🍁 AUTUMN is my favourite time of year . . . all of a sudden, one notices that there are some 🍁 shades of orange, brown and gold on the otherwise green palette of trees . . . the odd brown leaf falls to the ground, and soon there is a crunchy carpet underfoot . . . autumn is the perfect season to explore our wondrous nature, the woods and forests, the lakes and mountains 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, to go 🍏apple picking . . . Many of the parks are still open, before they perhaps get a dusting of snow and go into winter hibernation! And autumn is ALSO the 🐑 foires agricoles of our region, the Toussaint school holidays and 🎃 Halloween too . . . And then, suddenly, all attention turns to ❄️ SNOW forecasts and the opening of our ski lifts, there are several ⛷ bourses de ski, and then we are thinking of the 🎄Christmas holidays!
But for now, autumn is 📚 La Rentrée: a new rhythm after the summer, the start of shorter days, the ⚽️ Fêtes du Sport and portes ouvertes for various clubs and associations . . .
📚 Bonne Rentrée ! 📚
⌈ DISCLAIMER : before your visit, PLEASE always confirm 🗓 opening hours on websites & FB pages or give the museums, companies or Tourist Offices a call! Some locations may shut due to bad weather or other unforeseen factors! ⌋
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 🇮🇹
Here are some of the 🍁 BIG DATES for your autum calendar . . . lots of super, outdoor events . . .
🍁 Chamonix September programme 🍁
🇫🇷🖼 « Annecy Paysages » (ANNECY) – until 15th September 2019 🖼🇫🇷
This fabulous festival of art installations, juxtoposes nature and an urban centre / perfect for a buggy stroll!
🇫🇷 Vitam fait son Grand Show (Vitam, Neydens) – from 9th Septemer until 5th October 🇫🇷
Vitam, the largest sports complex in Haute-Savoie (parc aquatique, climbing, indoor games and shopping centre all under one roof!) is celebrating its 10th birthday, with lots of animations / see here for more details;
🇫🇷 🍲 Lyon Street Food Festival (LYON) – 12th until 15th September 🍲 🇫🇷
🌈 Fête Foraine Vogue de la Saint-Michel (CHAMONIX) – from 14th until 29th September 🌈
🇨🇭🇫🇷 CERN Open Days 2019 (MEYRIN, SWITZERLAND) – weekend 14th & 15th September 🇫🇷🇨🇭
The CERN (located on the Franco-Swiss border) opens its doors to the public over 2 days, plunging you into one of the biggest laboratoires de physique des particules in the world! These open days are a tradition, when the CERN takes a “long break” for renovation work to the accelerators! On the agenda: exploration, debates, films, theatre, workshops and more! / see website for more details and to SIGN UP! / opening hours: 9h until 18h / address: CERN, esplanade des Particules 1, 1217, Meyrin, Switzerland;
🇫🇷🖼 « T’es sûr-e ? » – new exhibition at La Turbine (CRAN-GEVRIER) – from 14th September until 30th August 2020 🖼🇫🇷
An exhibition where science explained simply, “pour taquiner de la science avec plaisir et décontraction, une exposition où les expériences sont les seules à avoir toujours raison” / an exhibition, developed by the Espace des Inventions de Lausanne, for children +7 years / more information on website / FREE first Sunday of the month from October until May;
🏰🌳 Journée XVIIIè siècle au Château de Voltaire (FERNEY-VOLTAIRE) – Saturday 14th September 🌳🏰
Explore this castle and its grounds (once the home of Voltaire), all the while having 18th century fun! / FREE entrance to gardens and entrance for castle visit! / from 10h until 18h;
🥖 La Fête du Pain au Parc Merlet (Les Houches) – Sunday 15th September 🥖
From 10h, head along to bake your bread!
🦅 Journée à l’Ancienne (DOMANCY) – Sunday 15th September 🦅
With the presence of Les Aigles du Léman! . . . and lots of other animations!
🏛 Journées Européenes du Patrimoine (PAYS du MONT-BLANC and beyond) – weekend 21st & 22nd September 2019 🏛
A fabulous initiative, when you can visit many of the local sites du patrimoine (museums, historical buildings and more) for FREE and with animations and guided visits!
🇨🇭🇫🇷 La Nuit est Belle ! (SWITZERLAND & neighbouring France) – Thursday 26th September 2019 🇫🇷🇨🇭
Turn out the lights! / Le Museum d’histoire naturelle, la Société d’Astronomie de Genève, la Maison du Salève and other institutions are plunged into the dark, allowing you to admire our night sky 🌌 without light pollution! / more information here.
🦌 Outing for Brame du Cerf (Centre de la Nature Montagnarde, SALLANCHES) – Friday 27th September 2019 🦌
Various nature organsations organise outings to hear the famous 🦌 Brame du Cerf (the mating call of the stag, heard miles away!) . . . one option is offered by the Centre de la Nature Montagnarde (Sallanches) on Friday 27th September from 17h until 22h / RDV 17h at Parking de Levaud in Sallanches for covoiturage / price: 8€ for adults and 6€ for children and members;
. . . and other autumn outings organised by the Centre de la Nature Montagnarde . . .
Fête Paysanne, ” Une Ferme pour Tous ” (La Ferme Lépignyy, DOMANCY) – Sunday 29th September 2019
🇫🇷 Fête de la Science (AUVERGNE-ALPES) 5th until 13th October 2019 🇫🇷
More information on the AURA website . . .
🇫🇷 🐮 Bienvenue à la Ferme – portes ouvertes on weekend 5th & 6th October 🐮 🇫🇷
The lovely 🐮 Ferme les Montagnards (in Ormaret, Combloux) welcomes you on Sunday 6th October!
🇨🇭 Rallye au Chocolat (GENEVA) – weekend 5th & 6th October 🇨🇭
🇫🇷 Micro Folie musée numérique (FAVERGES-SEYTHENEX) – inauguration 12th October 🇫🇷
Inspired by the Folies du Parc de La Villette, and supported by the Château de Versailles, le Centre Pompidou, le Louvre, le Musée national Picasso, le musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, la Philharmonie de Paris, la RMN-Grand Palais, Universcience, le Festival d’Avignon, l’Institut du Monde Arabe, l’Opéra National de Paris et le Musée d’Orsay. The public can enjoy the treasures of the nation, through the digital projection of the works of these great establishments! / inauguration at 19h! / address: Tiers-lieu culturel La Forge, 130 rue Maurice Bourgeois, 74210, Faverges;
🐑 Foire aux Moutons (SERVOZ) 🐑
🎭 Festival Les Petits Asticots (PAYS du MONT-BLANC) – 19th until 25th October 2019 🎭
⛷ Bourses aux Skis (early November) ⛷
Various ⛷ bourses aux skis, to get kitted out cheaply for the upcoming ski season, with super ones in Sallanches!
💦 AUTUMN WATER FUN! 💦
In early autumn, with fine weather, you may still want 💦 splash around a bit . . .
Our 💦 local lakes au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
- 💦 Lac de Passy – this base de loisirs is heaving with activity during the summer, and then quietens in the autumn, so it is a lovely spot to be! / it 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 open on certain days in early autumn and during the Toussaint holidays (please check) / see here for more details;
- 💦 Lacs des Ilettes (Sallanches) – bouncy castles from Le Parc en Folie on certain warm, sunny days (please check opening hours) / see here for more details;
- 💦 Plan d’Eau Biotope (Combloux) – a lake naturally purified by plants, open until 8th September / see here for more details;
- 💦 Lac de Javen (Megève) – not a swimming lake, but worth a mention as it is a brilliant family destination for an autumn hike . . .
- 💦 Lac de Baignade in the Parc du Pontet (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – open until early September (check opening hours) / see here for more details;
- 💦 Lac de l’Etape (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – a small lake at altitude, access either by the 🚡télécabines de la Gorge (opposite Parc de Loisirs du Pontet) / shuts after the summer season;
➡️ for more detailed information about 💦 LAKES & WATERSPORTS au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond), see MBFF article here;
➡️ see separate MBFF article 💦 SUMMER SPLASH for more ideas about swimming pools 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and further afield), 💦 parcs aquatiques, paddling pools, family-friendly spa complexes, 🏕 campsites with fabulous water parks and ephemeral summer waterslides . . . (some still open in September; please check);
➡️ see also article: Chamonix Valley Spas & Massages for more ideas for spas in the Chamonix Valley, perfect for pampering . . .
A stroll through a 🌲🍁 forest in autumn is an especially 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:
⌊ DISCLAIMER – the storms of July 2019 caused sizable damage across the Pays du Mont-Blanc, and especially in certain spots in the Vallée d’Arve, so please use due caution in the woods and forests / certain paths have been shut due to the instability of trees, so please respect the signs! ⌉
- 🌲Bois du Bouchet (Chamonix) – makes for a perfect buggy walk, or a tour on a draisienne (push bike) . . . / there is 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 – check opening hours! / FB page;
- 🌲 Bois de la Braconne (Sallanches) – a small space, but perfect for treasure hunts;
- 🌲 Médonnet & La Pesse boulders & forest – boulders and cabanes to be made in these ethereal forest locations near Cordon and Combloux . . . / parking La Pesse: 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, storm damage etc . . .), before embarking on this!
Fine weather and 🍁 autumn leaves . . . the perfect time to visit a 🌳 park, garden, arboretum or castle grounds . . .
- 🍁 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 / open until early October, with a Fete de l’Automne Sunday 15th & Monday 16th September / for more information about Le Jardin des Cimes en famille, see MBFF post;
- 🌲 Le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet – there is a playground, grass for games, paths for buggy walks and short hiking trails / see MBFF article for more details;
➡️ for some more ideas for parks, gardens and arboretums to visit in autumn (further afield France, Switzerland and Italy), see MBFF article Springtime Blossoms & Flowers (though please do check autumn opening hours!).
Parcours d’Orientation, Treasure Hunts & Geocaching
There are some new parcours d’orientation to try out in the Chamonix Valley, perfect for a crisp autumn day! (➡️ see article🍁Autumn Leaves orienteering in the 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 – see below . . .
🏔 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;
🏔 AUTUMN STROLLS & WALKS 🏔
Here are just a few suggestions for 🍁 buggy-friendly or draisienne-friendly family strolls in autumn . . . (always be aware of rain and mud conditions!) . . .
- 🍁 River strolls (Chamonix) – Arve and Arveyron;
- 🍁 Paradis des Praz (Les Praz de Chamonix) – gurgling stream, activities and buvette (check autumn opening hours);
- 🍁 Lac des Chavants (Les Houches) – a stroll around the small fishing lakes and paths into the woods too!
- 🍁 Lac de Passy – perfect terrain for buggies and bikes and a small bike park too / see separate article here for more information about autumn lake strolls;
- 🍁 Lacs des Ilettes – see separate article here for more information about autumn lake strolls / 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 », « Boucle des Maisons Fortes » & new 2KM3 leaflet – 1 hour / available as free leaflets from Tourist Office in Saint-Gervais;
- 🍁 Doussard: La Réserve Naturelle du Bout du Lac – Doussard, at the bottom of the Lac d’Annecy, has a lovely buggy-friendly walk, and this is lovely to do in autum / 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 / see post;
- 🍁 « Annecy Paysages » – this fabulous art installation, juxtoposing nature and an urban centre, runs until 15th September, and would be perfect with a buggy!
🏔 🥾 AUTUMN HIKING for families 🥾 🏔
🍁 Autumn, before the snow arrives, is a lovely time for family hikes at altitude . . . the temperatures are usually cooler than the summertime and some of thethe 🚠 cable cars, bubble lifts and chairlifts are still running, making access to the higher altitude hikes easier . . . the air is often crisp and the light sublime for photography enthusiasts ( NB – always check opening hours of lifts and also check for snow cover if it has snowed up high overnight!).
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 – see below in mountain refuges / Les Houches – Chalets de Charousse;
- 🍁 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;
- 🍁 Sallanches: refuges of Tornieux, Mayères, 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 / HIGHLY recommended / NB – this was shut for safety reasonsafter the July storms, so please check opening!
- 🌲 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 after the July storms with Cordon Tourisme;
- 🍁 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 / opening hours in accordance with Bettex bubble lift, so please check opening hours;
- 🇨🇭 Col de la Forclaz: the Bisse du Trient (irrigation channel from 1895 bringing water from the glacier du Trient to the Col du Forclaz) walk is perfect for families! / we discovered this family walk thanks to CosmoJazz . . . / 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 (check autumn opening hours) / aller-retour walk: 6,5km / NB: if small children are walking, it is imperative to hold their hand at all times, as there is a steep drop;
- 🍁 Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval – one of my favourite places to hike – stunning scenery and lots of waterfalls! / 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 🥤🏔
After the busy summer season, some of the 🥤local mountain refuges and buvettes are still open in 🍁 early autumn (please check exact opening hours) . . . here are some suggestions:
- 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; Argentière (Crèmerie du Glacier); Vallorcine – La Cascade de Bérard; Refuge de Loriaz set to open mid-June;
- Passy – Le Refuge de Varan;
- 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!
- 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 . . . with some special autumn activities like apple picking and pressing . . . Please check autumn opening hours directly with each farm before visiting!
🐓 La Ferme Les Montagnards GAEC (Ormaret, Combloux) – with family visits scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 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 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;
🐑 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 (you can smell the cheese as you approach!) / 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 / see website for more details / opening hours: every day / see website for more details / address: 98 route de l’Usine, Chosal, 74350, Copponex;
🌳 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;
Autumn is a busy time for animals 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . out in the wild, there are some walks organised by the nature reserves to experience the Brame du Cerf (squall of the stag) . . . and there are also lots of Foires Agricoles, and these are great to head to en famille!
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:
🦌 Le Parc de Merlet Animal Park in Les Houches – this lovely animal park is open until 30th September 2019 and is a fantastic place for young walkers to spot chamois, ibex, llamas and more! (after this, the park closes for the winter season, except for some special snow-shoe outings) / 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;
🐺 KENNELS to visit: you can visit the Chiens Polaires 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:
🇨🇭🦌 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 shuts winter hibernation in early November, and combines nicely with a visit to Courmayeur or Cogne / website;
🐶 Canirando 🐶
Companies offering 🐶 canirando (walking with a dog in a harness) excursions locally (weather dependent and do check opening hours):
- 🐶 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) – the team head to their Lapland location for the winter, but are around in early autumn! / website;
🐴 Horse Riding, Ponies & Stables 🐴
You might also like to visit a horse stable and try 🐴 horse or pony riding, or have a horse or pony trek . . . do check autumn opening hours!
- 🐎 Pony rides Paradis des Praz – open over the summer, check autumn opening!
- 🐎 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 – check autumn opening! / 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! / check the more sporadic autumn opening hours!
- 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 / 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;
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 (roller blading until winter skating);
- ⚽️ 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;
🍁 Autumn is the perfect time to head out on a bike . . .
Here are my favourite places for an outing with 🚵 a draisienne (push-bike) or pedal bike for little ones:
- 🚵 Chamonix – along the Arve river, from the central playground / good for scooters too;
- 🚵 Paradis des Praz – nice and flat route to get here from the golf!
- 🚵 Lac des Chavants (Les Houches) – around the lake and into the woods / playground on-site;
- 🚵 Passy – Lac de Passy and its bike park;
- 🚵 Passy – along the Arve river from Mountain Store / sculptures along the way!
- 🚵 Sallanches – along the Bialle stream, from the Salle Léon Curral to the water wheel;
- 🚵 Sallanches – Lacs des Ilettes;
- 🚵 Notre Dame de la Gorge – along the river;
There are some 🚵 pumptracks & skateparks 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;
- 🛹 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;
- 🛹 Les Contamines-Montjoie skatepark & pumptrack (NEW!) – located in the Espace Omnisport des Loyers / spacious skatepark: 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;
🚵 Bike Parks 🚵
There are a couple of bike parks aimed at young bikers in the Pays du Mont-Blanc – one by 🚵 Lac de Passy, (next to the mini-golf) and one by the river at the 🚵 Base de Loisirs des Belles in Praz-sur-Arly (Ludik Parc) . . . and then there are some bike parks located at altitude, with downhill tracks, aimed at older children and families: Bike Park Les Houches (FB page), 🚵 Charlotte Bike Park and Wizz in Saint-Gervais (access via Bettex télécabine) and 🚵 Les Clarines in Les Contamines-Montjoie (from top of Signal télécabine) . . . further afield, Les Saisies Bike Park, Les Carroz . . .
> and 🚲 INDOOR BIKE PARK WeRide in Lyon (guest write-up soon!);
🚵🛴 Electric Bikes & Trottinettes 🛴🚵
And then, all the fashion now, are 🚵 electric bikes and 🛴 trottinettes!
- 🛴 Trot Top (Lac de Passy) – la trottinette électrique tout terrain / see here for more details;
- 🛴 various companies offer downhill electric trottinettes excursions: Alpes Aventures . . .
🚵 good places to go ELECTRIC BIKING en famille au Pays du Mont-Blanc:
- Chamonix – 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;
- ELECTRIC BIKE guide: Allan Julliot (see here);
🏎 Karting & 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: Lac de Passy (Parking des Criques) / tel: 04 50 93 75 37 or 06 80 14 68 19 / website;
- 🏎 Nash Mountain Games (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – (later in the season) / there are new quad karts in the Parc de Loisirs du Pontet / 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 then 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 and the playground in the Parc de Loisirs du Pontet in Les Contamines-Montjoie was renovated for summer 2019!.
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
On warm sunny days during the autumn, and during the Toussaint holidays, some bouncy castles & trampolines are still open (check dates) . . .
- at vide greniers and local fêtes and festivals;
- 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 autumn and Toussaint holidays! / 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) – workshops and events 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 🧗♀️
In 🍁 early autumn, it is usually still lovely to climb outdoors . . . you can hire a climbing guide, or handle the gear 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 & La Pesse boulders (Nant-Cruy) – bouldering in a beautiful forest;
- 🧗♀️ Le Fayet – via ferrata and rocher escalade;
- 🧗♀️ Megève Rochebrune;
- 🧗♀️ Les Contamines-Montjoie – rocher d’escalade de la Duchère – located right next to the Parc de Loisirs du Pontet;
🧗♀️ Via Ferrata 🧗♀️
The Via Ferratas are still open in early autumn, before they head into hibernation . . .
- 🧗♀️ 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 autumn opening (until September, thenToussaint holidays) / 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 / opening hours: until 30th September, and weekends in October and Toussaint holidays too / 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 / 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 / opening hours: see here (until September, then October weekends and Toussaint holidays, shut from November) / 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 Switzerland, 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 in springtime; an article to come very soon!): 🏰 Château de l’Echelle (La Roche-sur-Foron) / 🏰 Château de Thorens / 🏰 Château de Faucigny / 🏰 Château d’Annecy / 🏰 Château de Clermont . . . 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 / opening hours: see here, shuts for hibernation from October / 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 family visit!
🏰 Château & Domaine de Ripaille – 🗓 open until November, 11h to 17h / good to know: 🖼 occasional exhibitions and ask for the 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 (Ferney-Voltaire)
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;
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 / autumn opening hours: early September, then weekends and Toussaint holidays, until November; see here / see website for more details;
- Parc de Loisirs du Pontet (Les Contamines-Montjoie) – bouncy castles, trampolines, karts, accrobranches, lots of sports (check September opening / partial opening for some of activities for Toussaint holidays / see website for more details;
And further afield, and some bigger options
🇫🇷 Défoul’Park (Morillon) – an obstacle course (about 40 features), e-skates and more . . . / 3+ years / see FB page for more details and opening hours / tel: 06 83 24 53 81;
🇫🇷 Parc Walibi (between Chambéry and Lyon) – a huge amusement park, with some new attractions for this year! / autumn pening hours: September and October weekends and Toussaint holidays, 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) / autumn opening hours: until early November, 10h until 18h / website;
🇩🇰 Western City – no electronics here, all cowboy and indian themed, in this amusement park measuring 10’000 m2 / autumn opening: 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 / autumn opening: 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 / autumn opening: 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 recently opened, with a virtual reality option for the passenger – see here!
You can find ⛳️ mini-golf areas at these locations 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc (please check autumn opening hours):
- ⛳️ 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 autumn drizzle, these would be still fun. You generally wear a suit and you’re meant to get dirty anyway, right? Please check autumn opening with each venue!
- 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 . . . (please check autumn opening) / 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 – most of these shut after the Toussaint holidays for November hibernation, and they are all 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 – across the glacier to 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 / website;
🇮🇹🚡 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) / open all year;
🇫🇷🚠 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) – shuts for winter hibernation end of October / three uniquerail 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;
There are also plenty of lesser-known (but with just as amazing views!), cable-cars, bubbles and chairlifts 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . (but many of these shut for much of later autumn, to re-open for ski season.
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! / annual closure from 30th September until 18th October and gondola and ice-cave shut until 13th December / see here for MBFF post;
🚂 Petit Train Touristique de 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 until 22nd September (check opening after this here) / see here for more details;
🚂 Le Petit Train (Parc Thermal, Le Fatyet) – this famous little train should still be operating on warm weekends in early autumn / 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 autumn months (please check exact dates with each establishment):
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;
Simone – in Sallanches;
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, but path slippery in the event of rain or ice, do take due care! / 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) – see MBFF article here – AMAZING! / 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:
- 💦 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 white-water rafting and canyoning;
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 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:
- temporary Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle exhibition, starting in April (see above): « Prédations »;
- temporary MEG exhibition: « La fabrique des contes »;
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;
🇮🇹 Cogne – a charming small town, see below . . .
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 sculpture festival Annecy Paysages until 15th September, 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 🎨 « Expressionisme Allemand » 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 equally charming, but less visited by tourists, Nernier!
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 on certain Sundays 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;
🎥 autumn film options for families . . .
➡️ for more indoor options on a ☔️ RAINY autumn day, see the following MBFF articles:
- MUSEUMS & EXHIBITIONS au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond);
- ☔️ 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;