Haute Savoie / France
An elegant mountain spa town that also offers great skiing, St Gervais-les-Bains has been attracting holidaymakers since the 1900s.
Its long history as an Alpine commercial hub, and later a centre of tourism, has left a legacy of stunning architecture, with several beautiful baroque churches and ‘Belle Epoque’ buildings. Still today, many of the area’s hotels offer spa treatments, thanks to the mineral-rich thermal waters that run from the Mont Blanc range.
St Gervais is also a great starting point for those wishing to climb Mont Blanc, which towers over the town. But if you’d rather take it a little easier, hop on the Mont Blanc tramway - the highest mountain railway in France. The 13km track opened in 1907, and takes visitors from St Gervais through stunning scenery, including the Bionnassay glacier to the Nid d’Aigle mountain refuge. Many use this as the start of their ascent of Mont Blanc, but it’s also a wonderful place to enjoy a drink or something to eat on the terrace, particularly at sunset.
St Gervais has ‘Famille Plus’ status, meaning that there’s always plenty for children to do, summer and winter. And if you don’t fancy cooking, there’s a great choice of places to eat out, from tea salons to mountain restaurants, fine dining and takeaways.
St Gervais is known as the gateway to the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area - more than 450km of pistes suited to all abilities and 135 lifts. The domain’s ski pass covers seven resorts: Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc, Megève, Saint-Nicolas de Véroce, Combloux, La Giettaz, Les Contamines Montjoie and Hauteluce.
There’s a new novice ski area in St Gervais, at Mont d’Arbois, accessed by the Bettex-Mont d’Arbois gondola. With a drag lift and covered conveyor belt, even those just finding their ski legs can appreciate this wonderful setting.
Freestylers can hone their skills at the Waidzai Park Megève, or at the Mont-Joux fun park, and there are 45km of trails for cross-country skiers.
Those looking for more adventure should consider the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass, which adds the 870km of pistes in the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, allowing you to cross into Italy and Switzerland.
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