🌳 Le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet is by far one our favourite haunts 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc in the spring and summertime, where we go to escape the ☀️ heat of the valley, to find shade and to appreciate the refreshing breeze from the 💦 Bonnant river!
🌳 Le Parc Thermal has an elegant entrance, with a pretty fountain, and there is a main path through the park that is ideal for walking with a buggy (see here for more details).
🌳 Le Parc Thermal is the perfect place to come with a toddler or baby (or both) as there is plenty to keep everyone occupied: lots of picnic tables, 🌱 green grass for ⚽️ ball games and running, 🧗♀️ boulders on which to scramble (my son has played “helicopter mountain rescue” with his grandpa here!) paths for 🚲 biking, a well-equipped 🌈 newly-renovated playground . . . and there is also a 🐟 fish pond with 🦆 ducks to watch.
Hiking, rock-climbing & accrobranches ®
For the slightly more adventurous, there is 🧗♂️ rock-climbing, an 🌳 accrobranches ® with a parcours suitable for small children (see website for details), and a few not-too-strenuous hikes to be done with baby-carriers (the Passerelle des Thermes hike is short and impressive, with views of 💦 the Cascade de Crespin). You can also hike up to Saint-Gervais . . . and there is also 🧗♂️ a new Via Ferrata . . .
NEW SUMMER 2019! La Cabôrna has taken over the management of the Clubhouse, which sits in the middle of the park / see here for more details.
🍏 Picnics are the order of the day: plentiful grass, picnic tables, lots of shade, big boulders . . . and there is even a small bandstand, for those days when your picnic gets caught out by 🌧 sudden mountain rain!
« Le Petit Train du Parc Thermal »
🚂 « Le Petit Train du Parc Thermal » was started by train enthusiasts, with the aim of keeping the memory of steam trains alive and is FREE (a donation is asked). The little trains have a station and the tracks run around the park on fine weather days from ☀️ June until September, on Wednesdays and weekends from about 14h / see here for more details;
Open Air Museum & Sculptures
🌳 Le Parc Thermal is also an 🖼 open air museum, with the « Exposition en Plein Air » displaying artwork suspended from the trees. The exhibitions change yearly and run from May to November. It makes a buggy stroll even more enjoyable and cultural (there are plenty of quotes to read along the way!).
🌟 NEW wood sculptures 2020! 🌟 🐄 Two Hérens cows have been sculpted from the wood of a giant 120 year old sequoia tree that was cut down in the 🌳 Le Parc Thermal in 2018 for safety reasons. Artist Kevin Churoux asked to be able to sculpt something from this ancient and beautiful tree, to pay it proper homage! The sculpture will remain in this spot until September 2020, and then it will travel throughout the region to accompany real 🐄 combats de reines!
Denis Monfleur sculptures: in the summer of 2018, 6 tonnes of granite were delivered to the 🌳 Parc Thermal, for a sculpture exhibition by the sculptor Denis Monfleur: « Erratiques. Sculptures de Denis Monfleur ». It was the perfect setting for the exhibition!
History of the Parc Thermal
If you were wondering why the park has such a grand entrance, the answer lies in the important discovery in 💦 1806 of the thermal springs and the development of the thermal baths, which are today to be found at the far end of the park – 💦 Les Thermes Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc.
One story says that it was a miner from Servoz who first spotted steam and noted a sulphurous odour when he was out 🎣 fishing and, after a bit of digging around, found the 💦 hot spring water.
Then in 1806, maître Gontard (a royal notary) discreetly had the 💦 spring water tested, and found it to be rich in minerals and capable of healing lots of diseases. . . he hence bought the land around the springs and built the first wooden bathing huts and the first thermes were born!
By 1815, 💦 the first thermal baths were built and Saint-Gervais as a tourist destination was on the map. But in 1892, a tragic event occurred: an air pocket burst in ❄️ the Bionnassay glacier, and a huge landslide then wiped out the hamlet of Bionnassay, killing 200 people, as well as destroying the thermal baths down below.
[ > read more about 💦 the history of the thermal baths here ]
Les Thermes Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc
💦 Les Thermes Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc thermal baths have now re-opened, after a renovation project (and a new extension project is also underway) / see website or FB page / short video / good for parent-pampering and there are parent & baby sessions too! / 🌟 les nocturnes from 18h30, for 30€!
Wintertime in Le Parc Thermal
🌳 Le Parc Thermal is a great spot to head after ❄️ fresh snowfall – a place to make ⛄️ snowmen, or for snowball fights or for 🛷 luge walks . . . The hikes, however, tend to ice over and become very slippery, so these are to be undertaken with great caution and proper equipment (crampons, poles).
address: 355, allée du Dr Lépina, Le Fayet, 74170, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains;
🚙 parking: there is plenty of parking near the playground and the climbing wall, though on hot summer days we try to find some shade in amongst the trees, along the road;