Swiss weekend snow and winter sports, 10-12 December 2010

Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – Let is snow, let it snow, preferably on our turf! Frankfurt and Paris were snowed in, but the sad news for skiers in Switzerland 10 December is that the snow that fell last week in the Jura has turned to mud, and the Alpine ski resorts are still waiting for the big snowfalls to arrive. You have a few more days to continue your pre-season warmup exercises and to reflect on safety on the slopes.

Weather forecast

Sun today! The first village house to get warm rays, canton Vaud 9 December

Temperatures are expected to go no higher than 2C throughout the Lake Geneva region this weekend, with sunshine alternating with partly cloudy skies. Expect resorts in Valais to have the same weather, but if you are longing to get warm, head for Ticino, where temperatures will reach 15C.

Alpine and Jura resorts updates

Shirley Curran writes from the Jura resorts area that “sadly, after last Saturday’s memorable start to our ski season where we were skiing with feather-light powder up to our knees, not a cloud in the sky and no crowds, this week’s torrential downpours and high winds have blown or washed away most of the Jura snow. The lifts will not be operating this weekend. However, they will be running every day from 18 December. You can keep up to date with information and webcams at montsjura.com.”

Several resorts in the Alps are offering reduced fares and special family offers. Sierre-Anniviers, which groups together several medium-sized resorts above the lakeside town of Sierre, including family-friendly Zinal and Vercorin, has a new special deal for parents. It allows a couple to share one ski-pass, for parents who are alternating taking care of children. It’s valid only in low season, basically January and March, but offers a good practical solution for many couples with small children or babies.

Anzere has a very good deal for this weekend, 11-12 December: CHF10 for kids and CHF20 for adults for a day pass, or CHF15/20 for two days, well below the season day pass price of CHF47. Slopes open for the season 17 December. Children up to age six are free and families of four get a 10 percent discount.

Verbier has put together an information page on parking and public transport, with useful emergency numbers, part of the effort to encourage skiers to be a bit greener.

On the lakefront, Geneva remembers a glorious moment from its past, and eats chocolate

Arbres et Lumières, Geneva, artist Géraud Périole

This is the big Escalade weekend in Geneva, the annual party to celebrate boiling soup being poured over the heads of Savoyard soldiers in 1602. The quick thinking worked that cold December day, and the soldiers were repulsed.

The event, credited with changing the religious landscape of Europe, is commemorated with bowls of hot soup in the Old Town and sales of thousands of three-legged chocolate pots (marmites) throughout the city. You can simply enjoy the costumed crowds and watch the parade, but don’t miss these suggestions from the Geneva Tourism Office:

“One of the surprises of the “Escalade” is the Passage de Monetier open to the public only once a year. This takes visitors along the base of the old fortification walls under the Cathedral, offering a palpable look at Old Geneva. Those who brave the passage at night receive cups of hot wine to ward off the cold. Another secret is the piping hot soup waiting at the Ancien Arsenal, across from the Hôtel de Ville. More exactly, Mère Royaume’s soup.”

List of activities and map, compliments of the Compagnie de 1602. The Tribune de Geneve reports that students are out, in costumes, by the hundred Friday. The newspaper also says time is taking its tolls on the costumes of the Compagnie de 1602, some of which cost CHF1,000 and will soon need to be replaced.

As evening falls you’ll be able to see the decorated, lighted trees in the city centre. This is the 10th year of the Fesitval Arbres Lumieres, where several artists are invited to turn city trees into art objects that include lighting. Map and descriptions of the artworks.

Check our GenevaLiving blog for more ideas about exploring the city while you’re there and GenevaLunch Events for activities.

Christmas markets are mushrooming

The number of Christmas markets in villages, towns and cities throughout the region has grown hugely in recent years. Most are relatively small and fun. Geneva’s is held at Place de la Fusterie and Lausanne’s is at the Place St Francois. If you’re interested in the big ones, Montreux, with Russia as the guest of honour this year, and Morges are the traditional places to go. Morges has 190 exhibitors, 90 percent of them local artisans and crafts people. Entry is free and on a cold day it has the advantage of being entirely indoors.