Long view of tree-lined pistes with Mont-Blanc in background

Saint-Gervais

Evasion Mont Blanc, Haute-Savoie, French Alps

Between the Chamonix Valley and the Val d’Arly in the Haute-Savoie area of the French Alps. To the north lies the Massif des Aravis, while a little further up the valley is glamorous Megève. There are easy transfers via Sallanches from flights into Geneva and there’s good road access both from here and from Albertville. The killer feature, though, is direct high-speed rail access into Saint-Gervais Le Fayet, just a few km away. On the mountain the scenery at almost every turn is impressive, thanks to the presence of nearby Mont-Blanc (which also accounts for the frequent and heavy winter snowfalls).

Wide view of snow-covered mountains, with distant ski lift, pistes and Mont-Blanc in background.

The Ski Area

If the long-standing plan to link the local terrain with that of the Val d’Arly’s Espace Diamant ever becomes a reality the result will be one of Europe’s biggest ski areas. For now the already-impressive figures for groomed terrain reflect links to neighbouring Megève, Combloux, La Geittaz and (via the Tramway du Mont-Blanc) Les Houches. You can buy a Saint Gervais-only lift-pass, but most skiers will opt for the added value of the full Evasion Mont-Blanc package. Be aware, though, that Les Houches isn’t included, so plan in advance if you want to spend a day skiing the Prarion sector, whose worthwhile terrain includes the legendary Kandahar FIS Men’s Downhill run.

So, what does the full Evasion (meaning ‘escape’) pass bring you? For a start there’s gentle cruising and nicely-wooded runs above St Gervais and St Nicolas, some bracing red- and black-graded steeps below Mont Joly (2525m) and a choice of onward links from Mont d’Arbois over to Megève’s Alpette and Côte 2000 sectors. Now add the wild beauty of the Combloux, Cordon and La Giettaz sectors across the valley and you’ll be doing well to ski this out in a week. We think that’s a pretty good deal.

The Saint-Gervais ski area is continuing a programme of investment with the replacement of the Epaule chairlift in the winter 2017/18 season. Doubling it's capacity, the ascent to the summit, with it's amazing view towards Mont Blanc and 360° panorama, will be faster but there are also fewer pylons and integrated safety and environmental features. From now on, skiers will also be able to leave their skis and boots overnight in heated ski-lockers at the base of the gondola.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1000m - 2350m
Evasion Mont Blanc
Pistes Total:
445 km
Bar chart of ski pistes in Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area
44 Green
63 Blue
82 Red
34 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 105
5 Magic Carpets
50 Draglifts
36 Chairlifts
10 Gondolas
3 Cable Cars

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The Ski Village

Although road traffic passes through the village centre it’s well-managed, and Saint Gervais remains a very pleasant place in which to relax, window-shop or explore the wealth of colourful, retro-chic architecture. It’s also a long-established spa town (so daily life continues well outside the ski-season) and it also has a distinctly genteel air and some stylish premium accommodation too. The retro architectural feel is enhanced by the presence of the Mont-Blanc Tramway, whose antique rolling-stock still winds its way up to the Belleview/Prarion ski areas at the Col de Voza (1900m) – and in summer all the way to the 2372m Nid d’Aigle.

The town centre also has a free multi-storey underground car park – useful, as having a car simplifies the choice of starting-points, ski-lift-wise.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Young skiers gathering for ski lesson with ski instructor and mountains in background

Best For

Anyone looking for a relaxed, unpressured environment, both on and off the mountain. Despite its long winter sports pedigree, Saint Gervais is often overlooked by skiers who feel happiest choosing from the higher-profile resorts whose names are already familiar. This place has real charm, though, and wears a friendly face, making it a solid choice for beginners, families and ntermediates who value dramatic scenery and plenty of long cruising runs. Mixed-ability groups will also find that there are steeps below Mont Joly for more energetic skiers, so everyone should be happy.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery

Snowboarding

All levels.
1 Snowparks
1 Snowboarder Cross


Cross-Country Skiing

Varied trails with 2 green, 5 blue and red and 2 black.
40km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Extensive, linked-domain skiing with a backdrop of Mont Blanc.
  • Flattering terrain, particularly for relaxed intermediate skiers.
  • Character upmarket spa town.
  • Dependable snow record.
  • Free parking beside the Bettex gondola lift (open in summer).
  • Resort Ambassadors greet visitors on the mountain.
  • Easy transfers from Geneva flights or direct TGV high-speed rail connection into Saint-Gervais Le Fayet.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • The lower (Red) return run is not viable in milder periods, so you’ll be taking the gondola down.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • The chair-lifts of nearby Saint Nicolas de Véroce provide alternative access, again with free car parking.

Practical Information

Getting there

By Car
For Dover-Calais ferry travel, other cross-channel routes, offers and bookings visit P&O Ferries

From the A40 Autoroute Blanche take the Saint-Gervais / Le Fayet exit 21.

By air
The nearest airport is Geneva (1 hour) which can be accessed by bus or taxi. Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc is about 1hour 15mins. For bus connections see BORINI AUTOCARS or SAT MONT BLANC which provide links between Geneva and Saint Gervais / Le Fayet.

Jet2.com offers low cost flights to the French Alps from 7 UK airports.

By train
This couldn't be easier - travel by TGV direct from Paris to Saint Gervais Le Fayet.

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s ski train direct to the French Alps with .

Transfers
Visit Ski-Lifts for the best range of ski transfer destinations from airports and main rail stations.


Things to do

Tried and testedLe Tramway du Mont-Blanc


Avenue de la Gare
74190 Le Fayet
Tel: +33 (0)4 50 53 22 75


Mont-Blanc Tramway car on snow-covered mountainside at Les Houches

The highest rack railway journey in France begins in Le Fayet or Saint-Gervais, crossing villages, forests, snow-covered gullies and ski areas to reach the Bellevue plateau (1900m) and the Le Prarion ski area. Here the train crosses the mountain ridge giving a 360° panoramic view.
The train operates daily from mid-December to mid-April but the timetable may vary according to snow cover and weather conditions.
Cost - adult 19€ return/13€ single, child (4-15yrs) 15,20€/10,40€.


Ski and Spa just 69€ a day



There's a new Ski & Spa package on offer from the Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc Domaine. The day pass costs just 69€ with 4 hours of skiing then a relaxing few hours spent in the hot spa baths of the Thermes de Saint-Gervais.



Where to stay

Le Grand Panorama

Saint-Gervais

Saint Gervais gondola lift with Le Grand Panorama in the background.

The South-facing Le Grand Panorama enjoys great views over Mont-Blanc and its chain of beautiful peaks. It's ideally located right by the main gondola accessing the large Evasion ski area and about 700m from the bustling resort centre. This complex (2003 built) consists of a good range of pretty typical Alpine apartments.

Facilities include a reception with open fireplace, and free access to sauna and fitness room. The residence has its own underground parking (payable), free wireless internet access at Reception, laundry room (payable) and ski lockers.

Enquiries and bookings:
Peak Retreats
0844 576 0170 (UK) or +44 23 9283 9310
reservations@peakretreats.co.uk


Insight: Saint-Gervais

Wide view of ski terrain with Mont Blanc at Saint Gervais

Insight: Saint-Gervais

Like many others before us, until we actually ski here our image of Saint-Gervais probably owes more to the presence of the celebrated Mont Blanc Tramway than the quality of ski terrain on offer. Another reason for it being something of a late discovery for us is the location – roughly midway between the major ski areas of the Chamonix Valley and those of the Val d’Arly. In fact the full extent of the terrain is far from obvious (even from neighbouring Les Houches) until you actually begin to explore the mountains, and we’re more than happy to do just that.

“…jaw-dropping views of nearby Mont-Blanc, whose 4810m summit produces a hypnotic, constantly-changing succession of cloud swirls in the otherwise clear blue sky.”

The Mont d’Arbois gondola offers spectacular views of the mountain scenery.
Mont d’Arbois 1840 , Saint-Gervais

Point of view

Day One finds us setting off from the Megève side, taking the Rochearbois cable-car link. It’s a mere hop compared to the epic ride on the Mont d’Arbois gondola, which then takes us at what feels like a pretty sedate pace over to the 1840m summit of Mont d’Arbois. No fewer than seven lifts converge on or near this key navigation point, so it’s a pretty buzzy place, skiers coming and going while those on foot peruse the café menus or check-out the sun-terraces of the nearby mountain restaurants. There’s another attraction: jaw-dropping views of nearby Mont-Blanc, whose 4810m summit produces a hypnotic, constantly-changing succession of cloud swirls in the otherwise clear blue sky.

From Mont d’Arbois it’s possible to ski down almost to Combloux, via a choice of red or blue-graded runs leading to the base of the Princess gondola lift. Our choice involves a quick drop down through the tree-line to the Monts-Rossets chair-lift, followed by a gentler run over to the Bettex-Arbois gondola, whose lower counterpart brings skiers up from Saint-Gervais. Once back up again we discover a second Mont d’Arbois summit, this time at 1833m and separated from Mont d’Arbois 1840 by a ridge which just isn’t quite skiable without polling or walking the final section – not ideal on a sunny day. Instead we ride the nearby Mont Joux chairlift to try some of the 1958m Mont’s mostly red-graded terrain. Get it wrong from here and you end up just above Les Communailles – no bad thing, as there are restaurants tucked away at either end of the drag-lift. Get it right, though, and you’re rewarded with some brief but enjoyable red runs (plus a black) served by the Croix du Christ and Epaule chair-lifts.

Mont Blanc Massif, Saint-Gervais
Saint Gervais ski area with signposting

Challenging heights

From here more confident skiers now head for the Mont Joly fixed chairlift, which provides a steep haul to pick up the red-graded Chevreuil piste, with an option to peel-off along the way, or Chamois, a more direct black heading back down to the base of the lift. The gradient means that the terrain up here can become mogulled, but it’s a price worth paying in milder conditions as snow conditions remain firmer at this altitude than lower down. Sure enough, by the time we head back down the west-facing slopes of Mont d’Arbois things are becoming distinctly soft in the late-March sunlight.

Exploring near Saint-Gervais

The following day we awake to very different conditions. A depression is moving through the mountains, and the results are becoming obvious as we reach our starting-point at Saint-Nicolas de Véroce. Donning ski-gear in the rain is not one of life’s pleasures, but at least that should mean it’s snowing steadily just a little higher.So we head up anyway, spurred by the prospect of laying first tracks in fresh falls. The Chattrix fixed chairlift is a long one, although we don’t get to admire the views during the ride, as we hit the snow line early. At the top it’s snowing hard, but we set off hopefully, naively optimistic that things will clear soon.

It doesn’t. We should be enjoying spectacular scenery but as we drop down to reach the Croix du Christ high-speed chairlift we’re soon skiing in near-zero visibility. From here getting back down the mountain means going further up to pick up the steep Gouet drag-lift which will haul us back to the return run. Ignoring for once the ‘Piste Fermé’ signs (the whole mountain is now closing until the bad weather has safely passed through), we make our way down on a deep carpet of soft snow, and return to the car feeling damp but moderately heroic. A couple of hours later the skies clear, the mountain reopens and skiers are enjoying the sensational scenery and the new snow. For us, though, it comes too late, but we’ll be back as soon as possible to ski this beautiful corner of the Evasion Mont-Blanc ski domain and finally see what we missed. MountainPassions heart icon