Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is a small spa town on Mont Blanc. A fantastic ski resort and beautiful holiday destination, it’s popular year-round among holidaymakers, and one of its finest features is the Mont Blanc Tramway, which starts close to Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains.
The Tramway Itself
The tram is worth a ride even for those uninterested in its stops and destination: three antique trains operate the service, and each of them is beautiful enough to be worth seeing. The trains, called Anne, Marie and Jeanne were bought in the 1950s and are named after three of the then-owner’s daughters.
Then there’s the ride: as well as the pleasure of riding an antique train in the mountains, you’ll be able to appreciate some truly world-class views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountains. The tramway offers a chance to get a magnificent perspective of the Alps, which is especially valuable for those who aren’t much for hiking, or who don’t have the correct gear to tackle the Alps in the middle of winter.
The tram is also valuable from a functional point of view: it starts at Le Fayet or Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains and terminates at Nid d’Aigle in summer (which is a good starting point for those hoping to summit Mont-Blanc) or Bellevue in winter. The stops are, in order: Le Fayet, Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains, Motivon, Voza Pass, Bellevue, Mont Lachat, Nid d’Aigle.
This opens up the opportunity of a holiday at Saint-Gervais-les-Bains during which you can explore any of the above resorts, as they’re only a short, picturesque tram ride away. The tram also makes it easy to connect to other locations, for example: you could take the tram to Bellevue and then a cable car to Les Houches.
Other Points of Interest
The tram passes through Motivon forest, which is well worth seeing but a pain to travel through on foot. When it passes Voza Pass, you’ll have unparalleled views of the Bionnassay glacier. The highlight of the journey, however, is the point where the tram crosses the Mont Blanc ridge, at which point you’ll have breathtaking views of the Aiguille du Gouter, the Aiguille du Midi, the Aiguilles Rouges and the Contamines Valley.
Hikers will be pleased to know that not only does the tram offer a shortcut partway up the mountain, but it also gives you the chance to visit the mountain cabins at Tete Rousse and Gouter. Mountaineering in snowy conditions can be challenging, however, so make sure to receive the correct training and carry the correct gear before tackling Mont Blanc.
Whether you just fancy a sedate trip up Mont Blanc, or you need to get to one of the tram’s many destinations, the tram is a must for visitors to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.
How to Get to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
There are no public transport links between Geneva Airport and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains. However, when it comes to ski transfers, Geneva Airport is well served, making it easy for travellers to pre-book a taxi (or even to hire a car and drive) from the airport to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains. Either way, it takes around an hour on the A40, and you’ll need to pay a toll and cross the Franco-Swiss border along the way.
Where to Stay
Le Regina – for simple budget accommodation with a personal feel, try the family-run Regina. The rooms are simple with enough storage space, and the location is perfect for those with an interest in the tram, as the tramway is only half a mile from the hotel.
GERFAUD Appartements en Chalet – with competitive rates, private apartments and well-equipped kitchens, staying at Gerfaud is an excellent way to cover all your bases at a very low cost. It even offers free parking, for extra convenience.
Hôtel Restaurant La Ferme de Cupelin – set in a characterful C18th building, the 3 star Hôtel Restaurant La Ferme de Cupelin used to be a farmhouse, which is still noticeable from its animal-themed decorations and warm, wooden interior. Add a good location to its cosy, authentic feel (it’s only five minutes away by car from the tram) and you’re onto a real winner with this one.