🍁 Autumn is a lovely season to visit 🌳 parks and gardens: on the trees, a sharp palette rich in shades of gold, brown red, orange and yellow . . . underfoot, 🍂 a blanket of leaves crunching and sent fluttering when the children find a mound and run through it . . . a crisp, and often ☀️ sunny day to accompany your exploits: playing and running, tree-climbing, LandArt, cabane-making . . . and many of these parks and gardens have well-maintained paths, perfect for buggies and prams!
We have several 🌲 parks and gardens au Pays du Mont-Blanc, perfect for an autumn stroll . . . and further afield are some more excellent options too, some free, some with an entrance fee . . . 🗓 Some of the parks and gardens described below are open ALL YEAR-ROUND, and some shut later in the autumn, to re-open again in springtime, so please do check opening hours and dates!
For a a list of 🏰 CASTLES still open in autumn and over the Toussaint Holidays (many will hibernate over the winter!), and ANIMAL PARKS, PLAYGROUNDS, AMUSEMENT PARKS and ACCROBRANCHES (all lovely options with autumn leaves!) please see separate article 🍁 AUTUMN ACTIVITIES for families au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond).
Colour code for listings:
Pays du Mont-Blanc
Chamonix Valley (Chamonix, Argentière, Les Houches, Servoz & environs) and Vallorcine
Passy & environs
Sallanches, Combloux, Cordon & Domancy
St Gervais, Le Fayet, Saint Nicolas de Véroce & environs
Megève, Praz-sur-Arly & environs
Les Contamines & environs
🇫🇷 Further France 🇫🇷
🇨🇭 Switzerland 🇨🇭
🇮🇹 Italy 🇮🇹
PAYS du MONT-BLANC and environs
PARKS & GARDENS Chamonix
There are some 🌳 small parks in Chamonix, perfect for playing and a short 🍁 autumn stroll . . . see separate MBFF article here for more details.
Parc de Merlet animal park (Les Houches)
This 🦌 lovely animal park (located at an altitude of 1500m!) is a fantastic early autumn destination for young walkers, where they can spot 🦌 deer, chamois, bouquetins (ibex), and even 🦙 llamas (!), wandering freely within the parameters of the park! You you can visit much of the park with a good buggy, but you’ll need a baby-carrier for the higher path. Also for families, you’ll find a sand-pit, a parcours ludique, and a restaurant on-site/ see website for more details regarding admission prices and other information / and see MBFF article for recommendations for a family visit & parking;
🗓 opening dates: until 30th September 2021 (note: you need to book at the weekend!);
Jardin des Cimes (Plateau d’Assy)
[ note: the gardens shut for winter hibernation from early October! ]
The 🌻 Jardin des Cimes in Plateau d’Assy is a magical and innovative alpine garden and it stays open until the start of October, and then it heads into winter hibernation (🍁 autumn is my favourite season for a visit!) / for more information, see MBFF article here / website / good to know: there is a lovely café & restaurant (open to the public, no need to pay garden entrance) – Le Café du Jardin – serving seasonal dishes AND there are workshops for children on some Saturdays;
🗓 autumn opening hours: Wednesday ⇒ Sunday in September, 10h until 18h / price: adults 5€ to 6,50€, children (4 o 16 years) 3€ to 4€, under 4s FREE and family 14€;
address: 447 route du Docteur Davy, Plateau d’Assy, 74190, Passy / tel: +33 (0)4 50 21 50 87;
Parc Thermal (Le Fayet)
This fabulous historic park in Le Fayet has so many activities on offer! There is a fabulous playground for young children, grass for games, paths for buggy walks, short hiking trails to waterfalls, 🧗♀️ rock-climbing, accrobranches and via ferrata, 🚂 Le Petit Train du Parc Thermal, artwork, the renovated (and extended) 💦 Thermes du Mont-Blanc . . . perfect for an 🍁 autumn stroll! / see MBFF article for more details;
🗓 opening hours: open all year round / FREE to visit!
Parc de Loisirs du Pontet (Les Contamine-Montjoie)
This is a leisure park set in the most stunning natural environment! It is FREE to stroll around the park, to walk up the river to the beautiful ⛪️ church and chapel in Notre Dame de la Gorge, to admire the outdoor photography exhibition, to stop for a play in the playground . . . and also, some of the paying activities are still available at the weekend in 🍂 early autumn and over the Toussaint holidays, like donkey walking and more (please check directly with park for details). There is a 🗺 parcours ludique with a map (please find details at the Office de Tourisme des Contamines-Montjoie) / see separate MBFF article here fore more details about the activities on offer at this fabulous park.
🗓 opening hours: open all year round (though sport and leisure activities are summer-based) and the park turns in the ❄️ Domaine Nordique come wintertime (ski de fond, sledging, chiens de traineau) / FREE to visit (activities you must pay for);
🇫🇷 FURTHER FRANCE
If you venture a bit further, then you have plentiful options for fabulous 🍁 autumn outings to parks and gardens . . .
Jaÿsinia Jardin Alpin in Samoëns
Classified as a jardin remarquable, the 🌿 Jaÿsinia Jardin Alpin in Samoëns has around 4800 mountain plants from 2500 species (from 5 continents) and it is scientifically managed by the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle. Within the grounds is a scientific laboratory, with a collection of plants from Savoie. This unique little alpine garden, with little waterfall features, clings to the side of a hill; a path weaves up to the top of the hill (80m of dénivelé), from where you can look out onto the village and where you will find to the ruins of the Château de la Tornalta (XIIème), and an 18th century chapel.
a little history – the founders of the famous Parisian department store La Samaritaine – Marie Louise Jaÿ (from Samoëns) and Ernest Cognacqhuge – made a fortune, but had no heirs . . . so, in 1906 Marie Louise, never having forgotten her village natal, created Jaÿsinia.
🍁 autumn opening hours: until 30th September, every day from 8h to 12h and from 13h30 to 19h / from 1st October to 30th April, every day from 8h to 12h and from 13h30 to 16h30 (except during snow cover, in order to protect fragile species) / price: FREE! / website;
address: 40 rue du Parc, 74340, Samoëns;
Jardins de l’Europe & Parc Charles Bossons (Annecy)
Located right next to Lac d’Annecy, the 🌳 Jardins de l’Europe & le Parc Charles Bossons are lovely spots for a walk or picnic in autumn, with playgrounds for children, paths for buggies and draisiennes and plentiful grass for ball games . . .
a little history – since the Middle Ages, the Jardins de l’Europe gardens have had many uses – they were religious land until the Revolution and before that (until the end of the Middle Ages), when there were epedemic outbreaks, the land was used to house contagious people on little islets in « cabanes de santé » . . . a religious order then turned the land into the gardens of its convent, linked by a bridge . . . the gardens were finally opened to the public after the Revolution, and in the 19th century the Mairie built an English-style garden, with 650 trees and 1000 bushes!
good to know: you can enjoy Annecy Paysages – an annual landscape art and sculpture festival – until the end of September, both lakeside and in town!
🗓 opening hours: open all year round / FREE to visit!
address: place de l'Hôtel de Ville, 74000, Annecy;
Jardin des 5 Sens (Yvoire)
The 🌺 Jardin des 5 Sens are pretty walled gardens, divided into themed sections based on the fives senses, in the medieval lakeside town of Yvoire. There is a special quizz available for children: the bee 🐝 Méliflor accompanies children 6 to 11 years, and the herbalist Floritou guides the older 12 to 14 year olds.
note: no dogs allowed! (apart from guide-dogs)
🗓 opening dates: until 12th September 2021, from 10h to 18h30 and from 13th September to 3rd October 2021, from 10h to 17h30 (after this, the gardens enters winter hibernation) / price: adults 14€, children (6 to 18 years) 8€, children under 6 years FREE, family price 35€ / website;
address: rue du Lac, 74140, Yvoire (you must park outside the town walls) / tel: +33 (0) 450 72 88 80:
Jardins de l’Eau du Pré Curieux (Evian)
This 🌱 3,5 hectare lakeside water garden (classified since 2005 as a « jardin remarquable »), is located at the western entrance to Evian, and is accessed by a solar-powered boat which leaves from the centre of Evian. It is home to a wetland research and information centre, and a discovery trail through the park presents the various water ecosystems: ponds with fish and waterlilies, mountain streams, marshes / the site offers guided tours from May to September.
a little history – the gardens were renovated by landscaper Laurent Daune (from Lucinges) and opened to the public in 2002 / within the Pré Curieux is a colonial house from 1870.
address: Embarcadère du Casino, quai Baron de Blonay, 74500, Évian-les-Bains / tel: +33 (0)4 50 75 04 26;
Arboretum de Ripaille (Thonon-les-Bains)
The 🌲 Arboretum de Ripaille is within the 🌲 Forêt de Ripaille, (hunting ground for the Comtes de Savoie from the XIIIth centurury) which covers an expanse of 53 hectares. There is a 2 hour sign-posted walk, in which you will discover the: vieille chênaie, l’arboretum sylvetum André Engel (19 hectares) and the Clairère des Justes de France (a memorial to the people who saved Jews during WWII) / good to know: after a walk, you can visit the Château de Ripaille, or stop off at the castle’s restaurant and salon de thé (afternoon); it is also lovely to visit the small port and playground on Lac Léman;
a little history – between 1930 and 1934, the arboretum was created by André Engel, whose aim was to experiment with acclimatising different plants to successful growth in the area;
🗓 autumn opening hours: every day (but SHUT on Mondays), 10h until 19h (September) or 16h30 (October) / FREE to visit! / website;
address: Château et Domaine de Ripaille, 83 avenue de Ripaille, 74200, Thonon-les-Bains;
Domaine de Rovoréé – la Châtaignière (Yvoire, Lac Léman)
This pretty park, part of the Domaine du Conservatoire de l’Espace Littoral, measures 24 hectares (with a beach length of 1,2km), and it is one of the rare areas with public access to Lac Léman. You’ll have lots of green space, with ancient châtaigniers and giant sequoias. Onsite, you’ll also find the Manoir de Rovorée et La Châtaignière / website;
🗓 autumn opening hours: open every day, all year;
address: route d'Excenevex, 74140, Yvoire;
Château & Parc de Voltaire (Ferney-Voltaire)
Located near the Swiss border, 🏰 this castle (now a monument historique) was built between 1758 and 1766, and for 20 years accommodated one of the most illustrious philosophers of the Enlightenment – Voltaire! The 🌳 park covers 7 hectares, and for Voltaire, this was the extension of the castle; the two were intrisically linked, and this was the most beautiful adornment of his domain. Located with views of the ⛰ Jura mountains to the north and the 🏔 Alps to the south, the gardens were cushioned between peaks. He worked on the gardens to host: a vineyard, a potager, an orchard, a French garden with water feature and small theatre for performances / more information here;
🗓 autumn opening hours: until 30th September, every day 10h until 18h / 1st October until 31st March, every day 10h until 17h (shut 25th December & 1st January) / good to know: super XVIII themed day in September! / price: 8€ and free for under 18s;
address: allée du Château, 01210, Ferney-Voltaire / tel: (33) 04 50 40 53 21;
Domaine du Tornet & Parc des Jardins de Haute-Savoie (La Balme de Sillingy)
Around 40 typical gardens of Haute-Savoie on a mini-scale have been landscaped into this park, which is located next to a lake! / chasse aux trésors and jeu de piste available / website;
🗓 autumn opening hours: until 31st October, 10h until 19h;
address: 165 route de Paris, 74330, La Balme de Sillingy / tel: 04 50 22 40 31;
Jardins Secrets (Vaulx, near Annecy)
” Une évasion bucolique et originale sur 7000m2 ” – Les Jardins Secrets
a little history – the story began in 1980, when Nicole and Alain acquired a farm with lots of land in Vaulx, and settled there with their 3 daughters . . . the farm was in a very run-down state, and needed a complete renovation . . . and then Alain set to work to the gardens, with the whole family lending a hand. The gardens began to attract the attention of the public, and it was decided to open them to visitors: in 1994, the gardens opened to the public . . . themed, musical evenings followed, and then two salons de thé opened – la Boquéria and le Petit Riad . . . and then paining workshops and a giftshop . . .
address: 1561 route de Lagnat, 74150, Vaulx / tel: +33 (0)4 50 60 53 18;
Maison du Salève (Présilly)
A visit to 🍁 La Maison du Salève makes for a wonderful family day out during the autumn . . . the garden is a delight for little ones – a small parcours, with boulders to hop over, picnic tables, a small climbing frame, and an insect hotel, and there are longer walks to enjoy too . . . and there are plenty of 🍂 autumn activities, outings and workshops on the agenda too (see here) / read about MBFF’s visits (spring and autumn) here;
a little history – 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 its environs: the permanent interactive exhibitions: « Le Salève, une montagne et des hommes » / current temporary exhibition: « La forêt, maison des animaux » until 30th September 2022 (price: 2€, free for children under 6 years);
🗓 autumn opening hours: Wednesdays and weekends from 14h until 18h (and school holidays Tuesday to Sunday, 14h until 18h); see here / price: 6€, children (6 to 18 years) 3€ and FREE for children under 6 years / website;
address: 775 route de Mikerne, 74160, Présilly / tel: + 33 (0)4 50 95 92 16;
Château de Montrottier (Lovagny)
Castles often have superb grounds and gardens to visit . . .
🗓 opening dates & price: open until 7th November 2021, Wednesday to Sunday / family price: 22€, adults 9€ and children 6€, children under 5 years FREE / website;
good to know: the castle is located near the Gorges du Fier, also fabulous for a family visit;
address: Domaine et Château de Montrottier, 60 allée du Château, 74330, Lovagny;
Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard (Menthon-Saint-Bernard, Lac d’Annecy)
MBFF visited this stunning fairy-tale castle, which overlooks Lac d’Annecy, for the first time last September. The 🌹 rose garden was looking beautiful, as was 🌿 the potager.
good to know: La Nuit des Châteaux will be held here on Saturday 23rd October at 18h;
address: Château de Menthon Saint-Bernard, allée du Château, 74290, Menthon-Saint-Bernard (between Annecy and Talloires);
Parc de la Tête d’Or & Zoo (Lyon)
This huge park (the largest urban park in France!) is set across 117 hectares and is located on the banks of the mighty Rhône, near the centre of Lyon / MBFF had a visit to the 🌳 Parc de la Tête d’Or for the first time back in October 2012, with a toddler speeding around on a draisienne and with little brother not yet arrived in this world! Our next visit was in autumn 2019, with two big boys! This park is simply AMAZING; you’ll find so many family activities for FREE! / you’ll be treated to: green grass, manège and playground, deer ground and zoo, botanical garden, a small lake . . . and MORE, depending on the season! / see website for more details, opening hours, access and parking information;
🗺 address: Parc de la Tête d'Or, Place du Général Leclerc, 69006, Lyon;
Village des Branchés (Montuires, VerticAlp Emosson)
MBFF was invited in autumn 2019 by VertiAlp Emosson, to enjoy the funiculaire, the train panoramique and the minifunic, bringing us up to Lac d’Emosson. It was, quite simply, FABULOUS! And one of the best bits? There were so many best bits, but one of the best was the Village des Branchés, which is this magical ephemeral park created up at Les Montuires! Especially lovely in autumn, open until 10th October 2021! / see website for more information and to read about the MBFF experience, head to article here;
Fondation Pierre Gianadda (Martigny)
The 🌱 gardens of this wonderful museum – which change with each season and complement the fabulous sculptures – are part of the appeal of a visit. Did you know that the museum’s gardens are a unique réserve naturelle? Lovely water fixtures accompany you on your walk through the gardens, and also fig trees as a reminder of the days of the Roman Empire, European white birch, Austrian black pines and Japanese maple trees . . . / ⇒ see MBFF article for more details about a visit to the museum and gardens.
a little history – the engineer Léonard Gianadda discovered the remains of an ancient Celtic temple in the spring of 1976. Shortly after this discovery, his beloved younger brother Pierre died while searching for help for his fellow survivors in the aftermath of a plane crash. In the wake of this tragic event, Léonard decided to create a foundation so that the memory of Pierre could live on, and he chose to build this on the grounds of the Celtic temple. The Fondation Pierre Gianadda was very fittingly inaugurated on what would have been Pierre’s 40th birthday: 19th November 1978.
🖼 current exhibition: « Caillebotte: impressioniste et moderne », until 21st November 2021;
🗓 opening hours: 9h to 19h or 10h to 18h / website / price: adults CHF18 or 20€ and children CHF12 or 11€;
address: rue du Forum 59, 1920, Martigny, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)27 722 39 78;
Jardin Botanique Flore-Alpe (Champex-Lac)
We have not yet visited these botanical alpine gardens, but it is on the list of gardens to visit! The pretty gardens, with 4000 flowering plants also offer views of Champex lake and Le Combin mountains. In 2007, the gardens received le prix Schulthess des Jardins de Patrimoine Suisse / there are guided visits and workshops on offer at these gardens and you can even stay on-site at the Grand Chalet, in the heart of the gardens! / website / FB page;
🗓 opening dates: May until November, 10h until 18h / price: adults 8CHF and children half price;
address: route de l'Adray 27, Champex, Valais, Switzerland / tel: +41 27 783 12 17;
Jardins Botaniques CJBG (Geneva)
The 🍁 Botanical Gardens (Conservatoire et Jardins Botaniques de Genève – CJBG) in Geneva, Switzerland are open all year round and are a joy to visit during each season. As well as the beautiful 🌳 trees, plants, flowers and greenhouses, the gardens have: a wonderful wooden playground, a magical carrousel in the warmer months, a 🦌 small animal park and plentiful grass for running around and picnics / ☕️ there is also a restaurant and snack bar on-site / good to know: just across the rue de Lausanne and overlooking 💦 Lac Léman, is the Parc des Perles and its 🧬 Musée d’histoire des sciences / ⇒ see here to read MBFF article or website;
🗓 opening hours: 8h until 17h or 19h30 / FREE to visit!
address: CJBG, chemin de l’Impératrice, 1202, Geneva, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)22 418 51 00;
Bois de la Batie – NEW playground and animal park (Geneva)
The Bois-de-la-Bâtie is well known to Geneva locals – the largest woodland in Geneva for strolls, green grass, an animal park, sports grounds, water park and super NEW playground . . .
MBFF visited the zoo in the Bois-de-la-Bâtie, but we’ve not yet been to the NEW playground . . . but I am keen to take the boys before they get too big! It looks FABULOUS! (Thanks to Kid’ing in Geneva, Les Petits Genevois, and the Ville de Genève for the photos . . . / more information here;
address: Le Bois-de-la-Bâtie, chemin de la Bâtie, 1202, Geneva, Switzerland;
Parc des Bastions (Geneva)
Centrally located and the most visited park in Geneva, the 🌳 Parc des Bastions is a lovely walled park, with plentiful paths and green space, a playground, a historic café & restaurant (once a music kiosk), giant chess, the Reformation Memorial (built in 1873; see here) / draisiènnes and small pedal bikes permitted / it is a short walk to the old town and right opposite the Musée Rath and the Place Neuve and the Bibliothèque de Genève (temporary exhibitions);
a little history: the Parc des Bastions started its life in 1817, designed by Augustin-Pyrame de Candolle, to be the first botanical garden in Geneva (the site was then moved to its present location; see above); there are still some trees unique to Geneva in this park!
🗓 opening dates: open all year-round;
address: Promenade des Bastions 1, 1204, Genève;
Parc de la La Grange (Eaux Vives, Geneva)
This beautiful and impressive park is set on a grassy hill and leads down to the water’s edge of Lac Léman . . . there is a rose garden, an 18th century manor house, the ruins of an old Roman villa, a café (La Buvette des Femmes Abstinentes has just changed management), the Théâtre de Verdure and the Théatre de l’Orangerie (for summer concerts), a BBQ area, a playground . . . / website;
a little history – a wealthy Roman decided to build his villa on the site of the park (the remains of this villa are visible behind the 18th century manor house). The last owner of the house and park left the park in his will to the Ville de Genève in 1917, and it was opened for the public’s use the following year. The 🌹 rose garden was planted in 1945, and there is a competition for new roses held here every year.
🗓 autumn opening hours: 6h or 7h until 18h;
address: quai Gustave-Ador, Geneva;
Jardins Anglais & floral clock (Geneva)
Situated right next to Lac Léman, the 🌺 Jardins Anglais in Geneva is a lovely spot for a stroll or picnic / restaurants within the Jardins Anglais: Bateau Genève (a restaurant on the water – Le Bateau Genève used to circulate on Lac Léman!) and Café-restaurant La Potinière (in the centre of the gardens) and food trucks / there are many historic monuments within the gardens;
history of the floral clock: it was created in 1955, in hommage to Geneva’s watchmakers and to nature – more than 12,000 flowering plants and shrubs make up the clock face and are changed 5 times each year!
Parc Musée Ariana (Geneva)
Left in Gustave Revilliod’s (1817-1890) will to the Ville de Genève, the domaine de Varembé – which once extended as far as the lake! – has had many incarnations. The arrival of the botanical gardens in the early 20th century took up some of this land / sculptures: Michelangelo, Mahatma Gandhi (2007) / Japanese connection: bell of Shinagawa, twenty cherry trees on the allée des Sakura (2014), a monument to the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs and a monument to Marcel Junod, the first foreign doctor to go the aid of the Hiroshima victims / ⇒ see Musée Ariana website (textile and ceramics museum) for more details;
Parc Stagni (Chêne-Bougeries, near Geneva)
MBFF discovered the 🌳 Parc Stagni in Chêne-Bougeries quite by chance a few years ago, on a crisp and sunny autumn day, when we went to the fabulous Ô Cézanne exhibtion next door. From the fabulous playground (replete with a big tree trunk to climb and sandpit), there is a secret doorway which leads into bigger Parc Stagni – perfect for running! Have you heard of Disc-Golf? This is a hybrid sport, somewhere between the rules of golf and frisbee-throwing! And you can play it in the Parc Stagni for FREE! (Monday to Friday 8h until midday and 14h until 17h) – more information here;
address: Parc Stagni, 1224, Chêne Bougeries, Switzerland;
Jardin Botanique Alpin de Meyrin (Meyrin, Geneva)
🗓 autumn opening hours: 8h30 until 18h;
address: chemin du Jardin Alpin 9, Meyrin, Switzerland / tel: +4122766306332;
Maison de la Créativité (Conches, Geneva)
I’ve included this creative hub in this article, as its grounds and gardens are part of its charm, and the MBFF family is a huge fan of La Maison de la Créativité . . . a house and gardens full of treasures for children, wonderful workshops, an outdoor “kitchen”, a playground, incredibly welcoming staff . . . ⇒ see MBFF article for more details / aimed at children up to the age of 8 years;
🗓 open to public: Wednesdays (9h30 until midday AND 14h30 to 17h30) AND one Saturday per month (9h30 to 12h and 14h30 to 17h30) AND during Swiss school holidays – note: you need to book your slot for this season! / website / parking: on route de Florissant, and then a short walk (or bring draisienne!) / price: 3CHF for children and adults 2+ years;
address: 7, chemin Calandrini, 1231, Conches, Switzerland / tel: +41(0)22 810 18 90
AROUND LAC LEMAN & VAUD
Le Parc Pré Vert at Signal de Bougy (Switzerland)
Over on the other side of 💦 Lac Léman, there is a wonderful parc de loisirs, Le Parc Pré Vert at Signal de Bougy: 110 hectares, 🌳 with woodland, 🌈 a large playground, buggy-friendly walks, 🦆an animal park, ☕️ a spacious family-friendly restaurant, 🍏 picnic areas, 🎨 workshops for children, 🎭 an outdoor theatre, 🌳 a parc aventure, ⛳️mini-golf and more . . . and all with 🏔 a splendid view of Lac Léman and snowy peaks! / website;
address: route du Signal, 1172, Bougy-Villars, Switzerland / tel: +41 58 568 31 50;
Château et Jardins de Prangins (near Nyon)
Arboretum National du Vallon de l’Aubonne
The 🌲 Arboretum National du Vallon de l’Aubonne is open all year-round, though the 🌲 Musée du Bois and shop are only open from early April until October / the Arboretum organises lots of lovely events and guided visits, see here for the 2021 programme and 🍁 autumn specials (autumn colours in the Japanese gardens, animations automnales pour les enfants et leurs parents, les vergers . . . ) / MBFF had a fabulous spring visit in 2019 and we are looking forward to exploring in autumn! / website;
price: CHF10 for adults, and children enter for FREE!
address: chemin de Plan 92, Aubonne, Switzerland / tel: +41 21 808 51 83;
Domaine de Vullierens – castle and iris gardens
If you think that blossoming flowers are reserved for the spring and summer seasons, then think again! These castle gardens offer you plentiful flowers in autumn: roses, foxgloves and the famous irises! MBFF visited these sculpture gardens back in 2018, to admire the irises and other blossoming flowers . . . we were absolutely won over by our visit, and especially the Royaume du Roi Lézard, in which you enter a magical, fairy world . . .
🏰 castle: the Domaine de Vullierens has belonged to the same family for over 700 years, with the Mestral family residing here ever since the completion of the current castle by Gabriel-Henri de Mestral in 1745;
🌷 iris gardens: the collection of irises at Vullierens was created by Doreen Bovet, the Californian wife (and mother of the current owner of Vullierens) of Bernard Bovet de Mestral. A great lover of irises, in the autumn of 1950, Doreen planted 5 new varieties (ordered from Shreiner in the USA); in 1955 the castle gardens were opened to the public. Over the years, the iris and day lily collection has grown and developped, and now there are over 400 varieties planted over 2 hectares. A particular feature of irises is that they flower twice annually, and once 🍁 in autumn! / in May and June, there is a colourful mosaic of over 500,000 different flowers for visitors to enjoy in the gardens /
⇒ for more information about the gardens and flowers, see here;
sculptures: in the gardens of Vullieriens, there are 80 sculptures dotted across 30 hectares of land, from 21 Swiss and international artists / the Étienne Krähenbühl ‘s Le Bing Bang is donged every day at at 14h30!
🦎 for families and children: Le Royaume du Roi Lézard is a magical addition for children and families in the gardens / most of the route is possible with a buggy or you can leave buggies at entrance / be sure to ask for the map at the entrance / see here for more details;
🦉 barn owl observation: the Department of Ecology and Evolution of the University of Lausanne has installed its cameras at Vullierens. The estate houses two of the 250 or so nesting boxes of their study on owls, and with webcams, the owls’ daily lives are followed: birth, meals, entrances, exits . . . / a few Sundays over the season, Prof. Alexandre Roulin and his research group hold a workshop to familiarise visitors with barn owls, this discreet nocturnal bird that is nevertheless very present in the region / ⇒ more information here;
Wednesdays & Saturdays in September 2021: ” « Alice de l’Autre Côté du Miroir » -une expérience théâtrale immersive et inoubliable pour tout âge. Après une première collaboration enchanteresse en 2020, la compagnie artistique Lunidea s’associe à nouveau au Château de Vullierens et vous présente « Alice de l’Autre Côté du Miroir ». Une féérie philosophique pleine de folie joyeuse qui vous entraînera cette fois-ci dans une quête initiatique. Ce deuxième volet du célèbre roman de Lewis Carroll est moins connu du grand public. Il recèle pourtant des bijoux de réflexions et d’humour à ne manquer sous aucun prétexte !Dans cette adaptation originale de l’œuvre culte, les spectateurs sont invités à vivre, de manière active et ludique, avec Alice, une aventure incroyable dans le cadre exceptionnel des Jardins du Château de Vullierens et même à résoudre quelques énigmes avec elle ! Le public ne se contentera pas de plonger dans un univers féérique proposé par les personnages de l’histoire, il pourra aider Alice à trouver des solutions pour que tout le monde puisse revenir dans le monde réel ! Une expérience unique en son genre et quasi intime d’une trentaine de spectateurs à la fois. Le nombre de places étant par conséquent très limité, ne tardez pas à réserver vos places pour ce spectacle inédit. Le spectacle aura lieu même par petite pluie. En cas de report exceptionnel dû à une météo très mauvaise, vous serez avisés et un remboursement sera possible. Les distances sociales pourront facilement être respectées. ” / not suitable for under 5s / every child must be in possession of a ticket / timings: 1h15, more or less / reservations recommended; see here;
✨ Féerie Lumineuse – from 9th to 19th September, 19h30 to 22h30;
🗓 autumn opening hours 2021: 🍁 every weekend in September & October, 12h until 18h (café SHUT, shop OPEN, with food planchettes du terroir in courtyard) / price: adults 15CHF, children (12 to 16 years) 5CHF, children under 5 years FREE / note: dogs ALLOWED on a leash, picnics NOT permitted (an area is set up at the entrance) and wheelchair access! / website / FB page;
address: Château de Vullierens, Vullierens, Switzerland / tel: +41 21 869 88 80;
Le Jardin Zen Aigle (Aigle)
Le Jardin Zen in Aigle is the largest oriental garden in Switzerland! / the visit takes arounc 1h30 and you’ll be treated to flowers, rocks, animals and an oriental sound garden . . . / good to know: the Château d’Aigle is nearby ! / FB page and website;
🗓 opening hours:until October, 9h until 18 and Sunday afternoons;
price: children under 6 years FREE, adults 9CHF and 2x adults and 2x children 19CHF;
address: chemin de la Biole, Aigle, Switzerland / tel: +41 24 466 79 06;
Parco Bollino (Courmayeur)
MBFF came across this 🍁 little park quite by accident one autumn day . . . the light was stunning . . . This gorgeous little park in Courmayeur is set on a hill, and crosses over a road to an extension of the park . . . you’ll find two playgrounds (the one for older children we discovered when there was snow on the ground!);
address: Viale Monte Bianco, 11013, Courmayeur, Aosta, Italy;
Aosta Valley alpine gardens
There are also 🌼 5 alpine botanical gardens (see here for more details) to visit in the Aosta Valley:
- 🌷 Chanousia, at the Little St Bernard pass;
- 🌸 Paradisia in Cogne;
- 🌼 the gardens of Castel Savoia in Gressoney-Saint-Jean;
- 🌸 Jardino Alpino de Saussurea – see below;
Giardino Alpino de Saussurea (Skyway du Mont-Blanc)
This gorgeous little alpine garden is located at the Pavillon du Mont Fréty, the mid-station of the Skyway du Mont-Blanc. There are also fabulous activities for children at this mid-station – a small lake with a raft, a water feature with valves, a climbing wall . . . RECOMMENDED! / FB page and website;
Parc Animalier d’Introd (Introd)
The MBFF family visited this animal park on a return journey from Cogne one autumn, just before its winter hibernation . . . You’ll see: 🦌 deer, 🐗 sangliers, 🦊 foxes, raccoons, badgers, 🦉owls and more . . . There is a playground on-site and plenty of picnic tables too (no restaurant);
🗓 autumn opening dates: it is open from April until November / website;
Castello Gamba (Châtillon)
We really enjoyed our visit to this 🖼 contemporary art museum in the Aosta Valley . . . and equally enjoyed 🌳 the park and gardens surrounding the castle! The gardens cover 50,400 m2 and host some rare species from all over the world, like the huge redwood sequoia and the Himalayan cedars! There is plentiful grass for ball games or a picnic or just running free! / I shall publish an article about this very special Aosta Valley location very soon! / website / FB page;
address: Località Crêt-de-Breil, Châtillon, Italy / tel: +39 348 3976575;
A little further afield, but perfect for a long weekend and the Toussaint holidays, 💦 Lago Maggiore has many enchanting manor houses & gardens that are open to the public.
A couple of years ago, quite by chance, we discovered 🌼 Il Parco Villa Pallavicino . . . perfect for a family outing, these huge gardens (once a private residence, but open to the public since 1956) boast 🦌 an animal park (including a petting farm), a great playground, beautiful flowers and trees, views of Lago Maggiore, picnic areas and a great restaurant on-site / NEW – Alpaca World! / open until November (please check) / see website for more details, opening hours and prices;
address: Parco Villa Pallavicino,Via Sempione Sud, 8, 28838 Stresa VB, Italy;
The 🌺 landscaped gardens on Isola Bella are also well worth a visit (with the added bonus of a boat trip to get there!) – you can buy combined visits with entrance to the Parco Villa Pallavicino;