Out and about with children in winter – Tips and suggestions of where to go near Nyon and further afield

Looking for ideas of where to go and how to entertain children during the winter season?  The following article, “Out and About this Winter” written by Tracey Keenan and Nadia Leone of  “Ready.. Steady..Lausanne and Vaud!”  suggests ski resorts, ice skating , tobogganing and snowshoeing options for families. The article also includes a couple of indoor entertainment options for children.

Photo above:  Tracey with her children on the ski slopes

Tracey and Nadia both say –  “Our clients appreciate the personal and customised service that we offer when settling in to the region, but the main ingredient to our success is that the information we give is based on the fact that “we have been there, done that and got the T-shirt!”

As they are both keen on the outdoor life in Switzerland and they have taken  their children onto the ski slopes from the age of three, they are well placed to give advice. Read on for some great tips, suggestions and places to go with the family this winter. Click on the words highlighted in blue to link to the websites of the places mentioned.

 Ski Resorts

Tracey says  “There are plenty of places to try out skiing or snowboarding and many resorts have diversified their options, offering snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowtubing, ice skating, curling, husky-dog trips etc. Here are a few of our favourites below.

Tip: If you are not planning on a taking a whole week’s vacation, make the most of Wednesday afternoons (a free afternoon in Swiss schools), and keep in mind that Saturdays tend to be quieter than Sundays, both on the slopes and on the motorways due to “changeover day”.

La Givrine

Nadia says: “La Givrine (in the St. Cergue area) is ideal for young children and beginners. We recommend you take the little red train (Nyon-St. Cergue-Givrine)  which takes you directly to the slopes. There is a nice café “buvette” available called La Trelasse (click here)  022 360 12 89).  This can be found in the middle of the slopes next to the Swiss ski school. It has a nice atmosphere and seats 70 people, has mountain-style décor with log fire. Another nice restaurant is  Restaurant de la Givrine  which is located at the arrival of the train from Nyon and a 10-minute walk from the slopes.

Tip: IKEA bags are great for carrying all your children’s ski equipment! St. Cergue is a larger ski area and does tend to get busy

St. George is another small resort and is ideal for little ones to learn and practise skiing.

Further afield

If you prefer larger resorts, there’s a whole bunch of them in the Alpes Vaudoises, such as Les Mosses, Les Diablerets, Villars, Leysin, Chateaux d’Oex . Note: Children receive a free ski pass and accommodation up to nine years old with the GoKids Family Club . There is more infrastructure in these resorts provided for families such as babysitters on hand – perfect if you want to ski with your older child and you have a toddler or baby to keep happy too.

Tip: Look out for resorts with the Families Welcome Label, these are places which specialise in catering for families (e.g. family hotels, child-friendly restaurants, playgrounds, childcare facilities)

Ice Skating:

Most ice rinks are open from October to March and you can find rinks in many places: Versoix, Coppet, Nyon, Gland, Morges, Lausanne. However, a very special place is the Lac de Joux.   

At 1000m altitude, when the lake freezes, you are allowed to go and walk or skate on the ice – a wonderful experience!  We recommended you drive to a nice little town called Le Pont and park  there. You can hire ice skates and boots (closed Sundays and Monday morning). There is also a small ski area in L’Abbaye.  Note: check snow conditions due to the low altitude of this area.


Tracey says:  “I tried a super place for the first time last winter with my two boys  the Tobogganing Park in Leysin. This is a great little trip to do for the morning or the afternoon, combined with lunch out in the Snow Village at the Park or further up in the resort. You need to reserve a time slot in advance on the day you wish to go (click here, the site is in English) . This then allows you to have an hour and fifty minutes in the park with a limited number of people.

Tip:  make sure you arrive 30 minutes before the start of your slot to give you time to collect your ticket and get ready!

There are varying levels of slopes so it’s ideal for mixed-aged children as well as brave parents. If you prefer to just watch, there is a viewing stand and it is easy to keep an eye on your children (above 6 years ) and watch them whizz down the slopes – the park is very well contained. For little ones  under 6 there is a mini area with a limit of one hour from the time you purchase your ticket.


Nadia  – This season we will definitely go back for our family’s snowshoeing excursion which we tried out in January this year – but this time we will try it during the daytime. We drove to the “Col du Mollendruz” where you will find the shop with rental equipment. We rented snowshoes and set off at about 17:00 h for a thirty minute walk to the Chalet du Mollendruz (1250m altitude – open Wed-Sun from December to March).

After our cheese fondue and dessert, we set off back to our starting point, torches in hand – what a wonderful experience! Recommended for children from 6 years old ,  there is a possibility to rent out baby-carriers and pulkas. The family who runs the small rental equipment shop are very helpful. The Chalet restaurant itself is quite small, so it is best to reserve your table in advance: Chalet du Mollendruz, 1344 L’Abbaye, Tel: 021 864 3027 or 078 794 7327.

And if you really don’t like the cold and snow, why not try these following places

Bernaqua Waterpark & Spa

During the recent Autumn school holidays, I went to Bernaqua Waterpark with my two older children (11 and 8 years of age). We had a great half-day there. The children had lots of fun on four toboggans and they got to watch a film from inside the pool.  Meanwhile I  was able to relax in the Jacuzzi and different thermal waters. We ate blinis in our swimming gear at the small bar ! My only little regret was that I had not brought my little 2-year old with me, because he would  have had fun in the water jets and the “pirate” swimming pool which is especially designed for the little ones. However he will get his chance before the Christmas break, when I plan to visit the Westside Shopping Centre which is where the water park and spa is located. This place makes a great day-out for the whole family and shopping with or without children. The shopping centre has a childcare facility  called “Kinderland” for children from 0-8 years. Exit 32 Bern Brunnen on the A1 motorway.

 Indoor playground: Urba Kids in Orbe

Guaranteed fun for children from 2-10 years of age.   This  playground is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 09:00- 18:00.

 Tracey Keenan, is an English ex-pat based in Lausanne. Nadia Leone was born and raised in Lausanne. Both of them  provide settling-in assistance to newcomers to the region with private consultations and in-house seminars. Both have children in the local school system. Their combined experience of moving to Switzerland as an ex-pat and their local knowledge and contacts help their clients get a real head start settled into the Vaud region. See their website here. 







Day two; Sun, Guinness and a lot of noise

Photo above – Broukar – copyright Paléo/ Lionel Flusin.

Review of  Wednesday’s night Paléo by Jonas Parson.

After a great start on Tuesday, the weather and the bands were there again on Wednesday to make sure everybody enjoyed their evening. The weather was even warmer, the bands even crazier and people everywhere seemed like they were spending a nice evening.

A good place to start the evening at Paléo is the Nyon-St-Cergue train station in Nyon, as not only does it make you leave your car behind and take the train up to the festival, but someone has set up a beer stall there, selling local beer from the Brasserie de la Côte. If you’ve had enough of drinking industrial tasteless lager on the grounds, then go and discover a local beer! Continuing on the same topic, note that you can find Guinness on tap at certain bars in the festival, like the one situated to left of the main stage and held by the fc Gingins.

After jumping off my giraffe unicycle (towering at approx. 2.3 metres high), happy with another day of exploring the festival site with the circus (more on that tomorrow!), I headed off to catch a glimpse of the Cure. After nearly 40 years of music, Robert Smith still seemed to manage to get the crowd going, and the main stage was packed out. I then went on my way – Paleo’s big tragedy, you can only be at one concert at a time,and with so many bands playing each day, it’s impossible to see everything you want, forcing you to run from one stage to another to see different concerts. Going via the Village du Monde, I stopped to watch a very modern looking Whirling Dervish, dancing to the music of Broukar, a Syrian Sufi band.

Massive crowd in front of the Cure

Moving on to the Détour

After watching him dance until I started feeling dizzy, it was time to head off to the Détour for the Deadline Experience (read more about the band here). Although they were playing at the same time as the Cure, the tent was pretty full, and the band was really up to it. Expressing their regret for playing at the same time as the aforementioned band, they promised the audience a surprise for the end of the set.

With the help of an never-tiring drummer who looked like he was going to break a drumstick judging by how hard he was banging on his drum-kit, the bass and guitar merging to form a psychedelic flow of sound, they created a slightly unearthly ambiance, switching from melancholic songs to to merrier stuff. Near to the end of the concert, the three musicians were joined on stage by a very famous guest, who you might have seen flying around on a magic carpet in the Village du Monde video teaser. Wearing his traditional headdress and sunglasses, he contributed with a bell for a song.

After a very nice concert, it was time to catch a glimpse of Bon Iver, while in the distance the Cure were still playing- before walking back up to the Dôme for a taste of oriental music with Natacha Atlas.

The Deadline Experience

Switching from wall of sound type effects with quite a high-pitched voice and strange violin sounds, to folkier songs on his guitar, Bon Iver was an interesting experience, at some moments quite similar to Beirut‘s festive melodic music. Cutting across the grounds past the main stage, where the crowd was slowly drifting apart after the end of the Cure (quite the night for “spot the Goth!”), past the dozens of dedicated “Aspirator” (Paléo’s voluntary cleaning crew) clearing the mess and making specially sure no glass bottles were left lying about before the next concert, I headed towards the Village du Monde.

Photo above – Natacha Atlas – Copyright Paléo/Boris Soula

The atmosphere there is calmer, people sitting down for a middle-eastern delicacy, chilling under the tea tent and listening to the concert going on under the Dôme. Lying down in the grass near the edge of the tent, giving my legs a well-deserved rest, I listened to the mix of piano and the distinctive sound of the darbouka, the middle-eastern drum. Mixing occidental and oriental influences, Natacha Atlas led the audience with her beautiful voice on a musical trip to Egypt and North Africa.

But Paléo is not the place to have a nap, and it was time to go back to the main stage for Justice. The two French DJs turned the area in front of the main stage into an open air disco, with an impressive lights show. The crowd danced in a frenzy to hits like “D.A.N.C.E” and “We are your friends”, everybody jumping up and down and waving their arms to the music. After more than an hour of disco, it was time to end the night with Christine – no, Christine is not a lonely girl I picked up at Paléo, but an electro-trash duo. Mixing their music with video samples from movies like Clockwork Orange and Mad Max projected onto a screen behind them, they made sure nobody fell asleep under the Club Tent, their wicked explosive beats working up a frenzy, and people kept on dancing, summoning up the last of their energy, the music carrying the crowd and giving a bit of life to otherwise exhausted limbs. The two DJs were really warm and close to the audience, and climbed off the stage for a round of high-fives at the end of the show.


Rushing for a train? Don’t leap on it without a ticket from 11th December

Whether you are Father Christmas or simply a normal passenger, from the 11th December if you board a train without  a valid train ticket you will be fined 90 CHF in addition to the price of the ticket itself. This will apply to both long  distance and regional trains. See the CFF website to find out more about this new ruling and the reason why (explanation in English).

 On the 11th December the train timetable will also change so keep an eye out for possible new timings for your regular commute. 

Don’t forget you can always buy a train ticket in advance via a mobile phone  see the options here and most stations have electronic ticketing machines with the option of following the instructions in English to purchase tickets.

CFF have a comprehensive site listing the different options available for “abonnements”  (travel cards) whether you are regular commuter for work or leisure.

“Living along Lac Léman” book is now for sale! – The perfect gift for everyone.

Tuesday evening in Nyon saw the official launch of  the book “Living along Lac Léman”. Thankyou so much to all those who came to the Villa Thomas at the COV for the vernissage/launch.

Photos above. Happy book fans!

The venue in the stunning lake side setting made it the perfect place to launch the book. It also gave readers of this site,  La Côte newspaper, and other members of the public a chance to mingle and enjoy a glass of local Swiss wine, along with tasting some British cheeese from the British Cheese Centre of Switzerland. 

Photo above: the Villa Thomas along the lake side. Note – there will be a jazz concert at the Villa Thomas on Friday 7th Oct see COV for here for full details

There were also representatives at the event from the various local festivals (Paléo, Caribana, Visions du Réel etc),  from Nyon town council and Nyon tourism giving those there the opportunity to find out more about the three festivals and local issues.

Photo above – Checking out the book at the vernissage

About the book –  The perfect company gift, birthday or Christmas present.

Packed with columns articles and photos the book is is a light hearted look at life along the shores of lake Geneva and contains a selection of columns which have been published for the last two years in English every Friday in La Côte newspaper.  This weekly column is a conversation is about the people, places and events in Vaud as seen through the eyes of a British expatriate.

Photo above: left C. Nelson-Pollard author of “Living along Lac Léman”, right Contessa Pinon – editor of La Côte newspaper

With observations on unusual Swiss customs and on the peculiarities to be found in both the French and English languages, it also comments on other subjects such as the jargon that estate agents use when advertising houses for sale, the difficulties of making a fondue, or trying to say a telephone number in French.

Image above – article from book called  “Figuring it out”

With other articles on local festivals, the Désalpe and more, and packed with photos that capture the colour and essence of the Léman region, the book makes a perfect gift for someone who has just moved to the area. It  will also delight those who have lived here for a while, whether expat of Swiss, in recognising  the slightly side quirky side of Swiss life whilst acknowledging the beauty of the Léman area.

Image below – Article from book called “A saisir!” (on estate agents’ jargon)

At just 29 CHF, the book is available to order through this site, just click on “Living in Nyon” book on the top side bar to order.  Free delivery in the Nyon, Coppet, Rolle and Prangins area.  

From  Tuesday 11th October, the book will also be for sale at Nyon tourist office  Opening hours  Monday-Friday 08:30 -12:30/ 13:30 -17:30

Special book signing – The author will be signing copies of the book at Nyon tourist office on Friday November 4th from 16:00- 18:00.  An ideal opportunity to pick up a copy and find out about events and winter activities happening in the Nyon and St Cergue region.

Photo above and below – Selling the books left to right. Anna Hiller Bedlington, Suzy Nelson-Pollard, Nicola Bedlington.

All photos of the vernissage –  Catherine Lewis photography see site here

New Cinema Club for Nyon/ Semaine de la Mobilité begins today

On Tuesday night a new cinema club launched in Nyon with the aim of showing a variety of international films twice a month at 20:00 on a Monday night throughout the year, at the Capitole cinema in the heart of town.  

The programme begins on the 10th October and continues through to 26th March 2012.  Andrea Bachmann-Helbling, club president spoke to Living in Nyon about the new club and the film choices the club has made to kick off the new season.

Committee members of the new cinema club. L to R  Tanja Mayr, Manu Zirnheld, Serge Roguet, Sophie Page,  Olivier Mayor ( Nyon municipal representative for culture works and environment), Andreas Bachmann-Helbling, club president and Jennifer Siegrist.

Andreas – ” We know there are lots of film fans here in the town, and Nyon is obviously already firmly on the map with its annual Spring documentary film festival  “Visions du Réel” .  However, we wanted to give film lovers the opportunity to see high quality films throughout the year, to offer debates after each film, hopefully those debates will continue in the bar downstairs afterwards!  We are beginning the season with a silent film called “The”Artist” on the 10th October (see description of this film at the end of this article below).

Films from Korea to Sri Lanka to a Coen Brothers film

There are six of us on the committee, we have had an interesting time and many discussions choosing the films for the programme, we all have different tastes.  Ultimately though we think we have come up with a good variety from around the world to suit everyone. Amongst the choice there is a film from Korea, a film from Switzerland, a Coen brothers film  (“The Barber”), and a comedy called “Machan”, a film about a Sri Lankan handball team which is a true story about a false team!

Films will be shown in the original languages either with voice overs or subtitles in French. English speakers are most welcome to join the club of course, it’s not only a good opportunity to see interesting films and meet new people, but also it’s a chance to practice and understand the French language a bit more outside of the classroom”.  

Jennifer Siegrist, a member of the programming committee continues: “The other advantage of this club is the possibility to see a style or genre of film that you wouldn’t normally see in the mainstream cinema here in Nyon. We have a phrase in French – “A coté de la Plaque” (roughly translated – “off the wall”), some of these films fall into that category but they are all good and interesting films”. 

The club has a website with the full programme of  the coming up this season. For 90 chf per year, club members get to see 10 films, they also will have the advantage of a reduced price on tickets on the mainstream films  at the cinema (14chf instead of 16chf per ticket, apart from weekends and official holidays). Membership also includes one free ticket to one mainstream film at the cinema and an invitation to an Avant-Première film. Details of  membership are on the club’s site or you can sign up at the cinema itself on the first screening on the 10th October. See site here

Wikipedia entry on the film ” The Artist” below.

“The Artist” is a romance film directed by Michel  Hazanavicius, starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The story takes place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1931 and focuses on a declining male film star and a rising actress, as silent cinema grows out of fashion and is replaced by the talkies. The film is itself a silent film and in black-and-white. Dujardin won the Best Actor Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where the film premiered.

Semaine de la Mobilité – 16th – 22nd September – Try out an electric bike for free tonight! 

Residents of Nyon may have seen posters around  the town advertising the Semaine de la Mobilité.  During this week there will be lots of events on offer to encourage the citizens of the town to get out of their cars and to use alternative  forms of  transport, not only for the benefit of the environment but also for their health!  The official opening of the week begins this evening  Friday 16th at 18:15 (at la Roulotte, the temporary café on the St Cergue side of the railway station). There will be the chance to try out for free electric bikes, Segways etc, and a solar powered car!  For the full programme of events from family walks, conferences on fitness and health, bike rides, and exhibitions linked to the week Click here.