Wednesday, 30 September 2015

How to enjoy the COWS PARADE and FAIR in Cogne Aosta Valley on October 3rd and 4th

Another amazing feast like the one that took place last weekened in Charmey , see my previous post, will take place this week in Cogne, a beautiful village in the Aosta Valley at about 2 hours driving from Geneva
The feast celebrates the descent of the cows from the mountains to the valley where they will stay the entire winter, this is called in the local dialect "Deveteya" .

The program is full of activities that includes the famous cows parade on Saturday and on Sunday, artcrafts markets, several activities for kids and special menus  in restaurants.
Unique and not to miss event,  the full program of the week end is described in the Cogne village website

It's TROCs time ! Buy excellent toys and branded children clothes for very cheap prices . Second hand-GENEVA families sales

If you want to buy great quality second hand children clothes , children furniture, accessories and  toys at super bargain prices , you should go to a TROC , this is a special sale event that  takes place twice a year in most districts of Geneva and it's organized by the  families who live in the area  .

Normally the  TROC takes place on Saturday mornings between March and April and between October and November , and you can find anything you are looking for  for children from 0 to 16 years old  (all types of toys, children car-seats, strollers, fold-able beds, and all type of clothes, shoes, sport equipments  ...) , if you go early and you don't mind to queue you can make real bargains and find also top quality branded items at ridiculous prices such as 5-10 CHF each
The TROCS typically takes place in the gym of the school or in a very large room and items are placed all over or on tables with the indication of the age for clothes. So first come first served , you have  just to take the items that you like and pay the total at the cashier before exiting, all items are priced with a tag .
The nice of the TROC is that you can also sell your items, you have to get in contact with the association organizing the TROC, they will give you a  personal seller number  to be written  on each item together with your requested price, items have to be deposited one day before the sales and unsold item have to be collected after the sale. It's quite an effort to be a seller so be prepared to invest some hours of your time in it, however it's also a nice experience and a practical way to get rid of things and free up some space at home. Please note do not overprice items , otherwise you will not sell them!
Besides the International Children Clothes fair , mentioned in another post, the list of TROCS in Geneva with the district where they take place and the date are listed in this website:  or in la penderie website

The not to miss TROC for me are the one of Chene Bourg, of Champel and of Carouge , however all of them might deserve a visit, depending from what you are looking for.

Monday, 21 September 2015

The most amazing Alpine Feast - DESALPE in Charmey on September 26th Descent from the mountains pastures

This is a not to miss feast , my favorite one in the Alps, it's when cows come back from mountains to the valley, after having staid more than 4 months in mountains pastures.
The most famous feast takes place in Charmey a very nice village in the Gruyere Region.
Go to Charmey website  to get more information about the program of the day, celebration include alpine music concerts, food stalls, cows parade and much more.
Check schedule and plan logistics carefully, there will be many thousands people there , so you might want to consider to go by train.
Charmey is also hosting  very nice Thermal Baths , see my previosu post so you can also plan a refreshing bath before going back.


This post provide you with 20 possible ways to celebrate your kid’s birthday , in addition to the 3 ways  that I already talked about in two of my previous posts: one post about the parties in Migros and in Coop, the other about the parties in MEG.
I have experienced quite some of the suggestions below, either directly or indirectly, via friends’ worth of mouth or because my son was invited by his friends or because I used one of these options to celebrate my son's birthday , I have added my comments on the ones I liked most.
Note also that most of the below suggestions are quite expensive , this means they cost more than 400-500 CHF for 12 kids, however most of these options are all included- zero stress for parents formulas , there are other ways to organize  your kid’s birthday  via renting a nice place and organize the animation/entertainment, I will talk about it in a separate post.

The 20 most popular children's birthday parties are:

FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN (up to 6 years old ): 
 Yatouland : this is one of the most popular and relatively cheap ways to celebrate kids’ birthdays, and children love the place, it costs from 290CHF to 340 CHF for 2.5 hrs for a maximum of 20 kids
 ( 4 till 10 years old) ,this includes free usage of games and a reserved area , there is no dedicated animations so parents have to supervise and coordinate children entertainment ,  several birthdays can take place at the same time in parallel so this can be a bit chaotic, however it’s a proven formula that works well, especially for kids 4-6 years old.    

Orchestra Land in la Praille : this is one of my favorite places for birthdays of  young kids
(younger than 6 years old ) , my son attended several birthday parties and he always had funt, they organize birthday parties with different themes with an animator dressed according to the chosen theme who that takes care of the children entertainment. Parties last 1.5 hrs and are for kids from 4 till 10 years old , they  costs  17 CHF for child all included till 12 children , the party is more expensive for bigger groups.

The little gym . Its formula is very similar to the one of Orchestra Land , they organize all included birthday parties for kids from 1 till 12 years old for a cost of 450 CHF for 15 children. We organized my son 4th year birthday party there and it went well and it was very relaxing for us because we didn't have to worry  about anything. I think this formula works for very young children and in fact we organized different types of activities after that experience when my son grew up.

Gymboree organizes birthday parties for children from 6 months till  5 years old , with the same type of formula. I have never been there so I can’t talk by experience , the party costs 690 CHF for 2 hrs for 20 kids .

Baby Gym La Praille , same type of scheme than the Orchestra, The little gym , Gymboree, they organize parties for children from 1 till 13 years old and have a huge variety of themes and structures , for example for older children they organize a disco dinner or lunch . My son attended many parties when he was very young, between 4-6 years old  and I think this is the best age for these types nof parties. I don’t know how the formula for older children works  , note also that  prices are not displayed  on their website.

Bowling in laPraille : this  is a very popular type fo party and a formula of proven success that children love. It is suitable for kids  of  7 years or older and it costs 19-21 CHF per child including two games and a reserved area to eat and to celebrate.  My son attended several birthday parties there and he always had great fun.

Intersoccer  also organizes birthday parties for children from 3 to 13 years old who love playing soccer and sports in general. Party includes a soccer game and medals at the end . My son has never   attended one of these parties , however given the Intersoccer is a quite famous association I would assume that these parties are well organized , prices are not displayed in their website so worth asking

 Karting in Ville La Grand area (nearby France) , this is an unforgettable way for male kids to celebrate their birthdays, I would recommend it for children older than 8-9 years old  although the Karting birthday party is offered to children between 6 and 14 years old. Price for 1 game and  1.5 hours party is 27 Euro/child , for 2 games 2.5 hours party is 40 Euro .

Vitam’parc in Neydens  (nearby France) organizes birthday parties for children from 4 till 12 years old. There are several formulas: parties in swimming pool ,  climbing parties , disco kids parties , prices vary from 15 Euro to 27 Euro per child  each party includes 1 hour supervision and training from a professional sport expert or animator. My son went to a couple of these parties and he enjoyed them very much.

Lasergame  (in Geneva and in Ville La Grand) : this is a great way to celebrate children birthdays and they simply love it. It is suitable for kids older than 7 years . The party includes 2 games ,drinks and separate reserved area. There is a Lasergame in Eaux Vives and one in Ville La Grand . I organized my son’s 8th year birthday party in Ville La Grand  because it is much cheaper and offers the same type of equipment. It was a big success!

Lasergame outdoor in Divonne les Bains . If you like the concept of war missions and complex team strategies and if your kid is older than 8-9 years old and if his birthday is in a warm weather period than this is an unique birthday experience and I would definitively recommend it ,my son still talks about the party that one of  his best friends had many months ago.
That said , it's important that  it's all about military games and wars so if you don't like this theme better choosing something else. I 'm not a particular fan of these themes , however I had to say that the way the game works is outstanding for the  attention of every single details , starting from the explanation of the strategies and the dressing uniforms, Unforgettable experience for children, it costs 10 Euro per child for 1 hr game and 30 Euro/child for 2.5 hrs game, however better check with them directly.

Parc adventure des Evaux in Onex  is a great place in Onex just 20 minutes from Geneva city center , teh parc is inside a beautiful forest and they have several formulas for birthday parties ,mainly about high ropes (acchrobranches in French)  the parties structure depends on the children age. For children from 3 to 6 years old the party costs  25 CHF per child , they have guided mini climbing /ropes with an animator and different games, for older children 7-11 and till 13 years old   they have more adventurous climbing on treasure hunting and mystery solving themes , parties cost 30 CHF per child , they last 3 hours and include the trainer for high ropes for 1 hr. I didn't know this type of parties , they look great especially in nice season weather and I'm sure they offer a truly unique experience for your child , especially if his/her birthday takes place in a weather warm period.

Vivarium Meyrin : this is one of my son’s favorite place because he loves reptiles , the birthday party there is relative cheap and offers 2.5 hrs great fun including a guided tour and direct experiences touching some of the animals , it costs 250 CHF for a maximum of 12 children. Birthday cake and drinks not included. My son was invited to a birthday party there and he loved it. Perfect for kids above 7-8 years old

Refuge de Darwin in Sezenove  -Far West and horses, this is another great and original way to celebrate your chid ’s birthday party, especially if he /she loves horses . This fantastic place hosts the association that takes care about the protection of horses ,  and organizes birthday parties for kids older than 5 years old  on the theme of the Far West . There are two formulas for parties, one costs  35 CHF per child and the other 45 CHF per child , the first lasts 1.5 hours and is about Cow Boys and Cow Girls, the second one lasts 3 hours and is about Billy the Kid and Calamity Jane , both formulas have horses as co-protagonists . Strongly recommended for a very original and unforgettable birthday .

 La Gambade Poney Club in Laconnex  organizes  parties for younger children all around Poneys , I don’t know prices but I think it’s a great unforgettable experience for younger kids .

Pronatura  organizes birthday parties for children from 6 to 12 years old in their beautiful natural reserve in Vesenaz , parties are all around the discovery of nature and cost 200 CHF  for a maximum of 12 children  for 1.5 hrs. The place e is magic, I think that the best is during spring and summer and early autumn when the weather is nice.

 Sauvegarde du lac Leman  (Save the Leman lake association)  also organizes birthday parties for children older than 8 years old , parties last  3 hours , their cost varies from  240 CHF to 360 CHF for a maximum of 12 children, the theme is centered about preserving nature and environment . I don’t know too much about these activities but I think that it's a great idea to make children sensitive about the topic and I plan to ask more details to organize there one of my son’s future birthday parties.

La libellule association also organizes birthday parties for kids between 6 and 13 years old, with similar concept than the ones of Pronatura and Sauvegarde du Lac Leman , looking at their website they seems quite organized , worth exploiting ! 

Cinema Pathe’Balexter organizes birthday parties for children from  7 to 12 years old , they include a movie and different types of menu , parties costs  from 29CHF to 35 CHF per child depending on the menu chosen, it seems a good idea especially for children older than 7-8 years and in winter season  however it’s not cheap.

Mc Donald  organizes very  great and very cheap (119 CHF) birthday parties for children from  8 to 12 years old . Parties are themed and last 1.5 hours , they include the children Menu , teh children cakes, many activities  with a dedicated animator , the cost is for 8 children , any additional child costs 12 CHF .

How to see chamois , hiking excursion on Saturday September 26th in Echenevex , Pays de Gex

Have you always wanted to see chamois in their natural habitat ?
If you did , then  you should enroll in the hiking excursion organized this Saturday Sept 26th by the Commune of Echenevex in the Pays de Gex .
The excursion has to be booked by calling the following number : 0033450415385 , the excursion is with an expert alpine guide and it's in French . It lasts the entire day and it's open to everybody interested (adults and kids)
Cost of the excursion is 22 Euro per adult and 70 Euro per family (2 adults and 2 kids) , it includes the guided tour and some snacks; places are limited so if you are interested, do not wait , book now.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

How to improve your Kid’s English level . My favourite 5 English schools in Geneva

Many of my friends who are not English mother tongue and who have kids enrolled in the French school system, have the strong desire to improve their children’s English knowledge so I decided to write this post will help them and many others who have the same needs.  

Below the list of the English Schools that offer English classes to children , these are the ones that I know , either directly or because friends have enrolled their kids there.

ALPE, Association de langue pourenfants à Genève, offers weekly  classes for kids as of 4 years old , and also includes the preparation to Cambridge Certificate. The nice thing of this school  is that it has many locations in Geneva so it’s very easy to find one close by where your live; costs are also very reasonable, they range from 190 CHF to 260 CHF per 10 weeks lessons (1 lesson per week, 50 minutes each) lessons and take place in the afternoon after school hours and during the day on Wednesdays.

ECOLEMIGROS  in Geneva, offers English classes for kids as of 5 years old , a course of 14 lessons, once per week normally on Saturdays or on Wednesdays costs about 350 CHF There are maximum 15 children in each class and classes are offered by kids age, one class for kids from 5 till 7 years old and  another for kids from 8 till 10 years old , classes are organized for  different English knowledge levels .

ARNIES’ CLUBin St Jean district offers courses for kids as of 2 years old and has different types of courses including camps and daily classes during school holidays. I have a friend who has enrolled her 5 years old son there and was very satisfied. Price are ok/reasonable , however  they are not indicated on the website.

SPELL LANGUAGES  offers a large variety of courses to kids from  2.5 years  till 13 years old , classes take place after school hours during the week,  and during the full day on Wednedsays and on Saturday morning, the spirit is that kids learn English while having fun or doing  activities that they like, the school has offices in Carouge, Troinex, St Gervais, Aire la Ville and Vernier. There are also many activities planned during school holidays and in summer.Summer weeks start from 300 CHF/week, the price of the weekly courses are not reported in the website. 

KEY ENGLISH SCHOOL offers a very large variety of courses to kids from 3 to 13 years old and , they are based on different activities that are performed in English , there are dancing classes, science classes , art crafts classes , little explorers classes and many others . Courses take place in Corsier, Menier, Genthod , Geneva. The school organizes summer camps and summer classes during school holidays and also very interesting 2 hours workshops on different themes on Wednesdays afternoon, these workshops cost 40 CHF for 2 hours and are differentiated by age. Friends of mine who enrolled their children in the summer weeks courses were very satisfied, the full week activities costs 700 CHF for 5 days courses from 9 till 5 p.m. in Corsier.
© 2014 Key English School
Other schools : 
BELL SCHOOL offers half day or full day English courses to kids in preschool age (till 5 years old) and to older children  during school holidays 

BERLITZ  offers summer camps /holidays camps to children from 7 to 17 years old