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Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc

The history of the ski resort of Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc

The rich history of Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc has fascinated visitors for centuries. Let us look back together at
what has allowed the resort to become one of the French Alps' leading tourist destinations. Your holiday here
will be all the more enjoyable.

Mont Blanc via Saint-Gervais, Traces of an Ascent

The history of Saint-Gervais is closely linked to that of Mont Blanc. In the 19th Century, many climbers dreamed of reaching the 'roof or Europe' which seemed inaccessible at that time. However, in 1855, the ‘voie royale’ to the summit was opened following the first ascent by the mountaineers Hudson, Kennedy and Smythe.

Did you know ? This route to the summit of Mont Blanc held a real fascination for 19th Century climbers. The roof of Europe has always retained its mysterious side over the years.

The compagnie des guides de Saint-Gervais (company of the guides of Saint-Gervais) was founded in 1864, with local experts offering their services to lead climbers to the summit of Mont Blanc via Saint-Gervais. The famous Mont Blanc tramway, the highest rack railway in France, came into service in 1909, five years after work began on its construction. Climbers could now take advantage of a new mode of transport that was particularly innovative for its time.

Did you know ? The first woman to climb Mont Blanc, who came from Saint-Gervais, reached the summit on 14 July 1808.

The Development of the Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc Ski Club

The Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc ski club was founded in the 1930s, with its growth especially facilitated by the opening of the Saint-Gervais-Le Bettex cable car in 1936. The following year, the Mont d'Arbois cable car open, connecting Saint Gervais with the famous resort of Megève.

From this time onwards, the resort's development as a tourist destination gathered pace, with the local people constantly pushing the limits of what was possible in an era when technology was very limited. At the same time, the 1930s saw the development of Saint Gervais' first tourist accommodation. The opening of a number of rental apartment buildings, hotels and guesthouses stimulated the growth and development of the resort.

ski © Boris Molinier

The Thermal Baths of Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc

A Development in Two Eras

  • Early development

Les Thermes de Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc is a spa facility that owes its existence to water that has been underground for centuries. In 1806, its natural temperature of 39 °C caught the attention of Joseph-Marie Gontard, whose fantastic natural curiosity about the potential benefits of these waters led to the development of thermal cures that are still in use today. Gontard had the spring waters analysed, and discovered that they had a high mineral content. The spa opened in 1807, at a time when the fashion for such facilities was in full swing. By 1815, people were flocking to the baths of Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc. That same year, Doctor Mattey observed and catalogued the therapeutic benefits of the hot springs, notably for the treatment of skin conditions, whether from drinking the water, showering or bathing.

Did you know ? Les Thermes de Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc was very popular with wealthy patrons, with 600 visitors as early as 1824.

In 1892, however, a natural disaster interrupted the development of the baths, when a mighty torrent of water destroyed everything in its path including the baths. Nonetheless, the baths were successfully rebuilt and their development continued thereafter. 

  • The renaissance

From 1914 onwards, the resort saw the arrival of a new golden age, with the baths experiencing ever greater success that laid the foundations for their future development. With the creation of medical facilities on the eve of the First World War, Saint Gervais became a byword for progress, with the baths famous throughout France. The start of the 1960s saw the start of Les Thermes de Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc's great renaissance. In 1959, a new era began when Monsieur Califano became manager of the facility.

At the same time, Doctor Lépinay began using the waters of Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc to treat serious burns. In 1961, the famous classical dancer Janine Charrat suffered an accident when her tutu caught fire and she tragically suffered 70% burns. A major star in her time, she was left with little hope for the future of her great career. She was treated at Les Thermes de Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc which proved highly successful and allowed her to resume her career in 1964.

thermes-saint-gervais © Boris Molinier

A Proven Success Story

Later, in 1996, the waters of Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc were recognised for their soothing, healing and regenerative benefits by the Academy of Medicine. People suffering from eczema and other skin conditions continue to visit the resort to this day.

Did you know ? Les Thermes de Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc have become the second most important European centre for dermatological spa treatments. 

In 2012, the launch of the Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc range ushered in the use of the waters in cosmetic products. This year also saw the opening of the outdoor pools. From this time onwards, the baths welcomed visitors who wanted to take care of themselves, with skiers, families and even local people enjoying all the benefits of the waters of Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc. In 2016, the baths and its range of products were acquired by the L'Oréal group, ensuring that thermal cures at Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc have a bright future ahead of them. 

Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc has a rich history and heritage which is now widely promoted. When visiting the resort, you will be able to discover a fascinating scene which blends culture, wellness and mountain sports.

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.


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.