SCIENCE ACTIVITIES & MUSEUMS for families au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond)

There are two 🧬 BIG SCIENCE EVENTS coming up 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc and beyond :

  • 🧪 CERN Open Days – this weekend 14th & 15th September;
  • 🧪 La Fête de la Science – from 5th until 13th October 2019;

And this got me thinking about all of the 🧬 science events, activities, workshops, and museums that surround us 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc!

What really put this little corner of the world (🏔 Chamonix Valley and the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc) on the 🗺 world map, was the 📚 Romantic writers’ and artists’ re-telling of mountains and glaciers in the 18th century (no longer were they seen as the work of the devil; but rather, as something to admire, visit, paint and write about!), which drew scientists (Dr Paccard, Saussure and more . . .), geologists, mountaineers and tourists to this once-remote mountain valley! And 🧬 science also paved the way for all of these numerous different “. . . ologists ” to come and study the mountains: the advent of the 🚂 railway and then 🚙 roads and cars; all were made possible through scientific advances!

And 🧪 SCIENCE is still everywhere we look, walk, climb, bike and ski 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc: receding glaciers and glaciology, 🌳 botany, 💎 the study of crystals, 🦌 zoology (the 🦅 gypaète barbu reproduction centre, for example), the work of ASTERS and the Réserves Nationales . . .

For a more detailed article about 🌳🌷 parks and gardens & botany, see separate articles: 🍁 AUTUMN PARKS & GARDENS au Pays du Mont-Blanc and beyond OR 🌷 SPRING & SUMMER blossoms & flowers . . .

🧬 SCIENCE EVENTS au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) 🧬

🧪 CERN Open Days (weekend of 14th & 15 September 2019) – at the CERN, scientists work hard to recreate the Big Bang, to try to understand the origins of our universe and what came after the bang! / description of open days:the CERN will open its doors to the public for two special days at the heart of one of the world’s largest particle-physics laboratories! These 🧪 CERN Open Days have become a regular feature of the period that we call the “ long shutdown ”, during which our accelerators stop for around two years, to benefit from upgrades and renovation work. And Long Shutdown 2 has just started. Similar to the 2013 edition, the 2019 Open Days will give people the chance to discover our facilities both underground and on the surface. Debates, film screenings, theatre performances, experimental workshops and, of course, dozens of visit points spread all over the site will take you to the heart of our Laboratory, in direct contact with the science of today and tomorrow.” – CERN Open Days website / open days FREE of charge! / some sites may have age and access restrictions / you need to BOOK your visit online! / getting there: see hereaddress: CERN, esplanade des Particules 1, 1217, Meyrin, Switzerland;

ℹ️ good to know: if you miss the open days, then you can also take a guided visit of the CERN, FREE of charge, Monday to Saturday (12+ years) / see here;

ℹ️ also good to know: to learn more about the CERN and the universe, CERN has created the online 💻 CERNLand, aimed at children 7 to 12 years / website;

© CERN Open Days

🧪 🧬 🧪 🧬 🧪

🧪 Fête de la Science AURA (Auvergne Rhône Alpes) from 5th to 13th October 2019 – plenty of activities for families and children in Haute-Savoie: exhibitions, site visits, workshops, spectacles, concerts . . . / pdf document for full programme for Haute-Savoie;

© Fête de la Science

🎿 Fête de la Science au Mountain Store (PASSY) – will be hosting the 🧬 Fête de la Science in its Salle Event, on Saturday 5th October, from 11h until 17h / answers to lots of questions concerning sport and nature! / planetarium, mountain animals (ASTERS and CNM) and more . . .

© Mountain Store

🧪 🧬 🧪 🧬 🧪

🧬 La Nuit de la Science (Musée d’histoire des science & Parc de la Perle du Lac, Geneva) – this event takes place every TWO years, and the next edition is due to take place summer 2020! / website and FB page;

© La Nuit de la Science

Colour Code for listings

Chamonix Valley (Chamonix, Argentière, Les Houches, Servoz & environs) and Vallorcine

Passy & environs

Sallanches, Combloux, Cordon & Domancy

St Gervais, Le Fayet & environs

Megève, Praz-sur-Arly & environs

Les Contamines & environs

🇫🇷 Further France 🇫🇷 

🇨🇭 Switzerland 🇨🇭 

🇮🇹 Italy 🇮🇹 

🏔 🧬 Science activities & museums au Pays du Mont-Blanc 🧬 🏔 

🧬 Science workshops Little Stemcells (Chamonix) – Cassie runs the popular Little Stemcells in Chamonix / she offers workshops during the school holidays, and NEW for 2019, she is offering two weekly classes for 5 to 11 year olds: Tuesday – 16h30 until 18h AND Wednesday – 9h15 until 10h45 / price: classes are 80€ for a 4 week block, which includes materials for the various projects the children take home / classes will be run in Chamonix, exact venue TBA / 🗓 commencing week of 16th or 23rd September / reservations: for more info;

© Little Stemcells


🏔 Musée Alpin (Chamonix) – housed in the magnificent old Chamonix Palace (one of the three original “palaces” in Chamonix), this lovely museum traces the history of the valley, from the very first tourists who came to admire the mountains and glaciers through to “Chamonix the centre of winter sports”.  There is a great collection of prints, photos and mountaineering objects to take you on this trajectory – plenty of science! / school holiday workshop programme for children / 🗓 opening hours: open every day, except Tuesday, from 14h to 18h; school holidays: open from 10h to 12h and from 14h to 18h / price: FREE for under 18s, adults 5,90€ / address: La Résidence, 89 avenue Michel Croz, 74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc / tel: +33 (0)4 50 53 25 / parking: the nearest car park (paying) is the Parking du Mont-Blanc / see here for more details;

Le Musée Alpin Chamonix ©


💎 Espace Tairraz – Musée d’Alpinisme et des Cristaux (Chamonix) – this is a fantastic museum, with numerous interactive activitites to keep the whole family entertained on his or her journey through 🏔 mountaineering. You will learn how techniques and equipment have evolved over the centuries and also how attitudes have changed in this field. You can learn how to tie different knots and there is even a simulator so that you can get to grips with how it feels to climb a famous mountain face! And, once you have had your fill of mountaineering, you can stroll through the 💎 crystal collection! / 🗓 opening hours: daily (except Tuesdays) from 14h to 18h; SCHOOL HOLIDAYS: open from 10h to 12h and 14h to 18h; July and August: from early July, open every day 10h to 18h / guided visits on Thursdays during the school holidays at 14h30 and at 16h30 – see FB page for more details / price: FREE for under 18s (with family), adults  5,90€ / address: 615 allée du Recteur Payot, 74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc / tel: +33 (0)4 50 55 53 93 / website / parking: the paying car park of St-Michel is very convenient as you can take the lift straight to the entrance of the museum (great for a rainy day!);


🏔 Chalet de la Réserve des Aiguille Rouges (Col des Montets, Argentière) – discover the flora, fauna, minerals and rocks of the mountains / on site: ” un sentier botanique, des observations au microscope, des expositions permanentes, des projections et des conférence.” – Chamonix Tourisme  / address: Col des Montets,  74400, Argentière;

© Chalet de la Réserve des Aiguilles Rouges / Chamonix Tourisme


🏔 La Maison de la Réserve Naturelle de Passy – facing the massif du Mont-Blanc, covering 1800 ha, and located between 1300m and 2900m altitude, la Réserve Naturelle de Passy dominates the Arve Valley and links the Réserve de Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval and the Réserve des Aiguilles Rouges. The maison explains: the Fiz cliffs, les moutonnements du vieux Pormenaz, the growth of the Alps, minerals, fauna, flora and more . . . / 🌲 workshops for children doing the school holidays! / address: Maison de la Réserve Naturelle, 321 chemin des Parchets, 74190, Passy;

La Maison de la Réserve Naturelle Plaine Joux ©


🐻 Le Centre de la Nature Montagnarde (Sallanches) – ⌈ NB – SHUT for renovations until 2020 / small annex open near church, in old médiathèque building, at: 9 route de Doran à Sallanches / summer guided visits for families and workshops for children ⌋ The excellent 🦌 Centre de la Nature Montagnarde, set in the historic 14th century 🏰 Château des Rubins, is located just behind the Eglise St Jacques. Set across 5 floors, the museum is dedicated to 🏔 the Alps, and an interactive journey will take you from glaciology and geology, to some close encounters with the 🐻 resident taxidermy (a wolf, a lynx and a bear, among others!) / as well as panels explaining the different exhibits, there are 🎥 films to watch, a large interactive screen at the entrance, and you can have 📷 a family photo with a BEAR! – a visit to the museum is a full sensory and tactile journey! / 🌲 workshops for children during the holidays: Les P’tits Experts de la Nature / good to know: the lift goes as far as the 3rd floor, and after that buggies are NOT permitted AND on the ground floor, at the entrance, is a wonderful library and gift shop / 🗓 opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday 14h to 18h and school holidays Monday to Saturday 10h to 12h & 14h to 18h (open on Sundays 14h to 18h during the summer holiays) / price: 7€ and children 4,50€, under 6 years FREE / website / address: Château des Rubins, 105 montée des Rubins, 74700, Sallanches / tel: +33 (0)4 50 58 32 13; 

La Fête de la Science (CNM at Mountain Store Passy) – on Saturday 5th October, from 11h / workshops and animations about animals during the winter months and the formation of the land that surrounds us . . .

. . . and soirée lumière sur la nuit on Wednesday 23rd October at 18h30 in Les Contamines-Montjoie (Espace Animation) / Thursday 24th October at 18h30 in Praz-sur-Arly (Tourist Office) / Friday 25th Octoer at 18h45 in Sallanches (Petite Salle Curral );

Centre de la Nature Montagnarde ©


🏔 La Maison Forte Hautetour (Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc) – looking down majestically upon Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, La Maison Forte de Hautetour (13th century) was one of the several fortified manor houses of the region . . . in 2012, it was renovated, and today it houses an exhibition detailing the history of the 🏔 Compagnie des Guides de Saint-Gervais, as well as hosting 🖼 temporary art exhibitions and artists-in-residence / 🎨 during the school holidays there are sometimes workshops for children & families here, so check the Saint-Gervais website agenda / 🗓 opening hours: open Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday 14h to 18h and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10h to 12h30 and 14h to 18h; SHUT on Mondays and all of November, 1st January, 1st May and 25th December / price: 5€ and children (5 to 18 years) 3,50€ / address: Maison Forte de Hautetour, 114 passage Montjoux, 74170 Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, 74170, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains / tel: 04 50 47 79 80; 

La Maison Forte de Hautetour ©

🇫🇷 🧪 Science activities & museums in Further France 🧪 🇫🇷

🧪 Science workshops Moulin à Étincelles – MBFF has encountered the Moulin à Etincelles workshops at the Sallanches summer festival 🌈 Les Enfants d’Abord / run by two ladies with a science background, they say that they ” can’t promise you the moon, but they can promise that you’ll understand the Earth! ” / see website for more details;


🕰 Musée de l’Horlogerie et du Décolletage (Cluses) – this museum is dedicated to telling the industrial and social history of the area, is located in the Espace Carpano & Pons, the old industrial site next to the river in Cluses / the story of the watchmakers of the XVIIIth century through to the emergence of décolletage during the industrial revolution / there are regular guided visits, films and workshops; see here for more details / jeu de piste for families: “ Drame au Musée ” / 🗓 opening hours: from June until September, every day from 10h to 12h and from 14h to 18h; school holidays, every day from 14h to 18h, October until May, Wednesday to Saturdy, 14h to 18h / price: adults 5€, children/students (12 to 25 years) 3€, FREE for under 12s / good to know: the museum is FREE on each first Sunday of the month, 14h to 18h! (with a guided visit sometimes scheduled at 15h) / website / address: Espace Carpano & Pons, 100 place du 11 Novembre, 74300, Cluses / tel: 04 50 96 43 00;

🌟 🌠 La Fête de la Science – discover the stars this year at the 🕰 Musée de l’Horlogerie et du Décolletage! On the agenda for 2019 for the science festival:

  • Sunday 6th October at 15h – Altaïr : from idea to action, le vélo caréné de l’IUT d’Annecy (FREE);
  • Wednesday 9th October at 15h : make a map of the stars (FREE for children 6 to 12 years / inscription!);
  • Friday 11th October at 15h : visit the museum with a magnifying glass (FREE! / inscription);
  • Saturday 12th October from 20h : cinema evening, in collaboration with Cinétoiles de Cluses (Cinétoiles prices);
© Musée de l’Horlogerie et du Décolletage


🧪 La Turbine (Le Centre de Culture Scientifique Technique et Industrielle de Haute-Savoie), in Cran Gévrier, Annecy – is an innovative pedagogic centre equipped for families to learn about 🧬 science in an interactive way / there are regular exhibitions, events & workshops for children of different ages, so do check the website for current ones! / 2019 programme / 🗓 opening hours: from Tuesday to Sunday, 14h to 18h / price: adults 5,50€, children 3€ (and +65 ans), FREE for children under 6 years and family price 14€ / website / address: place Chorus, Cran-Gevrier, 74960, Annecy / tel: 04 50 08 17 00;

🧪 current exhibition: « T’es Sûr-e? »,  until 30th August 2020 / an exhibition about how science sometimes plays tricks on us! / for children 7+ years;

© La Turbine


🌳 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 its environs / current temporary exhibition: Les 4 Saisons (a look at the four seasons) / MBFF article / website / address: 775 route de Mikerne, 74160, Présilly;


🖼 Micro Folie musée numérique (FAVERGES-SEYTHENEX) – 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’Avignonl’Institut du Monde Arabe, l’Opéra National de Paris et le Musée d’Orsay), the public will be able to enjoy the treasures of the nation, through the digital projection of the works of these great establishments! / inauguration 12th October! / address: Tiers-lieu culturel La Forge, 130 rue Maurice Bourgeois, 74210, Faverges;

© Micro-Folie


🌳🏰 Château de Voltaire (Ferney-Voltaire) – on Saturday 12th October, from 10h until 17h, 🧬 La Fête de la Science will be popping in for a whole day of activities at this castle and gardens once occupied by great thinker and writer Voltaire! The castle’s park will become a Village of Science, with: talks, workshops and stances / programme here : price: 8€ and FREE for under 26s / organised by Pangloss Labs

© Château de Voltaire


🌳 Géopark Chablais – named Géopark mondial UNESCO in 2015 for its geology, exceptional scenery and patrimoines naturels et culturels / from 5th October at Palais Lumiéres & Médiathèque CF Ramuz: exhibition “l‘histoire géologique du Chablais“, talk “Futur antérieur“, workshops organised by the Musée de Préhistoire et Géologiel’Abbaye Abondance and the Abbaye Aulps /see here for the La Fête de la Science programme;

© Géopark Chablais

🖼 Galerie Eurêka (CHAMBÉRY) – La Turbine’s last exhibition has moved on to Chambéry . . . and there will be animations for 🧬 Fête de la Science here too!


🏰 Château d’Annecy – once the residence of the counts of Geneva in the 13th and 14th centuries, the castle has been classified as a historical monument since 1959 / today, the castle houses 🖼 temporary exhibitions, as well as a permanent collection of art of cultural importance, and 💦 objects associated with le Lac d’Annecy / there are special family visits organised for temporary exhibitions at the Château d’Annecy, with a special FREE carnet de découverte for children / good to know: Mercredi en Famille (guided visits for families, children 6+ years, on Wednesdays at 14h30, 6€) and it is FREE to visit the Château d’Annecy and its temporary exhibition on the FIRST Sunday of each month between October and May / 🗓 opening hours: from 10h to midday and from 14h to 17h, every day except Tuesday (open Tuesdays during the summer holidays, and every day from 10h30 to 18h) / price: 5,50€ / address: place du Château, 74000, Annecy / tel: 04 50 33 87 30 / website;

🧬 Fête de la Science – « Raconter la science, imaginer l’avenir » on weekend of 5th & 6th October at 14h30 / more information here;

Château d’Annecy ©

🇨🇭 🧬 Science activities & museums in Switzerland 🧬🇨🇭

🧬 Musée des Sciences de la Terre: La Fondation Tissières Martigny – located just off the main square in Martigny, this museum has some permanent exhibitions ( 💎 alpine minerals, crystals & geology; a reconstructed mine; marble from Valais – see here), as well as 🖼 temporary ones (current exhibition, extended until 13th October: 📷 Sébastien Albert Monochrome rétrospective) / website / 🗓 opening hours: Tuesday, Thursday and weekends 13h30 until 17h / price: adults CHF6, 11 to 18 year olds CHF3 and under 10s FREE! / address: avenue de la Gare 6, 1920, Martigny (same building as Office de Tourisme;

Musée des Sciences de la Terre / Fondation Tissières Martigny


🧬 Musée d’Histoire des Sciences (Geneva) – this museum is located within the 🌳 Parc du Perle du Lac, next to Lac Léman, and opposite the Botanical Gardens. It occupies the beautiful Neo-Classical Villa Bartholoni (from the 1830s), and hosts a collection of 🧫 scientific apparatus belonging to scientists and researchers from the 17th to 19th centuries / 🧬 current temporary exhibition: « Roulez les mécanique. La loi du moindre effort », until 15th September 2019; how to get a machine moving, without exhausting oneself? information about carnets de jeux and workshops here good to know: ask for the 🗺 orienteering parcours leaflet for the park at the reception, and go explore! / 🗓 opening hours: 10h to 17h (shut Tuesday) / address: Parc de La Perle du Lac, 128 rue de Lausanne 1202, Geneva, Switzerland / tel: 41 22 418 50 60 / website / every two years, 💫 La Nuit de la Science takes place here;

« Roulez les mécanique. La loi du moindre effort » © Musée d’Histoire des Sciences


🐯 Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Genève – this fabulous museum  is still one of our go-to rainy day options! / see MBFF article for more details / 🗓 opening hours: 10h to 17h every day (except Monday) / website / good to know: on the first Sunday of the month, this museum’s temporary exhibitions are FREE! / also good to know: on Wednesdays and some Saturdays, there are workshops for children / address: 1 route de Malagnou, 1208, Geneva, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0) 22 418 63 00;

🖼 current exhibition : « Prédations » – each year there is a BIG temporary exhibition at this fabulous museum, the two last ones being Dinosaures and Fourmis . . . this new exhibition will plunge you into the world of 🦁 PREDATORY ANIMALS: « Prédations » – animals whose strategy it is to kill to eat! Kill, eat, survive – a natural cycle, present since the birth of time, far from the image of Big Bad Wolf and Jaws. The life of a predator is often difficult and dangerous, a ” catch me if you can ! ” challenge with its prey! And we humans in this chain; are we the worst type of predator, seeing as we are omnivores and meat eating is a choice? / more information . . .

© Muséum Histoire Naturelle Genève
© Muséum Histoire Naturelle Genève
© Ville de Genève / Muséum Genève


🧬 Exploracentre (Geneva) – a new children’s exhibition & interactive centre in Geneva, where the only rule is that it is “ FORBIDDEN to NOT TOUCH ”! / informative, “ludique”, for the whole family / 🌍 to learn about the world, science, how things work! / NEW EXHIBITION ” Fabriq’Expo “ / 🗓 opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday 10h to 18h, Sunday’s 13h to 18h / price: adults (+16 years): 15CHF; children (3 to 15 years): 10CHF and combination prices / address: rue des Bains 33, 1205, Geneva (Plainpalais) / website;​

© Exploracentre


🌳 Espace des Inventions (Lausanne) 🌳 – the is a space for families and children to experience and experiment with science, technology and art, through its exhibitions / 🗓 opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 14h to 18h and Sunday and bank holidays, 10h to 18h / price: children CHF5, adults CHF7 / address: Vallée de la Jeunesse 1, 1007, Lausanne, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)21 315 68 80 / website;

🖼 current exhibition: 🌳 « L’ARBRE – de la petite graine à la vieille branche » – 🌳 trees as depicted in science & nature, and as represented in art / until 21st June 2020 / for children 7+ years / FREE entry on first Saturday of month! / workshops for children . . . 

© Espace des Inventions, Lausanne

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