BEST SKI RESORTS FOR DAY TRIPS OR WEEKEND BREAKS NEAR GENEVA – FOR FAMILIES
by Laura from Let’s Explore
It’s one of the greatest advantages of living in Geneva… ski resorts are so close by that outdoor winter fun is guaranteed! So, if you want to soak up some views, breathe fresh mountain air and get active, where should you go?
SKIING WITH CHILDREN
We have taken our children to the slopes since they were little. Now, they both love skiing, BUT getting them to love it has not always been easy! Making sure a ski resort is family friendly is important. If you stay overnight, it really is worth checking out the distance to the cable car (tele cabine), so you won’t be carrying all the stuff too far, while motivating your small child to keep walking in very uncomfortable shoes! And it definitely is important to check out what other activities there are for children in the resort. Sledging, ice skating, or activities organised by the local tourism office can be very welcome if you go for a few days!
Here are some of the nearby resorts we have tested:
DAY TRIP SKIING
Many families from Geneva and Vaud go to the closest areas. Mainly Col de la Faucille and Crozet. Reason is of course proximity, but also the children’s ski classes. On Col de la Faucille for instance, there is the regular ESF (Ecole de Ski Française) but also the International Ski School where kids can have classes in English.
We love the Jura mountains in all seasons, and there is something magic when you ski down with the most beautiful view on the Mont Blanc. It sometimes gets a bit too crowded on the weekends though, especially when the sun is out. When we see too many cars, we prefer to move on towards La Dôle or Jouvencelles. In Espace Dole in Les Rousses you can ski on both sides of the border on a combined ticket. When we ski there, we like to have lunch in the Restaurant du Cuvaloup, which has an authentic (less crowded) mountain feel and atmosphere.
TOP TIP: Also check out the Geneva Airport website for a map of all the nearby ski resorts.
The Alps are calling you! We have tried several family friendly ski resorts in both Switzerland and France. There are some resorts we love, as indicated on our ‘Top Family Friendly Ski Resorts’ article on Let’s Explore.
LES GETS in France is the most family friendly resort we have been to on the French side! Their special themed ski slopes for kids are amazing! One is a slope that has a ‘Indians’ theme with fun elements and sounds as you ski by, and another one is the ‘Milka’ slope, where on holidays they sometimes distribute Milka chocolate to the children. Les Gets also has very nice and good restaurants, an ice-skating rink, and plenty of activities organised during the holidays!
Driving distance from Geneva: 1 hour 20
LA CLUSAZ in France is very close to Geneva and the alpine village is gorgeous with many restaurants to choose from. The skiing is great for all levels of skiers with snow garden and ski creches for children, as well as ice-skating and sledging.
Driving distance from Geneva: around 1 hour
LE GRAND BORNAND, also in France, is a quieter resort, perfect if you’re just starting out. Winter ski clubs and ski lessons are available, as well as a halte garderie and day nursery for little ones.
Driving distance from Geneva: Less than 1 hour
GRÄCHEN in Wallis, Switzerland, was the first resort we ever tried out with our kids, apart from the Jura, and it really caters for families! In Switzerland the kids skiing mascot called ‘Snowli’ is quite popular and helps small children to have fun while learning to ski during the holidays. However, Grächen had another mascot which was present every day at the children’s restaurant on top at the arrival of their fairytale themed cable cars! We loved Grächen!
The car-free town centre 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 centre.
Driving distance from Geneva: 3h20
SAAS-FEE, also in Switzerland, is not so far from Grächen and offers plenty of opportunities as well! This cute town has plenty of typical wooden houses right in the centre and is a slightly bigger town. It therefore has all the shops you need and a good choice of restaurants. The tourism office and hotels organise activities for children, and there are enough beginner slopes!
Driving distance from Geneva: 3h20
LES MOSSES is closer by and a smaller resort, but an excellent choice for families as well! When the sun is out, they put sun loungers close to the magic carpets for parents to watch the kids ski and learn, and if your child would like to do something else, the tobogganing park in Leysin is not far away!
Driving distance from Geneva: 2 hours 15
SKI AND THERMAL BATHS
If you want to ski, but not the whole weekend, it can be a good choice to go to one of the resorts that also have thermal baths! Ovronnaz is well known, and we have also liked going to Loèche-les-bains (or Leukerbad in German). Leukerbad claims that boredom doesn’t exist for families in their town, and we agree, since their thermal baths have a kids pool, and a cool slide!
SKIING WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK
Does it exist? Mmm, not really, but for families it can be worth checking out the websites of the resorts you want to go to for special offers. Some resorts have a kids ski for free until the age of 9 rule (like in Zermatt for instance), and other resorts offer a free ski pass for children and teenagers on Saturdays (Aletsch Arena, Jungfrau, Zermatt). If you would like to ski often, it could also be useful to check for picnic areas in the resorts before you go.
If you venture into the mountains, it is always wise to check the snow conditions and the avalanche risk. Most ski resorts have their own app where you will be able to find the latest snow conditions and a map of the slopes, so make sure to check it and download it before you set off.
Enjoy the snow and the magical moments in the mountains!
WHO IS LAURA?
Our guest contributor Laura writes her own blog, Let’s Explore, where she shares her tips and ideas for travelling with children, and hiking and skiing around Geneva. Originally from the Netherlands, she now lives in Switzerland with her French-Swiss husband and two boys. Passionate about cultures, whether they be far away or closer to home, she sees moving around as a ‘school of life’. When she is not moving around, she still discovers cultures by cooking recipes with locals from multiple countries! If you would like to find out more about Let’s Explore’s travel tips or recipes, you can visit her blog, or follow her Facebook page.