Snowshoeing the Night Away Winter excursions near Geneva

Exactly one year ago, a friend and I – frustrated by the rainy winter season in Geneva, which didn't allow us to enjoy our usual post-work cycling activities – decided to take matters into our own hands and make our weeknights another chance for adventure.

While we did not yet feel ready to brave night-time skiing, despite the excellent options available in some parts of Switzerland, we quickly landed on another option: snowshoeing in the Jura mountains, just a short drive away from our adopted home city. Though both of us had limited experience in the sport, it was comparatively easy to pick up the basics, much as we still have a long way to go from some of the more adrenaline-charged snowshoe fanatics we'd seen on several YouTube videos.

Weeknights now became code for snow-time excursions, and with winter upon us again, we're hoping this year will be no different, allowing us to escape from our respective offices into a wintry otherworld.

As we discovered last year, La Vattay, Col de la Faucille and Mijoux, St-Cergue, and La Givrine all offer well-marked trails of relatively easy difficulty that are within approximately an hour's drive from Geneva. St-Cergue and La Givrine are also accessible by train as well, with a changeover in Nyon.

Though the prospect of navigating snow trails in the dark may initially seem daunting, often the reflection of the moonlight off the snow is enough to light the way. The aid of a headlamp or small flashlight can also be useful in some areas.

Those same locations also have other daytime adventure options for snow fanatics, such as cross-country skiing and alpine skiing, including in Espace Dôle. St-Cergue famously lights up a selection of slopes – of easy/moderate difficulty – for nighttime skiing as well.

These Jura adventures also give a chance to explore local restaurants in the neighboring towns, such as trying gourmet burgers at Rando Burger in St-Cergue or fondue at the Restaurant de la Givrine. La Vattay is just a short drive away from Gex, which has several restaurants of its own. The former two options can be reached by train, while La Vattay is accessible only by car.

While adventures in the dark come with a special kind of magic, daytime snowshoeing is also a worthwhile way to spend a weekend, including the option of renting snowshoes on the spot in some locations rather than having to bring your own.

Every nighttime adventure, my friend and I always marvel that we can do this: that we live in a city and country where outdoor exploring is constantly a possibility, even on weeknights in winter. Coming from cities in the United States where that is decidedly not the case, we ultimately conclude that "we just can't believe we live here."

Author: Sofia Balino

Sofia Balino is a writer and editor who has lived in Geneva since 2011. She is originally from the United States, having grown up in a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC. She has also lived in Virginia and North Carolina. With an academic background in English literature, economics, and international public policy, Sofia currently works in the NGO sector as a writer on trade and sustainability issues. Outside of work, Sofia is an avid runner and cyclist, and is always on the lookout for new adventures and festivals.


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