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Les Gets

The history of the ski resort of Les Gets

Les Gets is a village resort situated at an altitude of 1,172m between Lake Geneva and the Mont Blanc massif. First and foremost, Les Gets is a mountain settlement that has successfully adapted over the years. Here is an overview of the resort's highlights from slalom skier Adeline Baud, a former member of the French Alpine Ski Team. 

The Origins of Les Gets: A Small Mountain Village

Situated on a mountain pass at an altitude of 1,172m, in the Chablais region of France's Haute-Savoie department, Les Gets is an historic stopping point for the inhabitants of the Arve valley. The commune's economy is based on forestry, and the village's name is even derived from a local dialect word for the forest corridors (gitte or giette) used to rapidly transport felled trees down the mountain. The natural beauty of the local spruce and pine wood is visible in the structures of the village's historic buildings, as well as in more modern apartments and chalets.

Photograph: Les Gets Tourism

A Hard Life Living off the Land

Historically, the people of Les Gets lived off the land, growing hay, cultivating cereals and vegetables, curing meats in smoking houses, and spending the summers on the mountain pastures. Life was dictated by the laws of nature and the need to adapt to the arrival of the snow between November and March. 

Economic Impetus of the Dukes of Savoy

Following the Savoie's incorporation into France in 1860, the small mountain village of Les Gets experienced a significant economic boom.

Key dates in its development:

  • 1884: Construction of the Route des Grandes Alpes linking Thonon-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva to Nice in the South of France
  • 1895: First school for the children of the main town in the Perrières district
  • 1899: Three hotels welcome the first mountain tourists
  • 1910: Construction of the Maison des Gets which acted as town hall, a school, and housing for teachers

Les Gets: The First Resort to Open a Chairlift in 1947

Skiing in Les Gets dates back to the 1930s. At that time, the inhabitants ascended the slopes of Les Chavannes and Ranfoilly with the aid of seal skins fixed to the base of their skis before enjoying the descent back down to the old village. The same principle, albeit with artificial skins, is still used by today's ski tourers. The first télétraineau ski lift (a sled pulled up the hill by a rope), was installed in 1935. The first drag lift, known as "La Boule de Gomme", was installed in 1936. The poles were made of wood and connected to saddles. 

The resort became a pioneer in 1947 with the installation of the world's first prototype chairlift with pickaxes as seats, and powered by a generator which offered skiers their first experience of a seated ski lift. Several decades before the construction of a modern detachable chairlift capable of transporting 3,300 skiers an hour, the first TéléChavannes revolutionised skiing in Les Gets. The development of the resort's infrastructure attracted tourists from the Geneva area throughout the winter season. 

Photograph: Les Gets Tourism

The Ski Resort of Les Gets Today

The 20th Century saw the village become a recognised resort, driven by the development of winter sports. From t-bars to gondola lifts, the mechanisation of the ski slopes continued throughout the "Glorious Thirties".  
Some key dates for Les Gets' lift system, including the creation of the municipal authority in 1963:

  • 1950s: Mont-Chéry and Vieux Chêne drag lifts
  • 1960s: Benevy, Tête des Crêts, Rosta and Nauchets drag lifts
  • 1970s: Ranfoilly (2 person), Croix (2 person), and Charniaz (3 person) chairlifts, Mouille au Roy and Stade drag lifts, and Chavanne gondola lift
  • 1980s: Mont-Chéry gondola lift, Grande Ourse, Mouille au Chat and Planey chairlifts, and in 1986, the four-person Ranfoilly, Les Gets' first detachable chairlift
  • 1990s: Rosta and Folliets chairlifts
  • 2000s: Five detachable chairlifts - Nauchets, Grain d’Or, Perrières Express, Charniaz and Chavannes Express
  • 2010s: Chavannes gondolas and Ranfoilly 3 detachable chairlift

 

With the opening of the first ski school in 1940, the village became a winter sports resort, attracting people from Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Geneva. The two ski areas of Chavannes and Mont-Chéry were especially popular thanks to the breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and the easy access to the skiing. The resort attracted all levels of skier from every walk of life who came to enjoy skiing on one or more of the 71 slopes in Les Gets.

In the 1970s, Les Gets was awarded "The Savoie Resort Village" label and became part of the vast Portes du Soleil cross-border ski area. A paradise for mountain lovers, the area straddles the Franco-Swiss border and has 286 pistes across twelve French and Swiss resorts. Enough to satisfy even the most ardent skier.

As a winter and summer resort, the commune has embraced the development of responsible tourism in its wide open spaces, with soft mobility, energy efficiency, nature and heritage initiatives that have ensured the harmonious development of Les Gets up to the present day: 

  • Shuttle buses to limit vehicle use in the resort
  • Charging points for electric cars and e-bikes
  • Discounted lift passes for owners of electric vehicles
  • Distribution of pocket ashtrays
  • "Eco-responsible" golf
  • Preserving the habitat of the protected black grouse 
  • Part of the Chablais Geopark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Support for local producers and traders

 

Les Gets is a village resort for the whole family with an inspiring and fascinating history, much-loved by its inhabitants who have managed to reconcile the competing demands of economic and tourist development with preserving the environment.

Cimalpes was born in the French Alps from the dream of two entrepreneurs passionate about their Alpine lifestyle. Today, Cimalpes’ mission is to share this passion with its guests by hosting them in the most charming chalets and apartments, and by accompanying them to organize a memorable holiday in our ski resorts. The Cimalpes teams will be delighted to meet your every need; let us treat you to the Cimalpes promise.

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With more than 3,000 reservations per year, Cimalpes enables more than 25,000 holidaymakers to benefit from hotel comfort in their own accommodation each winter.

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