We had the amazing opportunity to housesit in the Swiss Alps recently. I’m not gonna lie, this was pretty incredible, and hands down our favourite place in our travels so far. We felt like it had the trio of things to make it a pretty amazing 10 days – a beautiful location, a home to live in, and heaps of family friendly things to do. We were located in Gryon, which is right near the ski resort town of Villars-sur-Ollon, and honestly, we couldn’t have been in a better spot.
#1 The Swiss Alps. What can I say? They are every bit as stunning in real life as they are in photos, and our imagination. Everywhere you go, you look around and it is like a ‘wow’ moment. And I don’t say this lightly, as I am not a person who is overly moved by sunsets and natural panoramas etc. It was incredible. The view of the mountains, literally all around us was just breathtaking. God created this, and He is wonderful.
#2 Home. Housesitting is the best way to feel at home away from home. We are pretty easygoing and can generally feel at home wherever we are, but there is something different about house sitting – er, probably the fact that it is someones home. It just makes things heaps more comfortable. We loved coming a night early to stay with our Swiss/Canadian hosts, learning about the Swiss culture and just enjoying getting to know some new people. Their teenage children loved playing with Elena and Kilian (and this was definitely reciprocated). Elena was pretty thrilled to be sleeping in a 13 year old girls bedroom for almost 2 weeks – nail polish, glittery tattoos and dance dress ups were pretty fun. We had 2 dogs and a cat to look after and they were all pretty easygoing (apart from when the dogs caught the scent of fox in the night and legged it, being away for hours at a time).
There was a proper forest right nearby, with towering fir trees and wild raspberries to pick (Elena and Kilian were absolute fiends for this). The forest was really beautiful, and ethereal, and it was a real pleasure to take the dogs for walks there.
#3 Activities. There were so many things do in Villars. I mentioned above that it is a ski resort, but it definitely wasn’t lacking in the summer time. We bought ourselves a ‘Free Access’ card each, which gave us free access to heaps of activities around the area, as well as free transport everywhere. It was so worth it and I feel like we definitely made the most of it.
Gryon Parc – Oh my goodness, this was one of the best parks we’ve ever been to. It had the normal playground, plus a mini golf course, a mini train, motor cars for little kids, and even a motorised zipline. We went there a few times and it was really cool.
Villars Pool – Okay, so we also haven’t been to a better pool before. This one had a pretty cool toddler paddling pool, with 2 slides, water squirters, and fountains. We were sold already. Then we walked outside. A massive waterslide awaited us, with more toddler splash areas, a playground and a skate park. Super cool. Also everything was super clean and modern. We had to shower before getting in the pool, and every pool had a little foot pool on the way in to rinse your feet. We kind of felt like we’d walked into a fancy hotel pool. But it was freeeeee.
We took a gondola ride up to the Les Chaux, then walked to a tiny village called Taveyanne. We walked alongside a friendly Dutch family who we then joined at the cafe and they shouted us hot chocolates! It was raining that day and we forgot our raincoats (Pete often says I am optimistic to a fault) so we were glad for a bit of company and guidance through the thick mountain fog.
One day we caught another gondola up to Roc d’Orsay and hiked through the mountains to a beautiful little lake called Lac des Chavonnes. It was a decent walk on a pretty warm day and we were wishing we brought our swimmers for the lake. It was a beautiful walk with some incredible views of the Alps and the countryside.
We had another rainy day so we went ice skating. This time I had the honour of skating round with Elena. We got her one of those little balance frames, and it wasn’t long before she was confident enough to try without me holding on. Elena was a bit of a champ at ice skating, and we had fun plaiting our hair like Elsa and Anna and zooming round the rink.
There was a room full of jumping castles set up at the Sports Centre for a few days. It was cool watching Elena join in with some other kids jumping around and climbing up the wrong side of the slide. And Kilian got adopted by some six year old girls who walked him round and played with him.
One of the best things in our time in Switzerland was catching up with my cousin Declan and his girlfriend Claudia. I unexpectedly got a message from Declan saying they were heading to Switzerland to visit family at the exact time we would be there, so we made plans to meet up. They ended up catching a ]to train to us and we got to spend day exploring a little bit of Villars with them. It was pretty wet and cold but we caught the gondola up to Roc d’Orsay and walked down the steep hill to Bretaye, then back up as the weather was a bit too cold and wet for walking around. We headed home and cooked dinner together with a cosy fire. It was really cool catching up with family on the other side of the world!
We spent one beautiful day at a really nice village in the mountains, Solalex, when the weather cleared up. This village is closed down in the winter as it is not accessible with the snow. It was a very pretty place for a picnic and we loved just playing for ages in the shallow river, surrounded by the stunning mountains and firs.
On our last full day in the Alps, we started to head up the mountain to another popular town and ski spot, Les Diablerets. Unfortunately, we never made it, as on the way, we started to hear a clunking noise coming from the back of the car. We pulled over and checked it out, to find that the exhaust had almost fully detached from the car. Pete managed to detach it fully so we could drive back home without trailing it behind us, and so we abandoned our trip up the mountain. It was really bad timing, as we were fully aware that it would need to be replaced soon, but we were expecting it to last until we got to France, where it is much much cheaper (Switzerland is a very expensive country!). Oh well. We got it fixed okay a couple of days later, with the help of the neighbour speaking French to the mechanic, just in time for us to leave for France.
Pete loved the running in the mountains. He managed to fit in a couple of long runs where he explored the mountains – he was pretty much in paradise with all the steep slopes and uneven terrain. On one of his runs he ran alongside a large herd of goats which followed him all the way to the nearest village. Pete snuck off just before the village but you can only imagine the looks on the people’s faces as 40 screaming goats came flying through the town.
So, the Swiss Alps were such a great place to have a holiday. We felt so relaxed and spoiled for great things to do, among amazing views. We were very fortunate to get such a great house sit, and very grateful for the opportunity! It was amazing. I would love to come back in the Winter, and also in the Summer and maybe with a babysitter, because there was heaps of cool stuff to do that wasn’t quite possible with kids. Maybe we can just come back and live here for a while?