A visit to 🌳 La Maison du Salève makes for a wonderful family day out . . . originally an 18th century farm from the Chartreuse de Pomier (La Ferme de Mikerne – see here for more history), the building has been renovated to host a cultural centre recounting the history of the ⛰ Salève mountain and its environs (a permanent interactive exhibition and temporary exhibitions) . . . and the 🌳 gardens and surrounding nature host workshops, discovery walks and more . . .
We have now visited en famille twice: once in 🌷 springtime (with a 4 year old and a one year old), with all the beautiful spring blossom set against a blue sky, and again in 🍁 autumn (with two walking youngsters that time!), on a somewhat overcast and cold autumnal – but the leaves were beginning to change colour and it was still a lovely visit and refreshing walk!
⛰ Le Salève is a little mountain (1379m) with a rich history:
- 🧗♂️ rock-climbing (known locally as la varappe) took off here, and it became one of the sites for alpinists to train for summiting 🏔 Mont-Blanc!
- 🌿naturalists and geologists – thanks to big historical personalities like Horace-Bénédicte de Saussure and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, ⛰ Le Salève has long been a site of exploration for naturalists and geologists!
[ ⇒ read more about the majestic ⛰ Le Salève here ]
La Ferme de Mikerne
The 🏚 old farmhouse itself hosts 🖼 a permanent exhibition, as well as changing 🖼 temporary exhibitions:
🖼 permanent exhibition: ⛰ « Le Salève, une montagne et des hommes » – this exhibition, with its story cabane and interactive games, is aimed at children from 4 to 12 years. It explains the history of Le Salève mountain: the importance of its proximity to Geneva, the curiosity of scientists and sportsmen and women / ⇒ see here for more information;
🖼 current emporary exhibition: each year or so there is a new temporary exhibition and the current exhibition is « La forêt, maison des animaux » . . . where you can discover the sights and smells of the changing seasons / aimed at 3 to 7 year olds / price: 2€, FREE for children under 6 years;
The Garden – l’Espace Mikerne
It is worthwhile to visit 🌳 La Maison du Salève on a ☀️ fine weather day, as it is lovely to explore the gardens outside – there are picnic tables, a small climbing frame, and the start of ☘️ « Le Parcours de Découverte », which explains the history, geology and special features of the area surrounding ⛰ Le Salève mountain. There is also 🍐 a Salle Hors-Sac in the old kitchen of the farmhouse, for slightly colder days, or if you get caught out by the rain. The 🌳 garden is part of 🐦 the Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux and it also houses insect hotels.
Family walk – « Le Parcours de Découverte »
🌳 La Maison du Salève is the starting point for many great walks, including a short boucle, perfect for families – 🗺 « Sur les pas des Charteux de Pomier ». Monks settled near ⛰ Le Salève in 1170, and they left their mark on the land; this walk highlights many of their contributions.
The walk, which takes about an hour, starts at the entrance to 🐝 La Ferme de Mikerne, and then heads into 🌳 the gardens. See here to dowload the map.
From the 🌳 garden, you head towards the car park and then right into the woods, along the GR de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle (⛪️ the pilgrims’ route of Santiago de Compostella). After emerging from the woods, you head towards the ⛪️ Chartreuse de Pomier, which was a site of prayer and meditation for over 600 years (and now hosts banquets and weddings; handy hint – if open, the 🚾 here are very warm and welcoming on a cold day!). From here commences your return journey, past la Ferme de la Quory. There are explanatory panels along the way to keep little ones entertained, and when we did this walk a couple of years ago, we made lots of cabanes in the 🌳 woods!
For families with older children, there are plenty of longer walks in the environs and you can pick up a 🗺 map at 🐝 La Maison du Salève.
There is also the famous 🚠 Téléphérique du Salève, which leaves from nearby Etrembières and from the arrival point of the cable car, you will have views of Geneva and its Jet d’Eau, Lac Léman and the Alps, as well as plenty of hiking opportunities! (⚠ note: currently shut until 2023, huge renovation programme!)
Workshops & Visits
🌳 La Maison du Salève organises lots of wonderful nature workshops in the environs throughout the year: 🦋 butterfly hunts, 🍎 apple-picking, apple juice-pressing . . .
⇒ see here for the programme;
🌼 NEW for summer 2020: Les Défis nature de la Maison du Salève – every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon in June, from 14h until 17h, with the possibility of reserving! / price: 6€ / ➡️ more information here;
Our last visit to 🌳 La Maison du Salève coincided with its 10 year celebrations and the Journées Européenes de la Patrimoine. The atmosphere was festive, the garden had been decorated by children, and we came away with the most delicious bag of 🍎 apples, 🍐 pears and plums (we all agreed that they were the tastiest apples we had enjoyed in a very long time!).
🗓 opening hours: 🌳 La Maison du Salève is open all year-round, except in January, 1st May, the first Sunday in September and 25th December:
February to June and September to December: Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays, from 14h to 18h;
July & August: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10h to 18h;
School holidays (Zone A): Tuesday to Sunday, from 14h to 18h;
senior citizens (60+ years) & students: 5€;
children (6 to 18 years): 3€;
children under 6 years: FREE!
families: 15€ (2 adults and up to 4 children);
🎁 gift shop: 🌳 La Maison du Salève has a lovely giftshop; a great place to pick up presents to do with nature and local produce!
[ good to know: pay once and come back a second time for FREE (within the year and as long as you are accompanied by someone else who is paying for their own entrance!) ]
🅿 parking: there is a car park situated a short 100m walk from the house; and there is ♿ mobilité réduite parking next to the house;