Hi there! and welcome to Steve & Judy's St Gervais Page

Further update 25. May 1998 with additional links and telephone numbers

St Gervais-les-Bains, Haute Savoie, France
...an ideal base for Mont Blanc

Although Mont Blanc is most often associated with the tourist town of Chamonix, more discerning Alpinists may prefer to base themselves in St Gervais, a much quieter and more welcoming village in the valley of the Bon Nant torrent.
The town is charming, if slightly run-down, but has excellent facilities including a particularly helpful Bureau des Guides (Tel: 04 50 47 76 55, Fax: 04 50 47 73 52), conveniently opposite the Office du Tourisme (which posts daily weather forecasts in its window). Hotels and restaurants are much more reasonable than in Chamonix, and as a bonus the TMB tramway, which takes you all the way to the start of the Normal Route for Mont Blanc at Nid d'Aigle, has a station with a free car park at the lower end of the main street. There is also a free underground car park in the centre.
The Technicien du Sport shop on the Rue du Mont Blanc (behind the Bureau des Guides) offers an excellent range of equipment, much of it also available for rental. We took advantage of the strong pound to re-equip with plastic boots, crampons and so on, and the service was outstanding, far better than we had encountered in Chamonix. There are two branches of InterSport: the one in the square deals with equipment and footwear, while the one above on the Rue du Mont Blanc sells mountain and other clothing. A very helpful lady at the latter branch recommended a pair of salopettes which she didn't have in stock, as she said they would be ideal (and they were, once I tracked a pair down).
We stayed at the Hotel Val D'Este (Tel: 04 50 93 65 91, Fax: 04 50 47 76 29), right in the centre near the church. This offered exceptional cuisine from the Chef-Patron, and is good value, though not really a budget establishment. We stayed there three separate times, using it as a sort of base camp between expeditions (during which we were mostly staying in mountain refuges) to acclimatize and get fit. Ask for a room with a rear balcony, and you will have a great view of the mountains up the valley. The restaurant is downstairs and offers a good menu and wine list. The lady proprietor, Mme Toutain, was most charming, and could speak good English if required, though French is, as ever, much to be preferred.
You can find out about staying in Alpine refuges here.
When we arrived in St Gervais, we were still undecided about hiring a Guide for our planned ascent of Mont Blanc, as we had always climbed without one before. However, the weather had been terrible recently, and we felt that the presence of an experienced professional might make all the difference between a safe and enjoyable ascent, and failure or worse. Our Guide, Gilles Imbert, was ideal for us: he set a well-judged pace and gave us all the confidence we needed to enjoy the climbing. He had an apparently laid-back attitude and a penchant for roll-your-own cigarettes, which seemed at odds with his profession, but he was at all times there for us, and I noticed that he surreptitiously clipped on a belay whenever there was a significant exposure and he might be distracted. On this experience I would strongly recommend taking a Guide

We visited St Gervais in June/July 1997.

Here is a list of addresses and telephone numbers, at a French web-site (the English language page was not available on 6/4/98).
There's more about our climb at our Mont Blanc Ascent page


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