« Le Mystère de la Montre » : a treasure hunt in Mont-Saxonnex!

MBFF tried out another of Cluse Arve & Montagne’s jeux last autumn! This time we chose another jeu d’aventure: ⏱ Le Mystère de la Montre, in ⛰ Mont-Saxonnex!

After having had so much fun doing the previous two jeux, ⚔️ Le Chevalier Maudit (in Châtillon-sur-Cluses; read about our experience here) and 🥚 L’Œuf de Plume la Gypaète (in Le Reposoir; read about our experience here), we were excited to try out a new game!

And I was also excited to explore a mountain village that I had never visited before! We met up with Geneva friends and they helped us with the game; we had a group ranging in age from 6,5 years to 75 years (3 generations in our friends’ family), which was just perfect!

Mont-Saxonnex – l’église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption © montblancfamilyfun.com

Le Mystère de la Montre: un jeu d’aventure

For this game, you will walk in the footsteps of Marcel, a 🕰 jeune paysan horloger (a young clock-maker), who devised ⏱ a mysterious watch at the turn of the centrury! Why? In order to stop time, so that he could be forever friends with his 🦅 gypaète friend! You’ll help 🦅 Rosalie la gypaète to find the mysterious watch hidden by Marcel, and along the way you’ll be learning about this mysterious watch by solving puzzles!

Le Mystère de la Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © montblancfamilyfun.com

You’ll also have to find caches, by following 🗺 the map! Please be sure to respect the nature along the way, to not leave any rubbish, and to put back all the objects that you find, and to shut 🔓 the locks on the boxes that you find!

As with ⚔️ Le Chevalier Maudit, this game came in a little keepsake bag, with the instructions leaflet and 🗺 a map and a few goodies inside.

The route takes you through the centre of the village and into 🌳 the woods, and the boucle is a lot easier than Le Chevalier Maudit (which, for us, was quite an ascent during a canicule!).

To make sure that you are on the right track, you follow these ▶️ wooden signs:

Le Mystère de la Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © montblancfamilyfun.com

Here we are, starting off on our quest:

Le Mystère du Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © montblancfamilyfun.com
Le Mystère du Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © Anna-Léa Kahn

Some 🐔 local chickens . . .

Le Mystère du Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © montblancfamilyfun.com

These 🍎 apples looked tasty:

Le Mystère du Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © montblancfamilyfun.com

One of the 🧩 first puzzles to solve:

Le Mystère du Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © Anna-Léa Kahn
Le Mystère du Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © montblancfamilyfun.com

Into 🌳 the woods . . .

A 💦 pretty river in the woods . . .

Le Mystère du Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © montblancfamilyfun.com

More 🧩 puzzles to solve. . .

A friendly, 🐺 curious local . . .

Le Mystère de la Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © montblancfamilyfun.com

Yipee, we got to the end of the mystery!

Le Mystère de la Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © montblancfamilyfun.com

Mont-Saxonnex – some history and geography

If, like us, you have never ventured up to ⛰ Mont-Saxonnex, you have nevertheless most probably glimpsed its ⛪️ iconic church from the Arve valley motorway; it sits on a promontory and overlooks the valley below!

L’église du Mont-Saxonnex in December, in a sea of clouds © Céline Martinelli

⛰ Mont-Saxonnex is a mountain village, with some family-friendly ⛷ ski pistes for ❄️ the winter season (15km of runs set across 13 pistes) and a host of hiking and climbing possibilities for the warmer months.

The heart of the village is located at 1000m, and it sits in the shadow of the dominant ⛰ Chaîne du Bargy (in fact, the Latin name for Mont-Saxonnex was mons saxorum nigrorum, meaning « mount of the black rocks »), one of the favourite nesting choices for our fabulous local (and protected) bird of prey, 🦅 the gypaète barbu!

Gypaètes Barbus © Antoine Rezer Photography
Gypaètes-Barbus © Antoine Rezer Photography

⛰ Mont-Saxonnex, though primarily an agricultural commune, like its neighbours Saint-Sigismond, Scionzier and Cluses, also has a fascinating industrial history. In the 18th century, many of the inhabitants of this small village got to work during those long winter months in 🕰 the clock making industry (l’horlogerie). This industrial pursuit continued throughout the 19th century, and up until WWII: pinions, axles and other watch pieces were made and then sold on to 🇨🇭 the Geneva assembly line. This very specific industry lent itself to a very particular type of home, and you may well observe some of these on your amble around town: one side of the farm building was pierced with bay windows, which illuminated the work surface where the precise work of shaping small parts was carried out. The openings of these windows pivoted outwards, because the work surface was surmounted by transmission belts, which connected to various small machines, and also facilitated the loading of the raw materials necessary to make the small metal parts.

[ more information about the work of 🕰 the paysan horlager here ]

Maison d’hHrloger d’Alain Duval – @ Alain Duval

Bande annonce of the film « Paysan Horloger » by Alain DUVAL :

Eating options

We met our friends at 🧀 Le Petit Fourneau, which is in the centre of town and suited our purpose of being able to start our treasure hunt on foot from the restaurant! It is a large, spacious restaurant, designed as a venue for events!

website & FB page

address: 341 rue de la Gorge du Cé, 74130, Mont-Saxonnex / tel: 04 50 53 59 50
@ Le Petit Fourneau

Nearby, you also have the  🧀 Auberge Pointe du Midi, with great views and the local speciality of bougnettes!

address: La Pellaz Route de Morsullaz, 74130, Mont-Saxonnex

🥐 Boulangerie Pâtisserie Saifi – you can buy picnic supplies at the local boulangerie, or cake at the end of your treasure hunt!

address: Le Bourgeal et le Bugnon, 74130, Mont-Saxonnex
Mont-Saxonnex boulangerie © Mont-Saxonnex Tourisme

🍏 L’Epicerie d’Amélie and the 🥩 Boucherie Callier – for more picnic provisions!

🚾 – some local boys told us that there were public toilets next to the church! (by the time we had finished our treasure hunt, the restaurants were shut and we couldn’t find any WCs in the centre of the village, so this was welcome news for those requiring an actual toilet, rather than a tree!).

[ for more information about local shops and restaurants, see here ]

Further activities in the area

🐐 La Chèvrerie des Oulettes – here you can visit the goats and buy goats’ cheese, tomme and crottins / open for cheese buying 17h until 18h (SHUT on Sundays) / 18h – milking of the goats!

more information

address: Les Oulettes, 74130, Mont-Saxonnex / tel: 06 82 76 21 32
Le Mystère de la Montre (Mont-Saxonnex) © montblancfamilyfun.com
La Chèvrerie des Oulettes © Mont-Saxonnex Tourisme

Massif de Bargy – this mountain range is made up of: Le Petit Bargy, Le Grand Bargy, La Pointe du Midi, La Pointe Blanche and Le Pic de Jallouvre. It is rich in flora, and a full inventory was carried out by the prominant 19th century botanist and naturalist Eugène Bourgeau (1813–1877) / see here for more information;

Massif de Bargy © montblancfamilyfun.com
Chaîne du Bargy © Mont-Saxonnex Tourisme

💦 Lac Bénit (1450m) – nestled under the Massif de Bargy, at the foot of the cirque d’Encrenaz, is a small glacial lake. There are various hiking routes that will get you to the lake, or you can take the Télésiège de Morsullaz over the summer months (when you’ll also find the Buvette du Lac Bénit open.) Tales of fairies and legends abound about this “sacred lake”  / more information here;

🧗‍♂️ Blocs de Morsullaz – this is a beautiful bouldering site, with big blocks scattered across a meadow! There are also picnic tables available, and the Auberge Pointe du Midi restaurant across the road / disclaimer: take proper precautions and equipment if climbing here!

 more information here 

Les blocs de Morsullaz © montblancfamilyfun.com
Les blocs de Morsullaz © montblancfamilyfun.com

🌿🐮 Plateau & Col de Cenise (1500m) – this plateau, above the Rochers de Leschaux, has a view of the Chaîne de Bargy and you can also set off on hikes to the Lac de Lessy or le Pic du Jallouvre. Dotted across the meadow are some chalets d’alpage, now residential, but testimony to a rich pastoral past. This is also the home to the tétras-lyre / more information here;

Upwards towards the Plateau de Cenise © montblancfamilyfun.com

💦 Gorge du Bronze & Cascade du Dard – a great family walk (2h30 aller-retour), leaving from the centre of the village, and suitable from springtime until autumn / it can be slippery in parts, so do be careful! / more information here;

💦 Gorges du Cé – this refreshing hike (perfect for a hot day!) will take about 2h and it is a boucle / more information here;

Gorges du Cé © Mont-Saxonnex Tourisme

⛪️ L’Eglise Notre-Dame de l’Assomption – an early 19th century church (built between 1829 and 1834), l’église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption replaced an older church situated in the same spot. It is perched on a promontory overlooking the Arve Valley, and it sits at the commanding panoramic spot called the Belvédère du Faucigny. This site juxtoposes a monument and a viewpoint, and it is visible from the Arve Valley (you’ll have probably spotted it from the motorway heading up to Sallanches or Chamonix!);

Mont-Saxonnex – l’église © montblancfamilyfun.com

⛪️ La Chapelle de Pincru – located in the centre of the village, this chapel was built on the rive droite of the Bronze river, near the Pont de la Villia. The chapel was founded in 1664 by a local who had made his fortune in Germany, and it is instantly reconisable with its bulbous steeple typical of the area, its slate roof and altar piece from the 17th century (from the Italian school);

🗺 Jeu d’aventure ” L’estampôyu et la Princesse de Bargy “ – another jeu from Cluses Arve & Montagne, which you can do in Mont-Saxonnex! You’ll need to free the Princesse du Bargy and rescue the village from the horrible Estampôyu / for 8 to 14 year olds;

🏕 Camp Altipik – we passed by this small glamping tipi village on our way up to the Plateau de Solaison! They also have donkeys and offer plenty of activities! / website;

[ for more information about things to do in Mont-Saxonnex, see here ]

© Altipik

Le mystère de la montre: practical information

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 age requirement: the game is recommended for 7+ years / you can do it with younger children, and they will enjoy hunting for the caches, but you do need someone able to read the booklet;

length of game: 2,5km, a boucle within Mont-Saxonnex, largely in the forest!

timing for game: expect to take about 2h to get to the final cache in Mont-Saxonnex / allow 30mins to explore the village and its chapel and church! / leave yourself time to have a drink and some cake at the boulangerie!

💦 handy hints: make sure that you take enough water and wear comfortable shoes;

🅿️ parking: car park near the centre of Mont-Saxonnex, by the Petit Fourneau;

ℹ️ Cluses Arve & Montagne Tourisme – you need to head to the tourist office in Cluses or in Mont-Saxonnex (3 place de la Villia, Mont-Saxonnex) to pick up your pack (💶 price: 15€) / tel: +33(0)4 50 96 69 69 (Cluses) or +33(0)4 50 96 97 27 (Mont-Saxonnex) or email: ot@2ccam.fr / check opening hours of each office here;

ℹ️more information about Cluse Arve & Montagne games: here;

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

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