« Le Chevalier Maudit »: medieval knightly fun and Geocaching® en famille! (Châtillon-sur-Cluses)

In February this year, we headed to ⛰ Le Reposoir to do one of the Cluses Arves & Montagnes 🗺 jeux d’orientation (L’Œuf de Plume la Gypaète – see here for MBFF article), and we really enjoyed it! As well as the fun of the orienteering game, we really delighted in getting to know a new mountain village and the pretty ⛪️ La Chartreuse du Reposoir – Le Carmel.

And so, when Cluses Arves & Montagnes asked if we’d like to try out more of their games, we jumped at the chance. There are 12 games now on offer and they fall into these categories:

  • 🧭 jeux d’orientation (one we had already done);
  • ⚔️ jeux d’aventure;
  • 📱 jeux numériques;
  • ⛪️ jeux culturels;
© Cluses Arve & Montagnes

After discussing with the boys, we decided to do ⚔️ Le Chevalier Maudit. We were definitely attracted by the theme of 🤺 knights and 🏰 castles, and the idea of travelling back to the 13th century! And, in addition, this ⚔️ parcours aventure is based on the orienteering pursuit of 🗺 Geocaching®, a global phenomenon that I had wanted to try for a while!

In this article, I shall share with you our experience, replete with 📷 photos of course (but I shall not give away any of the clues 😉🙃)!

Le Chevalier Maudit – getting ready to go! © montblancfamilyfun.com

Le Chevalier Maudit – a jeu d’aventure

When you purchase this 🗺 jeu d’aventure, you’ll pick up 🎒 a pack from the tourist office, and you’ll discover within lots of goodies, required to confront the challenges of 1255! Included are 🗺 a map and an explanatory booklet, to set you on your way.

Over the course of this medieval adventure, you’ll be ⚔️ a trainee knight, and you’ll need to face 🔒 seven challenges on your route from the 🏰 “castle” in Cluses, up to your destination: the 🏰 castle ruins in Châtillon-sur-Cluses. Some of the challenges are quite creative!

Le Chevalier Maudit © montblancfamilyfun.com
Le Chevalier Maudit – knightly challenges along the way © montblancfamilyfun.com

Each challenge outlined in the small booklet is accompanied with the finding of 7 caches, through Geocaching®, and so you’ll need to download the FREE Geocaching® app onto your 📱 smartphone.

I’d been wanting to try out Geocaching® for quite some time, and so this was an added bonus for me!

And so what is Geocaching®? It is a game of geolocalisation on a global level, where people hunt for secret hidey-holes, which contain boxes for you to discover! Inside each box you’ll find 🗒 a small booklet, which you need ✏️ to sign with your name and the date. Some players put little objects in the box; you are allowed to take ONE, and you can put an object in the box yourself. The aim is also to be discrete and to respect the zone, and to put the box back where you found it!

Le Chevalier Maudit – a Geocaching® cache © montblancfamilyfun.com

[ to read more about Geocaching®, see website and FB page, and to read about the benefits of this outdoor pursuit, head to the blog. ]

Along the route that you are following up to 🏰 the castle in Châtillon-sur-Cluses, you’ll find wooden signs to follow, which let you know that you are on the right track!

Le Chevalier Maudit – wooden signs © montblancfamilyfun.com

You’ll spend much of this adventure in 🌲 the forest between Cluses and Châtillon-sur-Cluses (though not all; we chose a HOT day to do this adventure, and we melted on the tracks outside of the forest!) . . . and so, the children can partake in the usual forest antics: walking across logs, climbing rocks . . .

Le Chevalier Maudit – climbing boulders in the forest! © montblancfamilyfun.com
Le Chevalier Maudit – forest antics © montblancfamilyfun.com

Do be careful crossing roads, and walking alongside the road on sections of the route. Be careful, also, of 🚵‍♂️ the odd downhill biker who might zoom past!

You’ll also pass some farms and old farm equipment.

Le Chevalier Maudit – old farm equipment © montblancfamilyfun.com

We spent a great deal of time picking wild fruit along the way (just for the record: brambles are OK to pick, but not the apples and plums in people’s back gardens!).

And there were 🌻🌺 beautiful flowers to admire along the way (some in gardens).

Le Chevalier Maudit © montblancfamilyfun.com

Your ultimate aim to get to 🏰 the castle in Châtillon-sur-Cluses, and you’ll catch glimpses of the 🏰 castle ruins and church from the start of the game! You’ll see the church and ruins getting closer as you hike uphill, letting you know that you are making progress!

Le Chevalier Maudit – view of the church in Chatillon © montblancfamilyfun.com
Le Chevalier Maudit – view of the church and castle ruins © montblancfamilyfun.com
Le Chevalier Maudit – view of the church and castle ruins © montblancfamilyfun.com

The best cache is located at the end of your adventure!

Le Chevalier Maudit – castle ruins © montblancfamilyfun.com
Le Chevalier Maudit – castle ruins park © montblancfamilyfun.com

Eating Options

Depending on the time of day that you decide to do this game, you might want to incorporate lunch or a snack, so here are some options:

In Cluses:

  • 🍏 for a picnicCoopérative Fruitière du Val d’Arly and Lidl supermarket (300m from start of game) / picnic tables near start of game;
Le Chevalier Maudit – castle ruins park and great picnic spot! © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • 🍰 Zanin patisserie – a superb pâtisserie & chocolaterie, with shops in Le Fayet, Sallanches and Cluses! / address: 2 rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 74300 Cluses / website and FB page;
  • 🍤🥟 Pho 8 – MBFF recently discovered this super little Vietnamese restaurant, located just behind the tourist office in Cluses. There is a small outdoor terrace, a great menu and friendly service! / address: 7 place du Crêtet, 74300, Cluses /
    tel: 07 86 58 57 51 or 04 5047 94 65 / website and FB page;

In Châtillon-sur-Cluses:

  • 🍰 Boulangerie Tiffanie – we stopped for much needed rehydration here – great cakes! / address: 20 impasse des Granges, 74300, Châtillon-sur-Cluses;
  • 🥗 Le Café du Colyou can stop for a drink or lunch here / address: 15 route de Taninges, 74300, Châtillon-sur-Cluses / email: contact@cafeducol.com or tel: 04 50 55 01 52;

Châtillon-sur-Cluses – a rural village with a rich history

I was so glad that this treasure hunt brought us to the small village of Châtillon-sur-Cluses! We’d often driven past this village on our way to various towns in 🏞 the Giffre valley, but we’d never visited before! We were melting at this point by the time we reached Châtillon-sur-Cluses, and desperate for water, but we appreciated it more on the return journey!

Châtillon-sur-Cluses © montblancfamilyfun.com
Châtillon-sur-Cluses © montblancfamilyfun.com

Châtillon-sur-Cluses is a rural village of just over 1000 inhabitants (I love the name of the inhabitants: les Cassandrins and les Cassandrines), straddling two valleys: la Vallée de l’Arve to the south, and la Vallée du Giffre to the north).

🏺 Roman history – the col at Châtillon-sur-Cluses was already used by the Romans; edged tiles (Tegula) were found under the parish church, as well as a bronze coin dating from the reign of Emperor Diocletian;

🏰 Castle ruins – the word “Châtillon” in Châtillon-sur-Cluses, as with all châtillons, derives from château, and the castle here was one of the preferred residences of the Sires du Faucigny. The 🏰 château de Châtillon was a 12th century château fort (fortress) built on a rocky limestone outrcrop at 862m, and today only the ruins remain – the base of the two castle towers submerged in the undergrowth. This once powerful fortress controlled the col de Châtillon (741m), the intersection of routes from Cluses to Taninges and from Samoëns to Bonneville, and it was a strategic stronghold between 🏞 the Arve and Giffre valleys, at the heart of the Faucigny province. With the disappearance of the Faucignys around 1400, the castle ceased to be a residence, and was turned into a prison fortress;

Le Chevalier Maudit – castle ruins © montblancfamilyfun.com

⛪️ Église et Presbytère de Châtillon-sur-Cluses – by the time we reached the church, our last cache was in sight, and so we had no time (nor energy left!) to explore! It is thought that this church served to begin with as the castle’s chapel, and developped later into a church for the use of the inhabitants of Châtillon-sur-Cluses. The wedding nuptials of Pierre de Savoie (known as petit Charlemagne) and Agnès de Faucigny were celebrated here in 1223 / see here for more information;

Église et Presbytère de Châtillon-sur-Cluses and castle ruins © Morillon Tourisme
Église et Presbytère de Châtillon-sur-Cluses © Morillon Tourisme

Top Tips from MBFF – what we learned
  • 💦 take sufficient (and then some more!) water (we nearly ran out!);
  • 🥾👟 footwear – this is a decent uphill (and then downhill return) hike, so wear hiking boots or baskets!
  • 🍏 picnics – if you are planning to picnic, the only picnic tables are at the start of the hike / otherwise, take a picnic blanket and aim to picnic in the woods / the best picnic spot would be under the tree next to the castle ruins (just next to the final cache!);
Le Chevalier Maudit – picnic table at start of hike © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • ✏️🖊 pencil or pen – be sure to take a pencil or pen, to sign the notebook in the box (some have pencils, but not all!) / if you’d like to leave a small item or toy in a cache, then take one or two along with you;
  • 🕰 Musée de l’Horlogerie et du Décolletage – if you leave enough time, you can visit this fabulous little museum in Cluses, located in the same building as the tourist office;
© Musée de l’Horlogerie et du Décolletage

Le Chavalier Maudit – practical information

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 age requirement: the game is recommended for 7+ years / you can do it with younger children, but understanding the concept of Geocaching® requires a certain mindset;

⏱ length of game: 3km, with a dénivelé of +/-271m – Cluses (470m) ⇒ col de Châtillon (741m);

⛰ timing for game: expect to take 2h to get to the final cache in Châtillon-sur-Cluses / allow 30mins to explore the village, church and castle ruins / leave yourself time to have a drink and some cake! / allow 45mins to get back to Cluses / in total, expect to spend about 4 hours (with breaks);

ℹ️ Cluses Arve & Montagne Tourisme – you need to head to the tourist office in Cluses to pick up your pack (💶 price: 15€) / address: Espace Carpano & Pons, 100 place du 11 Novembre, 74300, Cluses / tel: 04 50 96 69 69 or email: ot@2ccam.fr (also offices in Le Reposoir and Mont-Saxonnex) / check opening hours of each office here;

🅿️ parking: Lidl car park (300m from the start of the game);

ℹ️ more information about Cluse Arve & Montagne games: here;

[ DISCLAIMER – this article was written in partnership with Cluse Arve & Montagne / however, ALL opinions are my own! ]

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