date 22nd April 2019;
- 🇫🇷⛷ Flaine & Grand Massif (Les Carroz, Morillon, Samoëns, Sixt) – closing date 22nd April 2019;
- 🇫🇷⛷ Le Grand-Bornand, Châtel, Avoriaz, Les Saisies, Courchevel, Méribel – closing date 22nd April 2019;
- 🇫🇷⛷ La Clusaz – Sunday 28th April 2019;
- 🇫🇷⛷ Val d’Isère – 1st May 2019;
- 🇫🇷⛷ Tignes & Val Thorens – Sunday 5th May;
- 🇮🇹⛷ Courmayeur, Italy – closing date 22nd April 2019;
⛷ some further afield suggestions (for a day trip): 🇩🇰 Verbier, 🇮🇹 Courmayeur & Cogne;
⛷ good to know: you can find discounted forfaits and promotions for spring skiing at various ski resorts on website Le Printemps du Ski;
⛷ CROSS – COUNTRY SKIING (ski de fond / ski nordique) ⛷
Cross-country skiing (ski nordique) can also be a lot of fun en famille, though the opening of pistes over the springtime will depend on snow cover, so alway check! Here are some suggestions for where to go:
- Bois du Bouchet (Chamonix) – see here and map;
- Lac des Chavants (Les Houches) – FREE!
- Plaine-Joux – FREE!
- Combloux – FREE!
- several across Megève & Praz-sur-Arly (the Site Nordique de la Livraz is especially great for families; see here);
- Les Contamines-Montjoie’s Parc Nordique – see here;
We especially loved our visit to 🇮🇹 Val Ferret (Italy) last winter season (mid-March), for some family ski de fond . . .
❄️ Head out SNOW-SHOEING (raquettes de neige) ❄️
As spring progresses, a planned snow-shoeing outing can actually turn into a hike, so do check snow cover . . . for those in-between snow conditions, you can purchase rubber crampon attachments for your hiking boots (these are ideal when the paths remain icy).
I have yet to put together a post about snow-shoeing en famille . . . we bought some children’s snow-shoes at Quechua a couple of years ago and the boys love them . . . The wonderful thing about snow-shoeing – as with hiking – is that you can take the time to explore the nature around you (🎄the trees,🐾the animal prints in the snow, even some🦌wildlife), rather than speeding past it all at fast pace on skis!
➡️ magical spots to snow-shoe en famille au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
- Chamonix Valley: Cascade du Dard (Buvette La Cascade du Dard – sometimes open in winter, please check / Le Chapeau in Le Lavancher (La Buvette du Chapeau – open in winter, please check! / La Floria & Petit Balcon Sud (Chalet de la Floria) / up to La Buvette des Mottets (open in winter) / Vallorcine – La Buvette du Bérard (Vallorcine) – to re-open in springtime under new management / Les Houches – Lac des Chavants and Le Prarion / Argentière – Crèmerie du Glacier;
- Lac Vert (Passy Plaine-Joux) boucle;
- Combloux (Le Cry) for 🐾 animal prints in the forest (there is a special family snow-shoe treasure hunt in Combloux – « La randonnée des p’tits loups »; see here)!
🛷 Sledging is a great family activity, and we have plenty of fabulous designated areas here 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . slopes where you pull your sledge up the slope yourself, snow-tubing options, paret runs, longer sledge runs (like LaLuge in Megève), special outings organised by guides (for example, sledging down the hill by torchlight after a fondue dinner) . . . or perhaps simply a walk through a magical snowy forest with a luge . . . / the sledging areas shut late March to early April.
➡️ for a list of spots to 🛷 sledge au Pays du Mont-Blanc & walks “pulling a luge” see updated post Pistes de Luge au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond);
We are lucky 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc to have some super seasonal outdoor rinks (these generally shut by mid-April ), some offering family sessions and spectacles and evening openings . . . and, if the weather isn’t great, then we have ⛸ THREE indoor ice-skating rinks in ⛸ Chamonix ⛸ Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc ⛸ Megève (➡️ see RAINY DAYS au Pays du Mont-Blanc article).
Springtime seasonal ice-skating in:
- Les Houches – outdoor patinoire;
- Vallorcine – at the Residence Mont-Blanc;
- Megève – patinoire in centre of town;
- Les Contamines (Les Loyers) – Jardin des Glaces for young children on Wednesdays and Sundays from 10h until midday;
➡️ see article: Seasonal ice-skating au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) for more information;
🐺 Go DOG-SLEDDING! 🐺
As a Christmas present to the family last year, we went husky dog sledding with 3D Nordic (before they headed off for new adventures with their doggy friends this autumn and and winter to Lapland) . . . see here for the MBFF post about our super experience . . . as the snow melts, the chiens de traîneau turn to canirando!
🏔 other companies offering dog-sledding fun au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
- Huskydalen (Les Houches) – see website;
- Les Granges de HeÏdi (Passy & environs) – see website;
- Les Voyageurs de l’Hiver (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – see website;
In 🇨🇭 Champex (Switzerland), you can even be pulled along by a 🐶 Saint-Bernard dog (Randonnées Hivernales through Barryland – Musée et Chiens du Saint-Bernard, see here)!
🐴 Try SKI-JOËRING or PONEY-LUGE 🐴
You might also like to try 🐴 ski-joëring (a person on skis is pulled along by horses) . . .
- 🐎 Centre Équestre du Mont-Blanc (Les Houches) – see website;
- 🐎 Les Ecuries du Duc (Combloux) – little ones are too young for ski-joëring, but at the Ecuries des Ducs stables, children from 1+ years can try out poney-luge / ski-joëring for 4+ years (and with Piou Piou level of skiing, or know how to take téleski); bring skis and helmet!
- 🐎 Centre Equestre Les Contamines-Montjoie – during the school holidays / see here;
- 🐎 La CheVallée (Les Carroz) – see here;
🚲 Try out FAT-BIKING or MOUNTAIN TROTT‘ ! 🛴
You can now go biking on ❄️SNOW, thanks to the concept of the FAT BIKE! Fat Bikes are mountain bikes with large tyres and good traction, which allow you to travel over snow, sand or mud with relative ease, and – accompanied by a powerful electric battery – you can even get up hills easily! You can hire a FAT BIKE or head out with a guide.
🏔 good places to FAT BIKE en famille au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
- Chamonix – Bois du Bouchet, Arve River, Petit Balcon Nord / you can hire a bike from Legend CHX, Zero G or plenty of other sports shops;
- Passy Plaine-Joux – here you’ll find a relatively flat trail! / rental: Lou Pachran Restaurant;
- Combloux (Le Cry) – for 5km downhill through the forest!
- FAT BIKE guide: Allan Julliot (see here);
- Le Parc Patrice Pontet (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – along the river, there is a lovely trail;
Alpes Aventures offers Mountain Trott’ (a trottinette with fat tyres for the snow!) in Combloux & Megève, and also this year at Cordon! (we tried this out at Neige en Fête!) / in Combloux, you can do a descente Mountain Trott’ once the pistes are shut for the day . . . you head off from the summit of the Télésiège de Beauregard (at 1500m), and descend 600m, for an hour of fun skirting between the forest and ski pistes, arriving in Combloux village! / see here for more details / price: 40€, with a guide, helmet and Fat Trottinette included (you need to pay for télésiège, if you are not already in possession of a forfait;
Try out a SNOWMOBILE or ICE-QUAD!
Not too far from the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc, you have some options:
- Megève, Magic Quads – with Formule Kid, next to the outdoor patinoire / for children 3+ years
- Les Gets – Mountain E-Park has snowmobiles for hire for children / FB page / address: 529 route de Gibannaz, 74260, Les Gets / tel: 06 76 96 88 98;
- Flaine, Ice Quad Flaine – more information here;
- Les Carroz d’Arâches – more information here;
- 🇮🇹 Val Ferret (Italy) – at Planpincieux;
🚜❄️ Learn about ski station jobs & baptêmes en dameuse ❄️🚜
In Praz-sur-Arly and in Les Contamines-Montjoie, you can have a go in a dameuse! / the perfect birthday treat for little ones!
- ❄️ Les P’tits Pros des Cimes (Praz-sur-Arly) – learn all about the work of a dameur, a pisteur, learn about the snow machines . . . / from 8+ years / see here;
- ❄️ Les Contamines-Montjoie – during the school holidays / see here;
The ❄️ springtime mountain SNOW melts and slowly makes way for 🌷 slightly greener springtime activites . . .
A stroll through a 🌲 forest is a marvellous thing . . . as well as some walking paths, there is also plenty of scope for the imagination and creativity: cabane-making, LandArt, scavenging and collecting! We are surrounded by woods here au Pays du Mont-Blanc, but here are some suggestions:
- 🌲Bois du Bouchet in Chamonix – makes for a perfect buggy walk, or a tour on a draisienne (push bike) . . . / also the parcours d’orientation / you can stop for drinks & snacks at Le Robinson or La Crèmerie (check opening hours);
- 🌲Lac des Chavants woods (Les Houches) – a great place to make a cabane, and there is also the parcours d’orientation, a playground and more on-site / La Guinguette for drinks and snacks (check opening hours);
- 🌲Le Paradis des Praz (Les Praz de Chamonix) – this is lovely to stroll / take a bike ride through the Paradis des Praz in Les Praz / buvette re-opening in April / FB page;
- 🌲 Bois de la Braconne (Sallanches) – a small space, but perfect for Easter egg hunt and other treasure hunts!
- 🌲Médonnet (Nant-Cruy) – boulders and 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/ take a picnic!
- 🌲Cordon – « Forest Discovery Trail » – a great, annotated family trail through the 🌲forest, or simply a picnic at Les Plaines . . . / departure point: picnic area des Plaines / parking: Parking des Plaines (no tarmac on road above Lezaive d’en Haut) / more information / check state of the path with Cordon Tourisme (landfall, etc . . .), before embarking on this!
Fine weather and 🌷 springtime buds a-blossoming . . . the perfect time to visit a park, garden, arboretum or castle grounds . . . to look forward to: first blossoms, magnolia trees and chataignes blossoms, irises and day lilies (further afield), rhododendrons . . .
- 🌷Parc Couttet – in the centre of Chamonix, this is a great place to picnic and to let little ones run around;
- 🌷Jardin des Cimes (Plateau d’Assy) – a magical garden with lots of workshops and activities for the whole family / due to re-open for the season on weekend 25th & 26th May / for more information about Le Jardin des Cimes en famille, see MBFF post;
- 🌷 Sallanches walk – a lovely buggy stroll in the centre of Sallanches, to admire springtime blossom and then the chataignes / see MBFF article Sallanches Springtime Family Stroll (a little of Sallanches’ history, and some playgrounds and a coffee stop too!) / you can pick up a history leaflet from the Tourist Office / good to know: Médiathèque Ange Abrate, playgrounds, lovely bookshops and great restaurants along the way;
- 🌲 Le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet – there is a playground, grass for games, paths for buggy walks and short hiking trails / see MBFF post for more details;
➡️ for some more springtime flower destinations & parks, gardens and arboretums (further afield France, Switzerland and Italy), see MBFF post Springtime Blossoms & Flowers.
Parcours d’Orientation, Treasure Hunts & Geocaching
There are some new parcours d’orientation to try out in the Chamonix Valley (➡️ see article Autumn Leaves orienteering (Chamonix Valley for more information) and the new presentation of hikes on the Chamonix Tourist Office website is superb / your local tourist offices also have plenty of ideas, with some free and some priced maps! There are also some other parcours d’orientation au Pays du Mont Blanc:
- Lac de Passy – pdf map here;
- Le Lac Gris (Plaine-Joux) – pdf map here;
- Sallanches – has three treasure hunt leaflets available: « Circuit des Ilettes » (Lacs des Ilettes), « Sallanches Cœur Historique », and « Circuit des Chapelles » (from randoland.fr), with options for different age groups, and all available for FREE at the Tourist Office or to download in pdf format / there is also a VTT circuit to download and geocaching options!
- Saint-Gervais – Boucle des Maison Fortes;
🏔 Nature Reserves au Pays du Mont-Blanc 🏔
The 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc has several gems of biodiversity: la Réserve Naturelle des Aiguilles Rouges, La Réserve Naturelle du Vallon de Bérard, La Réserve Naturelle de Carlaveyron and la Réserve Naturelle Nationale de Passy and La Réserve Naturelle des Contamines-Montjoie. As well as gorgeous spots for family hikes, picnics and wildlife spotting, during the school holidays there are workshops and other animations organised for families.
And 🇫🇷 Haute-Savoie has a total of 🏔 9 réserves naturelles, and there are plenty of family animations offered by Asters and FRAPNA all year round: programme 2019 LPO Haute Savoie or Rendez-Vous Gratuits avec la nature;
As the snow melts, our options for family hikes (without snow shoes!) increase . . . in early spring, high altitude hikes will still have lots of snow cover, but there are still lots of lovely low-altitude walks to enjoy en famille / here are just a few suggestions for buggy-friendly, draisienne-friendly family strolls . . .
- River strolls (Chamonix) – Arve and Arveyron;
- Paradis des Praz (Les Praz de Chamonix) – check snow cover;
- Lac des Chavants (Les Houches);
- Lac de Passy – the new Espace VTT is there to try out and the lovely Buvette des Criques will open soon!
- Lacs des Ilettes – also fun to explore and picnic at the Cascade d’Arpenaz (no buggies here and be very vigilant with small children!);
- Combloux’s «100% bio» – loop around the Plan d’Eau Biotope and beyond / 30mins / possible with cross-country buggies;
- Saint-Gervais-les-Bains’ parcours orientation: « A la découverte de Saint-Gervais » and the « Boucle des Maisons Fortes » – 1 hour / both available as free leaflets from Tourist Office in Saint-Gervais;
- Saint-Gervais-les-Bains: « Charlotte la Marmotte au Bettex » – not yet tried this one, but you can do it with a buggy / explanatory panels along the way / check snow cover with Saint-Gervais Tourisme;
- 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: sentier thématique des roselières – “une balade familière par excellence le long de la plus grande roselière du lac d’Annecy. La zone protégée est jalonnée de panneaux d’informations et abrite de nombreux oiseaux aquatiques et poissons . Le sentier est idéal pour les poussettes, les draisiennes et les vélos . Aller-Retour de 4,5km au départ de l’embarcadère de Saint-Jorioz jusqu’au lieu-dit Le Beau juste avant Duingt. En été, vous pourrez vous rafraîchir à la plage de sable blanc de Saint-Jorioz et craquer en récompense pour des petites glaces” – Randos en Famille (a post to come on Randos en Famille!) / see post;
- Col de la Forclaz: the Bisse du Trient (irrigation channel from 1895 bringing water from the glacier du Trient to the Col du Forclaz) family walk – *UPDATE 7th May 2018! – this path is not yet open for hiking; too much damage from mudslides this winter and work needed on the path – perhaps one for late spring/early summer! / we discovered this family walk last summer, thanks to CosmoJazz . . . we no longer have children in buggies, but we did see people arriving with all terrain buggies (we also saw people arriving with children on push bikes, which I would most vociferously not recommend, as there is a steep fall down one side of the path!) / the easy path follows the course of the Bisse du Trient, with a parcours ludique along the way, and at the end of the walk you are rewarded with a view of the Trient glacier and a café, La Buvette du Glacier (open in June) / aller-retour walk: 6,5km / NB: if small children are walking, it is imperative to hold their hand at all times, there is a steep fall!;
🏔 Springtime hiking for families 🏔
As the snow continues to melt up high, some of the medium-high altitude family hikes become accessible . . . / NB – on higher altitude walks, please do check snow cover before heading out, as winter leaves not just snow, but damage to paths!
NB – don’t forget suncream, sunglasses, sun hats, warm clothing, waterproofs, first-aid kit, maps, emergency equipment and mountain rescue phone numbers . . . / You may be hiking en famille with older, good walking children or perhaps heading out with walking toddlers or babies in baby carriers . . . for some inspiration for 🏔 family hikes au Pays du Mont-Blanc (both high and lower altitude) ➡️ check out MBFF posts:
- 🏔 MBFF’s recommended family hikes au Pays du Mont-Blanc;
- 🏔 FAMILY HIKES – tips for hiking with small children;
Here are some ideas for short family hikes (not for buggies!):
- Chamonix Valley: Cascade du Dard (Buvette La Cascade du Dard) / Le Chapeau in Le Lavancher (La Buvette du Chapeau) / La Floria (Chalet de la Floria) on the Petit Balcon Sud / up to La Buvette des Mottets / Vallorcine – La Buvette du Bérard (Vallorcine) – to re-open in springtime under new management / Les Houches – Chalets de Charousse / Argentière (Crèmerie du Glacier);
- Lac Vert (Passy Plaine-Joux) boucle;
- 🌲 Sallanches’ « Le Sapin Président » – forest discovery trail leading to the Sapin Président, a 271 year old pine tree with huge dimensions / not possible with a buggy / NB – please check accessibility of this route after the winter with Sallanches Tourisme;
- Sallanches: refuges of Tornieux, Mayère, Doran . . .
- Combloux’s « Sur Les Traces des Graniteurs » – on the trail of the old granite workers / 1h30 / this hike can also be done as a guided visit;
- 🌲 Cordons’s « Forest Discovery Trail » – for more details in PDF see here / 1 hour loop in the forest / not possible with a buggy / NB – please check accessibility and winter damage on this route with Cordon Tourisme;
- Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval – one of my favourite places to hike / there are lots of different hiking possibilities and the village of Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval is also very quaint (it is one of les Plus Beaux Villages de la France) / good to know – one hiking route at Cirque de Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval possible with a buggy;
🏔🥤 Mountain refuges and buvettes re-opening🥤🏔
After the busy winter season, local mountain refuges and buvettes have challenging work clearing the paths of snow, getting ready for the spring and summer season! Let’s support them by planning a family walk (but do check snow cover and opening hours first, as many of the refuges take a break after the busy winter season!):
- Chamonix – La Cascade du Dard (Buvette La Cascade du Dard); Le Chapeau in Le Lavancher (La Buvette du Chapeau); Floria (Chalet de la Floria) on the Petit Balcon Sud; Buvette du Mottets; Les Bossons (Chalet du Glacier des Bossons; opening later in the season, when part-access by télésiège); Argentière (Crèmerie du Glacier); Vallorcine – La Cascade de Bérard; Refuge de Loriaz set to open mid-June;
- Passy – Le Refuge de Varan (Passy);
- Sallanches – Refuges de Doran, Tornieux, Mayères (Sallanches);
- Notre Dame de la Gorge – the lovely Fifi and Martine of the wonderful Alpinus Lodge have sadly sold this year . . . but I”m excited to see the next étape of this super place / see here;
- Buvette du Glacier (Col de la Forclaz, Suisse) – see here;
- and lots, lots more . . . see here for some more ideas;
There are several farms to visit 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, and farm products to buy . . .
🐓 La Ferme Les Montagnards GAEC (Ormaret, Combloux) has FAMILY VISITS scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays (with workshops for children over the holidays) / see FB page / be sure to book;
🐂 Ferme Le Gaec Val Mont-Blanc – the Paget family farm / cheese-making and tasting at this dairy farme / visiting hours: every Wednesday from 16h to 17h / address: 777 route de Saint-Gervais, Gemoëns, 74920, Combloux / tel (reservations): 06 16 33 71 74;
🐑 Chèvrerie Les Cabrettes – FREE guided visit every Thursday 10h to 12h / this goat farm is located on the hillside at St Roch / flock: 100 chèvres alpines chamoisées, 45 chevrettes, 6 boucs, 2 ânesses / cheese for sale every day (except Sunday morning) 10h to 12h and 16h30 to 18h30 / address: Ferme des Cabrettes, 74700, Sallanches / reservations: 04 50 47 87 87 / 06 30 01 80 73;
🐂 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;
🐑 La Ferme des Roches Fleuries – you can visit this animal farm and buy produce too / FB page / address: 1510 route D’Orsin, Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains;
🐓 La Ferme de Chosal (Copponex) – an absolutely FABULOUS pedagogic farm, with animals, green-houses, land-art walk (Sentier Art et Nature), workshops, an ethical & social spirit . . . seedlings and plants to buy / Portes Ouvertes de la Ferme de Chosal weekend 4th & 5th 2019 (MBFF went last year – fabulous!) / see website for more details / opening hours: every day / see website for more details / address: 98 route de l’Usine, Chosal, 74350, Copponex;
🏔 Au Pays du Mont-Blanc, we have:
🦌 Le Parc de Merlet Animal Park in Les Houches – this lovely animal park opens for the 2019 spring season on Wednesday 1st May and is a fantastic place for young walkers to spot chamois, ibex, llamas and more! / you can visit much of the park with a good buggy, but you’ll need a baby carrier for the higher path / sand-pit, parcours ludique, restaurant on-site / see website for more details / MBFF article and recommendations for a family visit & parking here;
🐶 Saint-Bernard kennels in Les Houches – learn all about the beautiful and fascinating Saint-Bernard breed here at the Les Houches chenil / opening hours: 10h to 11h30 and 14h to 17h (shut on Sundays and Monday morning) / address: 223 chemin des Vorziers, La Fontaine, 74310, Les Houches / tel: 04 50 47 23 60 / website;
🦌 Domaine le Coulairon élevage de rennes (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 / website / FB page / address: 1850, route de la Côte 2000, Megève / tel: 06 80 57 21 94 / reservations;
🐺 KENNELS to visit: you can visit the Chiens Polaire in Notre Dame de la Gorge (Les Contamines-Montjoie) and 3D Nordic husky kennels in Flumet (see here for more details);
🦅 Les Aigles du Léman – a whole park dedicated to birds of prey, near Lac Léman / re-opening on Saturday 1st June for the summer season 2019 / address: route du Moulin de la Glacière, Domaine du Guidou, 74140, Sciez-sur-Léman / tel: +33 (0) 4 50 72 72 26 / website;
🐦 Parc des Oiseaux in l’Ain – located in Villars-les-Dombes (in the Ain), halfway between Lyon and Bourg-en-Bresse, in the heart of les Dombes / opening hours of park: 9h30 to 18h / price: adults 19€, children (3 to 12 years) 14€, free for under 3s / address: Le Parc des Oiseaux, 01330, Villars Les Dombes / tel: +33 (0)4 74 98 05 54 / website;
🇨🇭🦌 Les Marécottes Animal Park in Switzerland – is open all year round! / April 2017 saw the birth of a baby black bear (Mirus) and marcassins (baby sangliers) . . . see the Marécottes Facebook page / good to know: known for its summer swimming pool set within the rocks, Les Marécottes is also lovely in autumn, winter and springtime / restaurant, picnic spots, playground / getting there: see here and you can take the train from the Chamonix Valley to Les Marécottes! / address: Zoo et Piscine des Marécottes, rue des Combasses 3, 1923, Les Marécottes, Switzerland / tel: +41 27 761 15 62 / website for more details & exact opening hours;
🇨🇭🦌 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! / see MBFF post here;
🇨🇭🐗 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;
🇨🇭🐶 Barryland – Musée et chiens du Saint-Bernard (Martigny, Geneva) – this is a wonderful, interactive museum for children / for more information, see MBFF post or website / opening hours: every day (except 24th & 25th December) 10h to 18h / price: CHF12 and children 8+ years CHF7 / address: Fondation Barry/Barryland – Musée et chiens du Saint-Bernard, rue du Levant 34, 1920, Martigny, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)27 720 49 20 / website;
🦌 Parc Animalier d’Introd (Italy) – this lovely animal park in the Aosta Valley re-opens aafter winter hibernation on 1st April 2019, and would make for a lovely Easter weekend visit en famille / website;
🐶 Canirando 🐶
Companies offering canirando (walking with a dog in a harness) excursions locally (weather dependent):
- 🐶 Huskydalen (Chamonix) – website;
- Les Granges de Heidi (Passy & Cordon) – website;
- 3D Nordic (Praz-sur-Arly) – website;
- Au Mont du Villard du Nord (Megève) – website;
- Voyageurs d’Hiver (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – website;
🐴 Horse Riding & Ponies & Stable 🐴
You might also like to visit a horse stable and try 🐴 horse or pony riding, or have a horse or pony trek . . .
- 🐎 Centre Équestre du Mont-Blanc (Les Houches) – website;
- 🐎 Les Ecuries du Duc (Combloux) – see website ;
- Les Ecuries des Fiz (Le Fayet) – FB page;
- 🐎 Centre Equestre Les Contamines-Montjoie – during the school holidays / see here;
- 🐎 La CheVallée (Les Carroz) – see here;
Donkey rides & Donkey leading
This is the perfect way to motivate young children to hike – a hike leading (and sitting on, when necessary!) a lovely donkey! / from 1h30 strolls to a day or several days!
- La Compagnie des Anes (Vaudagne) – address: 55 chemin du Vieux Four, 74310, Vaudagne, Les Houches / tel: 04 50 47 26 18;
- Les Anes Montagnards (Parking du Crozat, Bionnassay) – from mid-June until September (also, a savonnerie – soap made from donkey milk!) / website / tel: +33 6 51 28 56 35;
- Les Anes et les Momes (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – we had a fabulous time hiking with Ernest, our donkey / website;
A great way to expend some energy is to grab a basketball or football and head off to one of the FREE terrains multisports on offer au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . some, as you can imagine, have sublime mountain views to enjoy as you score goals or shoot some hoops! Here are a few suggestions:
🏀 Terrains de Sports 🏀
- 🏀 Chamonix – the running track at the Centre Sportif Richard Bozon has some options also for ball games / also next to médiathèque;
- 🏀 Les Houches – terrain multipsorts behind the patinoire;
- ⚽️ Servoz – two football pitches near the rocher d’escalade;
- 🏀 Vallorcine – there is a small terrain de sports right next to the Gare SNCF and the playground;
- 🏀 Sallanches – in the sports zone near the swimming pool, tennis courts, stades de football, rugby and the indoor Centre Sportif de Cayenne, you will find some baskeball hoops;
- Sallanches (near church) – indoor and outdoor centre for pétanque and archery;
- 🏀 Combloux – possibly the terrain de sports (City Stade) with the best view au Pays du Mont-Blanc! / bonus: a playground for little ones, a freestyle parcours, a pumptrack & skatepark, proximity to town (lovely boulangeries for picnics and restaurants) and family walks!
- 🏀 Praz-sur-Arly – terrain multisports at Les Belles / bonus: playground, mini-golf, bike park, tennis, buvette in warmer months;
- Les Contamines-Montjoie Loyers – you can play street hockey where the patinoire sits in wintertime;
🎾 Tennis Courts 🎾
And you’ll find 🎾 indoor and outdoor tennis courts here:
- 🎾 Centre Sportif Richard Bozon (Chamonix) – there are both indoor and outdoor tennis courts and squash courts available at the sports centre / see here for more details / tel: 04 50 53 28 40;
- 🎾 Tennis Les Iles (Argentières) – reserved for sporting clubs / tel: 04 50 54 09 59;
- 🎾 Servoz – outdoor tennis courts next to the pumptrack and playground;
- 🎾 Lac des Chavants (Les Houches) – outdoor tennis courts at the base de loisirs, next to playground;
- 🎾 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;
- 🎾 Plateau d’Assy – two outdoor tennis courts / reserve through Passy Office de Tourisem / address: 231 rue des Granges, 74190, Plateau d’Assy, Passy;
- 🎾 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;
- 🎾 Combloux – outdoor courts behind the Plan d’Eau Biotope;
- 🎾 Cordon – 2x FREE courts at la Charbonnière (tennis ballon played here also) / 1 court (12€ per hour) at Hotel du Chamois d’Or (tel: 04 50 58 05 16);
- 🎾 Parc Thermal (Le Fayet) – 2x quicks;
- 🎾 Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – Sporting Club (798 avenue de Miage, 74170, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains) has 6 outdoor courts and a mini-tennis and restaurant on-site (next to mini-golf) / Bettex has
- 🎾 Megève (Le Palais) – with a terrain en Taraflex and ping-pong too / tel: 04 50 21 15 71;
- 🎾 Praz-sur-Arly (Les Belles) – tennis courts next to terrain multisports and playground;
- 🎾 Les Contamines-Montjoie (Parc de Loisirs du Pontet) – see website;
Here are my favourite places for practice with a draisienne (push-bike) or pedal bike:
- Chamonix – along the Arve river, from the central playground / good for scooters too;
- Paradis des Praz – you need to wait for the snow to melt, but nice and flat!
- Lac des Chavants (Les Houches) – around the lake and into the woods / playground on-site;
- Passy – Lac de Passy;
- Sallanches – along the Bialle stream, from the Salle Léon Curral to the water wheel;
- Sallanches – Lac des Ilettes;
- Notre Dame de la Gorge – along the river;
There are some pumptracks & skateparks and bike parks suitable for young riders (4+ years) au Pays du Mont-Blanc (remember to wear a HELMET and protective gear!):
- Chamonix skatepark – located behind the Centre Loisirs Richard Bozon and next to the parapente landing field in the Bois du Bouchet / bowl and more! / 800m² / beginner’s area / address: Bois du Bouchet, 74440, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc / Facebook page;
- Servoz pumptrack – the pumptrack in Servoz is located next to the playground and tennis courts / address: chemin de a Grangiat, 74310, Servoz;
- Lac de Passy – Espace VTT, just behind the mini-golf beside the lake! / for children 4+ years;
- Sallanches skatepark – located behind the hospital, with great views of Mont-Blanc! / picnic tables available and lots of green grass for ball games / see MBFF post for more details / address: rue de l’Hôpital, 74700, Sallanches;
- Combloux skatepark & pumptrack – with picnic tables, a terrain multi-sport, a playground and a small skatepark all on the same site as the pumptrack . . . and stunning views of Mont-Blanc, this is the perfect spot to come en famille! / located just behind the Mairie & school / address: rue de la Mairie, 74920, Combloux / MBFF’s top pick!
- Saint-Gervais pumptrack – located beween the tennis courts and the swimming pool!
- Megève pumptrack – next to tennis courts;
- Praz sur Arly – Ludik Park is located next to the Arly river, at the Base de Loisirs des Belles;
- Les Contamines-Montjoie skatepark – located in the Espace Omnisport des Loyers / spacious: 1600 m² / address: Espace route de Notre-Dame de la Gorge, 74170, Les Contamines-Montjoie;
➡️ more information about PUMPTRACKS au Pays du Mont-Blanc here;
🏎🛴 Karting & Electric Trottinettes 🛴🏎
As the snow melts, the karing tracks will begin to re-open (some are open all year-round):
- 🏎 Karting du Mont-Blanc (Lac de Passy) – for children 7+ years (1.25m minimum) / open from 14h AND also in morning from 21st July / address: Lac de Passy (Parking des Criques) / tel: 04 50 93 75 37 or 06 80 14 68 19 / website;
- 🛴 Trot Top (Lac de Passy) – la trottinette électrique tout terrain / see here for more details;
- 🏎 Nash Mountain Games (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – (later in the season) / there are new quad karts in the Parc Patrice Dominguez (Parc du Pontets) / FB page;
- 🏎 Mountaincart (Les Carroz) – (summertime until 2nd September), head down a parcours of 4km, with 600m of dénivelé / access via Télécabine de Kédeuze / for children measuring above 1m40! / information here;
- 🏎 MK Circuit (Scientrier, betwen Bonneville and Annemasse) – available for children 7+ years (1.25m minimum) / address: 2930 route de l’Arve, 74930, Scientrier / tel: +33 (0)4 50 25 53 47 / website;
- 🏍 Mountain E-Park (Les Gets) – motos for children and snowmobiles over the winter season / address: 529 route de Gibannaz, 74260, Les Gets / tel: 06 76 96 88 98 / FB page;
Playgrounds & Parcours Freestyle
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 article here.
NEW in 2018 / 2019 – Lac de Passy acquired a fabulous NEW playground at the beach end of the lake (all sand, so children can take off their shoes!), and a couple of new climbing structures dotted around the lake and a slide in les criques area / Louparc in Combloux – a new playground and a parcours for freestyle running & jumping (older children)! / Le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet acquired a NEW playground too! / Megève’s Le Palais playground moved across the road to a new site on the Plaine d’Arly.
Further afield in 🇨🇭 Switzerland, there is a wonderful parc loisirs, Le Parc Pré Vert at Signal de Bougy: (110 hectares) with woodland, large playground, walks, animals, spacious family-friendly buffet restaurant, picnic areas, workshops, outdoor theatre, parc aventure, mini-golf, indoor activities and more . . . all with a splendid view of Lac Léman and snowy peaks / lots of activities! / address: route du Signal, 1172, Bougy-Villars, Switzerland / tel: +41 58 568 31 50 / website;
Bouncy castles & trampolines
The season is upon us, and bouncy castles & trampolines will begin to appear (check dates) . . .
- at vide greniers and local fêtes and festivals;
- Restaurant La Cha (Le Prarion, Les Houches) – a gondola ride and short walk to arrive at this mountain restaurant with imposing views, a relaxing terrace (for parents) and bouncy castle (for children / check spring opening dates!
- Lac de Passy – provided by Mont-Blanc Kids;
- Lacs des Ilettes – provided by Le Parc en Folie;
We have plenty of 🌳 accrobranches ® au Pays du Mont-Blanc, and some special destinations a bit further afield too . . . check opening dates for spring / a great option for spring birthday parties!
- 🌳 Accro’Park in Les Gaillands (Chamonix) – from 3 years / see website for more details and opening hours;
- 🌳 La Forêt Magique (Tines) – for children 4 to 16 years and Parcours Wistitis for 3 to 4 years / opening: June until September 10h to 18h every day / address: Les Liarets, Les Tines, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc / tel: 33(0)6 21 12 13 94 / website;
- 🌳 Aéroparc Passy Plain-Wood (Plaine-Joux) – parcours from 3 years / see FB page for more details / opening hours: check spring opening / address: 300 chemin des Parchets, Plaine-Joux, 74190, Passy;
- 🌳 Passy Accro-Lac (Lac de Passy) – parcours pitchounes from 2 years (without baudrier) and parcours petits randonneurs for 3+ years (with harness) / new giant air-bag for 6+ years! / open from April / FB page and website;
- 🌳 Mont-Blanc Parc Aventure in le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet – now run by mountain guides / from 90cm height / see here for more details;
- 🌳 Côte 2000 accrobranches (Megève) – from 5+ years and1,15m / several parcours only 2m from ground, as well as parcours high in trees / website;
- 🌳 Acrobatic Island in the Parc de Loisirs du Pontet in Les Contamines-Montjoie – from 3+ years / spring opening hours: from April / see here for more details;
- 🌳 Filenvol – we have now been to Filenvol twice and each visit had a FABULOUS time! / the concept is to run and jump and slide within large nets suspended from the trees (no need for harnesses!) . . . giant trampolines in the trees! / there are hammocks (adults can bring a book!), a small buvette and plenty of spots for picnics here / opening hours: all year, 10h to 17h or18h / price: see here / address: 396 chemin du Vallon, 74560, Monnetier-Mornex (near Salève/Annemasse) / website;
- 🌳 Acro’Aventures Reignier – located between Annemasse and La Roche-sur-Foron / address: route des Rocailles, 74930, Reignier / website;
- 🌳 Acro’Aventures Talloires – lots of adventures to be had up in the trees here, and with stunning views of parapente departures and Lac d’Annecy: Parcours Aventure, Chasse au Trésor, Vélopark,Course d’Orientation, and La Forêt des Sens (open to buggies) / for children from 1m in height / address: route de Planfait, 74290, Talloires / tel: 06 07 56 90 58 / website;
- 🌳Criq Parc (Saint-Jorioz) NEW for APRIL 2019! – right next to Lac d’Annecy! / website;
🌳 Grimpe d’Arbre ® 🌳
Do your children (or you, for that matter!) enjoy climbing trees? Well, this acitvity takes tree climbing to the new level (think tree surgeons!), with ropes and pulleys and instructors, taking in the nature sights and sounds en-route . . . . and even the possibility to have a goûter or lunch (or even sleep!) up the tree on a platform!
- 🌳Jardin de Cimes (Plateau d’Assy) – last autumn there was a workshop here;
- 🌳 L’Hêtre Agile (Taninges) – not too far from le Pays du Mont-Blanc! / see workshops on offer here / website;
- 🌳 Association Plein Arbre (Annecy) – website;
🧗♀️ Climbing slabs & bouldering 🧗♀️
As the weather warms, we can begin to climb outdoors . . . you can hire a climbing guide, or handles yourselves, as long as you have the right kit and experience! (please remember to use up-to-date kit and take precautions) / here are some suitable 🧗♀️ climbing & bouldering spots for families 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
- 🧗♀️ Chamonix Valley – Les Gaillands in Chamonix / Pierre d’Orthaz (bouldering) & Via Corda Alpina (Les Bois) / Les Houches (at Lac des Chavants) / La Joux (Argentière) / Col du Montets (Vallorcine) / Servoz / Vallorcine;
- 🧗♀️ Passy – Plaine-Joux – blocs d’escalade and Larses & Barmus (for more experienced);
- 🧗♀️ Sallanches (Lacs des Ilettes ) – falaise d’escalade des Ilettes;
- 🧗♀️ Cordon – Rocher d’escalade;
- 🧗♀️ Médonnet boulders (Nant-Cruy) – bouldering in a beautiful forest;
- 🧗♀️ Le Fayet –Le Parc Thermal (and Via Ferrata);
- 🧗♀️ Megève – Rochebrune;
- 🧗♀️ Les Contamines-Montjoie – rocher d’escalade de la Duchère;
🧗♀️ Via Ferrata 🧗♀️
Later in spring, the Via Ferratas open . . .
- 🧗♀️ Via Ferrata des Evettes (Flegère, Chamonix) – see here for more details;
- 🧗♀️ Via Curalla(Plateau d’Assy) – you can rent equipment from buvette on-site / see here for more details;
- 🧗♀️ Via Ferrata du Parc Thermal (Le Fayet) – new in 2018!
- 🧗♀️ Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval – see here for more details;
Not too far from the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc, you have 🦇 several underground options for rainy days:
🦇 Grotte de Balme (near Magland) – you can book to visit these caves 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: 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 / re-opening after hibernation 30th March & Chasse aux Œufs de Paques 21st & 22nd April; see here / tel: +33 (0)4 74 96 95 00! / address: rue des Grottes, 38390, La Balme-les-Grottes / holiday workshops / website;
🦇 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;
🇩🇰 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;
🇩🇰💦 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 / welcome centre soon to be renovated / 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;
There are some fabulous 🏰 castles in Haute-Savoie & Savoie – most of these hibernate over the winter months, and re-awaken to shake off their cobwebs for springtime opening! Here are some suggestions (post to come very soon!): 🏰 Château de l’Echelle (La Roche-sur-Foron) / 🏰 Château de Thorens / 🏰 Château de Faucigny / 🏰 Château d’Annecy / and 🇨🇭 in Switzerland, the fairytale 🏰 Château de la Bâtiaz (Martigny), Château de Chillon (Lac Léman, near Montreux) & 🏰 Château de Gruyère / post to come very soon about castles!
🏰 Château de Montrottier (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) – costumées du château at the weekend (and jours fériés) – 14h to 18h / re-opening in April / see website for more details;
🏰 Château & Domaine de Ripaille – opening hours: from 30th March until November, 11h to 17h / good to know: ask for the le parcours spécial enfant, and there will be an Easter egg hunt in the grounds / 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) / website;
And in the neighbouring 🇮🇹 Aosta Valley in Italythere are also several 🏰 castles in strategic sposititions along the valley (most of these are open throughout the year), particularly lovely with spring blossom in the background . . . 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 MBFF article for more details;
We have one parc d’attractions (amusement park) and a parc de loisirs (amusement and sport) au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
- Parc d’Attractions & Luge Alpine Coaster in Chamonix – lots of fun games and the Luge Alpine Coaster from 3+ years, with an adult / see here for more details;
- Parc de Loisirs du Pontet (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – bouncy castles, trampolines, karts, accrobranches, lots of sports / partial opening from 15th April, and full opening later in the season / see website for more details;
And further afield, some bigger options:
Please check opening hours, as some of these parks have sporadic opening until the summer holidays; some do not open until later in the springtime . . .
🇫🇷 Le Parc des Epouvantails – part of Le Grand Parc d’Andilly (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 in saying that I didn’t have high hopes for a park inhabited by scarecrows! And then, upon arrival, I was bowled over by 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 at the park has been meticulously planned, including lots of hanging chairs for parents to relax in! / open from: end of June weekends and then July until Septemer / address: la Forêt des Moulins (20 mins from Annecy or Geneva, direction de Cruseilles, RD 1201) / tel: 04 50 32 73 64 / website;
🇫🇷 Parc Walibi (between Chambéry and Lyon) – a huge amusement park, with some new attractions for this year! / opening hours: re-opening 13th April, then open 10h to 17h or 18h / price: from 25 to 31€ / address:Walibi Rhône-Alpes, 1380 route de la Corneille, 38630, Les Avenières / website;
🇩🇰🚂 Swiss Vapeur Parc (Le Bouveret)– a theme-park in Switzerland dedicated to steam trains! (see TRAINS & TRAMWAYS section below) / website;
🇩🇰 Western City – no electronics here, all cowboy and indian themed, in this amusement park measuring 10’000 m2 / opening: 16th March until November / price: CHF 15 / website / address: Restoroute de Martigny Domaine du Rosel, 1920, Martigny, Switzerland;
🇩🇰 Labyrinthe Aventure – no electronics here, all cowboy and indian themed, in this amusement park measuring 10’000 m2 / opening: 16th March until 3rd November 2019, 10h until 18h / price: 17 CHF / website / address: Abe Parc Sàrl, route des Iles Vieilles 30, 1902, Evionnaz, Switzerland;
🇩🇰 Happyland (Granges, near Sion) – more than 20 attractions / re-opening 23rd March, until 3rd November / price: CHF 23 / website / address: rue du Foulon 24, 3977, Granges, Sierre, Valais ;
🏔 Au Pays du Mont-Blanc we have:
. . . a little further afield, in 🇫🇷 Les Carroz, the new Speed Dragoz opened for the Christmas holidays, with a virtual reality option for the passenger – see here!
You can find ⛳️ mini-golf areas at these locations 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
- ⛳️ Vallorcine – a 9-hole mini-golf at the Résidence & Spa Vallorcine / open to non-guests for an entrance fee / from 15h / see here for more details;
- ⛳️ Lac de Passy– there is a mini-golf next to the pedalos & electric boats / see here for more details;
- ⛳️ Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc – there are mini golf centres at the Sporting Club (next to tennis courts;see here) and the Mini Golf du Bettex;
- ⛳️ Megève – there is a mini-golf next to the tennis courts / see here;
- ⛳️ Praz-sur-Arly – Mini-Golf d’Art Singulier at Les Belles playground area / see here;
- ⛳️ Les Contamines-Montjoie – there is a mini-golf in the Parc de Loisirs du Pontet / see here;
Try out PAINTBALLING or LASER GAMES!
🏔 Au Pays du Mont-Blanc, there are paintball & outdoor 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;
Try BUNGEE JUMPING!
At the Pont de Saint-Gervais, you can try bungee jumping. . . / organised by Compagnie des Guides de Saint-Gervais-Les Contamines . . . / every Thursday 13h30 to 16h30 / tel: 04 50 47 76 55 / price:90€;
A cable-car ride or funicular is a fabulous option for older relatives with lesser walking ability, or as a starting point for some hikes . . . or simply just for some WOW factor! / NB – likely to be shut in the event of bad weather and strong winds!
🏔🚠 Aiguille du Midi (Chamonix) – a visit to Chamonix for the first time (or with visitors) often includes a trip up the Aiguille du Midi viewing platform (3777m), with its 360° panoramic view of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps (and with the ascenseur, you can reach the terrace at 3842m) / see MBFF post here for details about a family visit and activities on offer;
🇮🇹🚠 Skyway Monte-Bianco (Courmayeur) – opened in 2015, the Skyway Monte Bianco is a marvel of Italian engineering and technology, giving you access to the Punta Helbronner (3,466m), with its views of Mont-Blanc (the 🚠Télécabine Panoramique Mont-Blanc, across the glacier to the Aiguille du Midi, is also shut for renovations);
🚡 Funiculars at Forte di Bard – there are 3 funiculars bringing you to the top of the fabulous Forte di Bard (see CASTLES section above of MBFF post);
🚠 Téléphérique du Salève (Etrembières) – this iconic and historical téléphérique up the Salève will reward you with views over Geneva and Lac Léman / at the top, there is a playground, hikes, restaurants / set for a huge renovation programme! / website;
🚡 Verticalp Emosson (Châtelard, Vallé de Trient) – re-opening 18th May / three uniquerail installations (Le Funiculaire du Chatelard, Le Train Panoramique, and Le Minifunic ), will bring you up to the Emosson dams (1965m), from Châtelard, for fabulous views and hiking opportunities and dinosaur prints too / website;
There are also plenty of lesser-known (but with just as amazing views!), cable-cars, bubbles and chairlifts au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . .
Children generally 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! / see here for MBFF post;
🚂 Petit Train Touristique Chamonix – you’ll have to wait for the summer season for this! / see website for more information;
🚈 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;
🚂 Le Petit Train (Parc Thermal, Le Fatyet) – as the weather warms, this little train (run by volunteers) starts operating again on Wednesday and weekend afternoons / donations recommended!
🚂 Swiss Vapeur Park – see above section AMUSEMENT PARKS;
Whether you are a tourist wanting to learn more about the history, culture and architecture of the town you are visiting, or a resident wanting to learn more about where you are living . . . then there are plenty of guided tours to choose from . . . here is a selection of what is on offer during the spring months:
Chamonix Valley – « Les Virées Culturelles de Christine »– see website for more details;
Chamonix Valley – « Teresa Kaufman’s Photo Walks » – see website here;
Chamonix Valley – « Cat Kartal’s art and nature walks » – see website here;
Passy & Plateau d’Assy – visit the architectural wonders (the sanitoriums, Notre Dame de l’Eglise church and more) / more details on Passy Mont-Blanc Tourisme;
Visite guidée de l’entreprise Lorenzio Granit du Mont-Blanc (Combloux) – visit Laurenzio’s granite production and learn about the métier des graniteurs, from the extraction of the granite, to the finished product (chimeys, work desks, fountains, tables and more . . . ) / see here for more details / when? every Friday from 17h to 17h45 / price: 5€ and free for under 15s / address: 340 route de la Barme, 74920, Combloux / reservations: here;
Combloux – occasional visits of PLM hotel and town;
Cordon – visit the Baroque church / more details on Cordon Tourisme;
Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – maisons fortes and old hotels and history of the Thermes;
Megève – visit the old town or the route de la Calvaire / more details on Megève Tourisme;
A visit to a 💦 gorge can be a great option for a short family walk (seasonal opening generally from late spring until early autumn; please check opening hours before planning a visit) – it is a sensory experience, with the 💦 water gushing with power! / good to know: in adverse weather conditions, the gorges will shut to the public, as the walkways become too 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 and free to visit / 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;
- 🇩🇰💦 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 is great fun for older children and families (competent swimmers!). 🏔 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 (Vallorcine), 💦 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;
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 & check opening hours;
- 🇩🇰💦 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!
💦 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;
➡️ see post: Chamonix Valley Spas & Massages for more ideas for spas in the Chamonix Valley;
💦 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;
🇩🇰 futher 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 in here!
🇩🇰💦 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;
On a warm spring day, swimming becomes possible once again in one of our mountain lakes (and perhaps without even gritting your teeth!). We have options 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc for wibit softplay (Lac de Passy), paddle boarding, windsurfing, sometimes sailing courses (small boats):
- 💦 Lac de Passy – this base de loisirs is heaving with activity from late springtime, and acquired several NEW amenities last summer 2018 (playground, climbing frames and slide, espace VTT, pontoons, electric trottinettes) / wibit inflatable play zone on lake and bouncy castles / see here for more details;
- 💦 Lacs des Ilettes (Sallanches) – bouncy castles from Le Parc en Folie . . . / see here for more details;
- 💦 Plan d’Eau Biotope (Combloux) – opening later in the spring season, early June / a lake naturally purified by plants / see here for more details;
- 💦 Lac de Javen (Megève) – not a swimming lake, but worth a mention as it is a brilliant family destination: fishing (you can BBQ your own fish on Wednesday evenings!), restaurant, play area for children, summer concert in August;
- 💦 Lac de Baignade in the Parc de Loisirs du Pontet (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – opening later in the spring season – lots more family fun to be had in this park in the summer! / see here for more details;
- 💦 Lac de l’Etape (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – this small lake at altitude will open later in the spring season (it needs to be filled first!) / access either by the télécabines de la Gorge (this is located near the Parc de Loisirs du Pontet; check opening hours) – or on foot (quite a hike!) / good to know: if you book to stay overnight at the hotel here, then you ride the télécabine for FREE!
- 💦 Lac de Flumet – a lovely small lake with sandpit, playground nearby and buvettes;
➡️ for details about further afield lakes (Lac Léman, Lac d’Annecy, Lac du Bourget . . .), see MBFF article LAKES & WATERSPORTS au Pays du Mont-Blanc for more details;
But even before the lakes are warm enough for a proper family swim day, there is paddling to be done and sandcastles to be made . . . particularly good for this are Lac de Passy and the sandy beach of the swimming lake of Lacs des Ilettes . . .
There are more and more yoga and meditation classes opening up for children and teenagers . . .
🧘♀️ La Maison du Bien-Être (Sallanches) 🧘♀️
One Wednesday per month and private sessions can be booked . . .
🧘♀️Yoga pour les enfants (Marnaz)🧘♀️
On Wednesdays, with the lovely Prachi & Benoit, for children 7 to 11 years, and for teenagers . . . 10h30 until 11h20 and 18h;
It can be fun to head to a 🍏🍓🥦 bustling MARKET 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . there is so much colour and so many different smells and sounds to discover! Perhaps for a mere wander, or perhaps to buy picnic provisions for later in the day or to pick up a roast chicken! / please confirm details before attending (some of the smaller ones subject to change);
SATURDAY – 🍇 Chamonix (8h until midday) / 🍓 Sallanches (8h until 13h);
SUNDAY – 🍞 Marché Paysan & Pain de Chibon at restaurant La Sauvageonne (from 10h until 12h30);
TUESDAY – 🍞 Marché Paysan & Pain de Chibon (parking de Carrefour Chamonix), 15h until 19h / 🥦 Chedde in Passy (8h until midd)ay / 🍒 Les Contamines-Montjoie (8h until midday) / 🥦 « Le P’tit Marché Paysan de Produits Locaux » (Sallanches, 16h30 until 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 until 19h) / 🌶 Combloux (8h until midday)/ 🍒 Le Fayet Market (8h until 13h), in front of the Gare SNCF;
THURSDAY – 🥦 Saint-Gervais-les Bains (8h until 13h);
FRIDAY – 🍏 Megève (8h until 13h);
For spring bank holidays and weekends, or just a day trip . . . if you are getting valley fever, or you are wanting to escape ☔️ bad weather ☔️, then it can be fun to head off on an excursion . . . Being on the crossroads with 🇩🇰 Switzerland and 🇮🇹 Italy, there are plenty of options from the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc! And, there are plenty more options nearby in 🇫🇷 Haute-Savoie and 🇫🇷 Savoie too . . . Remember that for travel on the 🇩🇰 Swiss autoroute, you’ll need a VIGNETTE (available to buy at the Douanes (Customs) and now also at Mountain Store in Passy) and, though the aller-retour journey through the Mont-Blanc Tunnel is VERY expensive, you can get a 10-trip card (to be used within the year), which will reduce the cost considerably!
🇩🇰 A day out in Martigny (Switzerland) 🇩🇰
From 🏔 Chamonix, it is a short 45 minute drive or train ride to 🇩🇰 Martigny in Switzerland . . . once there, you will have a true feeling of dépaysement, with:
- a lovely town centre;
- 🏟 Roman ruins (an amphitheatre and more . . .);
- the wonderful 🎨 Fondation Pierre Gianadda for art exhibitions, photos, vintage cars and sculpture garden with Roman ruins (see MBFF post here or website);
- and the equally lovely 🐶 Barryland – Musée et Chiens du Saint-Bernard (see here for MBFF post or website).
🇩🇰 A day out in Geneva (Switzerland) 🇩🇰
Geneva is not far from the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc, but you do get a little distance from the snowy peaks . . . and you can enjoy a wander through the Old Town (where you could head up the towers of the Cathédrale St Pierre or visit its crypt), a stroll down to Lac Léman to visit the Jet d’Eau (or take a boat ride), a visit to Le Parc des Bastions and the Reformation Memorial, the Botanical Gardens or you could visit an exhibition or museum . . .
current exhibitions 2019:
- « César et le Rhone » at the MAH;
- new Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle exhibition, starting in April (see above): « Prédations »;
- new MEG exhibition, starting in May (see above);
Or, alternatively, you could visit the quaint Carouge, with its lovely cafés and restaurants and unique boutiques . . .
🇩🇰 A day out in Lausanne (Switzerland) 🇩🇰
Facing Evian (which is located on the opposite side of the lake), Lausanne is a lovely town to visit, sprawling from the Old Town and its cathedral at the summit of the town’s hill, down through the shopping centre, the train station and then down to Ouchy on the lakefront (where you will find the Olympic Museum). There are plenty of other museums to visit (see Museums & Exhibitions post) and the new aquarium Aquatis.
🇮🇹 A day out in the Aosta Valley (Italy) 🇮🇹
🇮🇹 Courmayeur – a short drive through the Mont-Blanc Tunnel will bring you into Courmayeur . . . the cobble-stoned Old Town is atmospheric and there is a super park (weather permitting) at the entrance to to town. For a day trip, you could also include the Skyway Monte-Bianco or a trip into Val Ferret or Val Veny . . . or a trip to the lovely Termes de Pré St Didier;
🇮🇹 Aosta – further down the valley you’ll come to Aosta, which makes for a lovely stop: a pretty town centre, 🏟 Roman ruins, museums, and lovely🍕restaurants;
For more information about the 🏰 castles dotted throughout the Aosta Valley, see the castle section above.
🇫🇷 A day out in Annecy or around Lac d’Annecy 🇫🇷
The lovely lakeside town of Annecy makes for a relatively quick escape from the mountains and valleys of the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc! 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc residents enjoy day trips here to experience the change of scenery throughout the year: you can experience the Carnaval Vénitien, you can head to the various playgrounds by the lakeside, take a stroll or ride draisiennes in the Parc de l’Europe, fo for a longer bike ride along the Piste Vert around the lake, stroll through the Old Town and visit the Château d’Annecy or the Palais de l’Ile (good family packs available) . . . and in Cran-Gévrier, there is La Turbine, with interactive exhibitions for children (see museum section below).
The village of Talloires also makes a lovely visit . . . a pretty lakeside village, and up above is a fabulous accrobranches, with a circuit for tine ones too (see ACCROBRANCHES section above).
Alternatively, there are lovely family walks (suitable for buggies) in Doussard’s nature reserve, and in Saint-Jorioz (see here).
The campsites around Lac d’Annecy are also fabulous for a weekend away / see post LAKES & WATERSPORTS au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond);
🇫🇷 A day out in Evian or Yvoire 🇫🇷
The historical thermal waters lakeside town of Evian makes for a lovely day out en famille . . . in springtime, you could see the exhibition 🎨 « Derniers impressionnistes, le temps de l’intimité », at the Palais Lumières (see here) . . . or ride the historic funicular for splendid views of Lac Léman, explore the main sights (Evian Tourisme has a fabulous map available, with detailed information) . . .or a visit to Pré Curieux gardens (later springtime).
Alternatively, before arriving in Evian, there is the lovely medieval lakeside village of Yvoire (one of the listed Plus Beaux Villages de la France / see here) and its Jardins des 5 Sens.
Further suggestions for weekend visits:
🇫🇷 Lyon – a beautiful Old Town, plentiful museums, the wonderful Parc de la Tête d’Or and zoo, and gastronomic delights! / see website This is Lyon for some ideas;
🇫🇷 La Drôme – we’ve had visits to this stunning region in all seasons (and weather!): beautiful countryside and forests, perched villages, some of the Plus Beaux Villages de la France (see website), La Ferme aux Crocodiles (see website), Le Château des Adhémar in Montélimar, proximity to the Ardèche;
🇮🇹 Cogne – this quaint cobble-stoned village is a one hour drive from Chamonix, through the Mont-Blanc tunnel and a bit further / in springtime: hiking & strolling, indulge in Italian food, hotels with spas . . .
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) / ➡️ 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;
Here are some of the springtime film options for families . . .
➡️ for more indoor options on a ☔️ RAINY spring day, see the following MBFF articles:
- RAINY DAYS au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) – a list of lots of your indoor options – museums, sports centres, swimming pools, ice-skating, indoor climbing and tennis, médiathèques, and more . . .
- and SOFTPLAY & INDOOR PLAY au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) – a more exhaustive list of indoor play centres;