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5 best beaches near Saint-Raphaёl

Are you on a holiday near Saint-Raphaёl on the Côte d’Azur and would you like to know which beach to go to? Here’s our selection of 5 best beaches for you to try out!

1. Calanque du Petit Canereit, Antheor

A beautiful, natural spot away from the crowds, without facilities. This beach is located between Agay and Théoule-sur-Mer, just after passing Antheor Plage and the train bridge. You will see a small parking lot on the right side of the scenic road. Come early in the morning to have a parking spot, and if you are really lucky, to have the beach all to yourself like we had one morning. Steep stairs lead you down to the beach, do-able with children, bring water, your water shoes, and your picnic! Snorkeling gear is also really good to bring as it is a beach with stones and a lot of fish can be seen! The second time we were there, at around 13 o’clock, at boat stopped to sell drinks and ice-cream, just in time for our dessert after the picnic! The captain of the boat said he came there every day, so do bring some money just in case. This beach is definitely one of our preferred spots!

2. Plage du Débarquement, Saint-Raphaёl

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This beach is our top spot for snorkeling! An amazing amount of fish can be seen, even very close to the beach. It’s certainly because this beach has no sand but big rocks, so bring your water shoes and your snorkeling gear! We had never seen so many fish in one place in the Mediterranean before! You will see a lot of people walk around with the Decathlon snorkeling masks that have become so popular 😊. There are lifeguards on this beach, public toilets, and there is a restaurant. The view on the famous landmark of Saint-Raphaёl, l’Ile d’Or, is best from this beach, and we like to bring our stand-up paddles and paddle around the island. Paddling around the island and back to the beach takes about 35 minutes and my husband has done it with our 10 year old. The island is private property, so you cannot go on the island.

3. Tiki plage, or Plage de Camp Long, Agay

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This beach, located between Agay and Saint-Raphaёl, is also known as the ‘Plage de Camp Long’. It is a creek with a nice beach with a mixture of sand and small stones. You can walk around the creek on a small foot path carved into the typical red rocks of the Estérel mountains that end up in the sea. The parking lot is relatively big compared to smaller creeks located along the well-known ‘Route de la Corniche d’Or’. The beach has a restaurant, a snack corner, a small shop, showers, public toilets, and rental of stand-up paddles, kayaks and pedal boats. Children are at ease to swim here as the water does not go steep down immediately. They can of course also search for crabs along the rocks around the creek. Tiki plage is definitely one of our preferred beaches!

4. Calanque des Anglais, Agay

Another beautiful, small beach, with typical red stones from the red rocks of the Estérel mountains. If you go all the way to the ‘official sign’ indicating the ‘Calanque des Anglais’, access to the beach is a bit more difficult then when you park at the stairs just before. From those stairs, the beach is accessible with children as well. Like all the ‘calanques’ beaches, come early and don’t forget water shoes and snorkeling gear!

5. Saint-Aygulf

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This wide beach is our best spot for real sand and building sand castles! It is also the perfect beach with small children as the water is very shallow for a long while. There are parking lots along the road on both sides (payed parking). Since it is quite a long beach, there are several different beach bars and restaurants. What we like to do after a couple of hours on the beach, is go to the beach front where there are several restaurants and bars right on the beach. Some have really nice terraces! The little center also has a big shop with everything you would need for the beach, inflatable toys, beach towels, they have everything! Just don’t go to the beach near the center, as it tends to get too crowded at the end of the day. The beach is long enough to pick a spot before the town center.

Would you like to see some of the beaches as seen from above? Check out our drone video of the beautiful coast line:

Beach cleanup

A walk on the beach in the Netherlands always makes me happy. It clears your head and the surroundings are beautiful. The kids can run in the wind, jump off the dunes and they can play the ‘does the wave wet my shoes or not game’. But still, to make them contribute to a beach cleanup gives them a whole other level of understanding, and if you do a cleanup every once in a while, when you walk in nature, it may just teach them to be responsible themselves later on.

They will transform it into a treasure hunt, and they may oblige you to finally bring a treasure or two home with you (we are the proud owners of a very rusty boat propellor), but it does really teach them something valuable, and they do realize it is ridiculous what people leave in nature… Straws, bottles, plastic bags, bags with dog poo (seriously if you clean up your dog’s poo, and put it in a plastic bag, why do you leave it on the beach afterwards?). We also found a whole box of medicines, and finally, a lost Iphone that we brought back to the beach bar hoping it would then be reunited with its owner.

The children seemed a bit more aware of the trash problem and I think that in summer, when we spend even more time on the beach, they will run after their empty cookie wrapping in case the wind picks it up. Or at least, I hope so!

Gelato and Cantucci – a cooking class in Rome with kids!

Of all the things kids will love about a trip to Italy, the food will probably top that list! Pizza, pasta, the pastries, and …Gelato! The Italian ice-cream, which just doesn’t taste the same as any other ice-cream.

No difficulty for kids to eat in Italy. The only challenge would be to have them try out what they don’t know already as Italy has so many delicious dishes!

When visiting a big city like Rome, a cooking class with kids is a great way to combat some museum fatigue and to give them some hands-on experiences. Our kids loved Rome, and exploring all its beautiful historic sites, but the cooking class was definitely one of their favorite things we did!

In a historic building, in front of the Italian Senate, and not far from Piazza Navona, we took a Gelato and biscuits class with InRome Cooking. The cook that helped us was really nice and loved working with kids. The course was in English, and we had plenty of time to translate to our children when they did not understand. Our chef taught us how to make our own Italian Gelato and while we waited for the ice-cream to freeze up, showed us how the famous Cantucci biscuits are made.

Gelato

 

Not everyone has a machine at home, and so we were taught how to make Italian ice-cream in two different ways. One with, and one without the use of the Gelato machine. The Gelato machine mixes the ice-cream while at the same time freezing the ice-cream on the sides. We made a delicious strawberry ice-cream with that machine, but to be able to try making our own Gelato at home, we also made chocolate and pistachio gelato with a regular mixer and freezer. It was actually not that difficult and we will definitely try to combine our own flavors at home. Without the machine, you cannot use fresh fruit, as fruit will lose a lot of liquid, but you can use for instance vanilla, herbs or Nutella.

Cantucci recipe

Cantucci are the delicious Italian bisuits which are so good with a cup of coffee or tea. Our cooking teacher showed us how to make Cantucci while our Gelato was freezing up. The Cantucci dough is quite sticky, so it is important not to knead it too thoroughly when you mix up the dough, but to touch it quickly and sort of toss it around.

We all loved the Cantucci and were surprised about how easy it was to make them, so try it out for yourself by following this Cantucci recipe of InRome Cooking:

Ingredients:

  • 250 gr of flour
  • 150 gr of sugar
  • 125 gr of nuts, or almonds
  • 2 small eggs
  • 1 yolk
  • 25 gr of butter
  • ½ tea spoon of Baking Powder
  • Optional: Marsala, wine from Sicily
  • Optional: during our cooking class we added a bit of grated lemon to the dough. At home we have also tried this with grated orange which was really good as well.

Preparation:

 

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Toast the nuts in the oven until fragrant and lightly golden, for 8 to 10 minutes. Once they’re ready, set aside to cool.
  • For the dough: Beat 2 eggs with the sugar. Pour in the butter, and beat until combined. Add the flour and the baking powder. Mix until well combined, then stir in the nuts or almonds. Refrigerate it until firm, for about 1 hour. (We did not do that during the class, which was probably why the dough was sticky).
  • When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven again to 180 degrees.
  • Transfer the dough to a work surface with a bit of flour, and cut the dough into two equal portions. Shape each portion of dough into a log.
  • Whisk the remaining egg, and brush it lightly onto the top and sides of the logs, cleaning the brush of egg in excess so it doesn’t drop down the sides. Bake the logs of dough in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow them to cool.
  • When the logs are cool, use a sharp knife to cut them at an angle into slices about 1,5 cm thick.
  • If you would like the Cantucci to be harder, you can bake the slices again in the oven for a few minutes.

These crunchy cookies can be kept for up to one week in a tightly‐covered tin. Serve with Vin Santo, coffee, or tea.

The Cooking Class

 

We finished the cooking class by tasting what we made in a dining room with an beautiful ceiling. We had our different Gelati, tasted our Cantucci, and were able to take the rest of our biscuits back home, yum. The cooking class lasts for about 2 hours, and they send you the recipes afterwards by e-mail. They also offer lots of other classes, in case your kids would be more interested in pizza or pasta making, and they have classes for adults as well of course. Really an excellent experience of cooking with kids in Rome!

Would you like to read our other tips on Rome, it’s all in our Rome with kids article!

                   

 

 

Zermatt – Matterhorn

Home to the most photographed mountain of Switzerland, the Matterhorn, Zermatt should be on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit! The cute car-free town has beautiful streets with historic wooden buildings, and views on the iconic mountain. Even though we live in Switzerland, we are still in awe every time we see the Matterhorn mountain.

You will have a view on the Matterhorn from Zermatt and the town center, but for the best views you will of course go up. There are several possibilities for that from the center of Zermatt.

Things to do in Zermatt

Sunnegga mountain metro

We decided to go up with the mountain metro Sunnegga. We knew that there were walking trails up there, and restaurants with views. When you arrive on top on Sunnegga, you are immediately treated to the beautiful Matterhorn view. We took the cable car shaped lift down to get to the walking path in direction of Findeln (signs will lead you the way). Findeln is a well preserved, historic part of Zermatt with a lot of typical wooden mountain barns. Make sure you have enough battery on your camera as this is a very picturesque place! The walk down to Findeln takes approximately 30 minutes. It is a bit steep down though, so remember you will also have to walk back up 😊.

You will find several mountain restaurants on the way, most of them with their terrace facing the Matterhorn. A well-known restaurant on the way is Chez Vrony which looked very nice, but we decided to continue a bit more down to Restaurant Findlerhof. The last part to Restaurant Findlerhof is in between the dark brown little chalets until you get to the restaurant with its sun terrace. Remember to reserve in advance, because restaurants with views like this can of course get a bit busy on sunny days! The food was really good and they have a small playground with a slide where small children could play.

After our lunch we hiked back up to Sunnegga again. It was mostly only climbing, but it was definitely worth it!

Our children saw that you could exchange your Sunnegga metro card in town for one of those typical Matterhorn shaped chocolates of Chocolaterie Fuchs, and so we did. We wandered through the streets of Zermatt which are full of bars, tea rooms and shops with typical Swiss products. The cute Matterhorn shaped chocolate was a nice treat.

Gornergrat

This may be the most done train ride in Zermatt as it takes you all the way up to the Gornergrat viewing platform near the Matterhorn. On top of the Gornergrat (3089 m.) you will have 360 degrees views on the mountains surrounding you, a restaurant and hotel. We decided to save the Gornergrat trip for a next visit, which gives us a good reason to come back!

What is the best season to visit Zermatt?

Zermatt is a great destination all year round. It has beautiful ski slopes in winter, an ice skating rink in the town center and definitely caters for children with their beginners area called Wolli park. Zermatt is also good to go to for non skiers. We didn’t go skiing in Zermatt but enjoyed our winter walk and the beautiful scenery.

In summer there are plenty of hikes to be done in Zermatt, and we may go back to do that!

Zermatt day trip:

It is possible to go to Zermatt on a day trip if you live in Switzerland, or if your Swiss holiday is based elsewhere, but if you have the chance to stay overnight it would give you more time, as it does take a bit of time to actually get to Zermatt.

Zermatt hotels:

There are plenty hotels in Zermatt. There is even a hotel on top of Gornergrat. Even though children are welcome, it seems a perfect place for a romantic getaway.  I’m mentioning it anyway as the views from the rooms seem really stunning!

Family friendly hotels in Zermat:

                          

How to get to Zermatt:

You can go to Zermatt by train or by car. If you go by car, you will arrive in the town of Täsch where a big parking lot for Zermatt visitors is created. It is all very well organized as you will immediately get to an arrival hall where you can buy your train tickets for the 12 minute train ride to the center of Zermatt. Arriving in Zermatt, you will see the little electric taxis on the train station square. The tourism office is also located on that square and you can buy your tickets there to go up with the Sunegga metro or the Gornergrat train.

Panoramic train:

You can also come to Zermatt on the Glacier Express which is one of Switzerland’s panoramic train lines that runs between Zermatt and St Moritz.

You may also like to read on other beautiful destinations in Switzerland:

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There are some affiliate links on this article. If you book through one of those links it will not cost you anything extra, but it will give me a small commission which helps me to run this blog. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Saas Fee, skiing in the Swiss Alps!

Saas Fee is one of Switzerland’s most famous resorts for an active mountain holiday. Its car-free center has those cute little wooden mountain huts which are so typical of Switzerland and stunning views are everywhere around you. Saas Fee holds a few records as it has the highest Alpine Metro which takes you all the way up to the highest turning panoramic restaurant in the world. From the restaurant in Mittelallalin, you will see peaks of over 4.000 meters high everywhere around you.

The town also has lots of restaurants, shops, two supermarkets, and a lot of activities to cater for the whole family.

Saas Fee in Winter

We went on a ski holiday to Saas Fee twice and loved it! Saas Fee has everything a family may need, from a good ski school that caters for little ones, to cool and fun snow parks where bigger children can practice their jumping skills. Saas Fee has received the Swiss ‘Family Destination’ label, which means it is a resort which is specifically good for families.

Saas Fee Ski School

There are two ski schools in Saas Fee. One is the ESS ski school, the national Swiss ski school, which caters for all levels, the other one is the Eskimo Ski School. We always have our kids in the ESS ski school, because their system and levels are the same in all the Swiss resorts. Our youngest son started to ski in Saas Fee on the magic carpet, and our eldest son was in the Swiss Snow Academy in Saas Fee where children are also taught important things like ‘what to do in case of an avalanche’. We think it is very important that the ESS has included such things for bigger children who are already confirmed skiers.

Saas Fee Ski School meeting point

If you have your children in a ski class in Saas Fee, it may be a good idea to check out hotels that are close to the ski school meeting point so that you don’t start your morning with a big walk in uncomfortable shoes. The Ski School meeting point is right in front of the ice-skating rink in the Stafelwald beginners area.

Restaurants on the slopes

We have one favorite restaurant on the slopes in Saas Fee, which is accessible from the beginners area. Restaurant ‘Zur Schäferstube’ is located on the right side of the t-bar which takes you up on the blue slope on Stafelwald. You will see the sign indicating the restaurant when you are on the t-bar or button lift. You go up, ski down a bit and you can ski all the way to the restaurant which offers great food for a reasonable price and which has a beautiful sun terrace.

We also ate at the Morenia restaurant once, up on the mountain (take the Felskinn cable car up, and ski down, or take the Alpin Express down for those who don’t ski, and then you will be at the Morenia restaurant. This is a typical self-service restaurant, but with a very large choice. Morenia restaurant also has a picnic area for those who would like to bring their own lunch.

Is Saas Fee good for beginners?

Yes, Saas Fee is a good ski resort for confirmed skiers as well as for beginners. At the bottom of the resort you have the Stafelwald area which has 3 different blue slopes to learn to ski on. It also has the Snowli area for the youngest children with magic carpets and cool ski carousels. You can also go up the mountain and still decide to only do blue slopes. Check out the ski slopes map, but in the Morenia area after taking the Felskinn gondola you can definitely ski.

Get cool videos of you skiing down

In Saas Fee, in Stafelwald, and on top of the mountain, you can get your run filmed by the Adrenaline Cup and watch the video later by logging in with your ski pass number on their website, or by simply swiping your card in one of the restaurants like the one in Morenia. This is a nice way to get some quality videos of your skills. You can also do a speedcheck:

Saas Fee in Winter for non skiers

So, what are things to do in Saas Fee when not the whole family is fond of skiing? Saas Fee has an ice-skating rink and a separate area where you could try out your curling moves. The town center has a lot of shops, restaurants and there is a swimming pool and spa near the tourism office which is called Aqua Allalin. There is also a museum called the Saaser Museum which is open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, so you can learn a bit about the area and its history. You can go all the way up with the highest Alpine Metro and visit the ‘Eispavillion’ which is a really big ice cave with statues made of ice. There are winter walk ways and there is a long sledging run in Saas Fee. The sledging run is a long and sometimes steep run. We did that one with our children when they were small and maybe they were too small back then, but it really is a cool run.

Hotels in Saas Fee

There are several great hotels in Saas Fee, of which some are particularly family friendly, with kids clubs, indoor pools, and other activities. Check out two recommendations here:

                               

How to get to Saas Fee?

By car: You can drive to Saas Fee until the big parking lot at the entrance of the village. There, on one of the platforms, you unload your luggage and call an electric taxi vehicle by calling the number indicated on the platform. Costs are approximately CHF 25 to bring you to your hotel with all your luggage, and from there, your holidays will be car-free!

By public transport: You can take the train to Visp and then a bus to Saas Fee. The bus station is at the entrance of the village.

Magic Pass

Good news for those that go skiing often, is that Saas Fee has decided to partner with Magic Pass from the winter season 2019/2020! Magic Pass is a season ski card valid in several resorts. Other resorts that are included in the Magic Pass and that we have been to as a family are Les Mosses and Leysin, and for hiking in summer: Crans Montana, Villars and Moléson.

Short video of the Alpine Metro and Snow Park with kids:

 

 

Day trip to Chamonix

A day trip to Chamonix in France

A Chamonix day trip from Geneva is definitely a must-do! Nestled at the foot of the famous Mont Blanc mountain, Chamonix is close by, and one of the most known French towns for mountain activities. We have been in summer and in winter and it’s beautiful in both seasons.

Things to do in Chamonix:

You should take a walk around in the town center of Chamonix as the village is charming, with nicely decorated buildings that breathe a mountain atmosphere, plenty of restaurants and cute shops with local products.

There are plenty of possibilities for activities in Chamonix in all seasons. Chamonix has different cable cars or trains to go up. And if you are seeking for a particular adventure, there are plenty of guides and activities you could book.

Mont Blanc’s ‘Aiguille du Midi’ is a beautiful place to go to by cable car with a panoramic terrace with a 360 view, but it is a bit expensive for a family. If you do go up, there is a part where you can step on a glass floor which is called ‘les pas dans le vide’.

The cute cogwheel train going up towards the glacier ‘Mer de Glace’, is really worth it and suitable for children as well. The scenic train ride takes about 20 minutes before you arrive at the Montenvers mountain train station at 1913m. From there, you can soak up the views of the glacier and surrounding mountain tops!

At Montenvers you will have a bar for drinks and snacks, as well as a little shop. There is also a nice Restaurant ‘Refuge de Montenvers’ on top if you would like to have a good lunch: https://montenvers.terminal-neige.com/en/#!chamonix-hotel/our-restaurants

From Montenvers you can take the gondola down towards the glacier (same ticket price as the train), and then there is a big stairway going to the ‘Grotte de Glace’, the ice cave. The stairs are quite steep and some 400 steps, but it is worth your while since the ice cave is impressive and beautiful. There are chairs made of ice, benches, animal statues, and signs and posters showing a bit of the history of the glacier.

Of course, like with other glaciers, along the way going down the stairs you will see signs indicating the glacier level in previous years. It is impressive and a good opportunity to talk to children about climate change and the shrinking of the glaciers.

Other family activities in Chamonix:

Chamonix in winter: skiing in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc’s different areas like Les Houches, Servoz, Argentière or Vallorcine. We have tried Les Houches and liked that area. Ice skating (year round), several sledging runs.

Chamonix in summer: numerous hikes, of which plenty are suitable for families, an adventure rope park, alpine sledging run open all year, more glaciers to discover like the Bossons Glacier which is reachable by a chair lift, or Merlet animal park (open from May to September).

How to get there:

Like for all cable cars or mountain trains, make sure you check opening hours and time tables before you set off.

Check out some of our other day trip from Geneva suggestions:

                  

 

 

 

 

Summer 2019 Family Destinations!

What type of summer would you like to have in 2019? Would you like to go to the beach? Or, escape the heat by going north? Would you like to head for the mountains? Or go far away? Get inspired by our suggestions and start dreaming of Summer 2019!

Go to the Beach:

Are you dreaming of lazy summer days, but would you still like to explore some nice areas during your holiday? Would you like your summer to be warm and the food to be good? Popular family summer destinations in Europe are Corsica, Sicily, Croatia, Mallorca or the Cote d’Azur in France.

We have been to Mallorca twice with our children, and highly recommend it with little ones as there is so much to do and almost all hotels cater for little ones! Most hotels have pools with slides, there are cute towns to visit, beautiful cliffs and coves to see, and a big aquarium with play area, just to name some of the possibilities!

 

We know the Cote d’Azur region very well. Make sure you don’t get stuck going to too crowded beaches and check out our list of favorite beaches on the famous Route de la Corniche d’Or! The region is really beautiful and we specifically like the red rock mountains ‘Massif de l’Estérel’. If you would not like to spend every day on the beach, there is a lot of sightseeing to do from here. We particularly liked our daytrip to the Gorges du Verdon a bit inland.

 

Escape the Heat:

Did you not like how hot it was last summer? If you want to escape the heat, you’re better off going to northern Europe. Even though in the summer of 2018 it got really hot there as well, but that was hopefully an exception. We really like escaping the heat sometimes. I am originally from the Netherlands and a lot of our summer moments have been spent there. Imagine cycling with a cool cargo bike on the safe cycle paths, visiting windmills, and going to one of Europe’s hidden gems by visiting one of the islands in the north! We went to Texel, the largest of the islands. Wide beaches, seal observation and loads of things to do with kids! The Netherlands beaches have a great vibe in summer anyway with all the nice beach bars and restaurants.

Head for the Mountains:

Active family holidays in the mountains are some of the best holidays ever! Go hiking, climbing, visit natural sites and tuck in early as the kids will be tired and zen of all the fresh mountain air. We have been lucky to head for the mountains in the hiking season quite often last year. Here are two beautiful places in Switzerland!

First we visited the cute town of Blatten, Belalp, from which you will be able to see the famous Aletsch Glacier. Blatten is a very family friendly mountain village with a playground and walks all in the theme of witches. It is one of those places where you would like to sit and daydream! With bigger kids you can decide to go back down on a Trotti-bike scooter, which they will surely love!

Then we visited the Kandersteg area which was also stunning. Especially if you take the cable car up to Oeschinensee and hike around there. The dreamy fairytale lake of Blausee is also close by, as well as a cool suspension bridge.

Go far away:

Would you like to go further away? So far, we have done Thailand and New York with our kids, but we are definitely dreaming of other far away destinations. Sometimes it seems a pity to go in summer since we have a beautiful season in Europe then as well, but when you have kids that go to school, these holidays of course give you the most time to explore a far away destination. Thailand is the far away trip we liked most, and which is totally accessible for families with children. In New York we liked the museums, skyscrapers, and the streetart scene!

                                     

And you? What has been your favorite trip with kids? And where are you off to in 2019?

 

Windmills in Holland

It’s the image that comes to most people’s minds when they think of the Netherlands: windmills, bicycles and flower fields. When you go on a city trip to Amsterdam, and you would like to see some of these typical postcard sceneries, you would need to get a bit outside of the city. So where to go to see beautiful windmills in Holland?

Zaanse Schans is the best place to go and see some typical Dutch windmills at a day-trip distance from Amsterdam. It’s only a short drive away from the city and it is an area with historical green wooden houses and some of the most beautiful windmills. All the houses are inhabited and the windmills are still in use. Some windmills are used to saw wood, some produce oil, paint or flour. The windmills can be visited for a small fee (about 4 euros for adults and 2 euros for children).

 

The area, along the river the Zaan is really picturesque and you will definitely see the images you expect to see in Holland!

Some of the historical houses hold shops or tiny museums, like a bakery museum, or a museum shop of the Dutch well-known supermarket Albert Heijn which originated in this area of the Netherlands. At various places you can also learn about old Dutch handicrafts and see for instance how the wooden clogs are made.

Apart from museums, there are also shops that sell cheese, typical mustard from the region, and of course souvenir shops. In case you buy some of the local mustard there, you get a recipe with it for a traditional mustard soup!

At Zaanse Schans, you can rent a bicycle to discover more of the area, or hop on a tour boat to enjoy the view on the windmills and the houses from the water while learning more about the history of the region.

 

How to get there?

If you are staying in a hotel in central Amsterdam, you can get to Zaanse Schans by boat, but it does take a while (https://www.zaanferry.com/en/). Consider it to be a mini-cruise.

You can also get to Zaanse Schans by bus from Amsterdam, which takes about 40 minutes: https://www.dezaanseschans.nl/en/plan-your-visit/accessibility/.

                             

Our Family’s Swiss Bucket List!

We live in Switzerland, and yet, there are still many beautiful places we have not explored! Geneva’s location maybe makes it less easy as it is not centrally located in Switzerland. However, we have decided we would like to discover Switzerland more, as it is so beautiful! If you ask a Swiss where you should absolutely go, they come up with numerous suggestions! And so, I have created our Family’s Swiss Bucket List! How many have you done? And what did you love, but that is missing on my list? Feel free to comment on my list! Let’s inspire each other!

Our list is divided in Places and Experiences! I will keep our Bucket List status up to date, so you can see how we’re doing 😊.

Places:

1. Blausee, Status: 

You can not have missed the beautiful images of the Swiss alpine lake Blausee in the Canton of Bern. The water is crystal clear, and you can hop on the glass bottom boat to go onto the lake. We have waited specifically for this Bucket List place for it to be autumn, because the lake is surrounded by a forest, so we wanted to see it with beautiful autumn colors, but it’s supposed to be really beautiful with snow as well.

Read all about what we thought of it here:

2. Lauterbrunnen waterfall, Status: not been yet.

Lauterbrunnen is one of Switzerland’s most famous ‘postcard’ images. The Lauterbrunnen waterfall which comes out of the mountain in the center of an ideal Swiss village. Have you been?

3. Zürich, Status: not been yet, will take any tips!

4. Ticino region, Status:

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The Ticino region has won our hearts! We have been to several places, but there is still more we need to discover! For instance, number 25 on this list 😊. See our blog post on the Ticino here:

ticino

5. Aletsch Glacier, Status:

We felt so lucky to be here, and sit at the dreamy viewpoint location on the Belalp mountain with the cute little church and the majestic glacier behind.

You can read our review on this place here:

6. Zermatt, Status: not been yet, and I don’t know how come as I have thought of going so often already!

7. Lucerne, Status: 

The beautiful old town with medieval wooden bridges, and the Swiss Transport Museum, one of the best museums in Switzerland!

8. Mount Rigi, Status: not yet been!

Can be combined with Lucerne, but we were in lack of time, so we will need to go back for this one!

9. Lake Brienz, Status: not yet been!

10. Lake Constanz, Status: not yet been!

11. Schaffhausen, Rhein fall, Status: not yet been! High on our list!

12. Lavaux Vineyards, Status:

Most beautiful time of the year must be Autumn. We walked in the vineyards in Summer and had a drink on the beautiful terrace of Le Baron Tavernier in Chexbres.

13. Oeschinensee, Status:

This was actually not on our Bucket List, but since we have been and thought it was the most beautiful place in Switzerland, I’m putting in on, for your inspiration! A must-do in Switzerland and can be combined with Blausee!

14. Emosson Dam, Status: not yet been but heard a lot about it!

15. Hike Ebenalp and have lunch at Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli, Status: not yet been, but the images of this restaurant are so amazing that we would really like to go!

Experiences:

This is where we have work to do! Below is what I would like to experience in Switzerland, but what we have not done yet! Have you done any of this? And what do you recommend?

16. Swimming in the Aare river in Bern in Summer.

17. Take the steepest funicular in Stoos and see the view on Lake Lucerne.

18. Walking through the ‘Passage de Monetier’ during the Escalade weekend (this is do-able, we live in Geneva!). This narrow street in Geneva’s Old Town can only be visited once a year.

19. Sleeping in an igloo.

20. Panoramic train ride. Which one do you recommend?

21. Suspension bridge, Status: , only one so far, but there are ones that are higher up, so we may do some more!

22. Spa with a view.

23. Fondue in a cable car.

24. Mountain hut trekking.

25. Swimming in Valle Verzasca in the Ticino region.

What am I missing on my Switzerland Bucket List? Feel free to comment below! I’m looking forward to your replies 😊.

Explore the cities around Geneva or Vaud

From Geneva or Vaud: Explore the cities around you!

If you live in Geneva, or somewhere near in Switzerland, you know that one of the advantages is its central location! You can easily explore a Swiss city, or a city in France or Italy. Some cities have some great museums and sites to explore as a family. Here are our favorite weekends away!

Turin

Turin is a beautiful and very family friendly city! Its Egypt museum is a must-see for families and has a captivating audio guide in several languages for children. Our family also loved the glass lift that takes you up right through the dome shaped landmark of Mole Antonelliana, we had never been in such a lift before! The choice of food in Turin is amazing! A part from famous Italian ice-cream and plenty of restaurants, we also loved the antipasti you could order everywhere! Bonus for Turin is in case you or your children like soccer… Our children loved watching a Juventus game, and now that Ronaldo is there, they would like to go again soon 😊.

To see the complete article on Turin:

Lucerne

Lucerne has something for everyone! Its beautiful location by the lake, a beautiful old town center with an authentic feel, and the historical bridges. Lucerne is also home to a must-see museum in Switzerland, one of the best I would say: the Swiss Transport Museum. You can easily spend a day here and your children will love it!

Article on Lucerne, see the article here.

Aosta

Easy and quick Italian get-away from Geneva or Vaud as Aosta is really close by. It is not a big city, so can very easily be explored by families with small children. There are beautiful Romain ruins accessible from the car-free town center, hotels with spas, and nice restaurants.

Aosta article:

Chambéry

Lovely city close to Geneva! We loved exploring Chambéry with its traboules (narrow passage-ways), historic town center and shops. If you would like to explore nature the next day, there are plenty of sites near Chambéry!

To find out where to go:

Annecy

Annecy is easily feasible on a day trip! A walk on the beautiful lake side with the many mountains as a back drop, or a walk in the old town center which is very picturesque! Annecy also makes for a great city for some shopping as there are plenty of cute boutique shops in the old center, and there are many great restaurants!

The Kander Valley in Bernese Oberland

We had decided to visit the Kander Valley in Switzerland because of the fairy tale lake of Blausee (Blue Lake), which was on our Swiss Bucket list for a while already. The Kander Valley is only 2,5 hours by car from Geneva so this was a nice option for a weekend break! The Kander Valley is so beautiful, we were amazed! In the end, even though Blausee was gorgeous, it was actually the hike at Oeschinen See with its stunning panoramas which was our favorite thing we did over this short break.

Blausee

I’m sure you have seen some images of Blausee on Instagram. It is a is a natural lake with such an incredible blue color, that it almost seems surreal. The crystal clear lake lies between the villages of Kandergrund and Kandersteg in a natural park. You pay a small entrance fee which includes a short ride on the glass bottom boat on the lake. A fairy tale like forest will lead you to the lake from the entrance of the park. Now, what you should know is that the lake is not big. It is more a big pond, but the place still is really beautiful. Because of the excellent quality of the mountain spring water, there is an organic trout farm on site and you can see the trout swimming in the lake.

The legend of the lake is a sad story of a young woman who used to meet up with the man she loved at this lake. The man died and the blue-eyed woman cried her loss by the lake which then gained the blue color of her eyes. It is of course a legend, but through the clear water you can see a statue of the sad girl on the bottom of the lake.

The access to the lake is possible with strollers and there is a playground on site. The beautiful restaurant / hotel with its terrace and views right on the lake is a perfect place for a drink or a meal.

Entrance fee: CHF 8 for adults, CHF 4 for children from 6 to 15 years old.

Popular: since it is a popular place to visit in Switzerland, always check their website before going. Sometimes on Saturdays weddings are held in this magical spot, so be sure to check if it’s open on the day you would like to visit.

More information: https://www.blausee.ch/en/

Suspension Bridge: Hängebrücke Hostalde

We have been wanting to try out a suspension bridge for quite a while already, but since my little one and myself were not sure if we would dare to do it, the Hostalde Suspension bridge in nearby Frutigen seemed the perfect place to try this out, as it was close to Kandergrund and less high up than some real daredevil suspension bridges in Switzerland. The scenery of the bridge was beautiful and we knew a cute mountain bistro would await us on the other side. The suspension bridge is 153 meters long and it wiggles a bit when you walk over it, but we all dared to do it and loved the experience! I think it will not be the last suspension bridge we will try 😊. The family-run mountain hut / bistro on the other side of the bridge serves nice local cheese platters and refreshments. They have a nice terrace outside and a small slide / playground for children.

More information: https://www.adelboden.ch/en/s/suspension-bridge

Oeschinen See: Stunning views and grilling sausages on an open fire in a beautiful setting!

Even though the Oeschinen See was not the main reason we came to the Kander Valley, it ended up to be the most beautiful thing we did during the weekend! What a stunning site! Oeschinen See is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jungfrau Aletsch. This lake, and a hike there, should definitely be on everyone’s must-see-in-Switzerland-list!

The cable car leaves from Kandersteg and takes you up the mountain. From there, it is about a 15 minutes walk to the beautiful lake, if you decide to take the short route which is accessible with a stroller. There are several other walking paths and hikes. A big plus of the short route is that this path will lead you to the Oeschinen Grill and Picknick Shop where you can buy a ready-to-go grill pack so that you can grill some sausages along the lake on an open fire like the Swiss do!

We decided to do a more difficult hike. Hike no 7, which includes panoramas and which takes about 3 hours in a round loop. This is the most beautiful hike we have done in Switzerland so far!! The hiking path was a bit narrow though… so if you go with children, I would recommend to do this with bigger kids. Our 8-year-old was amongst the youngest we have seen doing this hike on the day we went and we had to brief our children not to jump and to be careful at several spots. The hike is mainly climbing up for most of it, but it leads you to such stunning and incredible places that it was totally worth it! Wear good hiking shoes!

At the end of the lake, your hike will start to take you down again, with the last part through nice fields with rocks and waterfalls. There are several cute mountain huts / restaurants here.

Once you are down by the lake side, you will see all the people enjoying this place for picnics and some grilling. In Summer, you can swim in the lake, so along with your hiking boots, bring your bathing suit! There is also a cool summer alpine slide the kids will definitely enjoy right at the arrival of the cable car. This is the perfect place to enjoy Switzerland!

More Information: https://www.oeschinensee.ch/en/

Important: several mountain huts and restaurants at Oeschinen See only accept cash, so if you would like to enjoy a refreshment in one of the stunning sites along the way, make sure you bring cash with you.

Cable Car opening times: we were lucky to be there on the last opening day of the cable car before they prepare for the winter season, so if you would like to plan a trip here, best is to plan for Spring for hiking!

In Winter, Oeschinen See transforms into a Winter paradise. We think it will be totally worth it as well to visit the area in the Winter season. Not only Blausee is supposedly really magical with snow around it, but Oeschinen See also seems the perfect place for sledging, skiing and winter walking.

Hotel Recommendation:

We stayed in a typical Swiss, family hotel, with very friendly and helpful staff. The hotel was very well located in Kandergrund, very close to Blausee and Kandersteg. The restaurant, with typical Swiss specialties, was very good and the family room was perfect!

 

 

Autumn Hikes around Geneva

Autumn Family Hikes around Geneva and beyond!

Fall may just be the best time of the year for family hiking! Not too warm, and nature treats us with its gorgeous colors! In the article on Family Hikes, I had already summed up some of our favorite hikes, and here are some more…

1. A Chapel on a Hill, Vesancy, Ain, France

 

The lovely little ‘Chapelle de Rianmont’ on a hill with a view is at the starting point of a hike through fields that will give you nice views on the colored trees of the Jura in Autumn, and on Lac Léman with the Jet d’Eau and the Alps on the other side.

The chapel is often open so you will be able to take a peek inside. After visiting the chapel you continue your walk a bit upwards until you arrive at a sort of mountain plateau where you can just walk through the fields. We have never done a round loop hike here so basically, we just walk as long as we like and walk the same way back.

Tip! You can combine this easy walk with a visit to the weekly market in Divonne-les-Bains on Sundays, as it is really close by. That way, you can buy some products fresh from the market to enjoy your lunch later on. The market in Divonne is held every Sunday from 8:00 until 14:00.

How to get there: When you arrive in Vesancy, which is between Gex and Divonne, continue on the main road and pass the city hall and Vesancy castle, turn left before exiting the town on the road called ‘rue de la Chapelle’, you will then see wooden signs indicating the way to the chapel and a parking lot.

 

 

2. A walk through the vineyards in the Geneva country side

Of course, hiking in the Lavaux area between Lausanne and Vevey is a well-known and beautiful area to hike around in. But if you want to stay a bit closer to Geneva and see the beautiful vineyards in the fall time with all their colors, then a walk in Geneva’s country side is nice!

An example of a walk through the countryside could be in the Mandement, which consists of the towns of Satigny, Dardagny and Russin. I usually start from the main road in Satigny (route du Mandement) and walk along the road in the direction of Meyrin. Then, I follow the signs that lead you uphill to Bourdigny, take a left and the road will lead you through the vineyards and along beautiful houses. You can then continue up to the town of Choully, or onwards and upwards to the town called Peissy. You can also reach Satigny by train and start your walk from the train station. Please note: this is not a car free hike like in a forrest, but up hill there are less cars.

 

Tip! There are some places where you can buy your apples directly from the farmer, like for instance at Domaine des Perrières in Peissy.

Another tip 😊: combine this walk with the Fete de la Saint-Martin celebrated in Peissy every year in November. The date for 2018 is: November 10th

More information: https://www.geneveterroir.ch/fr/fete-de-la-saint-martin-peissy-2018/4876

3. Cascades du Hérisson, Jura, France, driving time from Geneva about 1h45

A bit further away, but Autumn and Spring are the best times of the year for a visit to this beautiful place, because of the colors of the trees, but of course also because there is more water for the waterfalls than in summer, which will make them more spectacular. This year was of course a particularly warm Summer, so there will still be a bit less water than usually at this time of the year.

The starting point of the classical hike is at the parking of the ‘Maison des Cascades’, which is a small museum where you can learn about the waterfalls and the Jura mountains (not open in autumn, but a good starting point).

 

The hike will take you 3 hours (approximately 7 km’s) back and forth. The 7 (!) waterfalls are gorgeous! The walk leads you from waterfall to waterfall alongside the small Hérisson river. Wear good shoes! The highest waterfalls you will see are: l’Eventail (65 meters high), le Grand Saut (60 meters high), le Saut Girard (35 meters high).

More information, including a map:  https://www.juralacs.com/fr/cascade-du-herisson

Tip: what is really good is that in case you would not do this hike in autumn, but in summer, the Maison des cascades even lends you a baby carrier! Hurray for family friendly places like this!

4. Les Rousses and Lake Lamoura, Jura

 

The area of Les Rousses and of course the Jura in general offers plenty of hiking possibilities. We chose to explore the surroundings of the Lac Lamoura. Now, at first sight we thought the lake was a bit small… But on the other side of the lake a sign leads you up in the woods to a viewpoint, so we extended our round loop by going up and walking around in the Jura itself, and then down again to finish our walk around the lake. If you go up to the viewpoint (which doesn’t show you the entire lake, but still a viewpoint), wear good shoes as it can get a bit slippery and muddy after rain fall.

 

The lake is a nice place with younger children, as there is a playground, a picnic table, and the wooden walking path along the lake is nice. I would however combine this with other things in the area, and not just come for only the lake. And there are other nice things around.

Tip: we had lunch in Les Rousses which was nice. All the restaurants serve typical mountain style foods and the Restaurant ‘Le Refuge’ looked good. In Les Rousses there is also a cheese shop selling French cheeses from the area.

Another Tip: did you know there is an arctic museum with an ice-skating rink close to Les Rousses? You could combine this with a hike in the Jura. The ‘Espace des Mondes Polaires’ is in close-by Prémanon. More information: www.espacedesmondespolaires.org. Check out the opening hours on their website.

If you drive up the Jura via the Col de la Faucille towards Les Rousses, you will be amazed by the beautiful autumn colors in the Jura in this time of the year. At several spots you can park the car and walk through the forrest. We love the Jura!

5. Moléson-sur-Gruyères

Moleson 1

Driving distance from Geneva by car: approximately 1h45 mins

Moléson was already mentioned on the ‘Family hikes around Geneva’ article but it is one of our favorite places, and the reason I still put it on the autumn list is also because the bobsleigh will still be open until November 4th  (always check their website for latest info: https://www.moleson.ch/), so there is still some time to combine a mountain hike with some nice thrills for the kids and finish the day in the relaxing Bains de la Gruyère. http://www.bainsdelagruyere.ch/

To check out the previous Family Hikes article:

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