I thought it might be useful to have at hand on one general list some of ☀️ the activities available for families & children 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) over the ☀️ summertime . . . so, if you reside 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, or if you are visiting the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc this June, July or August, here are perhaps some fresh ideas for summer activities, come ☔️ rain or ☀️ shine!
[ DISCLAIMER: at present, activities and parks are subject to Covid-19 regulations! Check guidelines and separate websites, to view opening hours and restrictions (for example, check if a pass sanitaire is required – as of 21st July 2021 – or whether the number of people is restricted, or you may need to book ahead!). Please also check current advice for crossing the border into 🇨🇭 Switzerland and 🇮🇹 Italy – passage may ONLY be open for frontaliers (guidelines are changing daily!) / 🗓 opening hours – please ALSO check opening hours, wherever you decide to head, as some locations may shut due to ⛈ bad weather or for other reasons ]
MBFF has plenty of ☀️ summer-themed articles, so head over to check these ones too!
Colour code for listings:
🗻 Pays du Mont-Blanc
🗻 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, Bionnassay & environs
🗻 Megève, Praz-sur-Arly & environs
🗻 Les Contamines-Montjoie & environs
🇫🇷 Further France
SUMMER WATER FUN!
At some point during your mountain holidays, I imagine you’ll want to 💦 splash around a bit . . .
[ ⇒ for more information about wibit (or similar) water parks, waterslides (ephemeral summer ones and those within parcs aquatiques), parcs aquatiques, family spas, river paddling, then head over to separate MBFF article: 💦 Summer Splash ! ]
During the summer months, our 💦 local lakes au Pays du Mont-Blanc start to get busy with bathers and 🚣♂️ water-sport enthusiasts, and there are several fun events planned too. Here are our 💦 local swimming lakes :
- 💦 Lac de Passy – this base de loisirs is heaving with activity during the summer, and has several NEW amenities since 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) – a swimming lake with a sandy beach and bouncy castles from Le Parc en Folie . . . / FREE summer navettes from centre of Sallanches / see here for more details;
- 💦 Plan d’Eau Biotope (Combloux) – a lake naturally purified 🌿 by plants! / see here for more details;
- 💦 Lac de Javen (Megève) – NOT a swimming lake, but worth a mention, as it is a brilliant family destination: 🎣 fishing (you can BBQ your own fish on Wednesday evenings!), restaurant, play area for children, summer concert in August;
- 💦 Lac de Baignade in the Parc de Loisirs du Pontet (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – and lots more family fun to be had in this park in the summer! / see here for more details;
- 💦 Lac de l’Etape (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – a small lake at altitude, access either by the 🚡 Télécabine de la Gorge (opposite Parc de Loisirs du Pontet);
💦🇫🇷🇨🇭 swimming lakes a bit further afield . . .
[ ⇒ for more information about 💦 LAKES & WATERSPORTS further afield (larger lakes and motorised boats) see separate MBFF article here ]
[ ⇒ for more information about SWIMMING POOLS, PARC AQUATIQUES & FAMILY SPA COMPLEXES, see article 💦 Summer Splash ]
⇒ see also article: 💦 Chamonix Valley Spas & Massages for more ideas for spas in the Chamonix Valley, perfect for pampering . . .
Canyoning & Rafting
💦 Canyoning and rafting are superb activities 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 the Vallée de Giffre, 💦 the Dranse in Morzine and Montriond, and the 🇮🇹💦 Dora Baltea in the Aosta Valley), and a few locations for 💦 canyoning: 💦 Canyon de Barberine (Vallorcine), 💦 La Belle au Bois (Megève), and further afileld, the 💦 Canyon & Torrents de Balme (Magland), the 🇮🇹💦 Canyon de Chalamy in the Aosta Valley / there are several companies offering rafting & canyoning:
- 💦 Session Raft (Passy & Chamonix)– from 6+ years / stages for teenagers over the summer / see website for more details;
- 💦 Evasion Canyoning – FB page;
- 💦 Oxo Canyoning – mini-canyon offered to children 6+ years / website;
- 💦 Ecolorado – activities for children 7+ years / website;
- 💦 Nunayak – for descent of the Giffre river and the Gorges de la Tines / FB page;
- 💦 local tourist offices also offer white-water rafting and canyoning;
A visit to a 💦 waterfall or 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 Glacier (Argentière) – an easy 30mins hike up the torrent from the helicopters / park at Grands Montets – a 15mins walk to the start of the walk! / MBFF article here;
- 💦 Les Gorges du Bonnant (Le Parc Thermal, Le Fayet) – open all year-round and free to visit / see MBFF article for more details;
- 💦 Les Gorges de la Gruvaz (Saint-Gervais) – an easy and short 45 minute hike up the river (torrent), for a lovely view down on the gorges / 🅿️ parking de la Gruvaz (just off the road between Saint-Gervais and Les Contamines-Montjoie);
[ ⇒ for more information about 💦 WATERFALLS & GORGE walks au Pays du Mont-Blanc, wee separate MBFF article here ]
⇒ and a little further afield , you have lots more options . . .
- 🇫🇷💦 Gorges du Fier (near Annecy) – open every day from 15th March until 15th October 2019 / see website for more details;
- 🇫🇷💦 Gorges du Pont du Diable (La Vernaz, Lac Léman area) – 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;
- 🇨🇭 TRIENT has lots: 💦 Gorges Mystérieuses de Tête-Noire (near Finhaut, Switzerland) – website and MBFF article here / 💦 Gorges du Trient (Vernayaz) – see website / 💦 Gorges du Dailley (Salvan) – see website / 💦 Gorges de Durnand (near Martigny, Switzerland) – see here for more details;
A stroll through 🌲 a forest is a marvellous thing, and provides shade and respite during the summer months . . . as well as some walking paths, there is also plenty of scope for the imagination and creativity: cabane-making, LandArt, scavenging and collecting!
[ NB – please, please, please be very careful on any jaunts into the forest this summer, as the storms this last weekend caused some damage in 🏔 the Pays du Mont-Blanc. I have seen numerous uprooted trees, whole tree trunks lying across sentiers piétons and some very unstable looking trees! ]
We are surrounded by woods and forest paths here 🗻 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, but here are some suggestions:
- 🌲 Bois du Bouchet (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 ☕️ La Crèmerie (check opening hours) / see MBFF article here;
- 🌲 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) / see MBFF article here;
- 🌲 Le Paradis des Praz (Les Praz de Chamonix) – it is lovely to stroll to or take a bike ride through the Paradis des Praz in Les Praz / ☕️ lovely buvette on-site / FB page / see MBFF article here;
- 🌲 Ruines du Château Saint-Michel (Servoz) – fabulous woods, where you’ll even find a cabane in the trees and a bloc escalade (and parcours orientation!) / see MBFF article here;
- 🌲 La Mare aux têtards and la moraine woods Servoz (Argentière) – a bucolic spot in the woods, with a parcours d’orientation, playground and gurgling stream / see MBFF article here;
- 🌲 Bois de la Braconne (Sallanches) – a small space, but perfect for treasure hunts / next to the Pré Curral, a superb lawn for picnics and ball games / see MBFF article here;
- 🌲 Médonnet & La Pesse boulders and woods – boulders and cabanes to be made in these ethereal forest locations near Cordon and Combloux . . . / parking La Pesse: a small lay-by on route de Nant-Cruy and then access to boulders and forest via sentier piéton La Pesse (sentier VTT 42) / parking Médonnet: or lay-by in Médonnet / take a picnic! / see MBFF article here;
- 🌲 Cordon’s « Forest Discovery Trail » – a great, annotated family trail through the 🌲 forest, or simply a picnic at Les Plaines . . . / see MBFF article here;
[ ⇒ 🎨🌳 CREATIVE IDEAS & NATURE GAMES – MBFF article here ]
☀️ Fine weather and 🌷 summer flowers in bloom . . . the perfect time to visit a 🌳 park, garden, arboretum or castle grounds . . . to look forward to: wild summer flowers, irises and day lilies, rhododendrons . . .
- 🌷 Parc Couttet (Chamonix) – 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 / for more information about Le Jardin des Cimes en famille, see MBFF article;
- 🌷 Sallanches walk – a lovely buggy stroll in the centre of Sallanches, to admire the town’s potted flower arrangements and enjoy the shade of 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;
- 🦎 Le Royaume du Roi Lézard (Les Jardins du Château de Vullierens) – a special mention here for this superb fairytale parcours in the woods – you can read more about this magical place in article 🌸 here (an article to come soon!);
[ ⇒ for some more 🌷 flower destinations & parks, gardens and arboretums (further afield France, Switzerland and Italy), see MBFF article 🌸 Spring & Summer Blossoms & Flowers ]
There are some superb 🗺 treasure hunts / jeux de piste au Pays du Mont-Blanc – some of these are ephemeral summer ones, and some of are available as apps on your phone!
🗺 Cluses Arves & Montagnes has a super collection of treasure hunts on offer, including a NEW one for this summer / MBFF has tried out a handful now:
[ ⇒ for more information about 📱 treasure hunts and parcours d’orientation, see separate MBFF article here ]
There are SIX 🗺 parcours d’orientation to try out in the Chamonix Valley, and MBFF has tried out quite a few of them – we love them!
⇒ see the following articles for more information:
- 🗺 Bois du Bouchet (Chamonix): Baby-Cham goes Orienteering and Bois du Bouchet;
- 🗺 Lac des Chavants (Les Houches): Autumn Leaves orienteering Chamonix Valley (Lac des Chavants);
- 🗺 Servoz: Le Château de Saint Michel;
- 🗺 Argentière: Mare aux Tetards & la Moraine;
There are also géocaching options 🏔 au Pays du Mont Blanc:
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;
- 🏔 la Réserve Naturelle Nationale de Passy;
- 🏔 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;
SUMMER STROLLS & WALKS
Here are just a few suggestions for buggy-friendly or draisienne-friendly family strolls . . .
- 💦 river strolls (Chamonix) – Arve and Arveyron rivers;
- 💦 Paradis des Praz (Les Praz de Chamonix) – gurgling stream, activities and buvette;
- 💦 Lac des Chavants (Les Houches);
- 🌲 La Moraine (Argentière) – playground and gurgling streem;
- 💦 Lac de Passy – perfect terrain for buggies and bikes and a small bike park too;
- 💦 Passy – sculpture walk au cheminement de l’Arve;
- 💦 Lacs des Ilettes – also fun to explore and picnic at the Cascade d’Arpenaz (no buggies here and be very vigilant with small children!);
- 💦 Sallanches – along the Bialle stream and into the Braconne woods / see here;
- 💦 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 – available from the tourist office;
- 🗺 Saint-Gervais-les-Bains: « Charlotte la Marmotte au Bettex » – we tried this thematic walk at the start of winter!
- 🗺 Les Contamines-Montjoie – Sentier Découverte along the Nant Borant river up to Notre-Dame de la Gorge / annotated panels explaining the history, nature and patrimoine of the area;
- 🗺 Le Reposoir – a stroll around this lovely mountain village and its Carmelite convent can be combined with one of the super parcours d’orientations offered for a small fee by Cluses Arves & Montagnes (see above);
- 💦 Doussard: La Réserve Naturelle du Bout du Lac – a lovely buggy-friendly walk at the southern tip of Lac d’Annecy / see here for more details;
- Saint-Jorioz: sentier thématique des roselières – a lovely walk along the largest reed bed (roselière) of Lac d’Annecy / explanatory panels along the way explaining the aquatic wildlife and flora / see MBFF article;
- 🇨🇭💦 Col de la Forclaz: an annotated walk along the 💦 Bisse du Trient (irrigation channel from 1895 bringing water from the glacier du Trient to the Col du Forclaz) / more information in MBFF article;
SUMMER HIKING for families
As ❄️ the snow continues to melt up high (it is taking a while this year!), and the 🚠 cable cars, bubble lifts and chairlifts re-open for the summer season, hiking at altitude becomes more accessible . . . (NB – on higher altitude walks, please do always 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 articles:
- 🏔 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: see below in Mountain Refuge section / Les Houches – Chalets et Alpage de Charousse;
- 🌲 Servoz – ruines du Château Saint-Michel – fabulous woods, where you’ll even find a cabane in the trees and a bloc escalade (and parcours orientation!);
- 💦 Lac Vert (Passy Plaine-Joux) boucle or departure from Passerelle Himalayenne;
- 🌲 Sallanches’ « Le Sapin Président » – forest discovery trail leading to the Sapin Président, a 270+ year old pine tree with huge dimensions;
- 🏚 Sallanches mountain refuge: refuges of Tornieux, Mayères, Doran . . .
- 🍁 Combloux’s « Sur Les Traces des Graniteurs » – on the trail of the old granite workers / see MBFF article here;
- 🌲 Cordons’s « Forest Discovery Trail » – see above in Forest & Woodland section;
- Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval – one of my favourite places to hike, there are lots of different hiking trails 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 is possible with a buggy;
Art & nature trails
Combining 🎨🌳 art and nature can be a wonderful way to encourage young walkers . . . and here au Pays du Mont-Blanc and beyond, there are plenty of options, with some ephemeral summer ones!
In Plateau d’Assy this summer, as part of the Estivales d’Eté, there is a walk combining both 🌳🎨 nature and art!
[ ⇒ MBFF article Outdoor art exhibitions here ]
Mountain refuges and buvettes
Every summer season, our 🏔 local mountain refuges and buvettes have challenging work clearing the paths of snow, getting ready for the season ahead! Let’s support them by planning a family walk . . . Some of the more accessible buvettes and refuges are already open, but others won’t open until they can clear the snow! Here are some suggestions, some very accessible with little ones, some a longer walk (and in some you can spend the night):
- 🏚 Chamonix – La Cascade du Dard – 🏚 Buvette La Cascade du Dard; Le Chapeau in Le Lavancher – 🏚 La Buvette du Chapeau – superb cakes from the dessert chef! (2021 – extensive damage from landslide, so check opening dates!); 🏚 Cabane du Cerro – short walk from the Mont-Blanc tunnel; Brévent – 🏚 Refuge de Bellachat (a hike from Brévent téléphérique or up from Les Gaillands (tough!); Flégère – 🏚 Refuge de la Flégère, 🏚 Refuge de Chésery Lac Vert and 🏚 Lac Blanc, le Refuge; Plan de l’Aguille – Refuge du Plan de l’Aiguille (short walk); La Floria – 🏚 Chalet de la Floria on the Petit Balcon Sud; Montenvers – 🏚 La Buvette du Mottets and 🏚 Chalet Buvette de Caillet (from Les Planards); Les Bossons – 🏚 Chalet du Glacier des Bossons, and higher up 🏚 Les Pyramides / Les Houches – 🏚 Chalets de Chailloux; Servoz – 🏚 Chalet Tête de la Fontaine (2021 – new management!) / Argentière – 🏚 Crèmerie du Glacier and Grands-Montets – 🏚 Refuge de Lognan (short walk from téléphérique) / Le Tour – 🏚 Refuge Albert 1er (with its modern makeover by Haag & Baquet Architectes!) and restaurant 🏚 L’Alpage de Balme / Vallorcine – 🏚 La Cascade de Bérard, and further along the river valley, the 🏚 Refuge Pierre à Bérard and 🏚 Refuge de Loriaz;
- 🏚 Passy – 🏚 Le Refuge de Varan is still SHUT for this summer season (renovations) / 🏚 Refuge Moëde-Anterne – a longer walk / 🏚 Refuge Le Châtelet D’ Ayères (a short walk from Lac Vert);
- 🏚 Sallanches – 🏚 Refuges de Doran, Tornieux, Mayères (from Burzier) and longer hike (other side of Arve Valley) to 🏚Refuge du CAF Véran;
- 🏚 Saint-Gervais – 🏚 Refuge du Nid d’Aigle (a short walk from Tramway du Mont-Blanc stop); 🏚 Auberge de Bionnassay / Saint Nicolas de Véroce – 🏚 Refuge de Porcherey;
- 🏚 Megève – 🏚 Le Refuge du Calvaire – very accessible from the centre of town; 🏚 Auberge La Croix du Planay – here you can buy local goods;
- 🏚 Praz-sur-Arly – 🏚 Auberge du Bonjournal – amazing desserts! / 🏚 Foodtruck 1930 – new for summer 2021 season!
- 🏚 Notre Dame de la Gorge – up the Roman road to the 🏚 Refuge de Nant-Borrant; and further along, 🏚 Refuge de la Balme; or 🏚 L’Auberge de Colombaz; or 🏚 Refuge de Miage or 🏚 Refuge Auberge du Truc; 🏚 Refuge des Près – new for summer 2021!
- 🏚 Trient (Col de la Forclaz, Suisse) – 🏚 Buvette du Glacier;
[ ⇒ and lots, lots more . . . see here for some more ideas for refuge overnights! ]
From information about 🚵♀️ draisienne & bike terrain for young riders, to details about bike parks suitable for families, you can head over to separate MBFF article BIKE PARKS au Pays du Mont-Blanc for more information !
[ DISCLAIMER – always be especially vigilant next to water and roads ]
There are also some 🚵♂️ pumptracks & 🛹 skate parks suitable for young riders (4+ years) au Pays du Mont-Blanc (remember to wear a HELMET and protective gear!).
[ ⇒ see separate MBFF article 🛹 PUMPTRACKS au Pays du Mont-Blanc for more information ]
You will find these 🛹 skateparks:
- 🛹 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 / FB page;
- 🛹 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 article for more details / address: rue de l’Hôpital, 74700, Sallanches;
- 🚵♂️🛹 Combloux skatepark – incorporated into the landscaping, with the pumptrack! / MBFF’s top pick!
- 🚵♂️ NEW Saint-Gervais skatepark – a new bowl next to the swiming pool on the Plaine des Pratz;
- 🚵♂️ Megève skatepark – next to the new Arly playground;
- 🚵♂️ Praz sur Arly skatepar – 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;
Electric Bikes, Trottinettes & Fat Bikes
These new(ish) modes of transport are all the fashion, and you can now rent the equipment from sports shops and more! E-bikes allow you to cover mountainous terrain with less effort (or to cover more ground), and the trottinettes are more for downhill and cross-country giggles . . . Here are some examples of where you can rent gear:
- 🛴 Trot Top (Lac de Passy) – la trottinette électrique tout terrain / see here for more details;
- 🛴 Alpes Aventures (Combloux) – a downhill descent in the Portes du Mont-Blanc terrain;
- 🛴 Le Bettex (Saint-Gervais) – la trottinette électrique tout terrain;
- 🛴 Parc de Loisir du Pontet (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – new since last year, la trottinette électrique tout terrain;
Karting, E-motorbikes & Quads
- 🏎 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: Parking des Criques / tel: 04 50 93 75 37 or 06 80 14 68 19 / website;
- 🏎 Nash Mountain Games (Parc de Loisirs du Pontets, Les Contamines-Montjoie) – there are new quad karts here / 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;
- 🏎 Mountaincart (Flaine) – NEW for summer 2021 / see here;
- 🏎 MK Circuit (Scientrier, between 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 (Mont-Saxonnex & Les Gets) – motos and quads for children and adults! / FB page;
There are several 🐓 farms to visit 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, and farm products to buy . . .
🐄 La Ferme Les Montagnards GAEC (Ormaret, Combloux) – with workshops for children over the holidays (be sure to book!) / see FB page and MBFF article here / there is a lovely hike from the centre of Combloux to Ormaret, which will take you past this farm – see MBFF article here;
🐄 Ferme Le Gaec Val Mont-Blanc (Combloux) – the Paget family farm, with cheese-making and tasting at this dairy farm! / visiting hours: every Wednesday from 16h to 17h / address: 777 route de Saint-Gervais, Gemoëns, 74920, Combloux / tel (reservations): 06 16 33 71 74 or 04 50 58 60 49;
🐐 Chèvrerie Les Cabrettes (in summer, at the Alpage de Sommier d’Aval, Le Reposoir) – FREE guided visit every Monday & Thursday from 15h, traite des chèvres à 17h15 / this goat farm is located on the hillside at St Roch in winter, but moves to the Alpage de Sommier d’Aval in summertime! / 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 / reservations: 04 50 98 18 01;
🐄 La Ferme de l’Aberieux (Cordon) – 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 (Saint-Gervais) – you can visit this animal farm and buy produce too! (check timings with tourist office in Saint-Gervais! / FB page / address: 1510 route D’Orsin, Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains;
[ good to know: in late spring, you could be lucky enough to accompany or witness an emmontagnée = the annual taking up the mountain to higher pastures (alpages) of 🐄 cows and 🐏 sheep and 🐑 goats! You’ll also see green spaces filled with 🐏 sheep, that have been employed to mow the lawn eco-style! (for example, the Pré d’Amour in Megève!) ]
🐐 Chèvrerie de la Pierre à Laya (Arâches) – a goat farm, with activities for children! / FB page / address: Lieu-dit Champs d’en Bas – Route des Champs; 74300; Arâches;
🐓 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 / NEW: a barefoot walk! / see website for more details / opening hours: every day / see website for more details / address: 98 route de l’Usine, Chosal, 74350, Copponex;
[ ⇒ for a full article about 🦌 animal parks, zoos and aquariums 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc and beyond, see article Animal Parks & Aquariums au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) ]
Au Pays du Mont-Blanc, we have the Parc Animalier de Merlet in Les Houches (2021 update – remember that you now need to book for weekend and Wednesday visits! / see MBFF article here), the 🐶 Saint-Bernard kennels in Les Houches (address: 223 chemin des Vorziers, La Fontaine, 74310, Les Houches & tel: 04 50 47 23 60 & website);
You can visit 🐺 HUSKY KENNELS (chenils) in:
- 🐺 Chiens Polaire in Notre Dame de la Gorge (Les Contamines-Montjoie);
- 🐺 and 3D Nordic husky kennels in Flumet (see here for more details);
A little further afield, you have plenty more options (check the above link to article for a longer list!):
- 🇫🇷🦅 Les Aigles du Léman (Sciez-sur-Léman) – birds of prey and plenty of summer spectacles ! / website;
- 🇨🇭🦌 Zoo des Marécottes (Switzerland) – where you can also swim in the summer rock pool! / FB page / website;
- 🇨🇭🐶 Barryland – Musée et chiens du Saint-Bernard (Martigny) – this is a wonderful, interactive museum for children / for more information, see MBFF article or website;
- 🦌 Parc Animalier d’Introd (Italy) – this lovely animal park is in the Aosta Valley and combines nicely with a visit to Cogne or one of the many castle in the valley! / website;
Tadpole & Frog and Newt Spotting
In late May (this will vary each year), you’ll be able to take children out to our local lakes & 🐸 mare aux têtards and some ephemeral flaques d’eau, to look for and to observe 🐸 tadpole eggs, tadpoles & frogs . . . you can sometimes observe the entire cycle de vie de la grenouille in one pond! / in the summertime, you can look for 🦎 newts and salamanders (tritons) / see separate MBFF article 🐸 Where to observe TADPOLES & FROGS au Pays du Mont-Blanc for some ideas! We particularly enjoyed the ephemeral flaque d’eau at Lac de Javen last year! And this year, I found myself recently swimming with frogs at Lacs de la Cavettaz!
Canirando (hiking with a dog & baudrier)
There are several local companies offering 🐶 canirando (walking with a dog in a harness) excursions locally (weather dependent):
- 🐶 Huskydalen (Chamonix) – website;
- 🐶 Les Granges de Heidi (Passy & Cordon) – website;
- 🐶 Au Mont du Villard du Nord (Megève) – website;
- 🐶 Voyageurs d’Hiver (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – website;
- 🐶 3D Nordic (Flumet) – website;
Horse Riding, Ponies & Stables
You might also like to visit 🐴 a horse stable (écurie) and try 🐎 horse or pony riding, or have a horse or pony trek . . . in the school holidays, there may also be stages on offer :
- 🐎 Centre Équestre du Mont-Blanc (Les Houches) – website;
- 🐎 La Petite Diligence (Le Buet & Vallorcine) – pony rides, games & buvette / FB page;
- 🐎 Les Ecuries d’Antan (côteaux de Passy) – see website;
- 🐎 Les Ecuries du Duc (Combloux) – see website;
- 🐎 Le Cheval de Feug (Demi-Quartier) – website;
- 🐎 Les Ecuries des Fiz (Le Fayet) – stages on offer over the holidays / FB page;
- 🐎 Centre Equestre Les Contamines-Montjoie – sessions during the school holidays / see here;
- 🐎 La CheVallée (Les Carroz) – see here;
- 🐎 Aravis Equitation (La Clusaz) – 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 Ânes (Vaudagne) – address: 55 chemin du Vieux Four, 74310, Vaudagne, Les Houches / tel: 04 50 47 26 18;
- Les Ânes Montagnards (Parking du Crozat, Bionnassay) – from mid-June until September (also, a savonnerie – soap made from donkey milk!) / website / address: 268, rue des Fiz la Forêt, 74170, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains / tel: +33 6 51 28 56 35;
- Les Ânes et les Mômes (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – we had a fabulous time hiking with our donkey Ernest, a couple of years ago! / website;
- 🐴 Servoz and Combloux – check with the tourist offices!
- 🐴 Megève – summer and winter calèches through the streets of Megève / departure: opposite the church;
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 it’s environs / MBFF article / 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;
[ article to come (one day!) ]
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!
[ ⇒ see separate MBFF article 🌳 Accrobranches, Grimpe-Arbres Tyroliènnes au Pays du Mont-Blanc for more detailed information ]
FURTHER AFIELD, you’ll find:
- 🌳 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 and MBFF article;
- 🌳 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) – right next to Lac d’Annecy, with paddle boards and pedalos to rent also! / website;
Climbing Lessons (adhoc and holidays)
- 🧗♀️ Koala Grimpe (Chamonix Valley) – my boys have climbed with these ladies, and they are adorable! / see here;
- 🧗♀️ Coco Grimpe (Chamonix Valley) – see here;
- 🧗♀️ Granit Escalade (Chamonix Valley) – with stages adapted to older children too / see here;
- 🧗♀️ Mont-Blanc Escalade (Les Houches) – indoor lessons over the holidays / see here;
- 🧗♀️ Evasion Canyoning (Le Fayet) – climbing lessons and canyoning / see here;
- 🧗♀️ Le Palais Megève – lessons and stages available;
- 🧗♀️ clubs, associations and other climbing walls also offer lessons;
Climbing slabs & bouldering
As the weather warms, we can begin to climb outdoors . . . you can hire a climbing guide, or organise 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, easily accessible 🧗♀️ 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 & La Pesse boulders (Nant-Cruy) – bouldering in a beautiful forest;
- 🧗♀️ Le Fayet – rocher escalade and via ferrata;
- 🧗♀️ Megève Rochebrune;
- 🧗♀️ Les Contamines-Montjoie – rocher d’escalade de la Duchère;
Via Ferrata & Via Corda
Later in spring, 🧗♀️ the via ferratas open . . .
- 🧗♀️ Via Ferrata des Evettes (Flegère, Chamonix) – see here for more details;
- 🧗♀️ Via Corda Alpina – from Les Bois up to Les Mottets (you will need your own ropes and gear and knowledge!);
- 🧗♀️ Via Curalla (Plateau d’Assy) – you can rent equipment from buvette on-site / see here for more details;
- 🧗♀️ Via Corda Doran (Sallanches) – NEW from last summer! / book with Sallanches Tourisme;
- 🧗♀️ Via Ferrata du Parc Thermal (Mont-Blanc Parc Aventure, Le Fayet) – different routes! / see here;
- 🧗♀️ Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval – see here for more details;
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 Sport
- 🏀 Chamonix – next to the running track at the Centre Sportif Richard Bozon are some option for ball games;
- 🏀 Les Houches – terrain multisports behind the patinoire (which becomes a roller park after the winter season!);
- ⚽️ Servoz – two football pitches near the rocher d’escalade;
- 🏀 Vallorcine – there is a small terrain de sport right next to the Gare SNCF and the playground;
- 🏀 Sallanches – in the sports zone of la Cayenne: tennis courts, stade de foot, rugby and the indoor Centre Sportif de Cayenne, you will find some NEW basketball 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!
- ⚽️ Saint-Gervais (Plaine de Pratz) – a NEW 4×4 footie pitch, next to the pumptrack!
- 🏀 Praz-sur-Arly – terrain multisports at Les Belles / bonus: playground, mini-golf, bike park, tennis, buvette in warmer months;
- 🏀 Megève – next to Le Palais, you’ll find the City Stade, tennis courts, pump track and mini-golf;
- 🏒 Les Contamines-Montjoie Loyers – you can play street hockey where the patinoire sits in wintertime;
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;
- 🎾 Hôtel Aiguille du Midi (Les Bossons) – the clay courts are open to all at 12 per hour / tel: 04 50 53 00 65;
- 🎾 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 Tourisme / 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) – x2 quicks (check when these are due to open);
- 🎾 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 x2 quicks;
- 🎾 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;
There are many fantastic 🌈 playgrounds au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . some have more options for little ones, some are more geared towards older children. See the 🌈 PLAYGROUNDS topic on the homepage of the MBFF website, or . . .
[ ⇒ see article about 🌈 MBFF’s 10 favourite (tried and tested!) playgrounds here ]
🌈 PLAYGROUND UPDATE 2021 – Louparc in Combloux – a NEW parcours for freestyle (for older children)! / Lac de l’Etape in Les Contamines acquired a new playground last summer, with water games! / Bois de la Batie in Geneva has a NEW fabulous-looking playground, with a water park!
🌈 🌈 🌈
Bouncy castles & trampolines
The season is upon us, and 🌈 bouncy castles & trampolines will begin to appear . . .
- 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 castles;
- 🌈 Lac de Passy – provided by Mont-Blanc Kids;
- 🌈 Lacs des Ilettes – provided by Le Parc en Folie (good to know: bouncy castles also for hire!);
- 🌈 Parc de Loisirs du Pontet (Notre Dame de la Gorge) – as part of the Nash Mountain Games activities;
. . . and a bit wilder . . .
- Gravity Zero (Flaine) – NEW for this summer! / a bungee activity, you fly vertically into the air! / see here;
- 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€;
We have 🌈 one parc d’attractions (amusement park) and a 🌈 parc de loisirs (amusement and sport) au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
- 🌈 Domaine des Planards: Parc d’Attractions & Luge Alpine Coaster in Chamonix – lots of fun games (and water 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 and water games / see website for more details;
And 🇫🇷 FURTHER AFIELD, some bigger options . . .
[ NOTE: please always check opening hours, in accordance with Covid-19 regulations ]
🇫🇷 🌈 Le Grand Parc d’Andilly (Les Grandes Médiévales, Le Parc des Epouvantails, Le TOUT Petit Pays and Le Hameau du Père Noël), a visit here comes highly recommended by MBFF! My first visit (to what was then called Le Parc des Epouvantails) 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 how 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: July until Septemer / address: la Forêt des Moulins (1 hour from Chamonix, 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 every year (and water rides in the summer!) / 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;
The following 🌈 amusement parks in Switzerland are all included in the Fun Valley scheme:
- 🇨🇭 Western City – no electronics here, a cowboy & indians theme, in this amusement park measuring 10’000 m2 / opening: March until November / price: CHF 15 / website / address: Restoroute de Martigny Domaine du Rosel, 1920, Martigny, Switzerland;
🇨🇭 Labyrinthe Aventure – with water fights (Splash Party) this summer! / opening: 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, and the new Nautic Jet water attraction! / 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, is the 🛷 Speed Dragoz, with a virtual reality option for the passenger – see here!
Not too far from the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc, you have 🦇 several underground options for ⛈ a rainy day (or ☀️ hot days, when you need to escape the sun – caves stay at a very constant temperature!) :
🦇 Grotte de Balme (near Magland) – you can book to visit these caves with a guide through Sallanches Tourisme! / back in the olden days, it was quite the fashionable spot to visit; nowadays you have to have a privately reserved visit, a great spéléologie visit! / read more about this cave here;
And a bit further afield, there are some other magnificent caves to visit . . . (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 a jumper!) / no dogs allowed, no camera flash! / picnic spot at entrance to village, with rain shelter, WC and playground / holiday workshops / tel: +33 (0)4 74 96 95 00! / address: rue des Grottes, 38390, La Balme-les-Grottes / website;
🦇 Les Grottes de Cerdon (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 and then guided visit or independent visit with audioguide / parc préhistorique: there are lots of workshops on offer during the school holidays like les ateliers de la préhistoire, holiday visits for children 4 to 7 years, caving for children and more . . . see here / 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 de St-Léonard – not too far from the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc is the 💦 Lac Soutterain de St-Léonard – located between Sion and Serre in the Valais, Switzerland, this is the largest natural and navigable underground lake in Europe (300m long x 20m wide w 10m deep) / ambient temperature all year of 15° / 3D animations, guided tours by 🚣♂️ boat (30mins), concert once a month / welcome centre soon to be renovated / 🗓 opening hours (spring until November): 10h to 17h (July and August from 9h) / price: adults CHF12, children (5 to 15 years) CHFè and under 5s FREE / address: rue du Lac 21, 1958, St-Léonard / tel:+41 (0)27 203 22 66 / website;
OUTDOOR ART TRAILS & EXHIBITIONS
Over the summer, you’ll find some 🖼 ephemeral art trails and exhibitions, and for more information about the more permanent ones, see . . .
[ ⇒ see MBFF article here ]
There are some fabulous 🏰 castles in Haute-Savoie & Savoie to visit – here are some suggestions:
- 🏰 Ruines du Chateau Saint-Michel (Servoz) – ruins in a forest! / more information in MBFF article here;
- 🏰 Château de l’Echelle (La Roche-sur-Foron) – in town;
- 🏰 Château des Sires de Faucigny (Bonneville) – located on a butte under the Môle, you can now visit this renovated castle! / more information here;
- 🏰 Château d’Annecy – the castle that dominates the pretty town / temporary exhibitions and aquarium!
- 🏰 Château de Montrottier (near Annecy) – there is a new parcours interactif in the gardens and lots of animations over the holidays: Les Aigles du Léman, Les Journées Médiévales / NEW – escape game! / family price: 22€, adults 8€ and children 6€, children under 5 years free / website / address: Domaine et Château de Montrottier, 60 allée du Château, 74330, Lovagny / 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) – MBFF visited for the first time last September; it was FABULOUS! costumées du château at the weekend (and jours fériés) – 14h to 18h / garden and roses and amazing views of Lac Léman! / see website for more details;
🏰 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) / 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 nearby Switzerland:
- 🏰 Château de la Bâtiaz (Martigny) – see here;
- 🏰 Château de Chillon (near Montreux) – the fairytale castle, overlooking Lac Léman! / see here;
- 🏰 Château de Gruyère– see here;
And in the neighbouring 🇮🇹 Aosta Valley in Italy, there are also several 🏰 castles in strategic posititions 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 MBFF article for more details;
ABBEYS & RELIGIOUS BUIDINGS
The next three are stunning ⛪️ religious buldings:
- ⛪️ Chartreuse de Mélan (Taninges) – an old nunnery, then religious school, then orphanage . . . now it hosts contemporary sculptures in its garden and is the springing board to the sculpture trail along the Giffre river . . .
- ⛪️ Abbaye d’Abondance (Abondance) – an old abbey, with lots of animations over the summer holidays! / see website and FB page;
- ⛪️ Carmel le Reposoir (Le Reposoir) – beautiful!
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 (we tried this out during our stay and loved it!);
- ⛳️ 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;
MORE OUTDOOR GAMES . . .
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;
A 🚠 cable-carride or funicularis a fabulous option for older relatives with lesser walking ability, or ♿️ wheelchair users, 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 article here for details about a family visit and activities on offer;
🚡Panoramic Mont-Blanc – take a ride across the glacier to the Punta Helbronner;
🇮🇹🚠 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;
🇮🇹🚡 Forte di Bard funiculars – there are 3 funiculars bringing you to the top of the fabulous Forte di Bard (see CASTLES section above and MBFF article);
🇫🇷🚠 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, so GO this summer, while you can! / MBFF article here;
🇨🇭🚡🚂 Verticalp Emosson (Châtelard, Vallé de Trient) – three unique rail installations (Le Funiculaire du Chatelard, Le Train Panoramique and the Munific), will bring you up to the Emosson dams (1965m), from Châtelard, for fabulous views and hiking opportunities and dinosaur prints too / website and MBFF article here;
There are also plenty of lesser-known (but with just as amazing views!), cable-cars, bubbles and chairlifts 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . .
- 🚠 Téléphérique de la Flégère & Télésiège Index (Chamonix) – easy access to Lac Blanc!
- 🚡 Télécabine de la Balme & Télésiège Charamillon (Le Tour) – a great option for hikes (for example, to get to the Refuge Albert 1er easily!);
- 🚠 Téléphérique Bellevue & 🚡 Télécabine Prarion (Les Houches) – for some lovely high altitude hikes!
- ⛰ Télésiège Glacier des Bossons – to get up close and personal with the Les Bossons glacier, and with a buvette!
- 🚡 Télécabine du Bettex (Saint-Gervais) – to gain some height, and access to hikes and activities!
- 🚡 Télécabine de la Gorge – to gain access to Lac de l’Etape, bike park and hikes!
- ⛰ Télésiège Mollusaz (Mont-Saxonnex)– for access to Lac Bénit / Wednesdays and Sundays
Children generally love 🚂 trains and train journeys. . . luckily, there are some memorable 🚂 train journeys (big and small!) 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
🚂 Le Petit Train Touristique de Chamonix – more information here;
🚂 Montenvers cobble train & Mer de Glace – the iconic cobble train departs from Chamonix (behind SNCF train station) and heads up to the Montenvers glacier! / see here for MBFF article;
🚈 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 Fayet) – 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 over the summer months:
🗻 Chamonix Valley – « Les Virées Culturelles de Christine » – see website for more details;
📷 Chamonix Valley – « Teresa Kaufman’s Photo Walks»– see website here;
⛪️ Passy & Plateau d’Assy – a nature and cultural visit from Plateau d’Assy to the Passerelle Himalayenne, with the Estivales du Plateau, or 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;
🏦 Sallanches – NEW self-guided visits in town for this summer / see tourist office!
🏦 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;
⛪️ Les Contamines-Montjoie – occasional guided visits of Baroque church;
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);
There are more and more 🧘♀️ yoga and meditation classes opening up for children and teenagers: Bulles de Qi (Sallanches), Cercle de Yoga (Sallanches), Yoga un Chemin de Vie (Combloux) . . . and try MJC Chamonix and Saint-Gervais or FJEP Passy! And these new classes in Sallanches (from la Rentrée): yoga enfants . . .
Yoga pour les enfants
🧘♀️ Sanskriti (Scionzier) – on Wednesdays, with the lovely Prachi & Benoit, for children 7 to 11 years, and for teenagers . . . 10h30 until 11h20 and 18h / more information;
Bien hêtre en forêt 74 (Chamonix)
Frédérique’s amour for 🌳 the trees developed in California . . . and then to the Chamonix Valley, and a training in sylvothérapie in the forest of Rambouillet with Laurence Monce in 2018 (bain de forêt): « C’est lors de mes randonnées en solitaire au milieu des forêts que j’ai constaté un sentiment d’apaisement, un bien être, un lâcher prise. Je me suis intéressée de plus près à ce phénomène. Ressentant de plus en plus le besoin d’être en forêt, cela m’a amené à réfléchir sur cette attirance de baigner dans ce milieu silencieux et réparateur des émotions. » / FB page and website;
La Maison du Bien-Être & Les Ateliers de Zebrus (Sallanches)
Sessions over the summer . . ;
[ NOTE: with Covid restrictions, check to see if borders with 🇨🇭 Switzerland and 🇮🇹 Italy are open for non-frontaliers visitors! ]
For 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 . . .
[ note: 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! (there are also cheaper options for Chamonix Valley residents! ]
🇨🇭 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 article here or website);
- and the equally lovely 🐶 Barryland – Musée et Chiens du Saint-Bernard (see here for MBFF article 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 the 🌳 Parc des Bastions and the Reformation Memorial, the 🌸 Botanical Gardens or you could visit an exhibition or museum . . . (see article 🎨 Museums & Exhibitions to see what is currently on offer).
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 article) and the new 🐟 aquarium Aquatis.
(note: you can also get to Lausanne from Evian or Yvoire, by boat from the French side of Lac Léman!)
🇮🇹 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 the old Roman town of 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). In summetime, you have the fabulous Annecy Paysages exhibition!
The village of ⛵️ Talloires also makes a lovely visit . . . a pretty lakeside village, and up above is a fabulous accrobranches, with a circuit for tiny 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 article 💦 LAKES & WATERSPORTS au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond);
🇫🇷 A day out in Evian or Yvoire 🇫🇷
The 💦 historical thermal water lakeside town of Evian makes for a lovely day out en famille . . . you could see an exhibition 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.
And the lesser known lakeside town of Nernier:
Further suggestions for WEEKND VISITS:
The following suggestions are a bit far for a comfortable day visit, it would be preferable to make a weekend of it!
🇫🇷 Lyon – a beautiful Old Town, plentiful and fabulous museums, the wonderful 🌳 Parc de la Tête d’Or and zoo, and gastronomic delights! / see website This is Lyon for some ideas or MBFF articles: LYON en famille and Mini-World Lyon;
🇫🇷 La Drôme – we’ve visited 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, the Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval . . .
🇮🇹 Cogne – this quaint cobble-stoned village is a one hour drive from Chamonix, through the Mont-Blanc tunnel and a bit further / in summertime: hiking & strolling, indulge in Italian food, lovely hotels with spas . . . We have been twice en famille, and we love it here!
Thankfully, we have have plenty of ☔️ rainy day options 🏔 au Pays du Mont Blanc!
[ NOTE: note Covid restrictions! ]
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 / x10 salles! / occasional films in VO / be sure to register for your CinéPass, to collect loyalty points!
🎬 and there are also lots of smaller screens with a good selection of films (some foreign language films in VO with subtitles) / ⇒ see article 🎬 Cinemas au Pays du Mont-Blanc for more information:
- 🎬 Le Grand Soir Cinébus (Les Houches) – every other Wednesday at the Espace Animation, at 17h / check schedule here;
- 🎬 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;
🎥 outdoor and other film options for families:
- 🎬 Ciné plein air in Argentière, Servoz and Vallorcine – check with each commune for dates!
- 🎬 Sallanches outdoor cinema – check the agenda!
- 🎬 Les Contamines-Montoie drive cinema – every Monday night of the holidays at 22h, there will be a Ciné-Drive in Les Contamines-Montoie (Parking du Pontet):
🎬 family films on release this summer:
☔️ ☔️ ☔️
➡️ and for more ☔️ INDOOR OPTIONS for a RAINY 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 . . .
- 🖼 MUSEUMS & EXHIBITIONS au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond);
- 🌈 and SOFTPLAY & INDOOR PLAY au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) – a more exhaustive list of indoor play centres;