Cool Info for Parents in Lausanne, Switzerland

Friday December 12th, 2014

Santa Claus is Coming to Town! 2014 (Updated)

Here is the schedule that I could find so far. The first one sounds really good – especially for steam train lovers!

 

Le train du Père Noël – LEB’s Special Steam Train Program

On Sunday 7 December 2014. Take the regular LEB from Flon to Echallens, every hour at minute 03 and 33. Catch the Santa Claus steam train at Echallens. The steam train will go back and forth between Echallens and Bercher. Cost CHF14 per adult, CHF7 per child from 6y/AG/half-card. The price include the LEB from Flon to Echallens. No reservation, get the tickets directly from the machine or the counter at Echallens. More info on pdf.

In all IKEA stores in CH (in Aubonne for Vaud)

On 12 & 13 December 2014, Santa Claus and Christmas treasure hunting. Special offer at the restaurant for IKEA Family members.

Marché Couvert de Noël 2015 – in Morges

Santa Claus will be there with his reindeers on Saturday 13 December 2014. More info.

Animation de Noël à Renens

On 13-14 December 2014 3pm at Place du Marché at Renens. More info.

Garderie Pop-In’s

  • On Saturdays 13 and 20 December, 2-4pm
  • On Wednesdays 17 and 24 December, 10am-12pm. More info.

The Magic of Christmas at Château Aigle

Sunday 14 December 2014. Many activities and of course, Santa Claus. Entry CHF5. More info.

Le Noël des Enfants – Flon Ice Skating Rink

On Wednesday 17 December 2014, from 2pm. More info.

Noël des Enfants – Maison de Quartier Sous-Gare

On Wednesday 17 December 2014, from 3pm. Santa Claus and a show. Free entry and open for everyone. More info.

Père Noël à la patinoire de Morges

Monday, 22 December 2014 2-6:30pm. More info.

 

In addition to those above, many municipalities organize local celebrations with St. Nicolas on 6 Dec and Santa Claus (Père Nöel) usually around mid Dec, so make sure you check your municipal’s programs. And there is also the GoldenPass program to visit Santa’s home at Rochers-de-Naye (read my blog post about it here).

Please leave a comment or send me an email if you know other schedule/places! I am especially looking for info about the Santa events at the Christmas market and the mall Métropole, let me know if you happen to see the schedule posted somewhere in town. Thanks in advance.

*Photograph courtesy of LadyDragonFlyCC - used under Creative Commons

Wednesday December 10th, 2014

OCL Concert de Noël – Cathedrale de Lausanne, 19 Dec 2014

 

concert-noel-OCL

OCL concert at the Cathedrale ! It is Christmas!

More info here.

*Image courtesy of OCL

Tuesday December 9th, 2014

Annual Change of Timetable for the Trains – 2014

 

lausanne-gare

Important note for those of you taking the train, especially the ones going to airports on Sunday and commuting to work on Monday, the annual change of train timetable will happen this Sunday, 14 December 2014. Do check for the schedule of your train, as I remember the many changes they introduced in Dec 2012 created confusion and delays.

There are also new trains being introduced, especially between Bern, Fribourg, Payerne and Lausanne, aimed to improved the connections in the western part of Switzerland. However there will be price increase of 2.3%. One good news is that Supersaver tickets can now be purchased via mobile apps. You can read about them and more here.

There may also be changes in schedule of Transport Lausanne, however I didn’t seem to see any news about it on their website, so perhaps things stay the same for now.

Have a smooth and safe trip!

*Image was screenshot from SBB CFF FFS mobile app

Sunday December 7th, 2014

“2x Christmas” Campaign – 2014

2x Christmas is a campaign asking “people who spend their everyday lives surrounded by an excess of material goods to share their good fortune with people in need at home and abroad”. Last year’s campaign inspired donors to send in around 73,000 gift parcels by post.

2xchristmas

In general idea is that if you received something that you already had or didn’t like, you should pass it to other people who may need it more than you do. In particular, the organizer of this campaign welcomes:

  • Non-perishable foodstuffs such as pasta, rice, oil and tinned goods with a shelf life of at least six months
  • Toiletries such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste
  • School equipment such as stationery, crayons and exercise books for children
  • New children’s shoes

Please DO NOT donate clothes nor plush toys.

If you are interested to donate, you can pack your parcel and hand it in any post office inside Switzerland. It will be transported for free to SRC logistics centre in Wabern (Berne), where they are sorted and forwarded to those in need. Otherwise you can also donate money, which will be used by the Swiss Red Cross to buy food, toiletries, school equipment, etc. This year they also introduce donation by SMS.

These donations will be distributed inside Switzerland as well as abroad (last year’s destinations include Bulgaria, Moldova, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina). Last year, I read that the donations to safe houses in Switzerland help the staff to reduce grocery spending and allow them to use the money to treat the children in their care a rare visit to a circus or such. Bless them!

The 18th «2 x Christmas» campaign starts on Wednesday 24 December 2014 and will run until Saturday 10 January 2015.

More information here and here.

Thursday December 4th, 2014

My Favorite Online Toy Shops in Switzerland

These below are toy shops that I like and have personally shopped or would like to shop on. They are all based in Switzerland. Except the second-hand options, many offers gift wrapping service, so that you may want to tell the family abroad that they can shop for presents in these shops and ship them to you. This way you don’t have to worry about high shipping cost and Swiss import duties and VAT.

Disclaimer: I have very loose criteria on deciding what I like, so please bear with me if you don’t like my choice ;)


mylittleroom_header_en

I chanced upon MyLittleRoom while googling for stockists of Kidsonroof’s Casa Cabana. As the name implies, MyLittleRoom specialized in furniture for little ones. But they have a good range of toys too, and this was their promise:

“We take playing seriously… Plush toys, creative games, ecological cardboard toys or wooden cars. We have selected only the best for you: design toys that are fun but also good for the planet.”

Love.

boutikids

Boutikids offers clothing, decor items and a selection of toys. It caught my attention as many of the toys they offer, I didn’t know about before. And I love to know about new toys, especially the ones invented by smaller companies in Europe. Thanks to Boutikids, I learned about this Plus Plus bricks, which my daughter received for Christmas last year – and these bricks have been played continuously the whole year. I perhaps will buy another box this year ;)

 

Petit Toi is a personal favourite as the physical shop is based in Lausanne! Still, I can’t be more excited when they announced their newly opened online shop a few days ago. It feels like Christmas present by itself! I adore their collection. Most brands come from local and European producers, and they emphasise on ethical production. (Read my blog post about the physical shop here.)

889a4d_61d8940c03924c7c9163f0e7d76c11fc.jpg_srz_320_110_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz

Little Moosho is relatively new in the toy business (they started with clothes as you can read on my blog post here), but they have been doing it very well. Their toys, most geared towards younger children, are beyond adorable. Many are vintage-inspired and heirloom-worthy.

 

dilookids-logo

Dilookids has a bit of everything – clothing, decor and party items, stationery, and toys. They are ALL adorable, and the toys include some of my favorite brands (Kidsonroof, Djeco, and now Nobodinoz). Psst, I am currently having my eyes on this tipi.

jubilane-logo

I learned about Jubilane since I was a new mom (>6 years ago)  and ordered a few things from them. Since then the shop has been increasing in size, including the toy range. They have really great selection, also toys from US brands that I believe are not easily found in CH such as Melissa & Doug and Green Toys. FYI, Jubilane also has a physical shop, located in St-Legier.

header_afk

Allforkids was suggested to me by a follower of this blog. I haven’t bought anything from there but I like what I found in the shop so that it made to this list. They are especially good for the English-speaking families, as many of their toys and books are in English. I only wish the website, especially the main lading site, had more pictures than just icons.

 

SwissPost_shop

Yes, the Swiss Postshop also sells toys. In fact, they have many kinds of toys – from wooden, plush to electronic ones. They also have craft items and science kits. Shipping is fast and free – just as it should be :)

In additon, I had shopped on Walzzkidz and Kidoh. I believe they are two of the largest online toy shops in Switzerland.  They only have German language on their website though. They have international brands as well as many German ones.

 

SECOND-HAND TOYS

As a default, when I have a specific toy in mind, I go to these sources first to buy as second-hands.

Anibis and Ricardo are always my first go-to places nowadays. Anibis has more sellers from French-speaking areas and Ricardo from German-speaking areas. The offers could either be posted or you may have to pick up, it depends on the seller (or the description of the bid on Ricardo). In some cases, you can even ask the seller to deliver the larger items with extra fee, if you can’t pick up personally. I did that many times – I paid between CHF0-15 extra for the delivery.

The Yahoo! Groups have lots of parents selling and looking for items. It’s very important to act fast – you need to PM the seller quickly if you are interested with anything. It’s also possible to ask the groups to see if anyone would like to sell or giveaway things you are looking for. For example, last year I asked for Peppa Pig DVDs and I had very good response. So good in fact that one of them was kindly gifted and sent to us ;)

 

P.S.: Don’t forget to see my selection of toy shops in Lausanne!

*Image copyright of the mentioned sites.

Monday December 1st, 2014

My Favorite Toy Shops in Lausanne

Christmas is coming! What could be a better timing than now to post a list of toy shops! So here they are…

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toys-davidson

Jouets Davidson, Rue Grand Saint-Jean 20, 1003 Lausanne

Toys and games for all ages, with a heavy old school feeling. The store is not stroller friendly as it has many stairs. They have all sorts of toys and despite the small window in front, it’s quite large inside. This would be my son’s most favorite store as they carry many locomotives and trains from Thomas & Friends.

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ViviShop, Rue Curtat 8, 1005 Lausanne

I know many parents who love this charming toy shop. It caught me by surprise the first time I went there, as what I expected to be a tiny store, was actually quite large inside. There are rooms after rooms and you keep discovering. It feels so homey and old school and one can spend hours there checking out those walls of toys. Always worth a visit when looking for a present!

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Marelle, Rue Mercerie 5, 1003 Lausanne

A smallish toy shop full of beautiful, mostly wooden, toys. Perfect for the little ones and parents will love these toys too as they are as beautiful  to work as home decor items.

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Nature & Découvertes, 3 place Pépinet 1003 Lausanne

As the name implies, this shop has loads of ‘green’ toys and nature/science exploring kits. They carry a lot of French brands I love such as Djeco and Janod.

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Petit Toi, Rue Mathurin-Cordier 12, 1005 Lausanne

Petit Toi offers furniture as well as toys and little gifts geared towards babies and younger children. However I think many of their decor objects should work for teens too. Most brands come from local and European producers, and they emphasise on ethical production. Read my blog post about this lovely shop here.

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FNAC Kids, Rue de Genève 6 1002 Lausanne
Payot, Place Pépinet, 1003 Lausanne

FNAC and Payot offer books and toys within the same place, which means we go there often as we are more into books than toys. While the toy selection in both shops is limited, they seem to be carefully picked. Payot’s toys are more traditional with baby items and board/card games, while FNAC has more modern toys including electronic ones and those for the teens. See my previous post about FNAC Kids here.

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Franz Carl Weber, Place de la Palud 16-18, 1003 Lausanne
Manor, Rue Saint-Laurent 7, 1002 Lausanne
Globus, Rue du Pont 5, 1003 Lausanne
Coop City, Rue Saint-Laurent 24-30, 1003 Lausanne
Migros MMM Métropole, Rue des Terreaux 23, 1003 Lausanne

Manor, Globus, Coop City, Migros MMM have toy departments inside. Franz Carl Weber has the entire store for toys and games (3 levels, stroller entry on the back, close to Restaurant Tribeca). Selections mostly come from big brands and licensed characters (think Lego, Playmobil, Barbie, Disney, Crayola, Angry Birds…). From these five, Coop City is the one I visit more frequently (usually to get little Disney figurines) as it allows me to use my Coop Superpoints for paying.

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SECOND-HAND TOYS

To be honest, local second-hand shops and my commune’s flea markets are my current favorite places to buy toys. Reusing perfectly play-able toys while cutting down the expenses? Yes please. The downside is not being able to know what to find there (although it also makes it more exciting). Look for announcement or signs in your area (they could be called Troc, Vide Grenier, Brocante, etc).

Salvation Army in Lausanne has toys, too. The selection had never really impressed me, but I did find a couple of nice things there. For this Christmas they will have special day for toys on 11 December 2014.

FYI, I will cover anibis & ricardo in another post with other online toy shops.

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SPECIALTY TOY SHOPS

There are several specialty toy shops worth mentioning, as they offer collectible and/or antique items. Just to declare, I never bought anything from these stores but I think they are cool :)

Wednesday November 26th, 2014

Christmas Midnight Run – Saturday, Dec 13, 2014

xmasrun2014

The annual Lausanne Christmas Midnight Run is coming on Saturday 13 Dec 2014!

As usual there will be many categories (1.5-7.2km), including Pères Noël (yes, short run with Santa costumes!), for the families, and for those who prefer to walk! There is also a junior category for 11-16yo, that will run earlier in the evening. Here is the website to register and find more info about this Christmas Run!

*Image courtesy of www.midnightrun.ch

Friday November 21st, 2014

Where to Buy Christmas Trees – in Lausanne and around

christmas-tree-market

LIVING TREES IN POTS

Ecosapin

For those who prefer not to chop a living tree, Ecosapin is here for you. The concept is simple, you get the tree delivered right to your door before the holiday and taken away after. The trees are kept alive in pots and they will be re-planted, and be re-used for the year after. Very convenient, but it’s pricey.

For example the cheapest and smallest, 100/130cm-tall Spruce (epicéa) cost chf89. The price include delivery but not pick up. For pick-up you will have to pay an extra chf19. Or, you can keep the tree and plant it in your garden.

 

CUT LIVING TREES

Note that when you buy a cut living tree and dispose it properly after you finish with it, they will be 100% composted and won’t be thrown into a landfill or incinerator. Disposing it properly means that you have to bring the tree outside your house or building on the day specified by your commune (consult your garbage calendar or your commune website) or bring it to your local déchetterie. Please remove all decorations, as they most likely can’t decompose. Last year we had a small tree and managed to cut all the branches and used them as mulch in the garden. The remaining was thrown into our compost bin.

Action 1000 Sapins

Action 1000 Sapins is organized by Lions Club Lavaux, this year’s profit from Christmas tree sales will go to Cœur Battant, an association that helps families whose children have cardiomyopathy.

You can pre-order the Nordmann tree until 5 December 2014 online, by fax (021 213 00 01), or post (Lions Club Lavaux, CP 358, 1009 Pully).  The trees come in 3 different sizes between 120-200cm and cost between chf70-90. Pick up on Sunday, 13 December 2014 at Collège du Grand-Pont in Lutry or Collège Bossonnens.

Chapin.ch (sapin-de-noel.ch)

Chapin.ch is an extension of the farm products delivery company La Belle Bleue. Cost of a tree starts from CHF39 and delivery CHF15-20. They also offer a Christmas tree bag (CHF8.50) from where CHF2 will be donated to Handicap International.

IKEA

IKEA Aubonne will sell their Christmas trees (Nordmann) on 5-6 December 2014. Cost CHF24.95/tree and if you are a member of IKEA Family, you’ll get a CHF15 gift voucher.

Garden centers

I believe all hardware stores that have garden centers – Coop Brico+Loisir, Migros Do+It, Obi, Jumbo Hornbach, Landi, among others – have Christmas trees. Hornbach and Landi usually have the least expensive ones, starting from around CHF20 for a 100/130cm tree.

Local tree farms or markets

  • la Ferme Aebi, avenue Victor-Ruffy 66, 1012 Lausanne (info)
  • Agrisapins – La Commounaille 1, 1410 Thierrens (on facebook)
  • Famille Mugnier, 1266 Duillier (info)
  • Sapins de Noël Jaquier Frères, 1521 Curtilles (info)
  • Commune Moudon, on 10th and 13th Dec 2015 (info)
  • Your commune (municipal) may also have a Christmas tree sale program. You most likely have to reserve in advance.

 

ARTIFICIAL TREES

For those of you who prefer an artificial tree, you can get it in many places inside the city, including Globus, Manor, and many hardware stores like Coop Brico+Loisir and Migros Do-It. If you prefer buying it online, try Tchibo.

However, if I may ask, could you try to find a second hand one first – perhaps through anibis? I know there are always many artificial trees in good condition, waiting to be re-homed.

 

Happy tree shopping and decorating!

 

*Christmas trees image found here, used under Commons.

Thursday November 20th, 2014

Visiting Santa Claus at His House in Rochers-de-Naye

After years of hearing wonderful comments about the Santa Claus’ Home in Rochers-de-Naye above Montreux, last year we finally went up there* and met Santa Claus.

Our train ride unfortunately turned out to be stressful. I was too cheap to buy ticket for my 5-yo so that she had to sit on my lap. The train was very narrow and packed by Santa visitors, leaving very little room to move, especially with a child on my lap. Then things turned very bad as my daughter had to go to the toilet (although she had gone sometime before boarding) and there was none on the train. She ended up crying silently for 30 minutes – it broke my heart :( So to those of you bringing recently potty trained kid on board, don’t forget to go to potty before boarding and limit their drink (if I remember correctly the train ride from Montreux took around 50min).

Thankfully the torture came to an end and soon we were happy again. The day we picked was gorgeous with a glowing sun, a completely blue sky and tons of snow on the ground.

rocherdenaye1

Stepping inside the hotel resort, I was under the impression that the place needed more and much better decorations. These 2 spots below were the most decorated I could find:

grotteperenoel

grotteperenoel2

In other places the decorations were minimal and dated, if any. Knowing that they had offered this trip for 10 years, I felt that they needed professional help to redesign all the decorations. I’m really hoping this year’s is already better. If you go, do let me know!

We first went up the hotel to “Santa Claus bedroom”. Which turned out to be a single-bed hotel room filled with colourful lights and plush toys. Not my taste (I didn’t even bother to take photo), but perhaps some kids find it cute. Mine were not impressed either. While we were there we realised that some kids stamped cards – I believe it was part of the treasure hunt game that was advertised on the website, but we didn’t do it.

We then went to “La Grotte du Pere Noël”. The long tunnel was very dark and illuminated every few meters by arcs full of blue LED lights. These lights were beautiful.

tunnel-perenoel

At the end of the tunnel we went straight into the queue to… Santa Claus himself!

The queue wasn’t too long for us, I think we made it in around 20 minutes. My very shy children didn’t want to be too close to Santa, so this was the best shot I could get:

perenoel2

If your children are not that shy, they will totally have great time with Santa, like these ones:

perenoel-montreux

I must say that this Santa Claus at Rochers-de-Naye was the most beautiful we met last year (we had FIVE Meet-Santa events last year). I loved how his beard looked so soft and glowing and his suit was beautiful. His chair was a bit kitsch though.

Each kid received a certificate directly from Santa. There was a photographer who took photos of all visitors that they could print and sell directly on the spot. I forgot how much it cost as I didn’t buy one. In the same room were also the face painters, and a small souvenir shop.

I’m not sure if there was another place that they called Santa’s House, as the room where we met Santa didn’t give any impression of a house. I would imagine a setting like this, but instead he was sitting on that kitsch chair on a stage with a big wall behind him. The Santa was great but the “packaging” was not.

All in all, we still enjoyed the whole experience. I was probably the only one not impressed by the experience, especially the decor, but I may have set the expectations too high. My kids were not raised to believe in Santa Claus and this was the first they saw that year, so that they were not yet into it. They did better with the fifth Santa they met last year :)

I  would still recommend this trip to anyone believe or used to believe in Santa Claus. Just set your expectations correctly ;) Buy tickets even for under 6s if you could afford it. And come prepared – snow suits for the kids are really necessary, as well as hats, mittens, boots – practically everything that will keep them warm when outdoor (playing or waiting for the train). If you decide to go there, I strongly suggested that you reserve and get the tickets ASAP. These tickets are very limited and sell quickly.

Have fun and don’t forget to let me know it goes for you! And if you had been there, please share your experience by leaving a comment. I know that many loved this visit very much so that it would be good for the readers to hear a different opinion.


*To go there we took special GoldenPass train from Montreux to Rochers de Naye. This year’s prices had gone up  to CHF39/adult, CHF19/6y-under 16y. FYI there are tickets at special price on Thursdays. Check this website for more information.

There is also a possibility to go to Christmas Village at Caux on the way down from Rochers-de-Naye to Montreux (more info). We didn’t do this as we found that the trains coming from the top were mostly too full to pick up all the visitors at Caux so that the waiting time can be very long. Fyi we went on a Saturday.

If you like to spend more time with Santa Claus, you can also book an overnight in a yurt (as in the photo   on top of the post) or the hotel, and your children will receive presents from Santa (that you prepared) personally. This can only be booked per telephone. More info here.

Wednesday November 19th, 2014

School Holiday Art Classes by Naomi Middelmann – 2015

The talented Lausanne artist, Naomi Middelmann, will be offering intensive art sessions for children that will be held in her Lausanne studio next year. I have blogged a few times about her – regular classes here, as well as our experience in her class here.

Given in a real artist’s studio, the courses provide a stimulating and friendly environment where children (5-12y) can explore various techniques (painting collages, drawing to sculpting, etc.) and explore different materials. Classes can be given in French and/or English.

Here are the dates for 2015 school holidays:

  • 23-27 February
  • 5-9 April
  • 6-11 July
  • 14-16 July
  • 10-14 August
  • 12-16 October
  • 19-23 October

The four morning sessions cost chf 225.- and the five morning sessions cost chf 265.-

The schedule is 9:00 to 12pm (You may bring the children in as early as 8:45am if necessary).

As usual the techniques used will be varied.

For registration and any further questions, please contact Naomi directly.

 

Naomi Middelmann
Victor Ruffy 11, 1012 Lausanne
078 758 6192
nmiddelmann (at) gmail.com

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