Crèche des Moulins : “40 years of dedication and commitment to caring for young children”

Created in 1983, the tourist daycare centre in Verbier celebrated its 40th anniversary on December 1, 2023. Located in Les Moulins, the setting is picturesque, with a large garden for children to play outside and beautiful premises filled with a multitude of toys. Its founder, Brigitte Tissières, has always been dedicated to welcoming children, whether on vacation or from the local area. As an independent facility from the start, she brings a personalised touch to the operation of the daycare centre – qualities recognised by all. Interview.

Brigitte Tissières

What is the history of the Crèche des Moulins ?

Ever since I was growing up, my wish was to work with young children. After studying in Lausanne to become an early childhood educator, I decided to open a daycare centre in Verbier. My cousin and I knocked on several doors : the municipality of Bagnes, the Swiss ski school, the tourist office. All of these entities discouraged us. At that time (1983), we were told that it was the mothers’ responsibility to take care of their children.

Nevertheless, we persevered. After a year of searching for premises, an opportunity arose : my cousin, Marie-Françoise Gailland, known as Myon, and I opened the “Smurfs” daycare centre on Chemin du Temple, where we stayed for 20 years.

In 2003, the chalet was sold. Following numerous requests from my clients, Municipal Councillor Raymonde Selz Rudaz decided to assist me. The municipality of Bagnes commissioned the Guinnard Agency to build a small wooden chalet at the bottom of the Moulins slope. In 2015, a new move and a new identity : the “Crèche des Moulins” on the ground floor of the Restaurant des Moulins.

How has the daycare centre evolved since its inception ?

In 1983, we were the only daycare centre in Verbier. The municipal daycare centre opened a few years later.

I have constantly adapted to the demands and needs of both the tourist and local clientele. Initially, the daycare centre was only open during the winter season and closed on Sundays. After moving to Les Moulins, I opened during the summer season as well. In the beginning, I accepted children from 18 months old. Due to the high demand, I decided to accept babies as young as 3 months old.

The outdoor activities are a priority.

Why did you choose the path of independence and entrepreneurship ?

Independence in my professional activity is a choice that allows me to adapt my teaching methods according to the daycare centre’s attendance. Today, my establishment is considered a tourist daycare centre. The municipality supports me by granting a subsidy, as having a daycare centre to accommodate our little guests is a plus for the Verbier resort.

40 years at the helm of your own daycare centre : is it a vocation ?

I believe it is a vocation. Every day is different, and the children are constantly changing. The arrival of a new child can disrupt the atmosphere of the daycare centre, and it is the educational team’s responsibility to find resources to restore a peaceful climate.

I work with a small team that participates in all tasks, and the arrivals and departures are under the responsibility of the supervising staff member.

Is the daycare centre a mix of tourists and locals ?

It is a very diverse population. Indeed, young vacationers from all over the world mingle with locals and the children of seasonal workers.

It is very enriching and rewarding to see children of different ages playing together even though they don’t speak the same language. Beautiful encounters and exchanges with parents.

Brigitte Tissières with the kids.

Do you have any anecdotes to share ?

One day, a father came to pick up his daughter and left, forgetting his dog tied up in front of the daycare centre.

Another day, a 16-month-old girl from Africa arrived at my place dressed in summer clothes, even though there was 30 cm of snow outside. The girl attended the daycare centre for a month.

Are the doors of the daycare centre open to all children ?

Indeed, I have welcomed children with autism or a little girl who was tube-fed. I am in favor of integrating children with different needs as much as possible.

My own son, who has Down syndrome, grew up in the daycare centre, interacting with typical children. Yannick integrated into the local school and the Bagnes cycle with an adapted program. It was pioneering at the time.

How do you interact with parents ?

Upon arrival, each new parent fills out a registration form with all the necessary information to ensure their child has a good day. I try to respect the children’s routines as much as possible. At the end of the first day, we have a conversation with the parents and make adjustments for the following days. I have a pedagogical approach, and parents easily adhere to it.

A peaceful climate for children.

Why does a tourist daycare centre require great flexibility ?

During vacations, I believe parents should have the freedom to organise their holidays as they wish. My philosophy is that children should also be able to enjoy the joys of snow with their parents during their vacation. I ask for a reservation, and they indicate their arrival and departure dates at the daycare centre. They organise their stay on site. Flexibility and adaptability are also why my facility is successful. At the end of their stay, I calculate the number of days the children attended the daycare centre, and they pay accordingly.

What activities are available for the children ?

We are fortunate to have a large garden where we can go sledging. These outdoor activities are a priority for tourists. We also engage in creative activities such as playdough, painting, educational games, and songs. In summer, we organise a small pool in the garden, a slide, and picnics on the grass. I also collaborate with the Kids Club located in the same area.

What are your other passions and upcoming challenges ?

After 40 years as the head of the daycare centre, I thought I would retire. But now, upon reaching this milestone, I’m not yet ready to close the doors of my daycare centre. After 40 years, I now welcome the children of the children I used to care for. For example, Michael Fellay attended my daycare centre, and now I am caring for his daughter.

During the months when the daycare centre is closed, I help with work on the family farm. I also enjoy ski touring, skiing, beautiful hikes in our magnificent country, and precious moments with my family.

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