You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


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Sun, Snow and Skiing (and a little sadness)

Hello, we are finally back after a couple of weeks in the Alps.

We were very lucky with the weather as it was mainly sunny for our whole stay and I was able to do a fair bit of ski touring up on the glaciers in between getting E comfortable on skis.

This post is going to be more of a photo gallery as I thought I’d share with you some of the beautiful sights we saw along the way.

The first photos you can see here were taken on my outing up the Glacier de Gébroulaz in the Vanoise National Park. That day was seriously windy and so they shut the chairlift which normally takes you to near the top of Glacier leaving you an hour’s skinning up to start of your run. This meant that we had to walk up the piste too in order to get there. The wind kept us cool during the climb and deterred many others from joining us so we had a beautifully clear run down.

Glacier de Gébroulaz decente

I loved looking at the spectacular ice pleats on the glacier. I had a Guide with me to make sure that we are safe and stayed well away from the crevasses but even in this image you can sense some of respect we had to treat the glacier with.

Glacier de Gébroulaz views

On our way down to our next climb: After the Gébroulaz we headed across to climb back up to 3153m and go down the Glacier du Borgne which you can see just the top of right in the middle.

View from the Glacier de Gébroulaz

That was my biggest hiking day but we did spend most of the time as high as we could as the valley was starting to look distinctly green.

La Masse

Here is the Bouquetin statue up at the top of La Masse. The Bouquetin is a type of Ibex and is the logo of Les Menuires.

Les Menuires Bouquetin (La Masse 2804m)

We went on another off piste adventure along the corniche by the Pointe de La Masse in order to do a descent down the Vallon du Lou.

Pointe de la Masse Pointe de la Masse corniche

Many people forget how stunning the mountains are in the summer too and most are pretty well sign posted for hiking. It always feels a bit odd though coming across a sign post up at the top of a mountain.

Walk in La Masse?

We came across a little Cairn (a man made pile of stones to guide travellers) before we did our final climb.Cairn at the top of La Masse Cairn and the valley

The snow was starting to melt fast towards the end of our stay and little streams started to spring up out of the rocks.

Melting snow

Rivers forming

E’s confidence on skis grew as the week progressed and she very excitedly came on trips to restaurants in different valleys. We are very much gourmet skiers in Les 3 Vallées and lunch is as much a part of the experience as the skiing. My favourite restaurant in the world is based in Saint Marcel in the Belleville Valley. It is called La Bouitte and we have been going there for over 20 years. Originally it was a very simple but excellent Savoyard family restaurant but over the past 10 years or so the father and son duo have been working on more innovative and creative dishes. The little restaurant has been expanded and a hotel built and they now have 2 Michelin stars. They have kept the relaxed mountain charm though: the dress code is mountain wear and slippers and even my mad little girl was made very welcome.

Towards the end of the week the skies clouded but I did snap the giant Bulldog at the top of Courchevel for you before we left.

Top of Saulire (2700m)

Unfortunately our week had to end on a sad note as we headed off to Haute Savoie. If you haven’t guessed my family is into skiing in a fairly major way. My grandparents were skiers and took my father and his little sister skiing from young age. My aunt passed away very suddenly at the end of last year and her wish was that her ashes be scattered at the top of Les Grands Montets in the Chamonix Valley.

It looked to be a miserable day for a sad task but as we got to the top the clouds parted and we found ourselves on a beautiful sea of cloud.

Aiguille des Grands Montets (3295m) Grands Montets

View from Les Grands Montets

Once again we had a qualified mountain guide (also a family friend) to take us onto the Argentière Glacier to remain safe. The glacier changes daily and snow bridges formed can be deceptive.

The clouds opening

 

I understand completely why she would want to be scattered in such a beautiful place.

Glacier d'Argentière

So we left my aunt to complete her final descent of the mountain and continued on to complete ours.sea of snow

The ice is stunning but frightening as you ski past huge cracks, pleats and shards.

ice shards

The glaciers in Chamonix are a different league to the 3 vallées ones.Ice crumpling under the weight of the glacier

Here you can see the foot of the glacier crumbled under its own weight.The foot of the glacier

 

It was a holiday filled with experiences and moments I will never forget.

I hope you have made yourselves some happy memories over the holidays and I look forward to our next adventures.

 

 

 

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Stuck for ideas?

We all lose inspiration sometimes. Its raining outside and the motivation to do something is there but can you figure out what you want to do? Nope! Or what about those days where you have absolutely no motivation and it would be so easy to pop the kids in front of the TV and watch a film but you know you should do something with them? I have a solution.

A very clever friend of mine introduced me to the concept of an activities jar and I have adapted it for my kids. We now have two jars: one for rainy days and one for sunny days. When you are feeling inspired after a particularly good day out, maybe even a chat with other mums or perhaps just a good old browse of pinterest write down your ideas on slips of paper and sort them into your jars. I have colour coordinated our activities (because I am like that) into red for E, white for both kids or green for M.

They can be as simple or adventurous as you choose. I have a total mix but here are some of my first scribblings:

jars with some ideas

Its almost like a forfeits jar. Go on I dare you!

jars


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Chaumont and Any Excuse for a Hot Chocolate

There is no shortage of outdoor activities in Neuchâtel. Neuchâtel is a beautiful medieval town and you literally only ever have to drive 5 minutes to be in the surrounding countryside and the views are stunning.

This weekend was cold but lovely and clear so yesterday we decided to make the most of it and take the kids up to Chaumont to have a play in the snow. Chaumont is a brilliant Sunday activity when most places are shut as there is plenty to do (and even more in the summer).

We often get the funicular up from la Coudre (E loves this) although it only goes once an hour on a Sunday. An hour allows you plenty of time to explore Chaumont or a couple to have a nice lunch in the Petit Hôtel de Chaumont. You can also drive up which we did this time. It is very easy as there is plenty of parking and you don’t have to worry about timetables.

Next to the top of the funicular is a children’s playground which is great for all ages. They have swings, two separate climbing frames for big or small kids and a zip line tyre swing.

little kids playground and view

big kids plaground full

They also have some educational activities about the local wildlife and plants and a picnic area for when its warmer.

trees

Our plan was to have a bit of a play and then warm up with a nice hot drink. I think E would have stayed on the swings until she froze to one but we managed to bribe her inside with the promise of a hot chocolate.

I haven’t actually been to the Petit Hôtel since it changed hands and I was pleasantly surprised. The restaurant has always had a fabulous panoramic view but it has been redecorated and they have made an effort to make it kid friendly with high chairs and some toys and colouring books.

petit hotel

Once we had warmed up we went out again to watch the sun starting to disappear behind the mountains from the viewing tower. It is one Franc to go up per entry but I could squeeze the two kids through the turnstile with me.

viewing tower

viewing tower entrance

Don’t look down as you walk along the slippery bridge… the whole experience is not for those who are suffer from vertigo.

viewing tower bridge

I did not expect things to be as clear as they were for such a grey day. You could see all the way from Pilatus to the Eiger (where we were last weekend) to Mont Blanc!

view to east

IMG_8269

With older children you can walk back down via the Sentir du Temps. I have done this before when E was small and I could carry her on me in a harness. This is a great trail that is lined with carvings that take you all the way from the birth of the solar system through to the evolution of man on Earth but as its 4.5km its asking a bit much of my two year old especially in snow.

So we hopped back in the car to head home to snuggle up on the sofa and watch some more snowy landscapes in Ice Age.

view to south


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No fun like snow fun!

Yesterday feeling very inspired by my trip to the mountains I decided we would try and create our very own snowflakes.

We tried 3 different sorts:

snowflakes

  • First the good old paper snowflakes cut by me but directed on shape and location of cut by E. I did show her how to use scissors but I think shapes are still beyond her. We will be doing something involving a fringe soon as she can do that very successfully (picture numerous sheets of paper now semi-shredded around the house).
  • Then we decided to steal all of my hubby’s cotton buds and make some snowflakes by glueing them together. We did this in two ways: our first attempts just glued them whole on top of each other (on greaseproof paper) and the next attempt (which worked better) was to halve them and stick them back together.
  • Our third and final idea was to make snowflake-esque patterns with our glue. E loved this perfect excuse to make a mess. You have to put the glue down quite thickly onto the greaseproof or it snaps when you take it off later.

So taaaadaaaa (our very patriotic snowflakes):

flag snowflakes
I do think these are my favourites even if hubby was busy complaining that he could not find his cotton buds tonight… Whoops. Must add them to the shopping list.

snowflake
Tomorrow is going to be all about baking by the way. Right its getting late. See you all soon and take care.