The ⛷ Domaine Skiable Les Houches – Saint-Gervais is one of MBFF’s favourite spots to ski in the Chamonix Valley. With plenty of gentle pistes to ski en famille, superb Beginner areas and authentic retaurants on the pistes, it’s a winner! Nestled in the heart of the Mont-Blanc massif, Les Houches – Saint-Gervais offers spectacular panoramic 360° views of 🏔 Mont-Blanc, Mont Joly, les Aravis, Les Fiz, and les Aiguilles Rouges . . . and, because of the 🌲 extensive forest cover, it lends itself well to “bad weather” ski days, as you remain a little more sheltered from the elements!
At this family ski station (extending from 950m to 1900m altitude), there are 55km of pistes (24 varied pistes of all grades: 4 green, 7 blue, 12 red, 2 black), many gentle and threading down through the🌲 sapins. Snow permitting, you can even ski down the pistes on the Saint-Gervais side (about 35% of the pistes are on this side).
And – another BONUS – you can also enjoy a ride on the famous 🚞 Tramway du Mont Blanc (included in all forfaits) up the Plateau of Bellevue – who doesn’t enjoy a rack & pinion train ride through the ❄️ snow-covered forests?
* A HUGE THANK YOU to : Caroline M & family for photos, top tips and invaluable advice (Les Houches residents and regular Les Houches – Saint-Gervais family skiers & snowboarders!) / snowboarding family Chloë M & family for their photos / My French Chalet and NidSki for their top tips about the BEST places to eat at Les Houches *
⛷ Ski Pass Options & Pistes Map ⛷
You have different ski pass options to suit your family’s needs in Les Houches – Saint-Gervais . . . and you can re-charge your skipass online at leshouches.ski;
- ⛷ Les Houches – Saint-Gervais only – 4 hours, 1 day, multiple day forfaits . . . / for current price list 2019, see here;
- ⛷ Mont-Blanc Unlimited – this pass makes more sense for longer stays, as it gives access to 10+ sites and lots of extras are included / see here for more information;
🗺 to see the piste map for Les Houches – Saint-Gervais in detail, see pdf document;
⛷ Beginner, Nursery & Family Skiing ⛷
⛷ Les Houches – Saint-Gervais ski station is well-equipped to welcome groups with ⛷ Beginner or Nursery skiers . . .
There are ⛷ Beginner slopes both at the top of the 🚡 Télécabine du Prarion (gondolas) and the 🚠 Téléphérique de Bellevue (cable-car), allowing the whole family the flexibility of travelling up the mountain together / (the École Beginner area at the summit of the 🚡 Télécabine du Prarion is the more developed one, with a magic carpet and superb views also of the Aiguilles de Chamonix!).
There is also the ⛷ Domaine du Tourchet Beginner & Nursery ski area, near the centre of Les Houches (with two drag-lifts), and just next to the the ⛸ ice-rink (la patinoire); see here for more information. On certain Thursdays, there is FREE night skiing and mulled wine and hot chocolate from 20h30 until 22h . . .
And at the ⛷ Base de Loisirs du Lac des Chavants is the Piou Piou ski area for little ones (3 to 5 years). Here you will also find a designated sledging area, playground (snow permitting!) animations and ☕️ La Guinguette café to warm up / to read more about this zone (and its ski de fond routes), read separate MBFF post here;
Garderies for little ones: here you can combine skiing with leisure for wee ones, leaving the older members of the family free to ski more challenging pistes:
- Club Enfants des Chavants – for children 18 months to 10 years;
- Halte Garderie des Houches – for children 3 months to 3 years (day, half-day);
⛷ Intermediate and Advanced Skiing ⛷
For chilled family skiing, there are plenty of cruisy blue pistes: the long piste des Aillouds snakes down from the Col de Voza to the departure station of the 🚡 Télécabine du Prarion . . . and shorter, but in the sunshine (when it has come out to play, that is!): blue pistes la Chà, l’Abbaye and Le Chamois.
There is also plenty to keep the more experienced skiers happy in Les Houches – Saint-Gervais! More than 50% of the pistes are aimed at the more advanced skiers: 12 red pistes (Mur des Epines, Fontaines, Plancerts, Plan du Crêt) and 2 black pistes (including the legendary La Verte des Houches)!
🏂 Boardercross, Snowpark & Skicamp ⛷
There are 3 spots to “play” at the ⛷ Domaine Skiable Les Houches – Saint-Gervais . . .
🏂 Boarder Cross (Bellevue) – at the summit of the Télésiège du Shuss des Dames, you’ll find the boardercross, with a fun parcours of jumps and turns, and an area for beginners too;
🏂 Snowpark (Prarion) – in the Secteur du Chamois, on the plateau du Prarion, is the snowpark: one area for beginners and one for more experienced riders;
❄️ Skicamp (Prarion) – a short walk from the top of the 🚡 Téléphérique du Prarion, in the Zone Débutants de l’Ecole, is also the Skicamp from Ho5 Parc. This zone has been created especially for families in mind: in the parcours des trappeurs you can learn about mountain animal footprints and discover their habitat, there is a treasure hunt, 🛷 a sledging area, snow-tubing, curling, a tyrolienne. You can ski to this area or walk there and it’s FREE to use (with a lift pass)!
❄️ BONUS FUN – create your own timed descent at the Stade Filmé or have your photo taken at the photopoint with 🏔 Mont-Blanc in the background
⛷ Ski Lessons in Les Houches ⛷
You have several options for ⛷ ski and snowsports lessons at this ski station:
🎿 ESF (Ecole de Ski Français) ski school – ski, snowboard, télémark, cross-country skiing, handicapped seated skiing / see here for more information;
🎿 Ecorider ski & snowboard school – “the carbon neutral ski company” / see here for more information;
🎿 Multi-glisse – a club for locals, on Wednesdays and school holidays / see here for more information;
⛷ The mythical « Kandahar » downhill race ⛷
Les Houches is used for international downhill skiing competitions, like the ⛷ « Kandahar, Coupe du Monde de Ski Alpin » , and serves as the training ground for the Équipe de France de Ski. The « Kandahar » is THE winter competition for downhill skiing, with skiers weaving at fast pace down the 870m of dénivelé and 3343m of descent that is the black piste La Verte des Houches (“a green piste” only in name, named after the sapins on the fringes!). The best skiers get down this piste in about 2 minutes! In France, only Les Houches and Val d’Isère (its piste Oreiller-Killy) have pistes used in the Coupes du Monde de Ski Alpin!
☕️ Eating Options ☕️
There are plenty of great (and authentic!) restaurants on the pistes, the favourites of our friends (who are regular family skiers in Les Houches – Saint-Gervais) being:
☕️ Les Vielles Luges – [ NOTE: shut for renovations for 2019-2020 season! ] well-known to locals for its cosy atmosphere and superb food, it is also easily accesible for snow-shoers and ski randonneurs from La Maison Neuve / website / located just off the blue Aillouds piste and on the ski rando & raquettes piste;
☕️ La Cha – located at the bottom of the Cha piste (Mélèze chairlift), this is a lovely, welcoming restaurant / FB page;
🥩 La Tanière – opened to the public in 1990, and since then it has become famous for its 🇦🇷 famous Argentinian 🥩 asados and other Argentinian specialities: chimichurri sauce and 🍷Malbec wine too! (see menu here) / ” Louisa is an Argentinian who fell in love with the mountains, and has lived in France for more than 25 years. She receives you with home-made food from family recipes and smiling friendly service. She even brings fresh supplies by quad bike with a huge sledge, in all sorts of climate conditions! ” / open during the summer and winter seasons! / a rustic farmhouse, La Tanière has a lovely terrace / in winter, for skiers, it is located off the red piste Plan du Crêt (near Plancerts drag-lift) / website;
address: 2540 route du Prarion, 74170, Saint Gervais / tel: 33 (0)4 50 93 42 57 or +33 6 83 42 93 43;
☕️ Ô1600 – located near the Kandahar piste, with a sunny south-facing terrace with views of the Chamonix Valley / with local specialities (croute au fromage, tartiflette, tarte myrtilles maison) / moonlit night outings and meal organised by the restaurant and ESF / 40mins from Maisoneuve car park / FB page;
☕️ La Rioule – located down off the Col de Voza (Saint-Gervais side), right on a snow-shoeing route, here you can rent out snow-shoes . . .
❄️ ❄️ ❄️
🍏 picnics: for warmer or sunny days, there are picnic tables dotted around this ski station (at the top of the 🚠 Prarion and Bellevue lifts) / and for planned picnic days that get caught out by sudden cold, rain or snow, there are two salles hors-sac, one at the summit of the 🚡Télécabine du Prarion, and one at the summit of the 🚠Téléphérique de Bellevue.
❄️ ❄️ ❄️
☕️ and where to warm up at the end of your ski day?
🍺 Solerey Brewpub – a newcomer in the centre of Les Houches (near Le Tourchet Beginner ski area) the first brewpub in the town! / see FB page for more details / address: 81 avenue des Alpages, 74310, Les Houches;
☕️ Kitsch Inn – with a children’s play area and après-ski / FB page / at the departure of the 🚠 Téléphérique de Bellevue;
At the departure of the 🚡Télécabine du Prarion, you will find: a roulotte and a boulangerie (bread, soups, hot dogs, croque-monsieur and pastries) for snacks.
☕️ La Guinguette – this lovely café, located right by the water’s edge of the Lac des Chavants (next to Piou Piou ski area), is well-equipped for children, with high-chairs and toys available. It is open from December until April, ⏰ 11h to 19h, every day / see FB page for more details;
🛷 Sledging & Snowtubing 🛷
You can 🛷 sledge at the designated are at the Base de Loisirs du Lac des Chavants (the sledging area is open from December to March, depending on snow conditions, and there are two sledging zones available: 🛷 the Petite Tortue for 2-6 year olds and 🛷 the Petit Lièvre for 6+ year olds / children must be accompanied by an adult, and it is recommended that they wear helmets / ski boots are NOT allowed in this zone).
You can also 🛷 sledge and snowtube up at the Skicamp (see above).
❄️ Snow-Shoeing & Ski Rando (ski-touring) ❄️
It is FREE to use the snow-shoe areas at the top of the 🚠 Prarion and Bellevue lifts, but you must get yourselves a forfait piéton to use the gondolas or cable-car for access! / 🗺 see here for a map of raquettes areas.
🗺 snow-shoe routes highlighted in purple:
🚞 Tramway du Mont-Blanc 🚞
The vintage 🚞 Tramway du Mont Blanc is a rack & pinion train that takes you from Le Fayet SNCF (railway station) or Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, up to the Plateau of Bellevue (stopping at the Col de Voza), through the snow-covered forests. Read more about this unique train ride here;
Animations sur les pistes
Over the ski season, and especially during the Christmas and February school holidays, there are animations sur les pistes in Les Houches :
- jeux de piste (treasure hunts);
- descentes aux flambeaux (lamplit descents);
- slalom parallèle;
- ski nocturne (night time skiing) at ⛷ Le Tourchet;
- les coulisses de la station – learn the professions of the domaine skiable: nivoculteur (snow-maker), pisteur;
🚘 Access & Parking 🚘
Les Houches has one cable-car, the 🚠 Téléphérique de Bellevue (which leaves from the centre of town) and the gondolas, 🚡Télécabine du Prarion, which leave from Les Chavants. There is more plentiful parking at Les Chavants (access 🚡Télécabine du Prarion), but you would still be advised to arrive EARLY if coming by car, as both car parks fill VERY quickly!
You can also access Les Houches – Saint-Gervais, via the 🚞 Tramway du Mont-Blanc, from Le Fayet SNCF or Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.