The Evasion Mont Blanc is a quintessential Alpine area which boasts being the 3rd largest ski area in the French Alps with over 445km of groomed pistes. Situated at the foot of the famous Mont Blanc, the area is made up of 5 separate resorts - Megève, Saint Gervais, Saint Nicolas, Combloux and Les Contamines. Hundreds of ski runs stretching from 580m to 2525m in altitude link these picturesque villages, offering enough skiing to keep visitors returning year-on-year.
Combloux is a traditional farming village described by French poet Victor Hugo as the “Pearl of the Alps, nestled in a jewel box of glaciers”, the resort remains one of the most picturesque destinations in the French Alps due to its unspoilt, picture postcard surroundings and chocolate box architecture.
Now a well renowned year-round tourist destination, the resort’s origins arc back as far as 1284 when the first parts of the village were built on an ancient Roman road, now the route from Sallanches to Megeve. This long history contributes to the wonderful, traditional atmosphere that still encompasses the village today.
Winter tourism in Combloux was developed after the 1924 Olympics in nearby Chamonix when a few hotels and apartments were opened for guests. One of the very first drag lifts in France then opened in Combloux 1935, which kick-started the ski industry within the resort.
From there you actually have access to two ski areas: Portes du Mont-Blanc being Combloux, Megève-Le Jaillet, La Giettaz and Cordon with 100 km of pistes or Espace Mont-Blanc which include Megève, Les Contamines, St Gervais and Saint Nicolas with 445km of pistes.
The first one is perfect for beginners and intermediates as it holds a large range of green, blue and red slopes however there is not that many black slopes so experts will probably prefer the second option as well as exploring some off-piste. Snowboarders and free riders will be happy to know that there are 3 snow parks in Portes du Mont Blanc, one being in Combloux, as well as boarder-cross. The resort is also rated “family plus” which means that it is particularly suited to welcome families.
Saintt Gervais-Les-Bains is a picturesque 19th-century spa town. This small, traditional resort is centred around a wonderful pedestrian square with a great selection of bars, restaurants and shops.
Winter sports take over the village in the winter, with the short journey from Geneva airport making St Gervais an easily accessible resort for both weekend retreats and weeklong stays.
There are no less than four ways to access the ski area from St Gervais. From St Gervais you can take the 20-person ‘Bettex’ gondola which will take you to Les Bettex. From Les Bettex you can access the slopes with your skis on by taking Monts Rosset ski lift or you can take the Mont Arbois gondola. The last point of access is located in Communailles where there is a lift to take you to the rest of the domain. Once you have hit the slopes you can either stick to Saint-Gervais and its neighbour Saint Nicolas ski area which can be enough for beginners and intermediates, or you can also have access to all of the domain of Evasion Mont-Blanc and its 445km of runs.
Just as Combloux, the resort is rated “family plus”.
Les Contamines-Montjoie is a lovely mountain village bathed in tradition. It has kept a strong mark of its past through its architecture. Most of the old farms have been renovated taking great care of keeping the typical Savoyard aesthetic, and you can still visit some baroque style churches in the village.
Les Contamines is composed of several little hamlets all linked by footpaths. The village stretches along 5km. In order to move around the village and get to the bottom of the lifts while reducing the car traffic, the village has implemented a free bus shuttle service as well as horse drawn carriages.
From Les Contamines you can access the ski area thanks to two lifts. Then you will have access to 120km of piste with a direct link to the domain of Hauteluce. There is a large range of blue and red runs so experienced skiers and snowboarders will certainly have the best time discovering the area, for experts there are some good black runs and off-piste opportunities. However, complete beginners will still have a few green slopes, to hone their skiing.
Good news for snowboarders and free riders, Les Contamines hosts two X-zones, with multiple jumps, rails, a super-pipe and a boarder cross.
And for those who never have enough, Les Contamines sometimes open a nocturnal slope; Les Loyers, from 8pm to 10pm.
Also remember that Les Contamines is Part of Evasion Mont-Blanc and as such it gives you access to the other resorts and the 445km of pistes!
Megève is a world-class ski resort. Ideally located at the heart of Evasion Mont-Blanc, Megève is a mountain village, blending tradition and splendour. Indeed it has kept the traditional spirit of a typical mountain village with its old narrow streets, fountains, farms and mountain chalets, but throughout the years it also managed to evolve towards a more luxurious resort in the image of Saint Moritz in Switzerland. It is now internationally known for its Michelin star restaurants, fancy boutiques, and luxurious properties.
The ski area is spread over three mountains. The easiest to access from the town centre is Rochebrune. From the lower part of Rochebrune a gondola will take you to the Mont d’Arbois sector from where you can directly reach the ski area of St Gervais. You can access the third part of Megève ski area from the other side of the resort thanks to the Prellet lift. It will take you to the sector of Le Jaillet from where you can join Combloux and Le Giettaz.
The Megève area offers a good range of slopes so everyone will find a piste that suit their level. There is also a terrain park particularly suited for beginners and after a snowfall you can enjoy the powder on safe slopes as some of them are not immediately groomed.
DON’T REALLY FANCY SKIING?
Apart from downhill skiing or snowboarding there are plenty of other activities you can do in the resorts of Evasion Mont-Blanc. Of course you will find cross-country skiing slopes, sledge runs, and hiking itineraries. You will be able to do ice skating and take a sled dog ride as well. For more thrills, there is paragliding, speed riding, indoor climbing or ice climbing. More relaxed activities will include pool and spa complex, there are also cinemas, casinos and museums.
Not to be missed: if you are in St Gervais, take a ride on the Tramway du Mont-Blanc which will take you up to Bionnassay Glacier, and go relax at the thermal baths reputed for wellness and relaxation for more than 2 centuries.
SUMMER IN EVASION MONT BLANC
The resorts in Evasion Mon-Blanc are not purpose built resorts, thanks to that and to their year-round population; it is always lively regardless of the season or month of the year. Among many other activities, you can hike, climb, cycle, golf or admire the domain from the sky thanks to a hot-air balloon or a paraglider. To cool down during the hot summer months you can also enjoy all the white water sports and take advantage of the lakes and pools. Combloux hosts the only ecological lake in France in which you can swim. And if you want to discover and learn more about the area you can go sightseeing or visit the museums and cultural sights of the villages and surroundings.
Every resort organises different events throughout the seasons for the tourists and the locals. You will have the opportunity to participate in concerts, festivals, sport events and other shows.
Don’t miss the Christmas time period as every resort organises its own festivities to celebrate the end of the year.
Megève hosts one trial of the freestyle skiing world cup as well as one step of La Grande Odyssée, the world hardest sledge dog race, during the winter season. In Les Contamines you have the Mont-Blanc winter Festival, with three days of music and festivities.
Getting to one of the resorts in Evasion Mont-Blanc by car will take you approximately 8 hours from Calais. For a safe journey make sure you are equipped to drive in the snow as the road in winter can get slippery approaching the resorts.
The nearest train stations are Sallanches and St Gervais-Le Fayet. The transfer to your resort will then take 30 minutes.
If you decide to fly, the nearest international airports are Geneva and Chambéry, from there you can take a bus or a taxi to join your resort. It will take about 1 hour depending on where you want to go.