Read all about snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, winter walks, curling, and other activities near Geneva!
Here are 7 alternatives to skiing to explore winter wonderland:
I guess this is the cheapest winter sports and a very nice one! In the peace and calmth of nature, with just the sound of your snowshoes. Will you spot traces of animals, or just enjoy the view from above?
You can either rent snowshoes, or buy a pair for yourself. Most ski resorts have a map of snowshoe hikes, and the good thing is, everyone can do it! Snowshoes, or ‘raquettes à neige’ in French, are easily attached to your own winter walking or hiking shoes and will prevent you to sink in the snow. This way, you will be able to get to the most beautiful places and enjoy a forest in the snow where you would normally not be able to walk through. Hikes in most resorts are well signposted, and you could aim for a nice restaurant for lunch.
Areas: the Jura mountains is very nice area for snowshoeing, and close to Geneva. Saint-Cergue, La Givrine, or La Vattay. You can also go to Villars, Les Mosses, and many other ski resorts.
Showshoeing off the beaten track with a guide
We tested out an excellent mountain guide: Mountful Hikes! Famke and her dog Olle are guides with a lot of experience and Famke takes groups, or families with children, on a snowshoeing adventure. Mountful Hikes has many more activities, like summer hikes, wild camping, and much more. She has also developed a fun game which can learn you all about the animals who live in the mountains, and their traces.
For more information on Mountful hikes, check out her website: https://famkevanderelst.com/
Showshoe and Cheese fondue
Woohoo, this is a great combination isn’t it? In Saint-Cergue they have a winter offer for this. For CHF 35 francs you will get the showshoes and poles for rent, a map of the showshoeing possibilities, and a cheese fondue in one of the participating restaurants.
More info on their website: https://www.lacote-tourisme.ch/en/P10240/snowshoes-and-fondue-package
Snowshoeing in Villars
Villars is a beautiful area for snowshoeing! The scenic mountain train which takes you up from Villars train station to the Col de la Bretaye definitely adds to the winter magic! Ask for a map of the snowshoeing routes at the trainstation and off you go.
From the Col de la Bretaye we took the path towards the Lac de Chavonnes which leads you passed snow covered lakes and through a forest. The restaurant of Lac de Chavonnes is accessible by snowshoes and for skiers, so it makes for a perfect meeting point. The restaurant also has a nice yurt where you can have lunch.https://www.villars-diablerets.ch/en/Z10453/liberty-pass
Cross-Country skiing in the Jura
Close to Geneva, we are lucky to have quite a big area for this. La Vattay, Centre Nordique is located in the Jura, on the French side, when you drive up the Col de la Faucille from Gex. You will leave the busy parking lot of the Faucille behind you and continue towards La Vattay. There are different slopes here, and you can try either the classic or the skating version of Cross-Country skiing, and the easiest slope is a green one, which you could do with kids!
Of course, there are other places for Cross-Country skiing, and it could be good to find a village who has both, in case some family members would like alpine skiing, and others cross-country skiing.
Sledging can be serious business. I’ve made a mistake here in the past, thinking all sledging slopes would be easy with kids, but we had a bit of an adventure once and since then, I check twice before I go!
The longest run closest to Geneva would be the run on Diablerets.
For easy sledging (not a slope) with small kids, you could go to La Givrine in the Jura.
There is a good restaurant here to warm up with a hot chocolate! It may get busy on weekends, so make sure you reserve in advance. Restaurant: http://latrelasse.ch/1264-StCergue-Suisse/
Website of Diablerets sledging run: https://www.villars-diablerets.ch/en/V1331/sledging-in-les-diablerets
Snow Tubing can be done in Leysin, close to Col des Mosses. Great fun for the kids and you can combine it with snowshoeing on the Col des Mosses, and then some adrenaline on the snow tubing slope. Closer to Geneva, you will also find a smaller tubing run in La Givrine: http://ess-latrelasse.ch/luges-bouees/
Winter WalksChamonix from Geneva, and, even though Zermatt is a lot further away and maybe more suitable for a weekend escape, I do really want to mention it, because it did show us that a winter hike is also fun! You can of course for yourself choose any winter hike closer to Geneva, as besides snowshoeing trails, many resorts also have winter walking trails with your regular boots. We went on a family winter walk in Zermatt and really enjoyed winter wonderland without our skis on!
Ice skating on Lac Lamoura
The most known place for ice skating in the open air known to us is the Lac de Joux. However, this seems to be a bit of a warm winter, so at the moment, I have not yet heard of the lake to be frozen.
In the Jura, close to Les Rousses, you have the smaller lake of Lac Lamoura. Of course this freezes up quicker and people have already been ice skating here this winter.
More information: https://www.montagnes-du-jura.fr/activites/a-la-neige/patinage-sur-lac-gele/ You may want to call the tourism office in advance to know whether the lake is indeed frozen!
Test your Swiss skills with curling!Saas-Fee, but there is also a place in Geneva to try this out. This said, it does seem less expensive in ski resorts, but in Geneva, it could be a fun outing for a bigger group.
Their website: http://www.curling-geneve.ch/initiations.html
What are your favorite winter activities besides skiing?
Great Ideas, Laura!