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Geneva & Neighboring France: 5 awesome indoor activities

“My rose bush is still in bloom!”
I was sweating in my jeans!”
My red Christmas Starbucks cup looked so silly!”

It was 27c / 80F yesterday in Colorado and my friends are doing their best to rub it in!

Well, folks, the region around Geneva is a spectacular place to live year round, with one exception: in November! It’s grey, it’s grim, it’s nasty wet and cold. As others were busy gawking at the wonders of the supermoon in front of a clear sky, here was my bleak headlamp view:

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Yeah.

Could even this landscape in all its shades of grey be an exercise in finding wonder? As I ran, I thought about the sights, the scents, the sounds around me that were every bit enchanting:

Rich wood fire aromas pouring out of old houses.
The speckles of snowflakes sparkling in front of my headlamp light.
The way that one spotted horse sleeps standing up – how do they do that anyway?
The catering orders arriving on several people’s doors.
Beauty, LIFE, warmth is all around. Maybe I just have to open my eyes a bit wider…

Stiiiill, it’s gonna take a bit more effort on my part to get my kids out every day in November this year!

While we anxiously wait for the mountains to be covered in white skiable stuff, we tentatively venture out into the greys. And then, we keep discovering awesome indoor play places in Geneva and neighboring France. Some are on the Swiss side, others on the French side of the border since we live so close to Switzerland.

Here are 5 of our current favorite indoor kid-friendly play places in the Genevois so far!

1. Maison de la Créativité, Geneva, Switzerland
Each room of this historic house has been converted into a fabulous space for kids under six years of age and their parents to play. Very European: The rather philosophical, sometimes scientific approach to creativity. The manager who gives a detailed tour to each person who enters the building. The limited opening hours. And, the fact that there is no parking. Families (mothers dragging three kids and all the things) are invited to clear the brain and walk for ten minutes from the car to the Maison. Still, we love that the themes rotate regularly: Make your own stamps from scraps and rubber bands, build a tree-house using real wood and bolts, dress up like yo mama, tinker with lights inside laundry machine drums.  At 3CHF per kid, it’s the best bargain in town! Love this place!

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2. Vitamparc, Neydens, France (74)
Expansive aquatic park built by someone with plenty of vision. The water park consists of a splashpad for tiny tots, a 28c lazy river, an indoor-outdoor swimming area and lots of little slides for little and big kids. We like that kids under six years of age swim for free! The complex also features a massive climbing wall, an indoor play area for kids, a gym and spa, a Migros store, a toy store and a few eateries. A lovely summer-winter family-friendly refuge!

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3. L’Ile de Tortuga, Vétraz-Monthoux, France (74)
France’s largest indoor playground, and a direct competitor to another one down the road. This one boasts a few activities for 1-4 year olds in addition to several for kids up to age 12. It’s clean, it’s massive, it’s fun. For an extra euro or two, kids can go on an aerial pedal helicopter monorail, ride bumper cars and try their hand at the suspended ropes course. There is WIFI access for parents and a decent snack bar with some in-house prepared menu items.

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4. Musée d’Histoire Naturelle, Geneva, Switzerland
Located right over the border in Switzerland, MHN is a wonderful museum for all ages. The grounds are home to a sustainable world exposition and very climbable rocks. Once you have managed to get the kids indoors, take your time discovering two kilometers worth of wildlife and rocks, because… you can come back any time! It’s free of charge. We especially loved that kids could grab an age-appropriate notebook that was like a museum quiz. It had our four year old hunting for odd dinosaur facts and in the end, learning so much.

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5. Ludothèque Monts et Merveilles, Saint Jeoire, France (74)
Public libraries around us are pretty miserable, both in terms of selection and opening hours, so I won’t include any here. That said, we love the idea of borrowing toys! That is the concept behind the “ludothèque”. Some of them, like our local one, even host second hand toy sales and game nights! Super fun. Check one out near you next time you are in France or Geneva! As always, it pays to call ahead to check they are open as websites are too often outdated. Haha! Vive la France!

onzain; la ludothèque
Ludo image courtesy of onzain.fr

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