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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!

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 amazing. It is so popular though that they might not be able to manage it in the future, so if we would like to go, we may need to hurry up.

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 the 4 cantons lake.

18. Walking through the ‘Passage de Monetier’ during the Escalade weekend (this is do-able, we live in Geneva!).

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

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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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The Art of the Brick Exhibition in Geneva

Nathan Sawaya: ‘Art can be anything, there are no rules.’

The exhibition The Art of the Brick has arrived in Switzerland! From October 4th until January 6th 2019 you can enjoy art in a fun way in Geneva’s Palexpo. Over a million bricks of the famous Lego toy are used to create all these amazing pieces of art.

The Art of the Brick is a great way for children to discover how their favorite toy can be transformed into art recognized worldwide. It is also a fun way to make them enjoy art and make it acessible to everyone. The stories behind the pieces of art reminds everyone to follow their dreams! The artist himself had gone to law school and became a lawyer, but he felt he needed to use his creativity after office hours and started making his Lego art works. Until one day, when he decided to be an artist full-time… The exhibition is fun for both adults and children.

‘Dreams are built… one brick at a time!’

The expo is divided into several sections. There is the part showing Humans and their expressions, like sitting, dreaming, kissing and hugging. There is the part showcasing Lego Brick reproductions of famous Old Masters! Paintings of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh, and famous sculptures like David by Michelangelo. There are also historical art works like an image found in the Lascaux caves in France, or the Tapisserie de Bayeux. I actually never thought it was possible to make the old masters paintings with Lego Bricks!

 

Children will definitely also love the big dinosaur. All the signs at the Expo tell you exactly how many bricks were used and the size of the art work. The dinosaur is definitely the biggest one. 80.020 bricks were used to make this huge T-Rex!

At the end of the exhibition there is a Playzone with both Lego bricks and interactive games.

 

The exhibition is one not to be missed in Geneva!

General information:

Opening Hours: from 10:00 – 19:00, daily from October 4th until November 4th. From November 5th until December 23rd from Wednesday until Sunday, and from December 24th open again daily. Different opening hours on December 24th, 25th and January 1st.

To order your tickets, go to the Ticketcorner website. And for more information visit the The Art of the Brick website: https://www.aotb.ch/

 

 

Top Family Friendly Ski Resorts!

Our Top 5 of Family Friendly Ski Resorts in Switzerland and France!

Skiing gives us energy! Being active, high up the mountain, watching the children progress, and spending time as a family! But where to go?

A family friendly resort, a good ski school, an apartment not too far from the cable car, or from the ski school meeting point. It can sometimes be difficult to find and, searching the internet for it can take quite some time. Reading the experience a family has already had can be helpful, and so I’m sharing our favorite ski resorts with you that we have tried out so far!

1. Grächen, Wallis, Switzerland

We thought Grächen was fantastic! Grächen is a resort that does everything to make families feel welcome. They organize a lot of activities and they have their own town mascot, a snow bird called Sisu, who often comes to visit the children in the special kids’ part of the restaurant on top of the mountain, or on the slopes. There are day care facilities (included in your ski pass!), there is a good ski school with friendly staff, and…. they have a cool cable car which tells you stories as you go up… (in German). In the evening, you can also eat cheese fondue in the cable car.

The car-free town center itself is very cute, and since it is not so big, you can never be too far from the cable car that leaves from the town center.

There is one specific family hotel in Grächen which is known to be very child friendly! You have to be fast though as they fill up quickly.

If this hotel is already booked, then you could give this hotel (with swimming pool!) a try!

 

 

2. Les Gets, Haute Savoie, France

One of our favorite French ski resorts and really family friendly!! Les Gets even has two specially designed kids slopes with fun elements. One is the Milka slope (piste Mauve), and the other one is a ski slope with Indian theme.

Watch our video to see what a day of skiing in Les Gets with kids could look like 😉.

Les Gets also offers other activities, particularly during high season. There is an ice-skating rink, and there are real nice restaurants. A restaurant we particularly like is restaurant ‘Le Grand Cry’, up with the cable car, to the left, and you will find it at the bottom of the slopes.

As we mostly go to Les Gets on a day-trip, we do not have a specific recommendation on where to stay, but you can find all the hotels here.

3. Saas-Fee, Wallis, Switzerland

We totally loved Saas-Fee! A typical Swiss mountain village with beautiful sun burnt wooden houses, which is big enough to have supermarkets and all the facilities you would need, but too big to just book an apartment and end up too far away from the ski school meeting point, especially when the kids are still small. In Saas-Fee, it is important to look where you book, but once you are well located, you will have the best skiing holiday!

We very much liked walking through the main street with all its shops and restaurants, and the ski school staff members were really kind! We were there during the Carnaval week and that was quite a happening in Saas-Fee.

We were very happy with the apartment we rented as we could just ski back to the house, and the blue slope was just behind the building.

 

 

 

Another hotel in Saas-Fee which is known to be family friendly, is this one. It has a pool and they organize activities for children.

 

 

 

4. Thyon 2000

We’ve been to Thyon several times already. The slopes are fantastic, and when skiing or in a lift, you will have beautiful views on the Dixence Dam and the Matterhorn mountain top! There are beginners’ slopes, and bigger children will love the Central Park ‘snowpark’. The ski school is great, and we looooove a particular restaurant on the slopes called Restaurant de l’Alpage.

In the winter of 2018 Thyon had a very cool ice cave on its slopes, which was a real nice experience to just ski, stop and visit the beautiful ice sculptures, and continue downhill on your skis again 😊.

For apartments in Thyon 2000, best is to go through the Tourism Office website, as they have the apartments for rent right on the 2000 meters height, which means almost no walking with your kids and their equipment :-). Thyon is really a place where you come to ski, for beginners and advanced skiers. There is not a lot else to do at 2000 meters, and there are no big grocery shops, so if you rent an apartment there, best is to do some meal planning ahead!

5. Les Mosses

We love Les Mosses for several reasons… One of them is the fact that they have relaxing sun loungers everywhere around the small kids slopes, so that parents can sit and watch their little ones go up the magic carpet, and down again…

Another reason Les Mosses is great, is because of the ski card system which works with points. So you do not need to pay for a full day ski pass, if both parents want to ski for a bit separately while the other parent watches the little ones. Also, with little ones you are sometimes not sure they will ski the whole day, so this system of points can actually be a money saver, since they stay valid!

We have had our children in private lessons in Les Mosses occasionally and the ski teachers were nice and helpful.

There are small shops besides the road in Les Mosses. One of them is a ‘Bazaar’ which is really incredible, because in their small space, well, they sell everything! I guess you would have to go several times to really see all they have 😊.

If you are looking to do something else for a change during your holiday: Leysin and its big snowtubing park are close by.

This Hotel is conveniently located on the main road, right in front of the access to the slopes. The access to the slopes is flat for a couple of hundred meters.

 

We are looking forward to another great skiing season with our kids!

 

Heatwave! Cool spots near Geneva

Heatwave! Where to cool off at day trip distance from Geneva or Vaud?

With temperatures like these, you need water, shade, or the frozen food section of a supermarket! But if you don’t want to spend your days shopping, here are some quick suggestions to cool off

1. A day trip to Zoo et Piscine Les Marécottes in Salvan in Wallis

About an hour and a half by car from Geneva.

In Salvan, near Martigny, is a zoo and swimming pool in a nice natural environment. The zoo is the highest zoo in Europe, and it only hosts animals that you would be able to find in Switzerland. It is a zoo with fairly big spaces for the animals who live here and it has a lot of trees for shade, and so on warm days, the picnic tables will be very convenient so that you can eat outside. There is also an on-site restaurant and all you need for refreshments.

The swimming pool is quite extraordinary because you could think for a second that you are in a more exotic place! The pool has a sort of natural look with rocks on the side where some bigger kids and adults jump off. The water can be a bit cold, so the best day to visit the Zoo des Marécottes and enjoy the pool would be on a hot summer day! When it is busy it is sometimes a bit difficult to find a spot to put your towel down as the space around the pool is not very big.

Their website: http://www.zoo-alpin.ch/fr/piscine.html

2. Lac de Montriond and Ardent waterfall, Haute Savoie, near Morzine

About an hour and a half by car from Geneva.

 

Lac de Montriond is near Morzine in France. You can swim in the lake. Walk around the lake through a forrest and near the Ardent waterfall which is beautiful. Close by to this lake you will find the ‘goat town’ Les Lindarets where goats walk around the village freely. To see the website of the lake: https://en.valleedaulps.com/montriond-swimming-area.html and for information about the town with the goats: https://en.valleedaulps.com/lindarets-village.html

3. Mountains

When you go higher up, it usually gets a bit cooler! Read my suggestions for family hikes at day-trip distance from Geneva:

top image

4. Go Camping in the lake region of the Jura

About 2 hours by car from Geneva.

The French part of the Jura has some nice lakes, towns and caves to visit. We loved camping around the ‘Lac de Chalain’, on a camp site with direct access to the lake and a nice swimming pool. It is close to the ‘Cascades du Hérisson’ which makes a beautiful walk in the shade with waterfalls (less water in summer of course). The town called ‘Baume les Messieurs’, a bit further away is beautiful as well and has really nice caves to visit and to cool off in. Website of the camp site near Lac de Chalain: https://www.chalain.com/fr/

And of the caves in Baumes les Messieurs: http://www.baumelesmessieurs.fr/les-grottes-de-baume/

5. Swimming

If you do not want to go too far away… there is swimming around Geneva of course… The lake, the beaches. When sometimes on the weekends it gets a bit busy, you can also escape to the rivers, either the Versoix river or the Allondon river, depending on where you are located. And the beach in Divonne-les-bains in France could be good as well!

Stay cool everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best day trips on the Cote d’Azur

Are you spending some time on the French Riviera and would you like to do some sightseeing? Here is our Top Ten of suggestions for a day trip!

1. Nice, the old town

Nice is a beautiful city and you could easily spend a few days here! If you are elsewhere on the Cote d’Azur, you should at least come to Nice for a walk in the beautiful Old Town which has nice colored houses and a typical Mediterranean feel. There are a lot of restaurants, bars with terraces and shops with local products. Of course, a walk on the Promenade des Anglais where early morning you will see all the people doing their sports workout is also always beautiful! The big car parks right in the center, make Nice easily accessible for a day trip.

2. Saint-Paul de Vence

A nice mixture of a medieval town center and modern art galleries. Saint-Paul de Vence makes an excellent place for some sightseeing in the Provence. And why not have a lunch in this beautiful setting, in one of the many local restaurants? Click on the image to see my blog article on Saint-Paul de Vence.

Exploring Saint Paul de Vence

3. Broken Dam of Malpasset, and Fréjus

There is a lot to see in Fréjus and this town therefore makes an excellent destination for a daytrip! On Wednesdays and Saturdays, you could visit the nice market in the town center, as well as the beautiful Cloisters. In the afternoon, you could have a walk in the beautiful nature surrounding the historic site of the Broken Dam of Malpasset. To read more about this walk, or about the town of Fréjus:

Frejus                               Malpasset Dam

4. Massif de l’Esterel

We love exploring the beautiful red rocks! You can go up (near Agay) and enjoy the view of the coast line and the beautiful color of the mountains which change a bit depending on the light and the time of the day you will be visiting. The same rocks go all the way down, and a lot of beaches and creeks are surrounded by the same red stones. You can visit the red rocks by water from below by taking a boat tour with one of the boating company’s.

 

5. Callian, a small town on a hill

Sometimes, when it gets a bit crowded on the coast, a little trip more inland could be a perfect alternative. We visited the small town of Callian, which is beautifully located on top of a hill. It has nice small cobbled streets and the typical feel of the Provence. There are beautiful churches and some cafés and restaurants. It is a small town, and it could be combined with a trip to the close by lake of Saint-Cassien.

6. Saint-Cassien lake

The Saint-Cassien lake is a beautiful and very big lake that you will pass by on your way to villages like Callian. There are small beaches and a lot of places that rent pedal boats, kayaks or stand-up-paddles. There are restaurants and beach bars everywhere around the lake and because the lake is so big, this is an excellent place to escape the crowds. Just jump in a canoe and find your perfect quiet spot for a picnic!

7. Saint-Tropez

A classical day trip while you are on the French Riviera. Saint-Tropez is a town you would need to visit at least once! In high season, the best would be to either go early by car, or to take a boat from another town like for instance from Saint-Raphael. Once in Saint-Tropez, you could of course visit the famous Museum of Police Men (‘Gendarmes’) and Cinema, walk around on the beautiful narrow streets, and eat the local famous dessert ‘La Tarte Tropézienne’.

8. Islands in the bay of Cannes, les iles de Lérins

From Cannes, you can take a ferry boat to visit one of the islands that are right in front of the city, ‘Les Iles de Lérins’, who are composed of two islands: Ile Saint Honorat and Ile Sainte Marguerite. We chose to visit one of the two islands, Ile Sainte Marguerite and it only takes 10 minutes to get there by boat. You can walk around on the island and follow the walking path which is mainly in the shade of beautiful trees, or visit the Fort, which once served as a prison. The most famous prisoner here was the Man in the Iron Mask. There are some beaches on the island, but it is recommended to bring your water shoes. There are some nice restaurants as well who have the beautiful view on Cannes and all the boats.

9. Gorges du Verdon

This is worth a full day trip! The Gorges du Verdon is a famous and very picturesque gorge in the Provence, with its beautiful Lac Sainte-Croix, on which you can stand-up-paddle or kayak. From Saint-Raphael it was about an hour and a half to drive there. You can go through the beginning of the Gorge by pedal boat or kayak, you can stand-up paddle on the beautiful lake, and visit historic villages like Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Soak up the beautiful scenery, and don’t forget your camera!

10. Monaco

Another classic for a day trip. If you like Formula 1 races, it is always cool to be able to walk around and see the curves of where this typical race is often held. The old town center on top of ‘the rock’ is beautiful to walk around in, and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco (Aquarium) is beautiful and a popular visit for families.

Of course, there is still much more to explore on the Cote d’Azur!

 

 

 

 

 

Gorges du Verdon and Lac Sainte Croix

The Grand Canyon of France! A very beautiful place! Turquoise waters, impressive cliffs, and a beautiful lake for all kinds of water activities. If you are in the South of France, you should definitely visit the Gorges du Verdon!

The most accessible part of the gorges on the water can be found at the Pont du Galetas near Salles-sur-Verdon, on the road leading to Moustiers Sainte-Marie. You will find rental spots for pedal boats, electric boats and kayaks on both sides of the river near the bridge. We crossed the bridge first, coming from the Cote d’Azur and then parked at the ‘Base de l’Etoile’. Like most beautiful sites… beautiful means you will not be the only one to visit… so coming early is recommended.

We rented a pedal boat for our family and went for 2 hours of pedaling and swimming. You pedal for about an hour at a calm pace to come to a beautiful waterfall. We had a water-resistant bag with us that we use when we go stand-up paddling so we had no problem navigating right through the waterfall which was refreshing for all of us!

The color of the water is just amazing! This is a definite must do when you are in the area.

When we were finished we left for the beautiful town of Moustiers Sainte-Marie. A historical, medieval town, known for their porcelain craft work. A lot of little local shops, restaurants, and a scenic entrance bridge with a waterfall. We had a nice lunch in Moustiers, and then we left the town to go stand-up paddling on the beautiful Lac de Sainte Croix.

This artificial lake is huge, and the water has the same turquoise color as the water in the gorge. The water is very clear and we saw some nice fish. We decided to go to the Surf Center in Salles sur Verdon. What a cool spot! Hammocks, a slack line for kids to play on, a cool beach bar and a rental place for paddles and boats of all kinds. We already have 2 paddle boards of our own, so we just rented 1 extra board for us to paddle as a family, as our little one still sits in front of one of our boards 😊. After the crowd in the Gorge, peace and quiet reigns at the Lac Ste Croix. The lake is so big, you just paddle away and you can find quiet spots on islands or on the lake shore where you can have the feeling your family are the only ones that exist. Our children called it ‘playing Robinson Crusoe’ when we had a little break on the island 😊.

The town of Salles sur Verdon also has loads of restaurants, and the Surf Center is really highly recommended as the staff is super friendly and they have re-created a tropical island atmosphere here. The beach bar sells smoothies, snacks, pasta salad and cocktails. Need we say more? 😊

We stopped a bit along the way between the two towns to try out our new drone. Even though we are not pro’s (yet!), here is a small movie so you can have a peek!