Monday, 30 November 2015

How to skate on the lakes - the 4 FROZEN LAKES in Switzerland where it is possible to walk, skate and much more !

I 'm writing this article because , even if I live in Switzerland since more than 10 years , I have to admit that   didn't know that it was possible to walk and skate on the lakes . Since my childhood  I've always dreamed about walking on the frozen lakes and so I decided to share this "discovery" with you.
people enjoying the frozen lake in the valle du Joux -

 4 Swiss lakes offer this possibility , and actually many winter sports can be played on the frozen lakes, including cross-country skiing , curling , ice hockey and ...yachting!. 
Outdoors and  settings are sumptuous and the experience must be unforgettable, I definitively plan to try it this winter . Watch out : there is no supervision so the access is the responsibility of everyone. Important: please check websites and weather conditions before going, you might go and then discover that  the lake is not frozen and therefore not accessible.
Here is the list of the 4 lakes, in order of dimension of the surfaces.

image of the lake fr Joux from
Lac de Joux, Le Pont (VD)
In the heart of the Joux Valley, this is the largest natural ice rink in Europe. A giant playground of a surface of 9.5 km2 that it’s open in January and February , however opening season might vary depending on snow conditions. Many winter sports can be played on the lake, worth trying

ChampexLac (VS)
At the foot of the Mont-Blanc sits a beautiful alpine lake that borders the Champex station. This "little Canada in Switzerland" is the delight of skaters, sometimes until April.  1.2 km2 

Lac des Taillères, La Brévine (NE)
Between pastures and snowy pine forests, Lake Taillères in winter it becomes the place of wild slides of Neuchâtel Opening timing are from November till February , the area is 2km2

Black Lake, Schwarzsee (FR)
Adjacent to the resort center and easily accessible, the romantic Black Lake is nestled at the foot of the Fribourg Alps. It’s open from December till March , the area is  0.45 km2

The 5 Most Beautiful TOBOGGAN RUNS in Switzerland

Snow season is about to start, this post is for the ones who prefer  toboggan /sled  to skis or who loves both.
Here is the list of the most beautiful toboggan run in Switzerland , some of the runs quoted here are among the most famous in Europe !
While browsing in Davos website I found out that Sledging was a very popular sport in  Davos  in the XIX Century , and it's there that a famous model of sledge was invented , the carpenters were inspired by the  Norwegian ones and the very first sledge race took place in 1883.

An image from XIX Century taken by Davos story book

  1. The longest toboggan run in Europe BIG PINTENFRITZ/GRINDELWAD is 15 km long and a spectacular view; it starts at Faulhorn at 2680 mt and ends in Grindelwald at 1034 mt , medium difficulty  
  2. FIESCHERALP/FIESCH -EGGISHORN is 13 km long , it starts at Fiescheralp at 2222 mt and it ends in Lax 1039 mt , starting point is easily accessible , the run is spectacular , difficulty :easy
  3. LA TZOUMAZ/SAVOLEYERS  is 10 km long and it's the closest to Geneva , it starts at 2354 mt and it ends 819 mt lower, 6 times a year during full moon night , the run is open at night and special evening events are organized 
  4. PREDA-BERGUN/GRAUBUNDEN is the longest run in Europe with night lighting,it is 6 km long ,it starts in Preda at 1789 mt and it ends in Bergun at 1386 mt, it's a challenging one with exciting turns ,  difficulty :medium.
  5. RINERHORN/DAVOS, it is 3.5 km long and 34 turns (!) , it has night lighting on Wednesdays and on Fridays.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

How to enjoy ICE SKATING- the 10 ice skating rinks in Geneva - UPDATED

The Ice skating season is back  , below I have listed the places where it is possible to enjoy this sport with friends and family .My personal preference goes to the Bastions and the Carouge ones , mainly for the nice atmosphere and for the locations,  however all ice rings are great and especially the ones in Vernets, Thonex and Meyrin and very well equipped and can satisfy even the most experienced skaters.


The Patinoire des Bastions , open till February 28th 2016, it is small and nice ring in the heart of town inside the beautiful Parc , it's closed on Mondays .

The Patinoire de Charmilles , in Promenade de l'Europe 11, it is open till March 26th  2016, and it's closed on Sundays and on Mondays. On Tuesdays and on Saturdays afternoon there is skating &  music.

The Patinoire de Grand Saconnex in Campagne du Chateaux , it is open till February 28th 2016, and it's closed on Mondays. Every Saturday morning from 9a.m. till 10 a.m. there are free courses of hockey for little girls who want to try this sport.

The Patinoire de Carouge  in Place de la Sardaigne in the heart of Carouge it is open till February 28th 2016 and it's the one offering a very interesting program with several interesting events including DISCO  kids every Friday afternoon.

The Pationire de Vernets  in Rue Hand Wilsdorf  4-6 in Acacias district is very big and it offers 2 ice ring, one outdoor and the other  indoor , it is open till March 31st 2015 , opening hours varies by week and day , it's open 7 days a week., please check the website for more information.

The Patinoire des Vergers  in Rue de Vernes in Meyrin it is open till March 13th  2016 , it is indoor and it's open  7 days a week, please check the website for more information about the opening hours.

The Patinoire des Sous Moulin in  the Centre Sportif de Sous Moulin in Thonex it's open till March 22 th 2016. It is open 7 days a week, please check the website for more information.

© D. Jordan / Ville de Genève
Le Patinoire de Plan Des Ouates is installed in the sport camp of the Ecole du Pre Du Camp ,it is open till February 28th 2016,ice skates can be rented for FREE (presentation of identity card required) . It is closed on Mondays. Disco events are planned on a monthly bases.

Le Patinoire de Plan De Bernex is installed in  Chemin du Signal 29 ,it is open till February 26th 2016 ,it is closed on Mondays

Le Patinoire de Versoix is installed in the heart of the village in the Place Du Bourg and it is open till February 21th  2016 , 7 days a week.Entrance is free!

In addition to the above ones, there are other 2  ice skating rinks in Collonge Bellerive and Bellevue

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The 15 Christmas Markets 2015 in Geneva area

.I love exploring the small typical Christmas Markets in the area of Geneva to look for original artistic gifts and  decorations for my Christmas tree 

Images of the Vernier Christmas Market
I couldn't find any website that groups all these little markets that take place in the week ends in the villages  around Geneva in the months of o November and December 
Here are the most popular ones . Worth a visit f you are in town 

Meyrin :  from November 25th till November 28th 
Confignon on November 28th
Plan Les Ouates: November 28th -29th
Chene Bourg : on November 28th and 29th
Chancy : on November 28th and 29th
Bernex , on November 28th

Vandouvre on November 28th
Lully on November 29th 
Cologny on December 5th and 6th
Dardagny on December 6th
Russin  on November 29th
Grand Saconnex on Decmber 4th and 5th
Vernier from December 4th till December 6th
Carouge  on December 11th-12th-13th
Corsier  on December 13th and 14th 
images of Carouge Christmas Market from


Come and see the giant Christmas Crib in Geneva Grand Lancy Church Our Lady of Graces from Nov.23rd till January 17th

If you like Christmas Cribs/Nativities  then you shouldn't miss to visit one of the world's largest Cribs, that has been installed in the Church of Grand Lancy, Our Lady of Graces in Passage  1 Aout 3 in Grand Lancy (Geneva)  .
The Crib  is  open  to the public every day till January 17th 2016, and it has been installed in Geneva after having been exposed in Lausanne and in Yverdon Les Bains in the last years.
This Crib takes a space of 90 sqm and illustrates the life in a Sicilian village of the 17th century , the entry is free and your children will simply love to discover every single detail of the village's life.

The Crib landscape is dynamic because  new characters are added every day. Mary and Joseph will appear on December 8th and the Baby Jesus will arrive in the night of  December 24th . Visitors can touch the Crib, smell the fragrances of the orange trees , listen to the sound of the fountains and the background music.
Worth seeing it!

The top 5 most beautiful Christmas Markets 2015 at driving distance from Geneva

Image taken from the official website of Strasbourg Christmas event
When I arrived in Geneva many years ago I struggled to find out which ones among the many Christmas Markets, were worth visiting, this is why  I decided to write this post , I hope this will make your life a bit easier enabling faster decision about where to go...
Here below the list of the top 5 most beautiful Christmas Markets that can be visited in one day trip from Geneva, note however that although the visit can be done in one day, nevertheless a two days visit is recommended for all of them except for Montreaux.
If you plan to go there by train , I would strongly suggest to buy the tickets as soon as possible , the same is valid for the hotels if you decide to stay overnight , that I would recommend to live the charming atmosphere , in fact Hotels are booked with even a year in advance and it's not easy to find a place during the weekends.
Note that due to the recent tragic facts in Paris, the Christmas Market events program has been reduced and several events have been cancelled, and there are very strict security measure to access the sites, so check websites before going

Image of Bremgarten Christmas Market

Here is  my Top 5 Christmas Market list :

  1. Strasbourg Christmas Market , from November 27th till December 24th ,this is a  MUST SEE , for me the one and only, the most beautiful , the most charming and the most touching , also because the town is by itself magnificent and would be worth a visit even outside the Christmas period . The market has been voted as the best one in Europe.
  2. Colmar Christmas Market , from November 20th till December 31st ,it can be combined with Strasbourg in one trip. The village is also called the small Venice and its beautifully decorated with about 200 wooden chalets, this year there will be 5 small markets linked to each other. 
  3. Bremgarten Christmas Market ,( close to Zurich) from Decermber3th  till December 6th, the largest and very authentic Christmas Market in Switzerland with 320 stalls in the Medieval Old Town .
  4. Morat/Murten Christmas Market  from December 11th till December  13th , very charming Christmas Market held in the beautiful Medieval village, in particular great and magic atmosphere at night 
  5. Montreaux  Christmas Market from Nov 20st till Dec 24th , this market takes place in the glamorous town on  the lake, may be not the most traditional Christmas market, however the easiest to reach , at only 1 hour by train , worth  an afternoon trip.


How to see the world's largest CRIB/ Nativity Scene in 5 Terre MANAROLA - From December 8th till February 1st 2016

If you haven't yet decided what to do for the new year's Eve or just want to take a break and see something really extraordinary, come and visit the 5 Terre in Liguria at only 6 hrs driving from Geneva and specifically go to see the World's LARGEST CRIB  (Presepe in Italian) in Manarola, one of the 5 little villages on the sea.
The Crib is recorded in the Guinness Records  Book as the largest in the world.
The Crib will be visible from December 8th until the end of January 2016 , the nativity scene is as big as the entire mountain behind the village.
The characters are designed with electric cables and lights , thanks to the art and patience of a man , Mario Andreoli, a retired railman born in Manarola who has dedicated to this work more than 30 years of his life from 1976 till 2007.
Mr. Andreoli has used more than 8Km of electric cables , 17000 bulbs and more than 300 life size models made of environmental friendly , recyclable materials. To note that since 2008 the Crib has become ecological in fact it is powered by a photo voltaic system.

5 Terre can be easily reached by train via Milano- La Spezia or by car, in this case the best is to stop in La Spezia and book an hotel there because the 5 villages cannot be reached by car .

To organize a trip there, either you book an hotel in La Spezia directly, or contact the tourist office

Sunday, 1 November 2015

How to meet Santa Claus and visit his house - Hameau du Pere Noel - Cruseilles -20 min from Geneva

Santa Claus' house , le Hameau du Pere Noel is a mandatory destination for all families with kids in November and December, although this place is open all year long. This kids' Paradise is in nearby France in Andilly/Cruseilles, 20 minutes drive from the center of Geneva on the way to Annecy via normal road.
 Image of Santa Claus' house -copyright

The ticket to visit Santa Claus' House has different prices depending on the period chosen. It costs a maximum of 12 Euro for adults and 6 Euro for kids during peak season, on Sundays in December, 8  Euro during the weekdays.
It will take 1-2 hours to complete the visit this very nice Chalet and surrounding garden , your kids will see where Santa Claus spends his days during the year preparing for Christmas :your kids will be delighted to see the kitchen, the bedroom, the toy factory and to meet Santa Claus and have the opportunity to write and mail their letters to him with.
Worth visiting , please consider that the place is crowded in Decembers week ends and go in the mornings to avoid queuing.