The spa town of St-Gervais-les-Bains dates back to 1806 and, while barely known by British tourists, it’s been popular with French tourists virtually ever since. Overshadowed by its glossier, better-known neighbours, Chamonix and Megève, Saint-Gervais is nevertheless rich in beautiful old buildings and sculpture, and oozes authentic French charm with weekly food markets, cosy wine bars and restaurants.
Located in a narrow gorge at the foot of the towering Mont d’Arbois and Mont Blanc and surrounded by spectacular mountains, Saint-Gervais certainly ticks the ‘beautiful Alpine setting’ box.
The resort incorporates four settlements – Le Fayet (580m), the Savoyard market town of Saint-Gervais itself (850m), the tiny baroque village of Saint-Nicholas de Véroce (1,150m) and Le Bettex (1,400m), a smattering of hotels and chalets on the slopes.
A gondola takes skiers from just outside the centre of town to Mont d’Arbois, from where the neighbouring slopes of Megève are easily accessed. Most skiers buy an Evasion Mont-Blanc ski pass, which also incorporates the resorts of St-Nicolas de Véroce, Combloux, Les Contamines and Les Houches.
Taken together with Megève, Saint-Gervais offers skiers of all levels (although intermediates in particular) plenty of terrain, much of it wooded with superb views. It’s also possible to by a 'Skipass Mont-Blanc' to access the entire Chamonix valley, which can be reached by fairly efficient local buses.
Saint-Gervais is a charming, affordable and family-friendly resort which deserves to be better known by British skiers. Yet, for Saint-Gervais devotees, a large part of its appeal is that it genuinely is a hidden gem.
- Affordable base from which to explore the extensive Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area
- Charming, family-friendly town
- Good non-ski activities
- Pretty, uncrowded woodland slopes
- Saint-Gervais’ local slopes can suffer from low altitude in bad snow conditions
- Limited après-ski and nightlife