Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is an Alpine resort in the Haute-Savoie department of south-eastern France. It first grew up as a spa town in the 19th C, before evolving into a ski resort. Set on the flanks of Mont Blanc, it has access to a huge area for skiing and snow-boarding, climbing and mountaineering.
The nearest major airport is in Geneva (GVA IATA) about 45 minutes away by car and is serviced by most major European airlines. Only Borini Bus run a direct service from Geneva airport to Saint-Gervais priced at 42 euros. La Fayet, a few kilometers away is also served by coaches with a single journey costing around 30 euros, and then a 10 euro taxi. Unfortunately taking public transport from Geneva airport to Saint-Gervais involves a gauntlet of trains, trams and buses and at least 2 hours hence why the pricey coach services exist. Don’t be worried by website requests to book your coach ticket in advance, you can easily get bus tickets in the arrivals hall.
From Paris Gare de Lyon take the train to Annecy then local train or bus to St Gervais, total journey 6 hours. Alternatively, from Paris Gare de Lyon travel to Geneva (3 hr 15 from Gare de Lyon) then to Martigny (90 min, frequent trains towards Brig) to join the mountain railway, see “Get Around” below.
Coming from Geneva or anywhere in France, take A40 (“Autoroute Blanche”). From elsewhere in Switzerland, take A9 to Martigny then the mountain road over Col des Montets into France. From Italy, take A5 up Val d’Aosta into the Mont Blanc tunnel, emerging in France at Chamonix.
By train: a single track metre-gauge railway starts at St Gervais and runs east up the main valley through Les Houches, Les Bossons, Chamonix, Les Praz and Argentière to cross into Switzerland at Vallorcine and descend to Martigny. The trains, operated jointly by SNCF and SBB, run hourly year round.
Mont Blanc Tramway. This metre-gauge rack railway ascends from St Gervais, with the valley station “Le Fayet” next to the SNCF station. It ascends to Bellevue at 1794 m then Nid d’Aigle at 2380 m. There are trains roughly hourly and the journey takes 80 mins. Adult return €38, child & senior €32. (updated Aug 2018)
See Mont Blanc without toiling up it, by riding the Tramway, as above.
- Ski: the season runs from mid-Dec to mid-April, and is as snow-sure as you’ll find anywhere. The ski pass for the surrounding area plus Megeve is “Evasion Mont Blanc”, with a six day adult pass costing 240 euros. The Mont-Blanc Unlimited extends as far as Vallorcine, Martigny and Verbier in Switzerland, and Courmayeur in Italy, six day adult pass 315 euros.
- Climb Mont Blanc: St Gervais is the base for the usual ascent, the Voie Royale. Other routes ascend from Chamonix and Courmayeur. Reckon three days and two nights on the mountain by any route.