There is so much for children to do in and around the Aravis. Janelle says: “Friends who visit are always surprised at the number of activities on offer. It keeps the kids happy which usually means the adults are happy and relaxed.”
Here are some ideas popular with the OVO team!
Vitam near St Julien en Genevois (Karen) - Karen says: “The kids love this huge water park - there are indoor and outdoor pools and slides as well as a picnic area and cafe outside. There's also a climbing wall and a shopping area.”
The summer luge in La Clusaz (Karen, Sylvie) - Karen says: “The kids love racing each other but take care - flip flops tend to fly off!”
Le Belier leisure club, La Clusaz (Celine) – Celine says: “Lots of lovely activities for children over the age of three: a bouncy castle, adventure castle for the over 6s, trampolines, electric quad bikes and 4x4s, a digger, a zip wire and a bouncy air cushion. You can also play football, ping-pong, tennis and badminton – loan of the equipment is free.”
Via ferrata in La Clusaz or Le Grand Bornand (Julia, Karen) – Julia says: “The La Clusaz one is a very good one to start with — not too long (two hours), not too difficult, but with challenging moments. There are two different ways to end it: an easy one and a difficult one.”
Karen says: “Breathtaking, challenging, awe-inspiring, tiring, and a wee bit scary in a couple of places. I never thought I would ever do anything like that.”
Bun-J ride in St Jean de Sixt (Wendy) – Wendy says: “I'm not game enough to run off a ramp with bungee cables attached, but I’m happy to watch the people who are. Jumping options include being attached to a chair perched on the edge of the ramp and being pushed off backwards, riding down the ramp on a bike with no brakes, skateboarding, and my personal favourite, a shopping trolley.”
Donkey trekking in the Col des Aravis (Karen): Karen says: “Collect the donkeys, load up their huge paniers with a picnic, drinks, binoculars, sun cream etc not forgetting the brushes provided to give the donkeys a brush down when you halt for lunch. Leave the car behind, and set off along the footpaths through the Col des Aravis for a magical day including magnificent views of the Mont Blanc mountain.”
Tea at the farm (information from the tourist offices at La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand and Manigod) - Céline says: "After a hike , visit a mountain farm where the whole family can have tea. Large slices of bread will provided along with local produce such as butter, cheese or hot chocolate made with milk from the. Children love to watch the cows being milked and you can see how Reblochon is made. This is a great chance to see how farmers live and discover the secrets of the famous cheese ... don’t forget to bring one home!"
Karting in Thônes (Celine). The track is open all year round (from 10am to 7pm in school holidays and 2pm to 7pm during term time). Celine says: “It’s for children aged 8 and over but it’s fun for adults too!”
Montremont fish farm (Celine) - Celine says: “This is a unique experience for the whole family – quiet and relaxing. You can borrow fishing rods and children love to bring home their trout for dinner or eat at the on-site restaurant, La Cabane. There are also children’s games, deck chairs for soaking up the sun, bowling and lots of green space – a little piece of paradise.”
Dévalkart Manigod ( Celine) - Céline says: "Children over the age of 10 and adults can hit the slopes of the Col de Merdassier, near the Blanchot ski lift in these strange go-karts. In July and August, there are other activities including inflatables for children, an outdoor swimming pool with a lifeguard, tennis and petanque.”
Paintballing at St Jean de Sixt (Louis).
Go to a market (Janelle, Julia, Sylvie) – Janelle says: “From Annecy to the local ones, especially Thones, there's always a market on somewhere. Sometimes it's food, or antiques (Annecy's monthly “Brocante” on the final Saturday each month in the old town is fantastic) or a big mix up of clothing, food, knick-knacks etc. Oh and I do love a good vide grenier!”
Forage for wild berries (Wendy, Sylvie) – Wendy says: Wild strawberries may be tiny, but they pack a major punch of flavour. They're all over the place in the mountains, and start ripening by early summer, followed by wild raspberries, then wild blueberries. The Beauregard peak of La Clusaz is one huge blueberry field in late summer, and the hike to get there means that you never have to feel guilty about scoffing as many berries as possible along the way.”
Buy local produce straight from the farm (Celine) - Celine says: “Just follow the signs that you see on the road and knock on the door, whatever the day of the week: farmers work 24/7! There are the traditional farms with herds of cows as well as goat farms. You can buy all sorts of local specialities made on the site – Reblochon, Tomme de Savoie, Raclette, Chevrotin, fresh milk, butter and sometimes eggs. If you visit at about 5pm you may be able to help with the milking and the cheese-making. Don’t forget to buy a “tomme blanche” – a curd cheese which is actually “raw” Reblochon (similar to Mozarella in consistency and taste, yet different). This cheese is unique to the Aravis – eat it with some salt and pepper, potatoes and salad as well as some cured meats. It’s a real treat!”
Go to the cinema in Annecy (Karen) - Karen says: “The 4 Nemours cinema in Annecy shows films in English as well as French.”
Visit the three main museums in Annecy (Céline). You can do them all on foot. The Musée-Château, the Palais de l'Isle and the Conservatory of Art and History, which has a permanent exhibition on the world of animated film.
Treat yourself to a massage or spa treatment (Céline). In La Clusaz, Manigod, Le Grand Bornand, or the Les Trésums Spa Hotel in Annecy.
Laser tag in Annecy (Louis). Open every afternoon/evening in school holidays, but closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during term time.
Chamonix/Mont Blanc (Wendy) – Wendy says: “From Chamonix, you can take the cog railway to the Mer du Glace glacier and ice cave, or enjoy the 360° views of three different countries from l'Aguille du Midi. Chamonix is an easy hour's drive from La Clusaz, so it makes a great day trip. Picnic at the top of the world or take your pick from the great variety of restaurants in town.”
Tignes (Wendy) – Wendy says: “When the winter ski season seems too far away, Tignes is open for summer skiing on the glacier. The drive back in the afternoon is beautiful over the mountains and around the Lac de Roseland. Expect to held up by cows and and photo opportunities!”
Yvoire (Wendy) – Wendy says: “A medieval walled village with great shops, galleries, and
restaurants, plus the option to take a short boat ride to Switzerland.”
Geneva (Celine) – Celine says: “Just 30 minutes along the motorway, Geneva is worth a day trip. The lake, museums, shops, bars and restaurants - it’s a city with a really international feel where there is always something happening (concerts, festivals, exhibitions).”
Julia - Buy local fresh products from any village market and head to the top of a mountain for a picnic, completely alone, then have a snooze in the shade.
Janelle – Be where the cows are! I know it’s strange but I like any road where you get held up by cows going off for milking. Everyone just has to stop and wait for the cows. Too bad if you're in a hurry — cows don't care! It's a good reminder to just stop, chill, wait, and take in the scenery.
Karen - Try "Café Gourmand" instead of a pudding. I am becoming slightly obsessed with this great innovation. Coffee — or for me “tea gourmand”, with a pot of tea instead of coffee — arrives with a few tiny tasty morsels of the puddings on offer that day. What a fabulous idea!