[ NOTE: for now, in adherance with regulations, you are NOT allowed to picnic at our local lakes ]
I was lying in bed last night thinking of all of the lovely places that I’d like 🍏 to go for a picnic en famille; I’ve missed this activity these last two months! A picnic gets everyone outdoors and is often accompanied by a short walk or activity and 🏔 superb views!
And so, in this article, I shall share with you 🍏 MBFF’s favourite (tried and tested!) picnic spots, specifically for families with babies and small children. That means that they are all easily accessible and with no dangerous precipices nearby! Some are at 🏔 higher altitude than others; some are more private than others; some have a sandpit; some 💦 a water feature; some even have ☕️ a small buvette nearby! Mostly there is 🌲 some shade (this is important for me!). Accessibililty also means that most of these would be super spots for mobility-reduced or older relatives who are no longer to walk too far!
As children get older, then 🍏 picnic spots can become more remote, of course: perched on a rock with 🏔 a wonderful view of our beloved mountains (perched on a rock with toddlers isn’t a good idea!), by 💦 a waterfall . . .
Colour code for listings:
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
Le Parc Couttet (centre of Chamonix)
A relative newcomer to Chamonix, inaugurated in the summer of 2015, the 🌳 Parc Couttet is a little gem of a park, right in the centre of Chamonix! It leads down from 🎵 La Maison des Artistes, and sometimes there are open-air concerts here. It’s a good place to organise 🍏 picnics and children’s games! During the 🎵 CosmoJazz festival during the summer months, there is a stage set up here.
Le Bois du Bouchet (on the road to Argentière)
The 🌲 Bois du Bouchet hosts the parapente landing field, and it is a great place to walk, run or cycle with small children, with designated paths, 🚵♀️ cycle routes, 🍏 picnic tables and plenty of shade. There is an easy hiking & strolling route through the woods, up to Les Praz and back via the river path, accessible in both winter and summer; this is an ideal baby-carrier or buggy walk (with decent wheels), depending on the weather. There is handicapped access on landscaped paths, with explanatory panels along the way detailing mountain terrain, flora and fauna. There is also the parcours orientation in the woods (be sure to print out the relevant maps before hand). You can stop for ☕️ snacks at the La Crèmerie or Le Robinson in the woods.
Le Paradis des Praz (Les Praz de Chamonix)
If you live in the Chamonix Valley, and you have young children, then you are more than likely to be very familiar with 🌲 Le Paradis des Praz! It is lovely to stroll or take 🚵♀️ a bike ride to get there from the Chamonix golf course or Les Tines (car parks in both places), and once there, you can set yourselves up for an immersion in the forest and by a gurgling stream . . . you are welcome 🍏 to picnic and use the playground as long as you buys drinks from the buvette (this is a very fair deal!) – you can also get 🍦 ice-creams, 🥞 snacks and 🥗 lunch here / FB page and MBFF article here;
🌲 Lac des Chavants (Les Houches)🌲
The 💦 Lac des Chavants is located right next to 🌲 a forest with easy paths to navigate with a buggy and plenty of places to make a cabane! It is a great destination for families throughout the year, as there are so many activities available there: you can 🎣 fish (with a permit) and you will find: 🍏 picnic tables and BBQ facilities, a parcours orientation (around the lake and into the woods), a playground & climbing net, 🎾 tennis courts, 🧗♂️ a fabulous rock climbing area, pétanque . . . and cross-country skiing and 🛷 sledging in wintertime / snacks: ☕️ La Guinguette café & restaurant / see here for MBFF article about 💦 Lac des Chavants and an article about 🍁 autumn orienteering here;
Parc Animalier de Merlet (Les Houches)
Up at 1500m, this is a spot to have a picnic at altitude! Le Parc Animalier de Merlet has set up a handful of picnic tables on the path up to the park (you are NOT permitted to picnic within the animal park!), some in the shade, some small tables for little ones, some decorated with potted flowers! Be sure to arrive early to secure your table!
Alpage de Charousse (Les Houches)
The hike to 🌷 L’Alpage de Charousse (meadow) in Les Houches is one of my favourite short hikes in the Chamonix Valley, and one that MBFF has really enjoyed en famille with two small walkers. The main highlight of this walk is arriving at the postcard perfect meadow – the alpage de Charousse – when the blue and purple lupins are in bloom (May and June time), next to 🏚 the five rustic farmhouses (18th century). A bit further along, and you will find some nice green spots for picnics. See MBFF article here for more information.
PASSY, PLATEAU d’ASSY & PLAINE-JOUX
Lac de Passy (Passy)
I have lost track of the number of 🍏 picnics that we have had at 💦 Lac de Passy! You are unlikely to find peace and quiet here, unless you head over to the opposite side of the lake, away from the beach. Actually, even the criques can be fairly quiet at certain times. Down in the woods by the ⛑ First Aid Hut, you’ll find BBQ facilities and picnic tables. What we love in ☀️summertime is to head there for a picnic around 18h, when it is cooler and the crowds have thinned – the water is still lovely and the sandy playground is cool enough to play in too!
If you need ice-creams to supplement your picnic, then there is the lovely Buvette des Criques (opening uncertain this summer) and the Buvette de la Plage.
Jardin des Cimes (Plateau d’Assy)
The 🌼Jardin des Cimes is a magical and innovative alpine garden and it normally re-opens after its winter hibernation at the end of May, then remains open until the end of September / there are 🌱 plants for sale early in the spring opening season / for more information, see MBFF article here / the gardens welcome 🍏 picnics in the terraced area, and if you need a fresh drink or coffee to go with that, then there is the lovely ☕️ café & restaurant Le Café du Jardin, serving seasonal dishes / price: adults 5€ to 6,50€, children (4 o 16 years) 3€ to 4€, under 4s FREE and family 14€ / website;
address: 447 route du Docteur Davy, Plateau d’Assy, 74190, Passy / tel: +33 (0)4 50 21 50 87;
picnic area & café:
Lac Vert & Plaine Joux
The MBFF family members are regular visitors to 💦 Le Lac Vert in Plaine-Joux; a visit here is a great family day out: a short walk, with fun wooden walkways and some scrambling too, boulders to climb, 🌲 trees and 🏔 snowy mountain peaks reflected in the green waters of the lake, and magnificent views of the 🏔 Massif du Mont-Blanc! In the 15th century, the Dérochoir landslide blocked the course of the 💦 Arve river and the village of Servoz down below was flooded . . . this natural disaster also produced 💦 Le Lac Vert. Another huge landslide in 1751 deposited the huge boulders that you see today half-submerged in, and around, the small natural lake. The lake stays healthy, fed by sub-lake sources, and protected by 🌲 a tall pine forest.
There are benches for 🍏 picnics and it is nice to sit on the rocks facing the sun on the other side of the lake. For more information, see MBFF’s 💦 Le Lac Vert article here.
🏔 Plaine-Joux is also a superb place for 🍏 a picnic with little ones: large green space for picnic blankets, a few picnic tables, toilets if necessary in the Maison de la Réserve Naturelle, the parapente area to watch . . . accrobranche.
And if you need ☕️ a coffee and a crêpe, then we can recommend the excellent La Bergerie:
🌲 Himalayan bridge (Plateau d’Assy) 🌲
The fabulous 🌉 new suspension bridge (read MBFF article here) in Plateau d’Assy, allows you to walk the ancienne route du Lac Vert all the way to the 💦 Lac Vert – this is a lovely walk, easy and so possible for the whole family, through the 🌲 forest and with magnificent views of the 🏔 Mont-Blanc massif the whole way! You can park at the wooden totems at the start of the ancienne route du Lac Vert, and there is 🍏 a picnic table at the bridge!
Parcours de l’Eau Artistique (Mountain Store, Passy)
This spot is really easy to access, either on foot, or by bike. There are plentiful picnic tables dotted around, and you can enjoy some scrambling on the rocks or some art or river facts too! See recent MBFF article here.
SALLANCHES, COMBLOUX & CORDON
Sallanches centre and riverside
We’ve had a few 🍏 picnics in the centre of Sallanches! One spot is the top of the théatre, which is a hilltop with a few chairs and plenty of grass and shade! You can buy your picnic produce and then look out over the market! The other spot is 💦down by the river – we love to do this on summer evenings. There are lots of benches down by the river, and some grassy spots. We did, however, have one memorable evening picnic, just after a rainy spell – we were invaded by slugs and two of our group’s children ended up naked in the water, after soaking their clothes. Probably best to avoid this by bringing a spare set of clothes! Naked children in the Sallanche river; what did the locals think?
💦 down by the river in Sallanches:
Lacs des Ilettes (Sallanches)
Officially known as the Base de Loisir des Ilettes, the 💦 Lacs des Ilettes actually consist of three lakes and this is a popular place year-round for locals to come for a stroll en famille, 🚵♀️ for a bike ride, 🐶 a dog-walk (permitted around the 3rd lake), 🎣 fishing,🏃♂️or a jog and workout. In ☀️ summertime, the middle lake is a popular choice for swimmers and the 3rd lake for windsurfers. There are plenty of benches, 🍏 picnic tables dotted around and grassy areas located around the two bigger lakes. In summertime, ☕️ Le Transat is open for lunch, snacks and 🍦 ice-cream.
Cascade d’Arpenaz (Sallanches)
You have quite probably passed the 💦 Cascade d’Arpenaz on several occasions, on a trip between the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc and 🇨🇭 Geneva or 🇫🇷 Annecy on the autoroute.
The 💦 Cascade d’Arpenaz is one of the most 💦 visible and iconic of our waterfalls in the region . . . but have you ever come off the motorway and headed onto the local road past the village of Luzier to explore? A site classé naturel, the 💦 Cascade d’Arpenaz is 270m high and is characterised by sedimentary folds in the rock (schistes). The 🌳 woods surrounding the 💦 waterfall are glorious, and there is a delightful walk (with a treasure hunt available from Sallanches Tourisme) taking you through the woods to the village of Luzier . . . / see MBFF article article here;
Combloux pumptrack, adventure playground and Plan d’Eau Biotope
You are spoiled for choice in for 🍏 picnic spots in Combloux! I think that Combloux has some of the most wonderful views of 🏔 Mont-Blanc, and all of the following spots have a car park nearby, and also have activities to entertain the kids for hours!
pumptrack, city stade and playground: see MBFF article here to learn more about pumptracks.
There is lots of green space next to the 💦 plan d’eau biotope . . . you’ll find some boulders to hop over here, a volley-ball court and some picnic tables. In summertime, concerts and other activities happen here.
🌳 adventure forest playground: a forest and a playground – perfect! There are wooden games and a spider web climbing frame and netted swing . . . You’ll find picnic tables in the shade, green grass for picnic blankets and 🏔 amazing views of Mont-Blanc . . . read more about this forest playground here;
☕️ coffee and cake options: being near the centre of town, there are plenty of cafés to head to for coffee and cake!
Médonnet and la Pesse boulders
The 🌲 🧗♀️ Médonnet & La Pesse boulders are well known to boulderers in the area (even if they can be tricky to find!) . . . but did you know that these two bouldering zones are equally fabulous to visit for the forest in which they are located? We have spent hours here making cabanes in these two ethereal forest locations near Cordon and Combloux . . . our own mini Fontainebleau! / parking La Pesse: a small lay-by on route de Nant-Cruy and then access to boulders and forest via sentier piéton VTT 42 and parking Médonnet: a lay-by in Médonnet, just before the turning for the chapel / take a picnic and picnic blanket and a good book and keep an eye on children as climing the rocks is at your own risk (some are high!) / see separate MBFF article here ;
La Plaine in Cordon
🌲 The « Forest Discovery Trail » is a great, annotated family trail through the 🌲 forest . . . or you could simply have 🍏 a picnic in the shade of the forest at Les Plaines . . . (you can drive all the way here, though the road is very rocky!) / note: check state of the path with Cordon Tourisme (landfall, etc . . .), before embarking on this!
🚘 parking & departure point: Parking des Plaines (no tarmac on road above Lezaive d’en Haut) / distance of trail: 2 km / duration of trail: 1h30 (to stroll and read all of the panels) / more information;
SAINT-GERVAIS, BIONNASSAY & St NICOLAS-de-VEROCE
Jardin du Mont-Blanc (centre of Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc)
Right in the centre of Saint-Gervais, you will find a super playground, with superb views as you play. The playground is located within the small park of Le Jardin du Mont-Blanc, which is a landscaped area, with plenty of benches and green grass for picnics (on a slope!). You can park in the fabulous 2KM3 street art decorated multi-storey car park opposite! And head for cake at the local boulangeries and patisseries.
🌲 Le Parc Thermal (LE FAYET) 🌲
This fabulous historic park in Le Fayet has so many activities on offer, and you are surrounded by 🌳 trees! You can either spread out a picnic blanket or use one of the picnic tables in the park. There is a fabulous playground for young children, grass for games, paths for buggy walks, short hiking trails (the trail to the 💦 cascade, behind the thermal baths, will take you into the forest for a short hike), 🧗♀️ rock-climbing and via ferrata, 🚂 Le Petit Train du Parc Thermal, 🖼 artwork suspended from the trees, the 💦 Thermes de Mont-Blanc . . . / see MBFF article for more details;
Le Bettex, 1400m (Saint-Gervais)
The ski area is located here over the winter season, but in the summer months, this is a whole different area! You can picnic here or along the Sur la piste de Charlotte la Marmotte buggy walk (45mins). You can either take the 🚡 Télécabine du Bettex up here, or drive directly and park on-site. Over the summer, there are lots of activities on offer here: a playground, trottinettes, bike routes (including further up at Mont d’Arbois, the family bike park, the Charlotte Bike Park) , mini-golf . . .
Plateau de la Croix (Saint-Nicolas de Véroce)
Saint Nicolas de Véroce is such a pretty village, and here at this spot at the Plateau de la Croix you will find picnic tables and a playground, and you can head off on several walks. Don’t forget to stop in at ⛪️ the beautiful baroque church in Saint Nicolas de Véroce or for ☕️ coffee and 🍰 cake at the lovely 🍰 Salon de Thé at the Armancette hotel! You can drive all the way up to the Plateau de la Croix, or hike up.
MEGEVE & PRAZ-sur-ARLY
Lac de Javen (Megève)
For non-walkers, can drive all the way to Lac de Javen, or you can undertake a short family hike to get there from Le Maz. In the summertime, there are sometimes concerts held there, and a playground for those dining at the restaurant there.
Télécabine du Jaillet (Sur les Prés, Le Jaillet, MEgève)
At 1585m altitude, you have a fairly high picnic spot here, but one easily accessible by the 🚡 Télécabine du Jaillet. You’ll be rewarded with a panoramic playground (which got more exciting last summer!), restaurant options (if you need to top up your picnic!), hikes and bike routes.
🌲 sentier botanique – this short hike will allow you to discover the 🏔 massif du Jaillet and 🌲 the surrounding woods, with explanatory pannels along the parcours (two separate itineraries, between 1450m and 1600m) / grand tour: 2,3km de parcours, 160m dénivelé, 2h / petit tour: 900m de parcours, 25m dénivelé, 3/4 hour / more information here;
🏔 balade tétras-lyre – this family walk allows you to learn about the iconic local bird, the Tétras-Lyre, and to enjoy the views from the 🏔 crête du Jaillet / departure from the Megève Ball-Trap, 1,5km along a figure of 8 path;
ball trap – this used to be called « tir aux pigeons d’argile » / read more about this activity here;
address: 821 route de la Télécabine du Jaillet 74120 Megève;
Les Berges de l’Arly & Les Belles (Praz-sur-Arly)
There is sand along the berges de l’arly, also known locally as « Arlyplage », so children can paddle and make dams (note: do take care!). There are also some BBQ put in place during the summer. Nearby, you will find the fabulous playground of Les Belles, with a café on-site – there are also lots of picnic tables there! Read more about the playground here.
address: Berges de l'Arly, 74120, Praz-sur-Arly;
🌲 Lac des Evettes (Praz-sur-Arly) 🌲
This 🌲 forest walk is perfect for families . . . the chemin has panels to read and a marmotte observation post! The 💦 small lake is located at 1350m altitude, and you can fish there (with a permit). You’ll find picnic tables and a mountain refuge along the way: La Montagnette;
Playground and pumptrack (Les Loyers, Les Contamines-Montjoie)
The new pumptrack and playground in Les Loyers are located right next to 💦 the river, which allows you to join the river walk or bike ride: le sentier découverte. You’ll find picnic tables with shade and grass for picnic blankets.
Parc de Loisirs du Pontet (Notre Dame de la Gorge)
This is the perfect location for a picnic as there are plenty of activities (free and paying) for little ones and older ones too here: playground, bouncy castles, karting, mini-golf, accrobranches, swimming lake, pedalos and more . . . / see separate article here;
le sentier découverte:
Or you could head up to ⛪️ Notre Dame de la Gorge, with its beautiful church and chapel. Further up the Roman road, and across the Pont Romain, you will find some lovely picnic spots too.
Lac de l’Etape (Les Contamines-Montjoie)
A visit to the small 💦 Lac de l’Etape in Les Contamines-Montjoie is such a bucolic visit en famille . . . you can either hike up there with older children (or take a 4×4 for non-walkers), or you can take the 🚡 Télécabine de la Gorge (this is exciting in itself for little ones; opening hours). Once there, you can find a picnic spot in the shade and children can paddle or swim in the lake, play with pebbles, take out the mini boats, play in the playgrounds . . . Adults can relax with a cold beer on the terrace of the restaurant, right next to the lake! / there are options for more hikes from here (for example, you can take the 🚡 Télécabine du Signal and then hike to the Auberge de la Roselette, and the Lac de Roselette, via the 🏔 Col du Joly) / read more about this gorgeous spot here;
There will be a follow-up article soon, highlighting some of our favourite picnic spots for families with young children near the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc!