Le Parc Thermal in Le Fayet is by far one our favourite haunts 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. There is a main path through the park that is ideal for walking with a buggy (see here for more details).
*NB – in 2018, the Parc Thermal had (and is still having!) having a full renovation – Les Thermes Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc, the playground, the accrobranches ®, a new Via Ferrata . . .*
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 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 marvel at.
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!) . . . watch this space for information on the new Via Ferrata . . .
At present, there are no restaurant facilities in Le Parc Thermal (the Clubhouse, which used to sit in the middle of the park, is sadly no longer operating).
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
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!). This year, 2018: “Des mots . . . et le silence“.
Denis Monfleur sculptures: 6 tonnes of granite were delivered to the Parc Thermal, for this summer’s sculpture exhibion by the sculptor Denis Monfleur: «Erratiques. Sculptures de Denis Monfleur», from 25th May to 30th September 2018. I went to look at the sculptures this week with my younger son; they are impressive and sit so well in the park, with the mountains as their majestic background. Well worth a visit!
History of the Parc Thermal
If you are 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. It was a miner from Servoz who first spotted steam when he was out fishing and, after a bit of digging around, found the hot spring water. By 1815, the first thermal baths were built and St Gervais as a tourist destination was on the map. In 1892, an air pocket burst in the Bionnassay glacier, wiping out the hamlet of Bionnassay and killing 200 people, as well as destroying the thermal baths.
Les Thermes Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc
Les Thermes Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc thermal baths have now re-opened, after a renovation project / see website or FB page / short video / good for parent-pampering and there are parent & baby sessions too!
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;