An Insiders Guide to Chamonix in the Summertime …

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Family adventures galore ! Photo ©Chamonix Mont Blanc – Office de Tourisme

Planning a visit or a family-friendly holiday in Chamonix – Here is an insider’s guide and top tips from our “Mummy in the Mountain” Insiders Jo & Nick, founders of Chamonix All Year and parents to gorgeous little Gemma.

So before we get started here’s a little info about Chamonix All Year and how Jo & Nick came to live in Chamonix:

Chamonix All Year is a company with two different entities. The property management reservation company helps you find some of the best accommodation in Chamonix according to your budget and needs, and their resort-based service company guarantees that you have everything you could possibly need in resort from airport transfers and babysitting, to lift passes, ski lessons and even exclusive activities in winter and summer.

The masterminds behind this company are Jo & Nick, parents to Gemma who is nearly 2 years old.

Jo set up the company in 2003, after her first ski trip to Chamonix. Unable to ski or speak French, but with an eye for an opportunity, she took the plunge and bought an apartment in Les Praz. Over the next 6 months she organised the renovation of the apartment so it would be suitable for holiday rentals.

Having made the apartment ready, Jo wanted to create a website to market it, and Chamonix All Year was born. With her background in marketing, this basic website quickly went straight to the top of the Google rankings and she took over 20 weeks of bookings in the apartment in her first year!

By 2006, Jo was burning the midnight oil driving her business forward while still working full time for a marketing agency in London, and Chamonix All Year was really taking shape. That same year Jo and Nick met in London and Nick (with his media background) started to get involved in the business, introducing some corporate trips and building on some key partnerships in Chamonix.

Having worked full time doing two jobs until now, they finally gave up the London advertising jobs in 2008 to focus 100% on the Chamonix business, and moved to Chamonix with no regrets!

 So tell us a bit about Chamonix :

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Photo ©Chamonix Mont Blanc – Office de Tourisme

Chamonix, the birth place of modern alpinism, is frequently associated with extreme skiing and mountaineering but it is also a fabulous destination for families all year round.

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Photo ©Chamonix Mont Blanc – Office de Tourisme

Our valley is a little slice of heaven, naturally. Not only is it a world class ski resort but a long-established, year-round tourist town that spreads for miles in the shadow of the Mont Blanc.

You have lived in Chamonix for nearly 10 years. Tell us more about why you decided to move here permanently?

Unlike other purpose-built ski havens, Chamonix hasn’t been designed at all and has evolved naturally since the 1800s! Therein lies the authenticity, the fun, and the lasting memories that only adventure can imprint.

When you visit Chamonix, you’re immersed in the amazing history of the region in the Architecture all around, and the amazing mountain-scape beyond it. As a visitor, you get a taste for the adventure at the very soul of this town, it’s a sensation you want to surround yourself with and share with others….

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Photo ©Chamonix Mont Blanc – Office de Tourisme

The next thing you know it’s 13 years later, you have a gorgeous daughter, and a business designed to do just that; make memories and share adventure in Chamonix.

Why should parents plan a family holiday to Chamonix?

Our slice of alpine paradise is teeming with things to do for kids of all age groups #welovechamonix is our slogan and if you read on in this article, or on our website  you’ll start to see why!

You live here with your daughter. Is it a good place to live/bring up children?

With the many languages and mixed nationalities of this cosmopolitan town come a wide range of personalities and outlooks. From self-assured, confident and driven, to fun-loving, relaxed and calm; together they make a whole and build balanced little multilingual beings: our children.

Experiencing the outdoors in such a landscape of environment extremes, there is also a natural awareness for the environment that is sure to serve this future generation well. While other resorts at lower altitude may suffer over years to come Chamonix will always have a place at the top, and I’m proud to imagine it will be up to our baby Chamoniards to guard its legacy.

I highly recommend Chamonix as not only a great family holiday destination, but as a town which has an amazing, positive, natural influence on children’s well-being and developing minds.

Any tips on accommodation, the best places to stay with kids? Which is the best place for family friendly accommodation in Chamonix?

I would find it hard not to say, the best place to find family friendly accommodation is with us at Chamonix All Year. And again, each family is different in their needs and preferences so we’d have to hear from them directly to make the best recommendation. As locals, we know how to find the quiet, how to find the easiest transport routes, where you’ll be in proximity to and of course to suit all budgets.

Where is your favourite place to take your daughter in Chamonix?

As a working mum, my favourite destination personally differs from the absolute best we have to offer touristically…but this little café is a life-saver for worn out mummies and daddies: La Petite Folie, Chamonix Sud. This café and soft-play jungle gym has kids’ books, colouring and play areas for babies and toddlers! There are cars outside which they can wheel around in the square in nicer weather, and often seasonal events as well as kids’ games and painting / crafts.

What are the “unmissable” things to do in Chamonix with kids?

Kids always love taking the historic cog-railway Montenevers Train which leaves Chamonix town centre and climbs up into the mountains. When they step out at the top, they’ll be looking out over the largest glacier in France – the Mer de Glace (or Sea of Ice), and there’s even a cable car to take them down to explore inside the ice cave.

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Photo ©Chamonix Mont Blanc – Office de Tourisme

Located above the village of Les Houches, the Parc du Merlet is an animal park with a difference. Kids can see the native animals of the mountain – chamois, deer and llamas among others – and enjoy the daily visit to the marmotte chalet for feeding time.

Nestled in the woods along the River Arve in Les Praz, the Paradis des Praz offers an adventure playground where kids can have fun in this shady glade away from the glare of the summer sun. There are aerial slides, dinghy boats, swings and pony rides, as well as refreshments and snacks.

If you’re willing to travel a little further afield, head to nearby Martigny where there’s the  Barryland Saint Bernard History and Breeding Centre.

Where is your daughter’s favourite places in Chamonix to hang out?

In summer, she loves the Paradis des Praz (see above) while the swimming pool remains a favourite year round . Close to the swimming pool is also a playground (near the MJC) which she also adores. The Parc de Loisirs will be great as she gets older – there’s a wee ones’ play area that she already enjoys as well as plenty for her to try as she grows including trampolines, log flumes and the luge on rails.

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Photo ©Chamonix Mont Blanc – Office de Tourisme

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Photo ©Chamonix Mont Blanc – Office de Tourisme

What is the best free activity to do with kids in Chamonix in the summer? 

In the summer the Paradis des Praz is free to visit with some farm animals in a gorgeous hidden forest setting. Although I do recommend taking some change for a mini-pony ride or ice-cream.

Something special…if someone is planning a special mountain treat as a family?

This summer we’re just launching some new and exclusive summer activities. Top choices for families will be a guided family-friendly hike along a forest trail to a glacier before enjoying a forest fondue, or our inline skating adventure in beautiful nearby Annecy – explore the Venice of the Alps in style!

Family rollerblading in a park

Family rollerblading in a park, on a sunny day.

Where is the best place to take kids in Chamonix when the weather is bad?

Kids of Gemma’s age will love sheltering from the rain at La Petite Folie or at the swimming pool. For older kids, the bowling alley is a great option, or in summer embrace the water and try one of our water activities – rafting, hydrospeed or canyoning! We’ve recently added some more rainy-day tips to our blog:

Where are your top 3 places for family-friendly meals in and around Chamonix?

Our biggest shout-out for family-friendly restaurants has to go out to the hotel Aiguille du Midi in Les Bossons. The hotel has been in the family for 6 generations and they are really kid-focused. There’s a lovely garden for older kids to run around, as well as a pool. The kids’ menu includes a great ice cream cup that you can take home to use again and again too.

The team at Bighorn Bistro are also worth a mention, and if your kids don’t mind the risk of getting messy, then they have to try the hot dogs at Cool Cats!

What about a special treat for the parents if they have only one night? Where would you recommend?

Top restaurants for parents enjoying each other’s company for the night, the team at Bizes will give you a warm welcome and serve up some delicious food. Cap Horn is another great choice for modern food with international influences. Our restaurant wouldn’t be complete without a mention to Munchie – everyone’s favourite Chamonix restaurant.

What are your tips for kids’ shops in Chamonix (clothing & toys)? 

Chamonix has two great toy shops on the high street – Chamonissimo which sells kid-friendly souvenirs and the old-school A la Ville de Venise which still has its original shop front and stocks a great mix of modern and traditional toys.

Anything other services/facilities we’ve missed that could make life easier?

Just a few more miscellaneous tips on great places for pre-school age kids, from our experiences with Gemma.

Le Parc en Folie in Sallanches (30 minutes from Chamonix) –  Soft play 0-12 years, great eat as much as you like Chinese next door! And a massive toy shop for kids just around the corner. The soft play is divided into age groups up to age 12 which is amazing as it means safe play for the little ones. There is also a small play pen for the babies who can’t yet walk with little toys and rocking horses etc.

Chamonix’s Reformed Church in the town centre has a playgroup run by the lovely Barbara, in return for donations for the tea and company. Thursdays from 10 – noon (excluding French holidays).

The Heliopic hotel has a nice kids’ play area where parents can even enjoy a cocktail or coffee!

Heliopic play area

Heliopic Play area

Any other advice?

Bear in mind that trips to altitude are not recommended for young children. For example, only kids from 5+ years can go up to the top of Aiguille du Midi due to the high altitude and difficulty equalising as the cable car goes up. Younger kids can take some of the other cable cars though, so check at the bottom of the cable car if you’re not sure.

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Photo ©Chamonix Mont Blanc – Office de Tourisme

5 reasons to go “Glamping” in Haute Savoie with Altipik

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Looking for the perfect mix of “comfort, affordability and the outdoors” ? If you love the outdoors but also love the little comforts in life then Altipik is for you…

I discovered Altipik via the blog Voyage Family and decided we HAD to go. I soon found some willing “partners in crime” and set the date for the first w/e of the summer hoildays… There is something symbolic about starting the kids holidays with something special! Sooooo here are my five reasons to go:

1: Its on our doorstep

This little corner of paradise is literally 1 hour from Annecy door-to-door. It’s super close, yet we all felt as though we had gone somewhere completely different on a real break. The journey there in itself was really enjoyable too. We went as a group of three families and all three families (without prior consultation) decided to opt for the scenic route and took the route from Annecy –>  le Grand Bornand –> over the Col de la Combières (1613m) and on to Mont Saxonnex. We were all were blown away with the beauty of this route and had HUGE respect for the cyclists climing up the famous Col from Le Reposoir to the Col de la Colombières (one of the most famous in the Alps and we could see why with the last sections at 9-10 %).

2: The location is to die for

The Altipik camp is idylically situated and beautifully maintained – perfectly showcasing the wild natural surroundings.  The different sized white tents/tipis are nestled together on a pristinely groomed grass with the magnificient backdrop of Mont Bargey and the Pic de Jallouvre on one side, and a beautiful forest and stream on the other. This is a magical base for adventures...

3: The kids LOVED it

It is a paradise for kids…our combined group of six kids ran freely round the camp for hours, happily  playing in the nature.

There is a mini farm  with rabbits, hens and goats. The kids loved the rabbits and were allowed to help feed Caramel (the father), his eight babies (ridiculously cute and only one month old), the mother and four other young rabbits. They were in heaven.

There is a slack line behind the camp too which all the kids had a go at – testing their balance in the nature.

After dinner Jeremy lit up a camp fire…the kids were enthralled with this. A proper camping experience!!!

The kids loved the tipis themselves too and sleeping all together as a family in the “wild”. We had the added bonus of a huge storm in the night…my girls thought this was great and an excuse to snuggle closer together 🙂

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Glamping with friends

We arranged to take donkeys on the Sunday morning. The “ânnesses” Prunelle & Carmelle were quite feisty and provided lots of entertainment for the adults and kids. We took the kids on an “adventure” through the surrounding fields for 1-2 hours, roaming through the wild flowers trying to keep the donkeys under control. All the kids had a go riding the donkeys and everyone had a go “leading” (with varying degrees of success) the donkeys .

At the end of the trip no one wanted to go home.

4: The adults LOVED it

The location is spectacularly beautiful, the tipis are great, the kids were happy, the food was great (all fresh local produce), the staff were super friendly and helpful (special mention to Violaine who was amazing and couldn’t have been more helpful.)…all the ingredients to relax and enjoy. As parents we all got to chill and chat whilst our offspring played happily around us, then all sleep as snug as bugs together…What isn’t to like?!

There is a multitude of fabulous walks to do from the Altipik camp too. Given the mixed weather, we opted for a gentle stroll through the fields with the kids and donkeys but if we were to come back we’d definitely do the Lac Bénit. The photos and description from Caroline from Voyage Family certainly whet my apetite.

5: It’s super comfortable

As far as the “glamping” concept goes – for those who don’t know what it means = a mix of camping and glamour , the altipik camp has mastered it.  You get to feel a certain escapism, taking the kids to sleep in the “wild” , still benefitting from all the practical  facilities in the camp, whilst getting a decent nights sleep. Watch this space though we are creeping closer “into the wild” with a mountain refuge booked later on this summer…

The tipis are immaculate inside and out. The beds are comfortable with fresh white bed linen. The tipis are spacious and have everything you need from little lamps for the evening and a wood burner for the colder months. We had a “family tipi” with a double bed & two singles below and the possibility to sleep on a double bunkbed above. Initially the girls wanted to sleep on the bunkbed above us,  however as the storm settled in they decided they’d rather sleep all together on the bottom 🙂

There are no bathrooms in the tipis so there is a “wash block” at the entrance of the campsite with sinks, showers and toilets. The toilets are “dry toilets” which my kids have never experienced before and were quite bemused by. Everything is kept clean with an attention to detail.

For the meals (always an important factor in our trips 😉 there is a tipi “restaurant” that you access via a little tunnel (presumably to maintain warmth in the winter). The team were very flexible and the evening meal was served in two services – kids first, and then adults. We got to enjoy an aperitif outside whilst the kids ate their evening meal. Everyone had fondue, local hams followed by fresh fruit salad. Breakfast was served from 8h30 with lots of fresh bread, butter and a multitude of lovely jams with orange juice and hot drinks. We ordered a pic-nic lunch too…grated carrots, cheese, hams, fresh bread and a choice of fruit. Good fresh, local produce and we definitely couldn’t complain about the quantities 🙂

NOW we’ve experienced this place in summer I think we’ll have to come back this winter and see if we can get more partners in crime and maybe… privatise the camp !!!

For more info & to book your own glamping experience in Haute Savoie: However I do believe they are almost fully booked for this summer now.

Price wise: Approx 150 €/tent (Check online subject to the size of the tent/tipi and the date)

Meals:

Evening meals: 26 €/person adult (excluding wine) ,  13 €/child

Breakfast 9€/person

http://www.altipik.com/fr

Meeting with “Masterchef Master” Cedric Mouthon + bonus brownie recipie (yummmmyyy)

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Cédric Mouthon – Photo credit ©blanccoco.com

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting up with  Cédric Mouthon, MasterChef winner (2012)…(born & bred in Annecy) who has since has not only developped a successful cookery school (L’Atelier 180°) for adults & children – in Annecy and La Roche sur Foron, created and produced a cookery book especially for ados aptly called WORKSHOP Ado – but it appears he  has LOTS more projects in the pipeline from partnerships with The Local Bird, the Tourist Office in Annecy, new books and another top secret project involving English lessons… Cédric is literally bubbling with energy !

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Cédric Mouthon – Photo credit ©blanccoco.com

Sooo we managed to find time in his busy agenda to meet. Mr. Mouthon (Cédric) & I met for lunch a few weeks ago. Note: Don’t expect to have a quick sandwich if you meet with Mr. Mouthon. A la française, the meeting was given at l’Esquisse – a wonderful Michelin starred restaurant based in Annecy, owned by a fellow colleague of Mr. Mouthon’s, Stéphane Dattrino, who greeted us at the end of the meal and talked shop 😉 I was already rubbing shoulders with the culinary connoisseurs of Annecy 😉 potentially disastrous for the bikini season…Sooo before I knew it I was sipping back wine and ordering a three course gastronomic menu (When in Rome…). It was delicious, the service (Monsieur Dattrino’s wife I believe) was perfect and the lunch time menu was actually really good value for money 🙂 (I have to justify my excesses somehow!!)

Back to Mr. Mouthon. Cédric is instantly likeable and his enthusiasm for his passion is contagious. Conversation flowed and before I knew it Cédric was recounting tales from his childhood where his passion was born. Cedric’s grandfather was a chef in the Army and an expert of traditional French cuisine.  Cédric himself too  spent hours in the kitchen from a young age…with busy parents, Cédric was tasked to prepare dinner whilst at college…his mum would leave him a list of ingredients and instructions and he was in charge of concocting the family meal, which he loved…However, it wasn’t until 2012 that his passion became this vocation. After years as a creative, working as an Artistic Director in a Communication Agency, but still regaling his family and friends with his cooking…his family secretly enrolled him for MasterChef and his passion became his reality.

Cédric has one desire: To share and transmit his passion for cooking to everyonemaking cookery accessible, resonating with everyone through their own different interests…whether it be the health aspect, the creativity or the sheer decadence. His book for ados illustrates this…he worked with ados to create menus that reflected what they really wanted to eat and were easy enough for them to actually make. His objective was to do something real…real photos, with the real amount of time it takes – everything to make sure it’s a success for everyone.

So what does Cédric have lined up for us this summer?

You can book into one of his courses on his planning at 180°  CLICK HERE: 

You will find :

 A five-day cookery course for ados “CHEF’ADOS GOURMANDS” – 390,00 €

The Stage Chef’Ados Gourmands is aimed at young people aged 12 to 17 who are passionate and curious about Cuisine and Patisserie.  Together, they will also discover places of exception during visits and activities in addition to cooking and pastry classes.

See planning for dates & more details.

SAVOYARDE GASTRONOMY – Cookery courses 48,00 €

SAVOYARDE GASTRONOMY cooking classes are aimed at holidaymakers or locals who wish to discover or rediscover Savoie specialties and products. You will make together a main course and a dessert + tasting on the spot with the Chef.

Examples of the menu:

– Reblochon Mousse, Candied Potatoes, Onion Jelly –  Tartiflette style!

– Biscuit de Savoie (local speciality) with Lemon Zest

See planning for dates & more details.

Cédric has also put in place a partnership with The Local Bird:

The Concept: From the market to the table

Putting yourself in the shoes of a chef to experience an authentic, insiders experience.

Through  gastronomic workshop you go from the market, in the heart of the Old Town in Annecy ,and the choice of food; to the the table with Cédric Mouthon!

Accompanied by Cédric, he will reveal the secrets of his hometown, reval how to select good, local and seasonal products to prepare a fresh and summery menu.

You will then prepare the menu with the market produce in the workshop 180, equipped with a state-of-the-art kitchen Cédric, will transmit his passion for the kitchen and give advice and tips in order to succeed the menu.

Year round Cédric also does cookery courses for children aged from 6 and various options for ados & adults.

 As Cédric is super kind & LOVES all the Mummies in the Mountains he kindly offered us one of his recipes that ALL of our children will love (of course we might HAVE to eat them too 😉

CHOCOLATE BROWNIES BY CEDRIC MOUTHON

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Chocolate Brownies – Photo credit ©semaphore-photo.com

Preparation 15 minutes

Cooking time :  20 min at 170 °

1 non-stick brownie mould 22 x 22 cm approx.

200 g dark chocolate

130 g icing sugar

150 g butter

1 sachet of vanilla sugar

50 g (10 g + 40 g) flour

3 eggs

70 g of pecan nuts

70 g of hazelnuts

1 pinch of salt

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Chocolate Brownies – Photo credit ©semaphore-photo.com

Foolproof (we hope) Instructions: 

Melt the chopped chocolate and butter over a low heat.

The chocolate must be thick without sticking to the bottom of the pan.

In a container, break 3 whole eggs. Add a healthy pinch of salt. Mix with a whisk.

Pour the icing sugar in the chocolate and mix with a spatula or whisk. Then add the eggs and mix

Before adding the nuts. Chop them coarsely. Mix in with 10 g flour.

Add the remaining flour (40 g) into the melted chocolate.

Pour the nuts covered with flour. Mix gently.

Pour the mixture into the non-stick mould. If you own a classic mould butter + flour it.

Bake at 170 ° for 20 minutes approx..

Check it with the blade with a knife. It needs to come out dry or almost! Remove from the oven and unmould whilst hot. The crust must be slightly crackled ….Mmmmmm 😊.

ENJOY! (Let me know how you get on with the brownies 😉 )

For more details on Cédric Mouthon & his activities you can follow him on Facebook or Instagram or look up details on Atelier 180° – aptly named apparently as this is the best temperature for cooking patisseries…

Glamping Swiss Style with the KIDS in SUMMER – The Whitepod

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The White pod 🙂 Photo credit : Micha Reichsteicher

After our AMAZING trip to the Whitepod – Eco-luxury hotel & Alpine Experience this winter, I came back with ONE RESOLUTION – To take my kids there ASAP. Something sooooo special needs to be SHARED with my kids. It has to be said the Whitepod – Eco-Luxury hotel & Alpine Experience  really is super and completely kid friendly…from the range of activities on offer (both winter & summer alike), to the well-equipped playroom in the pod house and the mezzanines in each pod… The place is magical and I knew my girls would LOVE it winter and/or summer (in fact now we’ve experienced the summer with them I have a sneaky feeling we’ll have to go back this winter and maybe initiate the youngest member of the CURT family who was left with the grandparents: -!!!).

Soooo…It was decided. What better moment to visit than one of the (numerous) bank holiday w/e’s in May/June time. The date was set and the “big” kids (& adults) were super excited. Trying to explain to my “big” girls (8 & 5) the actual concept was interesting…a huge eco-friendly tent, called a POD – a Whitepod, that changes colour to keep in harmony with its surroundings (they liked this idea although didn’t understand why it’s not called Greenpod in the summer 😉, nestled against the mountain, with beds & a mezzanine where we all sleep together (they loved this idea), with a wood burner and a bathroom too…Not sure the youngest fully understood…but she knew it was going to be an adventure and kept asking when we were going on our Swiss mountain adventure!

We set off from Annecy to arrive mid-afternoon just in time for afternoon tea. It’s all about the food in our household I’m afraid!  (We’d missed this in the winter and decided Swiss afternoon tea needed to be tested 😉 To the girls delight, en route up the winding road to Les Giettes we were greeted by picture-box Swiss Alpine chalets (they really are perfectionists) with the Swiss flag proudly on display and nature/wildlife in every direction we looked – with horses, cows & calves, sheep at every turn…we even got blocked by a flock of sheep being herded from one field to another…The girls loved this!!!

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Arriving in style – what a reception!

Once at our destination…we were greeted in the little mountain chalet by a super friendly lady. Although she knew from her records that we had already visited, she knew it was the girls first visit. She patiently explained everything to them, which was great…they felt special and fully aware of everything without us having to reiterate the dangers of the woodburner, the importance of recycling etc. 😊 We were also equipped with our Patagonia rucksack…packed with umbrellas (yes it was forecast to rain) , binoculars, waterproof maps, head torches etc. Please note the Whitepod team do transport your bags up/and down for you by a quad in the summer too, so you can saunter up unencumbered.

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The girls get the lo down !

The walk to the chalets was just as enchanting in summer as in the winter. As we arrived through the fields of wild flowers there was a light mist surrounding the pods and the pod house. The girls raced up ahead of us, squealing with joy as they saw the two ponies just below the pod house. I hadn’t revealed this bit of info to my “horse crazy” daughters and the in-house ponies Kora & Gin proved to be extremely popular. (My hubby & I wanted to rename them Gin & Tonic as they were a true tonic and provided a great source of entertainment…)

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Running to the Whitepods !

Afternoon tea was delicious…freshly squeezed apple juice, homemade crepes with a selection of handmade jams and their own honey, homemade apple and chocolate cake, fruit, dried fruits, hot chocolate, tea…We relaxed in the pod house whilst the girls went to see the ponies. All the produce is locally sourced and uses a “short-circuit retail”—food retail with few stages between producers and consumers.

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Mother nature was in agreement…we’d found our pot of gold!

The girls were much more interested in Kora & Gin…and there was a magical moment when a rainbow appeared …pointing our pod out below the ponies….Mother nature was in agreement with is…we had found our pot of gold 😉 We decided it was time to introduce the girls to our pod. Pod number 1 😊 They loved it and immediately climbed straight up to the mezzanine, with the numerous teddies they had insisted we brought to play! We all collapsed & relaxed…This time round we weren’t in a “deluxe pod” and the “normal” pods (still very luxurious and the same size) don’t have TV’s or WIFI. All I can say is I think that this is fabulous…No TV or wifi meant we could truly disconnect, relax, talk and connect as a family…I think it did us all good. (The podhouse has wifi too…so you can reconnect if needed/get withdrawl symptoms!! 😉)

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An image speaks a thousand words – Photo credit: Micha Riechsteicher

For the evening meal, we had booked in at the restaurant “Les Cerniers”, a restaurant owned by the whitepods but open to the public too, located next to the welcome chalet a short 10-15-minute walk with little ones back down the mountain. The restaurant is very family friendly with great Swiss design – there was even a swiss flag on the plug in the sink.  The weather was quite chilly and starting to rain and despite the fact it was June…we opted for a Swiss fondue (my eldest daughter’s favourite food at the moment) and one kid’s menu for my youngest. The kid’s menus are varied, good value for money and all the fish/meat sourced from Switzerland…Whilst we waited for dinner…the kids hunted for snails outside (!!), there is also a mini play area outside.  Dinner was delicious and the kid’s menus even had some colouring in on the back to entertain the kids. After our fondues, the walk back up to the pods did us all good and the kids raced back to see…Yes you’ve got it…Kora & Gin! The mist had lifted and we were even treated to a view overlooking Lac Leman 🙂

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Snail hunting 🙂

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Fondue time

We snuggled up in the huge bed, in front of the fire and started the night as “four-in-a-bed” listening as the  rain started pitter-pattering on the pod. HEAVEN…A moment of pure happiness. (my only regret my youngest rascal wasn’t there). There is something special about listening to rain, in the mountains whilst you’re nice and warm tucked up in a bed, in front of a fire… My eldest daughter moved up to the mezzanine after 20 minutes or so…but our youngest decided to spend the full night snuggled up with us…

The next morning, we all awoke around 8ish to the sound of heavy rain…After gently awaking, showering etc. we headed over to the pod house for a leisurely breakfast (like the afternoon tea but even better…eggs, fresh fruit, pastries – you name it, they had it and yes it was all locally sourced and homemade). We had promised the girls pony rides but alas the rain continued to fall…After investigation with the staff it was decided it was too rainy to take the ponies out…However, they very kindly supplied us with a huge bag of apples to feed them with. The girls seemed indifferent to the fact it was raining and spent at least an hour following Kora & Gin around feeding them and talking to them! They then decided to play table tennis in the rain! The pod house has a fully equipped kids playroom with a huge black board, a TV, board games…you name it. The girls didn’t go there once …they much preferred playing outside in the rain…must be their Yorkshire roots 😉

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Yummy breakfast

The rain eased towards the end of the morning and we decided it would be fun to take the girls for a walk – sold to them as an “adventure” up and around the pods before heading back to France. After initial reluctance to leave Kora & Gin, we set off to explore the surrounding forests…trying to find deer, marmottes, squirrels, birds and such like. The girls were in heaven jumping every time they heard some rustling in the forests…and the views looking back over the pods was stunning. (I noticed that there are three new pods in construction too…or the foundations are anyway) Watch this space it looks like there will be a few more whitepods for this winter!

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Adventure time

After our walk  it was time to head back home…the girls wanted to stay and said it was the BEST place ever…It really is UNIQUE with an attention to detail that goes above and beyond. Now we’ve discover the white pods as a family in the summer…I think we’ll have to come back this winter!

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The pods…Photo credit : Micha Reichsteicher

For further details on the whitepod: http://www.whitepod.com/

Or if you want to torture yourself with their photos – check out their Instagram feed:

https://www.instagram.com/whitepodhotel/

TOP 10 things to do in ANNECY this SUMMER by RécréAmômes & Mummy in the Mountains

Mummy In the Mountain’s TOP 10 things to do this summer in and around Annecy with RécréAmômes

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Summer is here!

HOT OFF THE PRESS 😊 Check out Mummyinthemountains in the latest  RécréAmômes! (Page 32!!!) (Very proud)

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Mumy in the Mountains in RécréAmômes !

 

After meeting the lovely Laure Béchade (founder of RécréAmômes) through Fémin’Alpes (An association for female entrepreneurs in the Alps), I was delighted when she offered me the opportunity to choose my top 10 things in English for the summer edition of RécréAmômes. We Brits have a voice 🙂

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The SUNNY SUMMER EDITION!

I have to say it was hard to choose just 10 as the magazine is jam packed with fabulous ideas!

The shortened version of my TOP 10 can be found in the magazine RécréAmômes  on Page 32– which is now available in over 200 different locations in Annecy.  I have to say we LOVE RécréAmômes and have been big fans since they started. I find them a valuable and trusted source of information. If don’t know them…check them out.

Soooo here are our top ten favourite recommendations in the RécréAmômes magazine, that we’ll be doing as a family this summer. Watch out hubby & girls the summer is going to lots of FUN!

  1. Having as many pic-nics as possible on the lakeside beaches 😉 There are 13 different beaches around the lake in Annecy…our personal family faves are on the “Rive Est” as that’s where we live : Talloires (difficult to beat), Angon (great with kids & a bit quieter/less well known), Menthon (great location) & Veyrier (fab with kids but gets super busy & hard to park). The beaches are great on the other side of the lake too. If you need good treats for your pic-nic the Pan & Gato boulangerie in Albigny does amazing treats 😉 – we eat so much from here I think we should have shares in the business !!

 

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My girls are definitely half French 😉

 

  1. Staying in a mountain refuge as a family – We’ve been dying to do this for years. Now the kids are older it’s a MUST. (We will either do the Refuge des Sales, Le Refuge de la Pointe Percée or Parmelan). Page 16 of RécréAmômes has the details on the Refuge des Sales and how to get there – they are apparently super friendly & even provide downloadable educational activity sheets (5_8 years old & 8-10 years old) to entertain the kids whilst they walk up! Watch this space I will do a blog post on our chosen destination 😉

 

  1. Le Bonheur des Momes Festival in Le Grand Bornand – the event speaks for itself. The dates this year 20th – 25th August 2017. If you don’t know the event you have to check it out!

 

  1. An afternoon at the Scarecrow Park “Parc des Epouvantails” near Cruseilles. We have never been and it looks like lots of fun. Although I do have to admit a few years ago I once took the kids to a Scarecrow Festival in Yorkshire – which was quite something! Let’s see what the French version is like 😉

 

  1. An evening at the SUMMER NIGHTS “Alice in Wonderland» show at the Chateau de Menthon Saint Bernard. We went last year & it was one of the best nights we had that summer. The girls, were enchanted & I must admit so was I. The standard was very high ad the setting made it quite magical…
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Magical Château Menthon St. Bernard

 

  1. Jumping Megeve – A show jumping event. If your kids love horses this event is fabulous & FREE. The horses are amazing, stunningly beautiful, the standard of the competitions very high. We went as a family last year and had a great day out. Megeve is also beautiful in the summer. This year the dates are 18th-23rd Juy 2017.

 

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Jumping Megeve

  1. Kayaking on the lake in Annecy. I’ve always wanted to do this with my (big) girls…We’ve done SUP a few times and really enjoyed it. The one time we did try kayaking, my then 2-year-old middle child tripped over getting in the boat, fully clothed and was terrified the fish were going to eat her…As you can imagine not a raging success!  Let’s see if we can do better!!! You can hire kayaks all around the lake. In Annecy le Vieux we use Roule ma poule
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SUP on the lake

 

  1. The adventure Park in Talloiresthe girls love this place and the location is beautiful. You can watch the parapentes take off and there are tables to have pic-nics and a little snack restaurant too. A great half day activity with different areas for different age groups. Pre-book in the summer. Page 21 of RécréAmômes magazine has further info.

 

  1. The Tyrolienne over the lake at the Lac des confins in La Clusaz. Accro Tyroo. This is simply wonderful and can be combined with a lovely walk. We frequently have lunch there too,  either a pic-nic or lunch at Le Foly. Le Foly is one of our favourite, family-friendly restaurants in the area. It’s location is simply fabulous, located up at les confins overlooking the lake and surrounded in every direction by mountains. Whatever season you go there – the food, the service and the location never disappoint.

 

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Tyrolienne Family

  1. A day at Vitam Parkthe kids LOVE it herewhatever the season. ( My middle daughter at the tender age of five has even confessed when she grows up she would like to be a life guard at Vitam park)

 

And I’ve added a bonus recommendation as I couldn’t resist!!!

An afternoon with lunch at the Pisciculture – Fish Farm in Thones. The location is idyllic and the activity fun. A firm fave with the Mummy in the Mountains crew. Check out my blog post HERE for further info.

For more info on RécréAmômes you can pick up the magazine from one of the 200 drop off points in Annecy (the tourism office & Courrier shopping centre being very central) or you can follow them via Facebook:

Or via their website & join the RécréAmômes club (Lots of special advantages) : http://recreamomes.fr/

To consult the latest magazine CLICK HERE 😉

Watch this space I could be doing more English stuff with them too 😊 #togetherstronger

 

Want your kids to eat more healthily and develop healthy eating habits?

Want your kids to eat more healthily and develop healthy eating habits? Curious how to get your toddler to eat more fruit and vegetables? (yes, yes, yessssss…I am 😉) Needing advice on baby led weaning…Look no further! I have just discovered Nutri Family Coach & Lauriane Frichment…

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Lauriane & her eldest munchkin

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely, Lauriane Frichment, a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist , based in Annecy. Lauriane  runs nutrition workshops for families either as a group or via private consultations, either in French or English (The workshops are in French for the moment but Lauriane can do them in English too subject to demand :-).

Lauriane offers two different workshops & private consultations. Her workshops are:

  • Refusal to eat & how to overcome it. How to acquire good eating habits? Recipe ideas and lots of other surprises … Basically, helping toddlers & young children develop healthy eating habits.

Next sessions on Friday 23rd  June & Saturday 1st July –20 € (1h30) – I will be going to the one of the 1st of July…Watch out children…this summer everyone will be eating more fruit & veg!!!

Nutrition Workshop for children - Nutri Family Coach

 

  • Baby led diversification. Which milk for my baby? Nutritional advice

Next sessions on Saturday 10th & Friady 16th of June – 20 € (1h30)

Nutrition Workshop for babies - Nutri Family Coach

MORE about Lauriane:

Lauriane is a dynamic, mother of two young children, who came to meet me with her 4-week-old baby looking unbelievable radiant and fresh. RESPECT. (BTW her little baby boy is gorgeous & super cute but NO I am not broody 😉 three wild girls are enough for me!)

Laurianne, is French born, but has spent most of her life in English speaking communities and as such is perfectly bilingual. She is an extremely interesting person with a very different upbringing (made my Yorkshire born & bred, up bringing seem rather dull in comparison 😉). Lauriane spent the first 17 years of her life living in India in the Auroville community which built the foundations of her passion. For those of you who don’t know the Auroville concept – Auroville is a town, with a community of 50 000 people, from 49 nations, based in South of India which describes itself as “a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity.” Lauriane explained to me that her passion for healthy eating and nutrition was born here…the environment is self-sustained and the onus is put on health & wellness, rural development, green issues …hence organic produce, healthy transport options etc.…Lauriane explained to me that she went to school either on horses or bikes etc. (My daughters’ idea of heaven 😊) and most of the food they ate was sustainably sourced from the local community.

At the tender age of 19, Lauriane embarked upon her studies in health and nutrition, heading overseas and trading India with America. However, after three years, Lauriane found that the American method lacked the holistic approach she appreciated and was too focused on calorie counting. Lauriane decided to head to London, to the College of Naturopathic medicine where she undertook a more practice-orientated training, viewing the body as a full integrity and looking for causes as well as treatments in natural therapies such as Nutrition and Naturopathy and met her French husband.

After three years, the hectic London life and living in a cramped flat soon lost its appeal and Lauriane and her French hubby decided to head back towards a bilingual county when they had the opportunity to move over to Switzerland. After a few years living and working in and around Lausanne, Lauriane and her hubby decided to move to Annecy to have their family and Lauriane decided it was the ideal moment to get back to her passion and develop her Family Nutritional Workshops.

Sooooo in a nutshell if you are looking for a REAL EXPERT in child nutrition who is super interesting and PASSIONATE about what she does then check out her workshops or private consultations. I will be doing one with the desire to help improve my youngest daughters eating habits, integrate more fruit and vegetables into their menus and get some fresh, new menu ideas…check out some of the ones below (Mmmm)

For further details you can contact Lauriane directly  on:

lauriane@nutrifamilycoach.fr

Or her facebook page.

 

ANNECY SUMMER 2017 – KIDS’ ACTIVITIES & SUMMER CAMPS

KIDS’ ACTIVITIES IN ANNECY SUMMER 2017 – SUMMER CAMPS & ACTIVITIES

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Yes SUMMER is approaching FAST (even if the weather is being slightly erratic)… and as I’m in the process of trying to organise my kid’s activities this summer, I decided it was time I updated the compilation of activities that are on offer in the Annecy/ Annecy le Vieux / Veyrier-du-lac area for those of you who are interested! It has only taken me 4 years to update 😉

This list is non-comprehensive, and hopefully will evolve with your help. I have tried to gather as much information as possible, but I am sure I have missed lots…I will update as and when 😉

PURE SPORTS CAMPS

ROLLERBLADING classes & combined multi-activity camps for kids starting from 4 years of age (aptly named Baby roller) with or without another activity. Classes are held in Annecy, Seynod, Annecy-le-Vieux, St Jorioz… The courses are either half day or full day subject to the choice chosen. They have grown their options of summer courses vastly since 2013 and now offer a HUGE range of different activities with the roller blading – tennis, rowing, sailing, yoga, dance, biathlon, mountaineering, circus, climbing, archery. My kids have done the roller-blading several times from baby roller level and have also combined it with tennis & sailing and thoroughly enjoyed it …. this will be on the planning again this year 😉

Skate boarding classes for kids from age 7. They do summer camps (10 hours).

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Children’s dance camp – hip hop, street dance, breakdance, flash mob …& beach fun. Two weeks available in July. Based in Annecy near the Imperial. The camps are run by Housseine Khald – who runs hip hop lessons for adults and kids in Annecy year-round. My eldest does classes with him and loves them. He seems to be great with kids.

Ecuries du Rampignon. Weekly, half- day pony/horse riding courses for kids from 4 years old at the stables in Annecy-le-Vieux. My daughters go here & really enjoy it. They haven’t put their summer programme online yet.

Tennis & multisport courses for kids from 3 years old in Annecy-le-Vieux.  They do half day sessions in the morning for 3-6 years old. Half day or full day session from 7-15 years old and a full range of multisport activities from 7 years of age…including tennis with football, sailing, roller blading, wake boarding, rowing, climbing, biathlon. Check the website for the different weeks, availability etc. My daughter did the mini tennis when she was 4 and it seemed well organized but alas she wasn’t a huge fan of tennis. She is the one on the mini tennis photo not smiling & in the wrong t-shirt 😉!

Block Trotters Climbing sessions. Website not up to date but they organize sessions in the summer from 4 years of age. Great team, very friendly. Based at Argonay.

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Golf courses at the Golf course in between Menthon & Talloires

CIRCUS Camps: The CIRCUS SCHOOL summer camps organized in Annecy (Parmelan)
The main info = Three age groups for children from 3-4 years, 5 to 7 years and 8 to 14 years old.
HOW TO BOOK:
For 3/4 years: from Monday 15 May, 2 pm.
For 5/7 years: from Monday 15 May, 10.00.
For 8/14 year olds: from Tuesday 16 May, 10.00.
– Either by going directly to the circus school – Ecole de cirque du Parmelan – 6 Allée des Salomons, 74000 Annecy
– Or by reserving your place by phone at 04.50.66.03.47

 

WAKE BOARDING for kids.

Le SPOT – Veyrier du lac Courses for kids from 7 years of age. Three, Four or Five-day morning sessions.

Les Frères Coin-Coin – Annecy le Vieux Weekly courses, max group of 6.  5 x 2 hours. Advice / coaching / debriefing. Two different groups: Teenagers from 12 to 16 years old & Children from 7 to 11 years old.

WATERSPORTS

CLUB NAUTIQUE – Veyrier du Lac   Offers a range of sailing courses and multi-activity water sports courses for kids from 4 years of age (Moussaillons for little ones). The multisport camps offer options including sailing, SUP, wake boarding, tennis and diving

Kids rowing & multi-sport camps from 10 – 17 years of age. Possibility of rowing on its own or mixed activity camps with sailing, roller blading, tennis or climbing. Based in Annecy le Vieux, near the beach in Albigny.

 Swimming & multi activity camps in the first three weeks of July for kids from 8 years old who know how to swim at least 50m. Mornings: swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo, diving…afternoons: sailing, climbing, canoe-kayak, paint ball, mini golf). Based at the Marquisats pool in Annecy. Info not online yet.

LANGUAGE CAMPS/ACTIVITIES: 

Kids & Us  Language immersion camps for kids from 3-10 (split into three different age groups) Fun weeks based on different themes from 9h-13h. Little Chef & Mad Scientist courses

Les Petits Bilingues: A variety of options on offer for kids from 1-18 years of age, with the emphasis on “Learning English” (obviously not in the same groups age wise ;-)) Based in Annecy.

Ecole Bilingue : Holiday Club – Sports, Arts, nature, songs…for bilingual kids school age. Based in Annecy-le-Vieux

CREATIVE ACTIVITIES

Au Pays des Miniz – Creative craft/art groups (2 separate weeks on offer over the Holiday period doing sewing around summer themes…towels, bandanas etc.)  6 – 12 years old. Based in Annecy. My daughters have done some of their sessions & really enjoyed them!

Les P’tits Montagn’arts 3 different multi-activity camps for kidds from age 6…including dance (african, jazz, hip-hop, theatre…, art, music (djembé), sailing, skateboarding…Check out their website for further details. Friends have done their art based one in Parmelan and rave about it…

Atelier MT’Crea 

Creative Summer sessions. DATES:  29th & 30th June – (College aged kids 11 – 15 years old). 3rd – 7th July & 10th – 13th July (from 7 years old) from 9 -12 & 2 -5.

On the program, 3D floral painting, weaving with wool &ribbons, badges with messages & initials, flower bouquets, embroidered postcards, creation of stamps …

“A small factory of ideas to get the creativity flowing…and have fun!” Rates & reservations can be made directly via the Facebook page. My girls did a sessions with Corrine at Peaberry & Co. this spring and enjoyed it…Corrine is extremely patient and full of lots of good ideas.

NATURE CAMPS:

La Ferme du Chosal Three different options available on a Wednesday afternoon for kids from 5 years old. “Mini Farmers”, “Mini Gardeners” or “Mini Artists in the Nature”.  We went here recently on a sortie scolaire and did the Mini gardeners & mini artists in the nature and I have to say they were brilliant and a refreshing change.

www.mjc-annecylevieux.com  : Multi activity sports, craft etc. summer camps all summer long. Salary indexed. Based in Annecy-le-Vieux. Programme not on line yet.

http://www.mjcarchipelsud.com : The MJC Archipel Sud in the center of Annecy  have a “Centre de Loisirs” and an halte-garderie and activities over the summer for kids from 3 – 12 years of age.

http://www.mjc-forum-des-romains.fr : The MJC Romains near the Annecy stadium also hosts a “Centre de Loisirs” that meets at L’ecole de Carnot near Courier.

http://www.mjcteppes.org: The MJC Teppes hosts “Le Patio” which is an indoor play area that meets on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 16h to 18h as well as 9h and 11h30 on Friday mornings.

www.annecylevieux.com: “Jardin des Loisirs” (3-6 year olds) & “Espace Loisirs” (6-17 year olds – spilt by age group) Summer camps all summer apart from August! Annecy-le-Vieux.

http://www.fol74.org/annecy-les-puisots2: Options of day care with/without transport from Annecy or a full week camp “colonie de vacances” style with accommodation. Based at the leisure centre on the way up to the Semnoz. Activities include pony rides, mini farm, climbing, discovery of the forest & surroundings, reading, songs etc; etc. They are however already fully booked for July. They have other centres dotted around the lake too.

They are doing porte ouvertes soon and even a free night to test sleeping over for thoses who are tentative! Check out their website for details.

PLACES TO GO:

Fish farm in Thônes. Kids can fish for trout and there is a wonderful restaurant there to eat afterwards. Wonderful place, we have spent many happy days there. Be warned though the killing of the fish is slightly barbaric 😉 and more sensitive souls may not like this. My girls rather worryingly seem to enjoy it 😉 For further details check my blog post on it here .

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FUNNY PARK : Trampolines, inflatable structures, mini golf, carting…Based next to the Imperial Palace Hotel in Annecy. Prices vary per activity.

PLAGE IMPERIAL Swimming/beach/ restaurant complex. Entrance is paid but there are various infrastructures that make the place nice: supervision of the swimming area, nice clean paddling pool, flat grassy beach area, bar & restaurant, small park, beach volley ball area. Imperial Beach, Annecy.

Adventure Park in Talloires. Children’s adventure course, for children from 1m tall accompanied by an adult. The location is to die for and it’s very family friendly with a little café anda parapente take off zone next to it.

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Adventure Park in Thônes. Children’s course, for children from 3 years of age accompanied by an adult. Nice spot next to the horse riding stables with a mini animal area to look at. For my review click here.

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La Fôret Enchantée Indoor amusement park…inflatable structures, slides, “piscine à balles”…Great for rainy days. My daughters love it there. Based in Epagny.

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Full Land is an indoor amusement park in Argonay. Similar to “La Foret Enchantee” in Epagny. Bring an extra pair of socks.

Parc de Loisirs in St. Jorioz is an outdoor amusement park with trampolines, inflatable structures, and a pool of balls.

Equipassion : Pony rides in Seynod. For kids under 6 years old.

Summer luge in the Semnoz. For 3 years old and up.

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Parc de Merlet in Chamonix. Absolutely fabulous. Click here for a review.

Activities just over or near the border of Switzerland

SWISS Vapeur Parc. If you feel like venturing across the border into Switzerland, check out Swiss Vapeur Parc. It’s located right over the border past Evian. It’s a miniature train park. Emily’s son loved it. The park attendants will provide you with Swiss Francs for parking if you don’t have any.

Vitam’Parc near Geneva is a fun place to swim with your kiddos. There are several slides and a kiddie pool.

NICE WALKS WITH YOUNGISH CHILDREN

Cascades d’Angon – For a more detailled review click here.

Roc de Chère. Aticle to come.

Bout du Lac – réserve naturel

For more walks that I’ve tried and tested with little ones click here 

EVENTS:

JULY: HORSE JUMPING IN MEGEVE http://www.jumping-megeve.com/ Horse show jumping event in Megeve, that brings together over 500 horses and 350 riders of twenty or so different nationalities, from promising young amateurs to the most renowned professional title holders. Free event. We went last year and it was a really great event for horse lovers.

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http://www.bonlieu-annecy.com/fiche_evenement.php?id_spectacle=231 3 day Festival in the centre of Annecy with street artists, theatre, dance, music …15th-18th July

AUGUST:

Au Bonheur des Momes is a week-long children’s festival in Le Grand Bornand. This year it will be held from August 20-25th. Be sure to purchase tickets to the spectacles in advance as they do tend to sell out quickly.

FOR FURTHER INFO & TOP TIPS on things to do in and around Annecy don’t forget to consult RécréAmômes  either online or pop by the Annecy Tourist office  to pick up your FREE copy of their magazine. The summer edition will be ready soon  and I hear the magazine is jam packed with lots of fabulous things to do!