Adventures in Paris: a Swiss getaway

We rented a car and drove to Switzerland last weekend.  After two and a half weeks of walking and public transportation, having our own car was heavenly.  We felt so independent and in control!  It was awesome.  We were searching for cooler weather, so we decided to drive to the Alps.  It was a six-hour drive, which is pretty long for our little family, but it was beautiful the whole way.  And, as a big bonus, we discovered that France and Switzerland have the best highway rest stops ever.  They’re awesome!  There were cool playgrounds and perfectly clean bathrooms, lovely vistas and delicious things to eat.  We had some of our best meals—freshly baked pastries, homemade pasta, freshly squeezed juices—at French and Swiss gas stations.  Seriously, the rest stops were a highlight of the trip.

If you’ve never been, Switzerland is, in our humble opinion, the most beautiful place in the world.  It is perfectly picturesque at every turn.  Especially in the summertime, when the wildflowers are blooming all over the hillsides, and everything is bright and green.  But we’ve been in the fall as well and that was also stunning.  It’s just one giant postcard of a country.

We rented a small house on the side of a mountain.  It had a large yard with a trampoline, so basically a dream come true for a family full of little boys.  There were mountains to climb, an old mine to explore, a gondola to ride to the summit, and the trampoline to jump on.  It was pretty great.

The weather was mostly cool and rainy while we were there, but that suited us just fine.  We reveled in the cool breezes.  The Alps where we stayed near Verbier are covered with a web of ski lifts, gondolas, and aerial trams to carry people and mountain bikes and skis up the mountains.  It was amazing to watch the mountain bikers fearlessly ride down the steep mountain trails!  There were hikers everywhere, even up in the thin air.  We rode a series of gondolas and trams up to the very highest peak where there was snow for the boys to play in.  There we met another family with four children who was going hike all the way back down!

Another day we took a tour of a very old salt mine.  The mine, in a city called Bex, has been there for hundreds of years and is still producing salt today.  Exploring the mine was very cool.  Our tour happened to be in German, so we rented a couple of English headsets and the tour guide sent us out to explore the mine on our own, which was perfect for o ur family.  We had a great time wandering through the old tunnels.  Everything was very well marked and explained.  The boys got to try hammering away at a wall with a hammer and chisel, which is how the original tunnels were dug.  We even got to ride this little old mining train deep into the mountain to enter and exit the mine.

All in all, it was a wonderful vacation from our Paris apartment.  The cool mountain air was very refreshing, and the unstructured outdoor playtime was wonderful for the boys.  I completely identified with Heidi!

7 replies
  1. Mike
    Mike says:

    Thanks for sharing the great info. and beautiful pics! It’s nice to see how a family w/ children (even small ones) is able to plan and carry out an amazing family trip overseas. It gives me hope that we could do it!

  2. Camilla
    Camilla says:

    Sounds like you prefer country vacations over city vacations? Looks beautiful! We’re ready to plan our own Swiss vacation!

  3. Carol
    Carol says:

    Oh my. I wanted to be Heidi when I was a child so this completely resonates with me. This sounds so very delightful. Who would guess that rest stops could be highlights of a trip? So glad you got this cool interlude and the boys had a chance for some hard, active play.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] rented two cars during our Paris adventure–first for an escape-the-heat-and-flee-to-the-mountains Swiss getaway, and second for a visit to the beaches of Normandy.  I wrote a few tips regarding car rentals […]

  2. […] In a fit of desperation during last week’s heat wave, we planned a little getaway to Switzerland—way up in the mountains where it never gets hot.  More to come on that! […]

  3. […] The next morning we left the city, battling a bit of traffic on Paris’ ring road (la Périphérique), but all in all, it wasn’t so bad.  Then the autoroutes took us quickly and freely to the mountains of Switzerland. […]

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