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Kids winter / christmas break in Les Diablerets / Geneve

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Milton Keynes...
posts: 6
reviews: 7
Kids winter / christmas break in Les Diablerets / Geneve

Hi,

I'm flying into Geneve for 4 days with my 2 children who are 5 and 3.

We want to find somewhere with traditional chalets, sledging, ice skating where we can build snowmen, play in the snow, curl up next to log fires and drink hot chocolate that's fairly christmassy and can be reached by train from Geneve. Is Les Diablerets going to tick those boxes?! And can anyone recommend anywhere else or any hotels?

It's our first trip together so I want to make it one they remember to give them the travel bug!

Thanks ever so much,

Sarah

Garmisch-Partenkirch...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland, Montreux, Oberammergau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
posts: 12,574
reviews: 26
1. Re: Kids winter / christmas break in Les Diablerets / Geneve

Hi pomfrs,

I'm sorry to bear some (maybe) bad news, but I'm afraid you might be disappointed with two of your wishes.

Christmas may still be too early to have snow down in the village; Jan/Feb is a more snow-sure time. I scheduled my ski break for Jan 07 last year, and there was still not a lot of snow -- almost none in the village. But since Les Diableret is near a glacier (Glacier 3000), you can always get close to that to see & play in snow.

Also, when I visited Gstaad for Christmas 2004, I was surprised to learn that the Swiss don't celebrate Christmas the way we think of as German or Austrian -- the villages have no decorative lights, no decorations, nothing. I only saw a few fat Santas -- I was told that the Swiss think of Christmas as a time for private celebrations and family time, not for public displays, etc. You can find Christmas lights, decorations, and Christmas markets, but only in the big towns and cities.

Unfortunately I've never stayed in Les Diablerets so can't recommend a hotel --

Anyway, good luck!

s

Milton Keynes...
posts: 6
reviews: 7
2. Re: Kids winter / christmas break in Les Diablerets / Geneve

Thanks Swandav, Do you know if there is a higher chance of snow at Interlaken or is it fairly similar ?

I think we might still come anyway, I've briefly visited Geneve before and spent sometime in Nyon and would love to explore further into the alps whilst introducing the kids to travel. It seems very easy to get around on the trains so no need to worry about car seats which is always a nightmare! If I want to stake in the Lake Geneve area am I best buying a regional pass for us for the 4 days or just buying tickets as I go??

Thanks,

SArah

London
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
posts: 2,515
reviews: 17
3. Re: Kids winter / christmas break in Les Diablerets / Geneve

If you don't plan to ski at all, Champex au Lac might suit you to a tee. When we were there, the whole village seemed lit up for Xmas. On Xmas day, Santa arrived on the frozen lake on a husky-drawn sleigh, and threw presents to the children. There was skating on the lake and it was all very charming. Do phone their tourist office or one of the hotels to check that this 'Christmas special' is a yearly thing, though.

Champex is high and in a snow pocket, and while snow is not guaranteed, you would have a good chance. The Hotel Belvedere is a really charming tiny hotel - not sure if it has a log fire, but you can ask, and the Hotel Glacier has a roaring fire. The only down-side to Champex is that it is quite difficult to get to, unless the hotel agrees to collect you from Martigny, in which case it is very easy - train from Geneva airport to Martigny. Otherwise you have to change at Martiny for Orsieres, and then take a bus.

Other high-altitude and snow-likely villages accessible from Geneva are Saas Fee and Grimentz., both larger than Champex and very charming. Saas Fee would be particularly suitable if you would like your children to learn to ski and though still intimate is the largest of the villages I am mentioning. It also has a glacier with snow guaranteed. Grimentz is everything you imagine of a picturesque Swiss village. When we were there at Xmas, a model of the village provided the backdrop to the nativity scene at the church and there were fine snowmen galore.

You might consider staying for longer than 4 days to get the most out of it. Have a great time!

Mannheim, Germany
Destination Expert
for Zurich, Mannheim
posts: 13,221
reviews: 3
4. Re: Kids winter / christmas break in Les Diablerets / Geneve

Swandav,

what you described (lights, fat Santas etc.) is what Germans and Swiss think of as the American way of celebrating Christmas. I didn´t know that Americans think it is the German/Swiss way! :-)))

Anyway, the winter of 2007 is (hopefully) in no way representative for an average winter. It was way too warm and dry in comparison to normal years - let´s hope that it won´t become the new norm! In a normal year you have a reasonable chance to see snow cover at Christmas time at the height of Les Diablerets (about 1100 m).

Definitely do not expect snow in Interlaken (500 m asl, plus the position between two bodies of water)

Engadine btw. has a problem of being high enough and cold enough but too dry! They have 300 days of sunshine per year, there is just no time to snow :-)

Garmisch-Partenkirch...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland, Montreux, Oberammergau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
posts: 12,574
reviews: 26
5. Re: Kids winter / christmas break in Les Diablerets / Geneve

Hi altamiro!

Hmm, the quintessential German Christmas, in most Americans' minds I think, would be lighted buildings and streets, a community tree, and of course the bustling market with live music here and there. The fat Santa is, indeed, more American, and I was surprised to see a few around Gstaad. Americans are getting more and more into lights, with whole neighborhoods within most cities making reputations for the beauty of their displays .

Hey, on a personal note, I'm preparing to make a move to Germany, though quite a ways from where you are. I know you lived in Switzerland, but you seem pretty happy with your situation. Anyway, I am so psyched!!

s

6. Re: Kids winter / christmas break in Les Diablerets / Geneve

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