Culture & Gastronomy Published on 30/03/2021
My name is Alexandre, I am 7 and a half years old and I came to spend my summer vacations in the Pays de Gex with my parents.
I didn’t know this area but my mom said it would be nice to go to the mountains. So I took out my map of France and asked her to show me where we were going to spend our next summer vacation. Between the Jura and Switzerland, that is!
Mom had prepared a nice program for us and I can tell you that I was not bored during this amazing week!
We like to camp so we chose a nice campsite, the eco-camping Le Valserine in Chézery-Forens, in the middle of nature, to go through the mountain. There, I learned that the most summits of the Jura were in fact in the Ain! It was the occasion to take a geography lesson. My dad set up the tent and as usual, I passed him the stakes. Before it got dark, we went to the supermarket in Lélex to do our shopping for the 2 nights we were staying.
Mom had prepared a very complete roadbook for each day:
Day 1, Sunday:
After a good night’s sleep, we left for the cheese making factory of Chézery-Forens. We wake up early to be there at 8:30 am to see the end of the production of the famous local cheese: the Bleu de Gex. This cheese factory is one of the last to make it. I liked the explanatory panels in the visitors’ gallery (and I must say that I like to read, it helps!).
After the visit, we passed by the store to buy a piece of cheese and some local products. Then towards Lélex, the next village over for a climb in the cable car (I was a little afraid, it was the first time, but I loved it!). We still have to hike to get to the top and see the panorama: mag-ni-ficent. New geography lesson: the Alps, the Mont Blanc, the Lake Geneva and the water jet of Geneva. It was worth the one hour climb.
The temperature is better in the mountains, we were not crushed by the heat. Then we continued to discover Lélex. Mom had downloaded the discovery rally of the village which was going to occupy us for a part of the afternoon. The excursion passed by the edge of the Valserine (1st wild river of France!), I could not resist: I soaked my feet in the water (it is nevertheless a little chilly). After our 2 hours walk, we took the car again to go to the museum of the stones and the Lapidary in Mijoux. There, we saw different stones, small, big and what a work of precision! While going down in the store, I asked dad if we could buy a present for mom, who was going to celebrate her birthday soon…
day 2, Monday:
In the morning, we went to visit the Maison du Parc du Haut-Jura in Lajoux. The exhibition was well done and I learned a lot about nature, environment and heritage. Moreover, I learned that a part of the Pays de Gex was in the Regional Natural Park of Haut-Jura. We took our time to eat something good.
In the afternoon, I was ecstatic, I discovered Menth’évasion, a new accrobranche park with different workshops and zip lines. It took us 2 hours to complete the whole circuit. At the end of the afternoon, we went to visit the farm of Menthières and to see how the milking of the goats was done. And of course, we bought some goat cheese!
We spent there our last night in Chézery-Forens.
Day 3, Tuesday:
After having an early breakfast, folding the tent and packing up the car, we set off in the direction of the plain of the Pays de Gex and we knew we would pass the Col de la Faucille. We stopped there at the end of the morning to climb to the top with the gondola (no need to climb this time). There again, the view was incredible and I even recognized the Mont Blanc! We were lucky, the sky was clear and we could see the mountains well. Mom took lots of pictures and posted them on her Instagram account (as always).
There were many activities to do. Me, I had a lot of fun with my dad at the toboggan on rails. We had bought the multi-activity pass at the ski lift ticket office to do lots of descents! I also tested the mini-golf and the kids and junior courses of Juraventure. I even saw that we could go for a walk with a donkey but we didn’t have time that day. For snack time, I took a crêpe and a little further on, dad and mom tasted the blueberry pie. At the end of the afternoon, Mom had booked her descent in a giant zip line. I was too small to do it (you had to be 8 years old). Meanwhile, Dad and I went to read the signs about the geological period, near the parking lot.
It was time to leave to go to the campground in Gex.
Day 4, Wednesday:
The weather was still nice this day, so we decided to go walking. Mom had spotted in a topographic map a one and a half hour walk starting from the Mont Mourex in Grilly. It was 10 minutes from our campsite. After a short climb, we arrived at the orientation table with a 360° panorama on the Jura and the Alps. I can tell you that I know the geography well now! Then we went in the underwood, it is very pleasant when it is very hot. Before going back to Gex to have lunch at the restaurant, we stopped at the village of Vesancy, there is still an old castle where the town hall is located. In the afternoon, we went to visit the Maison de la Réserve then we went to walk to the banks of Journans. At the end of the day, mom asked me if I wanted to do another rally, so we walked the streets of the city of Gex: and this time, I studied the history! I didn’t have trouble going to sleep in the evening…
Day 5, Thursday:
It was another beautiful day of summer vacation. It was a hot day, so to make me happy, dad suggested that we go to the beach of Divonne-les-Bains ! Nice, I love water and moreover, it was a sandy beach, and there was no risk as it was supervised. We even rented pedal boats to tour the lake! The whole family enjoyed a good relaxing time. 🙂
Day 6, Friday:
Second to last day in the Pays de Gex and I still had to discover a castle, Voltaire’s, a famous writer who lived almost 20 years in Ferney-Voltaire. There was a parking lot nearby where we could park. The castle was a big pale pink house and had been renovated in 2018.
The interior of the monument was very beautiful and we went around without a guide to go at our own pace. My parents explained to me all that Voltaire had done for the village and all the causes he had championed. Afterwards, we went to the park and at the end of an alley (it’s the bower) I saw some beehives. Yum, I love honey! In the store of the castle of Voltaire, we bought a jar of honey. Yum!
Then, we ate in a restaurant of Ferney-Voltaire before going to visit the workshop of the book, a small exhibition on the history of books and printing. Then we went to the pond of Colovrex. There, there were games for the children and above all, I could see the planes taking off, as we were at the edge of the runways of Geneva airport. Dad had also spotted a playground in the park of the Tire, just below the castle. I was able to test the zip line and climb the red ropes. I had a great time. 🙂
Day 7, Saturday:
Last day. We packed up the tent.
But before saying goodbye to the Pays de Gex, we visited some more places. We left in direction of Valserhône to take the freeway then we stopped at the Marsh of Etournel in Pougny, a natural protected area recently developed. We saw birds from the observatory, it was beautiful. Then our last visit was to Fort l’Ecluse, a former military fort. We could go up to a terrace with a magnificent view on the Rhone and then I visited the exhibition on the bats.
And this is how my week of vacation in the Pays de Gex went. All three of us really enjoyed this region. I am sure we will come back next year!