Gymboree Geneva

Gymboree Geneva

Photo credits: Gymboree Geneva. (all pictures in this article).

A few weeks ago I was invited with Z to visit a familiar place that we had not been to in a while, a place beloved by us both; Gymboree Geneva. As soon as we entered, the familiar smell of babies and sounds of happiness brought back my memories of joy and exhaustion from the first years of motherhood.

Our story

Back then, when Z was little, my French was limited by a massive lack of confidence, and I did not know many other local parents, so when a friend told me about a play centre for English-speakers I didn’t think twice. Z was eight months old, and with each passing month I felt more lonely and addicted to my phone (and the mom-friends I chatted to within it). To cut a long story short, Gymboree Geneva ended my misery. I met my best friend in Gymboree, Z met her best friend there as well, and we learnt songs that we still sing today!

Gymboree Geneva

Located in Grand-Saconnex, Gymboree is a large soft-space area with many fun obstacle courses for babies and toddlers. It also offers several types of classes, including sensory, music, art, play&learn, for a multitude of ages, and there is a free COFFEE MACHINE!

And that is not all – there is also a preschool, the possibility to organise a birthday party within its soft, colourful interior, and countless occasions to hug a giant plush clown called Gymbo. Oh, and my first children’s book “ABC Geneva” is available in the little Gymboree boutique!

Gymbo himself

If, at first, you feel like it sounds a little bit like joining a sect who pray to a colourful clown, don’t worry, you’re probably not the only one (at least I hope I was not the only one!). Sitting in a circle each week with Gymbo sat front and centre, singing songs about him and to him, and then taking turns to kiss him might sound disturbing at first. Don’t worry though; it will pass, and soon you will be thankful for meeting Gymbo, his role in making your kid happy, and for a bigger circle of friends who will love to chat about diapers, sleepless nights, and developmental milestones.

It’s funny, now that I have written this it does feels even more like a sect, but a pretty damn good one: Gymbo the clown – The Savior of Parents.

PLAY GYM

What I love most about Gymboree is that even if you enrol only for one class per week, you still have access to the play area during the “free-play” hours called “Play Gym” (which is offered 2-3 times a week). This alone is brilliant during wet and cold months, or when you just need your child to let off some energy while you have a well-deserved (and still hot) coffee or tea.

I remember times when my new parent-friends and I, after a sleepless night, would take turns to keep an eye on the kids while some others chilled with one eye closed in the corner, fuelled by coffee and biscuits. It became our refuge, almost like Starbucks has done for a teenager eager to get out of the house.

The village

Gymboree definitely helped me create my own village (and I am sure we all agree that it takes a village to raise a kid, or us parents go nuts!). It was there that I met women without whom Parentville would never have come to life. It also helped me to speak English with ease, a bonus that we were not aware of, not we did we expect.

YOUR SOCKS

So, if you have a child or children to care for and are looking for a place to have both a coffee and an enclosed play area for the kids, Gymboree is THE place.  

There is just one thing left to do: put on your socks. Yes, socks! – Because you can only enter the soft-space with socks on. Learn from my mistake, and make sure you have socks on both feet, preferably the same pair, and without holes. Although Gymboree has thought of that and has some spares readily available for those days when even getting two socks on your own feet seems like a challenge.

If you would like to know more about Gymboree or my experience there let me know in the comments, send me an email or even a pigeon will work (just let me know what I need to feed it, and if it, too requires socks).

STEM in Geneva for kids

STEM in Geneva for kids

STEM for kids in Geneva? Where to go? Where to enrol?

So far on Parentville, we covered theatres, playgroups, dance classes, language course, and even sledging. We talked about museums (here and here). Now is the time for science, technology, engineering, and maths – STEM.

Some say STEM is the future (that is unless we drown in the sea of plastic waste). Are there any jobs that don’t require any use of technology, even such a tiny device as a smartphone? This will probably develop further, with professions of the future not even existing just yet. At the same time, we know that kids learn best while playing. Is there any place in Geneva that combines both?

Where in Geneva can kids feed their natural curiosity, where can they acquire STEAM skills and knowledge? In several places!

PLACES IN GENEVA

Cern

Well, hello!? Aren’t we living in the canton that hosts one of the most important scientific organisations in the world? Do not hesitate to take your kids to the Globe of Science and Innovation, or to the Microcosm exhibition. The exhibitions are not designed with kids in mind, but they are still worth your time! Cern has also created a trail around the LHC (the Large Hadron Collider), recommended for kids aged 8+: the Passport to the Big Bang. For smaller kids “ABC Geneva” explains the goal of this organization in a simple way.

Exploracentre

Opened in November 2018, it is the first science centre in the canton explicitly designed for children! You can choose between the interactive exhibition, workshops, birthday parties. Click/tap here to read Parentville’s article about this place.

Musee d’Histoire Des Sciences

The Science History Museum presents objects and methods scientists have used. A lot of things to manipulate, touch, and look through. Be sure to check their current temporary exhibition, as well as Wednesday’s workshops! For more details visit the Museum’s website.

Maison de la Créativité

STEM cannot exist without creativity. We usually relate creativity to artists of all sorts, but scientists are one of the most creative creatures as well! Maison de la Créativité invites kids up to age 6 to enjoy many creative activities indoor and outdoor in a wonderful garden.

Bricks 4 Kidz centre

Pencil it in: March 6, 2019! It is the date of the opening of the Bricks 4 Kidz Centre in the Quartier de la Chapelle in Lancy. It will propose many types of lego-based activities, such as after-school on school days, on Wednesdays, and free access on Saturday morning.

 

COURSES, WORKSHOPS, ACTIVITIES

IT STEP ACADEMY – programming, coding, building animations and games, workshops for parents (on internet security for example), and more. For kids aged 8+. A super cool place in Nations. Visit their website for more details.  #parentvillerecommended.

FUTURE KIDS – robotics, electronics, coding, creation of games, Minecraft, and more. They offer weekly courses, camps, birthday parties, and occasional workshops. They offer courses in Rive, Collange-Bellrive, Petit-Lancy, and Servette. Read more about them here.

BRICKS 4 KIDZ – there are two Bricks 4 Kidz companies in Geneva, one on Rive Gauche, and one on Rive Droite. They offer hours and hours of creative Lego fun, for beginners and more advanced builders. In their offer, you can find workshops, weekly courses, camps, birthday parties. #Z.approved, #parentvillerecommended

ADDICTLAB – They offer various STEM activities throughout Geneva, and opened a LabSpace in Espace Candide in Ferney Voltaire. You can also ask them to offer animations on birthday parties. Visit their website for more details.

AMAKIDS GENEVA – Did you know that in Japan math is thought in a very different way to the one we use in Europe? Amakids provide courses on math using Japanese methods, but the whole course is about so much more than mathematics. It is impossible to explain in one paragraph, but luckily there is an article about Amakids on Parentville that does the job well.

KNOCK ON WOOD – working with wood is as much filled with STEM as using Lego, or even more. Though the mission behind this project is different (“to promote manual fabrication, repurposing unwanted furniture or recycle old wood in the Geneva area by giving you the knowledge, space and tools to create your own masterpieces”), I believe building with wood means measurements, planning, geometry, in other words, it is filled with mathematics. More about this brilliant project here.

OUTSIDE GENEVA

A little trip to somewhere maximum 1h drive away? Here are my propositions of STEM destinations:

Espace des Innovations, in Lausanne, click to open their website.

La Turbine sciences, in Annecy, click here.

Aquatis, in Lausanne, visit their website for details.

Espaces des Mondes Polaires in the French Jura. Read my article about it here.

Maison du Saleve, Parentville’s article about it here.

And a bit farther: Explorit Kindercity in Yverdon, that I find absolutely fantastic.

 

 

 

 

Exploracentre – the first science center for kids in Geneva

Exploracentre – the first science center for kids in Geneva

Exploracentre – excitation

I am so excited about what I am going to write that you can expect many typos (as jumping up and down from joy does not go well with using the keyboard). Let me try though! A new (first!) science centre in Geneva for kids has opened!

Exploracentre, the first science centre for kids in Geneva is opening its doors on rue des Bains 33 in Geneva!

I repeat: EXPLORACENTRE on rue des Bains 33 is opened for visitors!

Exploracentre – explanation

What is the science centre? It is a museum when kids can not only touch everything but also manipulate all the objects to find out how they work. In other words: forbidden not to touch (fr. inderdit de ne pas toucher !).

I visited Exploracentre twice already: without Z, and after with her. During my first visit, there was this voice in my head screaming: why nobody had taught me this way at school? Nobody said physics could be fun! I remember learning about centrifugal force, but it is only in Exploracentre that I could see how it works: observe, touch, and then read about it.

Exploracentre – exploration

But Exploracentre is not about the physics only. After all, science is a broad matter. Read on.

The centre has two levels. The upper one homes the Circus exposition. There is so much physics in the circus, right? Balancing for example – how do they not fall? And again, why no physics teacher ever thought about using circus to explain these things!? This exposition is not permanent, as Exploracentre wants to show us other science revelations in time. The new expositions will probably start with every new school year.

The lower level of Exploracentre has a smaller exposition that will change every three months. Currently: building bridges without any glueing substance, discovering the properties of the ellipse while playing billard, and more. There are also rooms for workshops: a scientific room, and an IT room, as well as a space for, wait for it, birthday parties!

For who?

Everybody aged 3 or more. Kids, tweens, adults. Science ignorants, and those passionate about it. Anyone who likes to play.

Opening hours

Wednesday, 10h – 18h
Thursday & Friday, 13h30 – 16h30
Saturday, 10h – 18h
Sunday, 13h – 18h

Tickets

Free for kids under the age of 3.
Ages 3-15: 10 CHF
Adults (16+): 15 CHF
Different prices for groups of 3, 4, 5 people.

Read about other places promoting STEM activities among children, by clicking on the button below.

Halloween costumes and Escalade dress-ups in Geneva!

Halloween costumes and Escalade dress-ups in Geneva!

The dress-up season in Geneva starts soon! While many parents worldwide are busy preparing for Halloween, folks in Geneva prepare their outfits ALSO for Escalade (and for the marathon of course).

Some are already hands deep into sewing. Others search online, some go and rent one, others prefer to buy. I won’t help you with sewing (2 completely left hands), but the two latter yes. Voilà a list with shops where you can get Halloween costumes and Escalade dress up clothes!

La Mascarade
2 Rue des Rois, Geneva

That is one of the two biggest costumes rental places. They offer handmade outfits made in Switzerland. Fitting and dry-cleaning are included in the price. You can find absolutely everything in this shop, and they can help you choose the accessories too. Check it out here.

La Caverne d’Ali Baba
Rue du Grand-Bureau 26, 1227 Geneva

Another rental place with a wide range of Halloween costumes and Escalade dress up outfits! They also sell party decorations and accessories. The place lives up to its name, offering more or less clothes to transform you into any character you could imagine! Here’s your link!

La Gaîté
Rue de la Rôtisserie 13
And Eaux-Vives 2000 (from the 24th of October)

A shop with a long history, dating from 1928. They specialize in all things party, with decorations and outfits for absolutely every occasion. The shop is big but in this hot hot masquerade season, the most trendy ones get sold fast! Here’s their website.

100% Fête
434 Rue du Mont Rond, 01630 Saint-Genis-Pouilly, France

This shop across the boarder in Saint-Genis-Pouilly is a go to place for all party gear, and costumes! It’s just few minutes away from Cern, and literally ahve everything you need. From baby-shower deco, through birthdays, to all Halloween craziness. Here’s their website. #parentvillerecommended

100% Fête Geneve
32 rue de Carouge, 1205 Geneva

100% fete has opened a shop in Geneva! Be sure to check them out, and by all means, don;t wait till the last minute! Here’s their website.

La Drôlerie
201 Rue de Perruet, 01210 Ornex, France

A bit further into France, in Ornex (around 15 minutes from the border by CERN), is another party 101 shop – la Drôlerie. Birthday parties, weddings, Halloween, kids, adults, decorations, helium balloons, and costumes. Their website also has a “funny gift” section, but I was kind of scared to click on it…

Figue Bazar
Rue de Nant 7, 1207 Genève

In the Geneva city center, one of the shops to visit is certainly the Figue Bazar. It offers high quality costumes, and designs not easy to find in big toy-shops. Oh and yes! They also have tons of sweet toys and unique kids clothes. Definitely worth a visit!

Charity shops

It might take a bit more time and patience to find a Halloween or Escalade costume in a charity shop. You might not find exactly what you are looking for, but everybody who regularly visit these stores will assure you that true gems can be found there! Remember that by purchasing in charity shops you’re helping a certain cause, and you’re saving the planet! You can find plenty of addresses and description in an already existing article on Parentville – Second Hand Shops in Geneva.

Toy shops

Probably the fastest way to get a costume is to head over to one of the big toy shops in the city. Ghosts, vampires, scary withes, princess dresses, super heroes costumes, animals, and some of the occupations dress-ups are easily found there. Which shops? Franz Carl Weber, Maxi Toys, King Jouet, Manor.

Salève for kids

Salève for kids

Old and mysterious from the outside, very modern yet keeping the countryside style inside. Maison du Salève is absolutely charming, engaging, and has a very wide offer for families.

Don’t be us

We have passed the road signs leading to Maison du Salève many times. But it hasn’t been until recently that we decided to finally check it out. Don’t be us. Don’t wait.

Nailed it

Some museums mistake interactivity for touch screens and other screens. Not here. Maison du Salève nailed the interactivity if the permanent exhibition like a pro! Puzzles, drawers to open, quizzes (one using a screen and buttons to make several people compete), things to touch, and manipulate.

Saleve 101

Can an exposition about everything-Salève be interesting and attractive for kids? Let’s see. The first floor exhibition tells a story about Salève. It explains how the rocks we find there help to recreate that story. It covers everything from dinosaurs, plants, animals, caves, to how humans got to live there, and how they created the cable car.

The sounds

The temporary exhibition on the ground floor is about sounds. You will receive a smartphone with headphones, enter a very nice wooden room, and scan pictograms to reveal the sounds of different kinds of animals, and not only animals. The app sometimes freezes, and it’s not clear from the start what to do and in which order, but fortunately it does not matter. You can ignore the rules and a simply scan the sounds you want to listen without complicating things too much. A museum outing with kids is complicated enough after all.

Salève for kids

Last but not least, Maison du Salève organizes a lot of activities for kids (small and big). They sometimes take place on the premises or in the garden surrounding the house. Sometimes it’s a walk with fun theme somewhere on Salève. And other times it’s a cable car ride up. Check their schedule for dates and themes.

Now, one really last thing. You can organize your kid’s birthday party with Maison du Salève, and from what we heard it’s quite great!

Comparing to everything we know in Geneva and around, we can wholeheartedly place Maison du Salève on the top of the kid-friendly list in the region. Absolutely #parentvillerecommended! If you get hungry after the visit, do not hesitate to visit the B com Brasserie, 15 minutes drive away – kids corner, kids menu, and a modern industrial feel.

INFO:
  • Pram friendly
  • Wheelchair accessible (+adapted toilets)
  • No restaurant or buvette, water available in the gift-shop.
  • Good for a rainy day
  • Good for a hot day
Espace des Mondes Polaires

Espace des Mondes Polaires

Espaces des Mondes Polaires
Like every child, Z has her passions. It feels amazing to follow her dreams and hobbies,
as they lead us to wonderful places.

To hear the sound of an ice berg moving, to touch the polar bear’s fur, to ice skate in the middle of the summer. All less than 1h drive from Geneva in the wonderful Espace des Mondes Polaires.

Let me take you to the one of the most exotic places on Earth. Where everything is white, where only the toughest survive, a place that has been fascinating explorers and scientist for ages. Ladies and gentlemen: the poles!

To get there, you’ll have to conquer the sharp turns on the Jura mountains, and cross the deserted French border. Then, drive through the wilderness and soak in the amazing views, just until you get to Prémanon (Les/Des Rousses region).

You have now reached one of the most gorgeous museums in the region: Espace des Mondes Polaires. A museum devoted to all-things-poles. By devoted, I mean so much devoted, they also built an ice skating rink open all year long.

The museum

The museum is very modern-looking inside, very simple-looking, like the poles themselves. Everything is white or made with glass. It’s white and quiet.

When we enter the permanent exhibition, we are surrounded by moving ice bergs and their sounds. Scary for some, fascinating for others.

We go farther, to check out the massive tail of a whale in the distance. A stop on the way to learn about ice bergs first: how they are formed, what they are made of, a true ice bergs 101. There are many videos to watch and games to play all around us – they help us find answers to questions emerging in our heads.

The animals are amazing. The fox, the bear, the penguins, all the whales, orcas, and other dolphins. Their colors perfectly match their environment. It is mind blowing how they can survive this rough environment. We touch their skins to understand it better.

We then move to further to discover the explorers’ trips to the poles. There’s a lot to learn here about Paul-Émile Victor, an explorer from the Jura region, and his fascinating trips. We compare equipment from the past, with the modern one.

Quick look at the massive polar bear, and we enter a separate room with a temporary exhibition. It inspires us to organize a dog-sled ride in winter.

Ice skating, yey!

Now, finally run to the other part of the building – to the true reason of our trip. But first: clothes need to change. Short sleeves and shorts won’t do. It is the time for Sweaters, long trousers, professional winter gear, and compulsory: gloves.

Music on, here we go! Ice skating in the middle of heatwave, wearing warm sweaters and gloves feels so absurd we can’t not laugh. It feels amazing, so fresh, and so good! We practice our moves before the ice skating lessons in Meyrin start again together with the school year.

Our last stop: the gift-shop. A fury diary is just what we needed!

The only thing we didn’t try was the restaurant. It looked and smelled nice though, and it has a view on the rink.

Planning this trip in every season is good. In winter, you’ll have more polar feel with the snow covering the jura. In summer, you’ll get a break from the heat and be silly on the rink. It will be a fun day, anyway!

Have fun!

Bibi Café: a dream come true in Geneva

Bibi Café: a dream come true in Geneva

Back in the day when Z was little, I was desperately looking for a kids friendly café in Geneva. A place where I could meet my mom-friends, have a cake, while my daughter plays. I had no luck. No such place existed.

Thanks to Jennifer Barben-Mirisola things have changed! We now have Bibi Café! Jennifer is a mom of 2, who instead of searching and whining like I have, sat down to work and founded a place we all need so much.

Her project, Bibi Café, will hopefully force other restaurants and cafes to think about parents too.

Bibi Café is the first 100% kids and parents friendly café that opened its doors in the Quartier des Vergers in Meyrin. No matter where in Geneva you live, I beg you to continue reading.

Bibi Café will be easily reachable with public transport (buses, trams), and with a car. There is a huge parking, with the exit in front of the café.

That’s not all! It’s also placed very close do the beautiful botanical garden in Meyrin, the public swimming pool, and ice skating rink. So you’ll now be able to plan a whole day in nature, with sport activities, while being sure there is a place close by that will welcome you wholeheartedly with good coffee, lunch, or snack.

It is a new place where you’ll be able to host your child’s birthday no matter their age – sweet, right? Bibi Café also organises kids activities, parents meetings, pop up store events, and more.

It is where I hosted an event to celebrate publishing ABC Geneva city guide FOR KIDS.

Take your kids to Bibi Cafe, don’t worry about them disturbing anyone. Here kids can scream, cry, be themselves. The lunches and brunches at Bibi are splendid, very often accompanied by kids activities by Recrecrea, Bricks 4 Kidz or other organizations. And with the spring coming, I can’t wait for Bibi to open their outside space!

Hope to see you soon in Bibi Cafe!

MAH with small steps

MAH with small steps

This text was inspired by my conversations with Aline Smyth, and a her written document on the subject. Aline is a mother of 2, and an experienced early childhood educator, who would take Geneva creche groups to the The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire aka MAH.

Together with Aline we share the same view: MAH is a perfect museum for kids of all ages!

As soon as your child is interested in big format picture books, he is ready for a trip to the museum.

 

Many of you already know MAH, and their kids activities: MAH a Petits Pas (eng. MAH with small steps), for ages 3-5. For those who have never heard about it, these are guided visits specifically cerated for kids: they’re short, amusing, and a great introduction to culture life for kids.

Yet, sometimes group activities are not the best fit, sometimes a more one on one museum time is more beneficial and joyful. As a parent I know that not all kids like group activities, not all like the same pace of activities, and a fixed schedule with kids is often fine only on paper.

Let’s start from shifting our mindset. What is a museum, or rather what can it be for young children? It’s a giant, 4D picture book. It’s a treasure hunt maze. And that long staircase? It’s a mountain to climb!

So how to visit MAH, or any other big museum? By taking small steps of course!

You can try and take all these steps at one go, or spread them among days, weeks, or months.

Eat and pee first.

There is nothing worse than trying to have fun with a hungry child, or one with a full bladder.

No expectations.

Have no expectations, don’t force anything. Let your child explore, look at what he/she likes. And have an ice-cream afterwards in Le Barocco.

 

The building.

The first time you go, just focus on the building itself: humongous door a dinosaur could fit. And the red carpet leading you up and down to different sections of the museum? Could it be lava we can fight? Remember to explore the mosaic on the floor just before the entry to the fine arts gallery.

Every time you enter a new room, stop for a moment. Help your child notice what is different, name the color.

The Art.

Choose just one painting, by the time you get to it your kid might already be tired or bored. If you think your child is up for it, choose more than one: a whole theme maybe.

One of the trick we used was asking Z to find one thing in each room: an orange, a dog, a boy. A simple form of a treasure hunt. You don’t need to prepare beforehand, a quick look at the paintings around and you’ll find what you need. Just remember to talk, name things and colors, and ask questions.

Another idea is to use your child’s current passion and search for art related to that: ancient Egypt? Fashion? Food? Animals? Transportation? You’ll find everything in MAH.

If you prefer the group visits created by MAH themselves, you can check the schedule by going to their website.

I hope these tiny tips, and small steps, will make your family trips to museums fun, and something to look forward to!

A dummy tree in Signal de Bougy

A dummy tree in Signal de Bougy

The dummy tree is kind of a pacifier paradise, where all dummies meet up to celebrate not being in anyone’s mouth anymore while soaking up the sun and enjoying the fresh air. It’s also a place that offers a possibility of a smooth transition into dummy-free life for the kids.

From hope to challenge.

Dummies are essential for the vast majority of moms’ survival. Many of us parents pray for our kid to become friends with them. Luckily, most of the time it works! But then… how to make them stop?

Some parents wait for the child to decide for themselves, while other decide it’s time to stop the habit – I love you all!

Tips and tricks.

Many hacks are offered to those who want to help their child to part with the pacifier. And boy can it be a patience and creativity demanding challenge!

Some parents go cold turkey (courageous people!), some cut the tip of the dummy off little by little (cheeky monkeys), some make it fly away with a balloon (optimistic fellows), some make a calendar with a deadline (practical folks). And I am sure each one of you could share more tricks.

But you can also go on a small trip.

If you’re in Geneva you might have heard about the dummy-paradise in the Hameau du Père Noël in the nearby France.

But now, a new option has just became available – a dummy tree in Signal de Bougy.
(And it does rhyme splendidly!)

From Denmark.

A dummy tree is a concept brought to Switzerland from super child-friendly Denmark. It exists in the Bernese Oberland and in Zurich, and now also in the canton Vaud!

Isaline, a mother of 4, discovered the “l’arbre a lolette” while looking for creative and gentle ways of getting the dummy out of the house. She started looking for something in Switzerland, but places she found were day-trip away.

(You can read more on Isaline on her blog – in French, or in this article on Parentville).

She used her blogging power, and asked her audience, if they also think a pacifier venue is needed in the region. They all said yes.

The solution.

There was nothing else left to do but to find the right venue. Not thinking much she called Signal de Bougy and within couple of emails the deal was set!

The dummy tree (l’arbre à lolettes)in Signal de Bougy was inaugurated on March 24th. It’s the only permanent dummy place in the whole French-speaking Switzerland. It is also located in a beautiful park with spectacular views.

This idea is also great for smaller kids to show them the tree and slowly prepare them for the dummy-free life. In the park they can watch others leave their friends and be more confident when their day comes.

Family Sunday brunch

Family Sunday brunch

Family Sunday brunch is finally becoming a thing in Geneva! Finally restaurant owners saw the opportunity in providing families with not only great food but also with entertainment for the kids. In other words: let’s eat out this Sunday!

To find out about all fun activities for each weekend check out Parentville on Instagram every Friday!

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