La Petite Université (Chamonix Valley)

Did you know that there was a 📚 university in the Chamonix Valley? It’s called La Petite Université – Chamonix Mont-Blanc and it is now entering its 3rd year! Subjects on offer include: glaciology, permaculture, photography, life drawing, French & English lessons and much, much more!

What is La Petite Université?

📚 La Petite Université is an association offering cultural courses and complementary talks, events, outings and 🎨 workshops to people with free time. The aim is to make learning accessible to everyone, and to create a social and intergenerational link within the community.

On offer are subjects in the domains of: Social Science, Science, Languages, and the Arts.

© La Petite Université

A little information about founder and vice-president Juliette Craplet

Juliette Craplet, the founder and vice-president of 📚 La Petite Université, told me a little bit more about the inspiration behind her project . . .

She has lived in Chamonix for 7 years, and like many of us who have settled in this 🏔 majestic mountain valley and truly made it our home, she came regularly as a child to Chamonix (her family own a chalet here); Chamonix has thus always been an integral part of her life. The idea for 📚 La Petite Université developed gradually, and she drew inspiration from her encounters with the people who had grown up in the valley or those who had chosen this unique spot to be their home; she realised that there were many people like herself seeking a diverse cultural programme, as a complement to the pleasure offered by the 🏔 mountains and mountain sports. Once the idea had begun to take shape, it took Juliette about a year to mould the project into what it is today; a huge amount of work, considering all of the courses now on offer and the specialists she has tracked down to teach them! She says that along the way she drew inspiration also from the 📚 Universités Populaires and the Universités du Temps Libre that already exist in many towns in France. Asked whether she will be taking any of the courses on offer at 📚 La Petite Université, the answer is a definite YES!

© La Petite Université Chamonix

How does La Petite Université work?

First of all, you need to become an adhérant (member) of 📚 La Petite Université (adults: 40€ / couples: 70€ / children: 30€), and with this membership you have the right to attend all of the talks taking place for free. Once you are a member, then you can sign up to do the courses (organised on a trimester basis), which are very reasonably priced.

To see some of the talks and events on offer, see here.

And to sign up online, see here. You can also sign up in person here: Club Alpin Français (CAF), 136 avenue Michel Croz, 74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (Tuesdays and Thursdays 9h30 until 12h30 and 13h30 until 15h45;

© La Petite Université

What subjects are on offer?

📚 SOCIAL SCIENCE: political science, literature, sports sociology, history, philosophy;

🧪 SCIENCE:  meteorology, glaciology, mineralogy, Chinese medicine;

LANGUAGES: English & French for adults, English for children, Italian, Spanish, Russian;

🎨 ARTS & SAVOIRE-FAIRE: life drawing, photography, permaculture, computer studies & new media, Feng Shui, Chinese medicine;

Photo stage with La Petite Université ©

CHILDREN’S PROGRAMME: English, Montessori, emotions . . .

Where are the courses being taught?
The courses are to be being taught at various locations in Chamonix, Les Houches and Argentière:
  • the École Militaire de Haute Montagne (EMHM) in Chamonix;
  • the École Jeanne d’Arc in Chamonix;
  • the Étape in Argentière;
  • Blue Ice in Les Houches;

What classes are available for children?

« Les Petits Bilingues » (English classes) are available for children (6 to 10 years), during the academic year. There are also workshops available over the holidays – « Bla bla Kids » – mixing the acquisition of French or English with fun outdoor activities; a confirmed and fun way of getting children (or adults!) to absorb a language is by mixing language learning with an activity.

Also on offer to children: Montessori classes, classes exploring the handling of emotions and les petits philosophes . . .

More about the team

Juliette, the director of La Petite Université Chamonix, has a team working with her, both behind the scenes or in the classroom (be that classroom indoors or outdoors!):

  • Alice Baux (Vice-President);
  • Céline de Paoli (Vice-President);
  • Timothée Mottin (Vice-President);
  • Philippe Craplet (President);
  • Myriam Khiter (Secretary);
  • Chantal de Paoli (Treasurer);
To learn more about the specialists teaching the subjects on offer, take a look at each individual course on the website; they are a diverse and talented group of people (some of them you may have already encountered!).

Practical Information

La Petite Université is always present at the Forum des Associations et Structures Culturelles in Chamonix at the start of September!

headquarters: Club Alpin Français (CAF), 136 avenue Michel Croz, 74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (Tuesdays and Thursdays 9h30 until 12h30 and 13h30 until 15h45) /
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