L’Escalade for beginners

L’Escalade for beginners

Escalade deserves a special place on Parentville! That is why it is not mentioned in the December agenda.

Escalade for beginners will explain this holiday to you, and Escalade family activities 2018 will guide you through some Escalade family fun in Geneva.

Ready?

L’Escalade is a cantonal holiday, that is celebrated way more than any other national or cantonal holiday. It also lasts more than one day! Escalade starts with a weekend of runs (or a series of races of different difficulty levels) and is continued up till the middle of the month with many different celebrations.

What does “L’Escalade” mean?

It means climbing (among others).

Why do we celebrate climbing?

Not to honour all those strong, courageous folks who climb nearby mountains, nope. We celebrate the fact that on the night between 11th and 12th December 1602 the furious Savoyards people didn’t manage to successfully climb the Geneva walls and conquer the city. Yey! Following that logic shouldn’t it be called “Pas d’Escalade” or something?

Who were they again?

The Savoyards, led by Charles Emmanuel I. Encouraged by the pope, the catholic Savoy wanted to conquer the protestant Geneva.

Furious Savoyards? That’s not nice!

Not now, but back then – why would Geneva folks speak nicely of people who attacked them in the middle of the night? This is how the official Escalade anthem describes them – “Savoyards furieux”. Details below.

When do we celebrate?

The celebrations start on December 1&2 with the Escalade run (followed by a candlelight parade in the evening). From 7 to 9 December, in the Old Town of Geneva, volunteer actors from the historical reconstruction group “La Compagnie 1602” perform scenes from the daily life of Geneva at the end of the 16th century. Sunday, December 9 it’s the time for the traditional Escalade parade (approx. 800 volunteers on horse and foot). Visit this website for more details.

Running – a marathon again?

No, just 7.3 km running up and down around Geneva and its old town. There are several options of the course’s length, including those for kids.

What food?

Traditional Escalade food is a vegetable soup (download the recipe here)! For escalade desert, there is no other choice than a chocolate marmite with marzipan veggies, but don‘t just bite on it. It needs to be smashed in a particular way.

Chocolate cauldron aka marmite

The legend has it that the Mere Royaume (wife of Pierre Royuame and mother to 14, bless her, children), was cooking when she saw the troops approaching the La Monnaie gate, where the family lived. She had opened the window and poured the boiling soup on the attackers, and then also threw the heavy cauldron their way.

To commemorate this legendary/urban myth, somewhere at the end of the XIX century Geneva started making chocolate cauldrons filled with marzipan veggies. Oh, and by the cauldron, I mean “la marmite”.
To smash it, take the youngest and the oldest person in the room to smash the marmite together while saying “Ainsi périrent les ennemis de la République!” (Eng. Thus perished the enemies of the Republic!).

Any songs?

Yes! A song about furious Savoyards that may explain the common reluctance towards the frontaliers, though… those from Ain were not involved, so maybe the roots of this border conflicts come from elsewhere. Don’t be surprised if someone rings your door on the Escalade day and asks for candy after singing the song. It is a mixture of Halloween and carols choirs, isn’t it?

There is another song for Escalade: “Cé qu’è lainô” (meaning “He who is above”), and that is not any song but the Geneva anthem that tells the Escalade story.

Dress up?

Why? I have no idea, I have been trying to find the explanation for this Escalade tradition, but couldn’t find anything specific. Maybe you could help me out? Anyway, if you are one of those people who does not need any reason to wear a scary or a silly costume, then Escalade seems like a great fit! Go over to this article on Parentville to find out where to get a costume.

Now you know all there is to know about Escalade! The only thing left is to chose from one of the fun and amazing Escalade activities! Click below to discover all I could find.

Why many parents in Geneva choose public schools?

Why many parents in Geneva choose public schools?

Why anyone would consider public schools in Geneva as the right choice for their children?

Many private schools in Geneva offer fabulous programs, with a rich program of high-quality after-school activities, trips to fascinating places, and individualised care.

Of course, international schools are probably best for those kids who change countries every couple of years. The international system will make it easier for them to continue wherever they go. But even for those coming here for just a year or two, the answer is not always straightforward.

For many families, this choice does not exist due to budget limits. Many dream they could place their children in one of many excellent private schools but can’t afford it without going on a 100% potato diet for life.

So why is it that so many parents in choose public schools in Geneva, even though they don’t have to?

I didn’t want to guess, so I asked the parents on 2 of Parentville’s Facebook groups precisely that. I received an overwhelming amount of private messages, and here’s a roundup of what they said (in random order).

Integration

While many private schools teach children about local history, traditions, and culture, integration means more. It means knowing locals. Public school offers precisely that. It gives parents the opportunity to meet other local parents, and kids to meet their neighbors, as they will always attend the school close to their home. It is the best integration process according to many, and it’s free.

Diversity

One of the parents wrote: “I want my children to learn in a truly diverse environment, not in a bubble (as this is how I see most private schools, especially in rich Switzerland). One of my challenges as a parent is to make them aware that an average human on this planet lives in completely different conditions than they are. I want them to know that they are lucky to be born here and to have everything they could dream of. I want them to appreciate that, and at the same time to do whatever they can to help those in a less fortunate situation.”

Quality

Public schools in Geneva are good. Period. They are not great, not Swedish, not perfect – but which school is? Public schools in Geneva are simply good. Many parents refuse to pay high allowances for primary school, and instead, prefer to save that money for the university, or sabbatical year, or invest in great after-school activities. Many expats are terrified upon finding out that kids here do not learn how to write and read till they are 6-7 years old. But this has proven to be nothing but beneficial (LINK) for children (and the same has been done for years in many north and east-European countries). Here’s how Switzerland is doing in Pisa.

Social life

Children attend schools on a straightforward rule: the closest school to home. It means more probability that the way to school will be easy so that kids can try to walk on their own rather sooner than later. It also means they will meet tons of friends from their neighbourhood at the school. And that translates into hours of fun after school, on weekends, and even over the summer! At a very early age, they can become members of the local community and bring whole families closer. Strictly connected to point no 2 (integration).

Practicalities

School being close to home means drop offs and collection are easy. It also means neighbours can help each other out when needed! And have I mentioned making friends in the hood?

Language

No language course can never teach you a language like life can. Teachers will teach them the official language, but their friends will show them the customs, the nuances, the kiddy slang, the teen slang. It all will make them native speakers in a very natural way.

Higher education

Some of the parents participating in my research pointed out that not all private schools offer diplomas allowing them to attend Swiss universities, or even the vocational training program (which in Switzerland is quite amazing!). It does not mean it is impossible for them to get to local schools, it is just more complicated. Public schools graduates apparently have easier access to local universities, and at the same time can apply for abroad programs no problem. I haven’t personally checked that information. If you have any input on that, I will highly appreciate!

It is by no means an article pointing out which school is better. Private schools have plenty of advantages! Just sometimes they are presented to incoming expats as the only right decision. There is no right or wrong here. Each system has different strengths.

A big thank you to all those who participated via comments, email, and private messages! It was fantastic to meet you virtually and hear your point of view!

Please, do not hesitate to comment/msg/email with your thoughts, no matter what they are!

Other articles you might be interested in:
SuperMamans – pampering new moms with homemade meals

SuperMamans – pampering new moms with homemade meals

Pampering new moms with homemade food is the goal of SuperMamans – an association created in Lausanne, present in Geneva and all French-speaking Switzerland. They have also started the same concept in Germany!

 

It wasn’t until Z was a toddler that I discovered the association of SuperMamans. But it wasn’t until I actually met one SuperMaman that I got really interested in the project. Aline is an active member of the association, helping with association-things, and cooking for moms around the canton. I introduced her already as an inspiration to the article about vivisting MAH with toddlers.

//If you’d like to implement the concept in another country/region, do not hesitate to contact SuperMamans, they will happily help!//

The idea is so simple, it is hard to believe nobody have thought about it before!

Superwoman Cape

It takes a village to raise a child, they say. But it also take a village to help women get through the so-called 4th semester. Caring for a newborn, possibly older kids, trying to keep the house from falling apart, and… cooking. We all do it wearing our invisible superwomen capes.

SuperMamans’ cape

Wouldn’t it be amazing to sometimes just throw down the cape, give it to someone else, and be a human again?

SuperMamans and their capes to the rescue!

They offer a free homemade meal with a free delivery to families with a newborn in the house. This magical service is also available to the bed-bound pregnant women, adoptive parents, mothers grieving after a miscarriage. The delivered meal is not just for them, but for the whole family, so that this one day (or more!) they can stay away from the stove.

That one day (or more – details below) you don’t have to worry about groceries, pans, and timing. The meal will arrive carried by a friendly, smiley woman, happy to stay and chat a bit if you wish. FYI: many of the SuperMamans speak English, and other languages!

This is how it works. There are two types of women in the Association: MamansCadeau and MamansABichonner.

MamansCadeau

MamansCadeau (fr cadeau – gift) enroll as women willing to offer a homemade meal to families with newborns/pregnant women/new adoptive women/etc. They can do it once a week, or once a year. They decide on the area they are willing to cover, and the timings. And well, they don’t need to be moms (any women willing to cook is a sole requirenment).

MamansABichonner

MamansABichonner (fr a bichonner – to be pampered), are moms that would like to benefit from the generosity of MamansCadeau. Cooking with a newborn, and a contracting uterus is not always fun… ordering meals is costly and never as healthy as homemade food.

The village

SuperMamans are representing women power, and women solidarity, that many of us miss in everyday life. SuperMamans offer not only a free meals, new friendships, support, or a possibility to be kind an helpful. They give us a tool with which we can reclaim the village to raise our children, in the world where most people have time to only care about themselves.

This project is our hope.

Batmaid – superheroes with brooms

Batmaid – superheroes with brooms

Sometimes I look around our place and think only a superhero could deal with the mess. But which one do I choose?

A Spiderman could only make things worse, a Superwoman has different tasks on her hands, and Batman is needed elsewhere. How about a Batmaid then?

Batmaids are cleaning maids hired by a company under the same name. They are checked, have credentials, are legally hired, and what is best for you: they are easy to book!

Disclaimer: Batmaid offered me a 3h free cleaning by one of their top cleaning ladies, to test the service and share my thoughts.

Bonus: There’s also a discount link waiting for you at the bottom of the page!

Like an Uber

You book your cleaning online, like you do with a taxi, via your phone. You can choose the day, the hour, indicate the number of rooms and bathrooms. You can choose additional things to clean, eg. windows, fridge, oven, kitchen cabinets etc.

You can book for regular cleanings or a one off thing. The only thing to do offline is to print, sign, and scan one document.

Most importantly, you can add special requests, let the Batmaid know where to focus the most. I asked for Z’s room to be cleaned in every detail, the smallest wholes and corners, as at the time it was a pollen season (Z is allergic and a bit asthmatic).

The Batmaids

How are the maids recruited?

This is an answer I got from the company:

“All of our Batmaids are hand-picked based on their extensive experience, references and possession of a clean police record. Even a well qualified candidate must then pass a two-round interview process. We do this in order to ensure our clients access to a range of fully reliable and dedicated professional cleaners.”

My experience

Our Batmaid was amazingly fast and good at the same time which I find is a rare combination. She didn’t need detailed directions and quickly found her way around our mess. Z’s room was done perfectly!

The Batmaid was cheerful, warm, easy to get along with.

We loved the little details added, that made us feel like a professional service took care of us. Check out these cute stickers on our toilet paper! A clear sign the bathroom was cleaned.

The mission

But there is much more to Batmaid than just offering an easy way to find a cleaning service. Batmaid was created to fight the black market, offering the cleaning staff the conditions they deserve, to be legally declared and protected. The company wants the Batmaids to be recognized and respected for the valuable service they provide.

After all, every cleaning person that we hire, saves tons of our time, stress, and gives us opportunity to do things we love, or need. It means we have more time for our families, to read a book, get on with our projects. They are valuable, they are doing a hard and messy job, and need to be recognized.

Having a cleaning lady declared is one of the things that can change their well-being, but seems complicated to many. Happily Batmaid will do it for you!

Your experience

If you also used Batmaid services, please feel free to share your experience, good or bad. It is important to me for this website to provide all angles. As each of us has a different situation, we also have different experiences, I would love this website to reflect it – with your comments being a main tool!

Now here’s your discount link! 20 CHF off of your first booking.

It will also add some cash to my Batmaid account (you won’t be charged additionally!), so I have more time to prepare valuable content for you!

Pediatric emergency in Geneva

Pediatric emergency in Geneva

Annoyingly, most of the times children get sick, is at night, or during the school holidays. Do you know where to go when it happens? Which pediatric emergency in Geneva can take you in? What qualifies as an emergency anyway?

When it comes to night-time/evening and holidays care, Geneva has quite a lot of options. But it’s important to know how to use them. Some are walk-in emergency wards of hospitals, others require an appointment.

if you’re not sure whether your child requires an urgent medical help, a brilliant app Info Kids by HUG can help you out (in French only). You can read all about it in this article on Parentville.

InfoKids HUG online

The life-threatening emergencies require a call for an ambulance over at 144 or 112. For intoxication cases help, dial 145.

Not every emergency requires an ambulance though. Where to go then?

WALK-IN facilities.
    1. HUG Urgences Pediatrique. The biggest, and the best equipped emergency ward in Geneva. But because of the overload parents are asked to use it only when really in need, when urgent. Opened 7/7, 24/7. Their website is available in English, too.
    2. Grangettes – though it is a private clinic, its emergency ward for children will accept holders of every type of insurance. Opened all week long, from 9 am till 10 pm. Check out all the necessary information here on their website.

 

Appointment only.

In these places pediatricians are available for emergency consultation. Available during the week from 6pm till 10 pm, and on weekends from 8 am till 10pm.To get help in these places call as soon as you can to schedule an appointment. They can be all reached under the same telephone number: 0844 022 022.

  • Centre médico-chirurgical des Eaux-Vives. To schedule an appointment, you can also call 0227 360 611, or book online here.
Home visits 24/7.

If you want to help your child asap, but the case doesn’t require an urgent medical intervention, you can also ask for a home visit with one of the 2 companies. If they think it’s needed they will transfer your call directly to the ambulance dispatch, or tell you to go to the hospital.

  • Geneve Medecins: for website and phone numbers please click here.
  • SOS Medecins: follow this link to reach their website.

 

24/7 pharmacies.

Sometimes, all you need is a bottle of over-the-counter medicine to control your child’s fever, or an OR solution, to hydrate him after a bad vomiting series.

  • There are 2 pharmacies at the airport opened till 9 pm daily. One is located in the CFF station, the other on the departure level.
  • The pharmacy on the main train station, is opened every day till 11 pm. Click here for details.
  • Every day 2 pharmacies are opened in Geneva 24/7, but it is not always the same pharmacy. You can check the “pharamcie de garde” for each day on this website.