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.
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”.
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.
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)
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.