St Gervasi/Le Fayet
Car is not necessary
About Les Contamines
Haute-Savoie is a department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of South Eastern France, bordering both Switzerland and Italy. Its prefecture is Annecy. To the north is Lake Geneva and Switzerland; to the south and southeast are the Mont Blanc and Aravis mountain ranges.
It holds its name from the Savoy historical region, as does the department of Savoie, located south of Haute-Savoie. In 2016, it had a population of 801,416. Its subprefectures are Bonneville, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois and Thonon-les-Bains. The French entrance to the Mont Blanc Tunnel into Italy is in Haute-Savoie. It is noted for winter sports; the first Winter Olympic Games were held at Chamonix in 1924.
With many remarkable sites, the Haute-Savoie boasts an exceptional natural heritage. Highest point of Europe, the majestic Mont Blanc mountain range is a paradise for all fans of climbing, skiing and breathtaking landscapes. Vast ski areas, famous winter sports resorts, nature reserves, renowned spa resorts, lakes offering water sports, the fantastic town of Annecy, nicknamed the “Venice of the Alps”, and delicious Savoie specialities make the Haute-Savoie a very special destination.
The village of Les Contamines Montjoie sits between the Chamonix Valley and the Val d’Arly, but unlike nearby Saint Gervais and Megève, Les Contamines is spared through-traffic, since the road stops at the far end of the valley. Road access from Saint Gervais is simple enough, however, with no arduous mountain climbs.
The location is impressive with nearby peaks of Dome de Miage, Mont Joly and Mont-Blanc providing visual drama along with healthy snowfalls (with the added historic reputation of keeping its snow when other nearby resorts are suffering with ice and very thin covering). The village sits between the Chamonix Valley and the Val d’Arly, but unlike nearby Saint Gervais and Megève, Les Contamines is spared through-traffic, since the road stops at the far end of the valley.
The old village has an appealingly authentic feel and has preserved its 'historic' appearance with its Baroque churches and traditional architecture. Les Contamines-Montjoie has been welcoming visitors since the first hotel opened in 1900, and founded its Ski Club just eleven years later. Probably underdeveloped compared to many other ski villages chalet-style still rules, with larger apartment developments only really in evidence just out of the main village close to the telecabine/gondola.
It’s friendly and although in the heart of Massif du Mont-Blanc, has a refreshingly tucked-away feel.
Advanced skiers who enjoy off-piste and ski touring value the purity of a back-to-nature mountain environment and a dramatic setting for their skiing experience are well catered for. Debutants have easy access to gentle beginner areas both in the village and on the slopes with quality ski instruction (English-speaking instructors always available). The scope for improving intermediates and more hardened skiers is abundant and perhaps the ‘speciality’ of the resort. The added bonus of cheaper than most ski passes is also much appreciated by visitors.
As well as the Les Contamines slopes there is quick and easy access to the rest of the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area. The wonderful resort of Saint Gervais and tiny, quaint Saint Nicolas are both only 5Km away. And have the huge benefit of being linked to the many pistes and runs of Megève. You have the choice of the very favourably priced Les Contamines pass or the unlimited Evasion Mont Blanc ski area pass that you need can purchase for two days or more.
St Gervais-les-Bains is less than 5Km away from Chalet Cicley and is a beautiful spa town with baroque inspired architecture that has been attracting visitors since 1806, when the healing properties of the local spring water were first discovered. Today you can still swim in the healing spa waters of St Gervais' famous and newly renovated Thermal Parc. St Gervais is a traditional French alpine town with many shops bars and restaurants including two Michelin starred establishments. The market on Thursday is also well worth a visit. To fully appreciate the mountain views The Mont Blanc tramway accesses the Bionnassay glacier. From the top there are unbelievable views down the Chamonix Valley.
Although you will need a car to drive to the isolated viallge of St Nicolas de Veroce many find it well worth the effort. There are a couple of bars and retaurants plus the most unusual of ski chairs whisks you up the hill to access some excellent tree-lined slopes and all the links to St Gervais and Megeve. Well worth a day’s skiing.
Savoie has a hugely varied terrain but much is covered by high-altitude mountain plateaux, steep gradients, deep river valleys, farmland and lakes, plus of course huge swathes of the land are covered in snow for half the year, so the people who historically lived and travelled here were very hardy folk. Consequently the food sources had to be readily available and that meant their diet largely consisted of hardy vegetables, cheeses and cured meats.
Over the years local has proven hugely popular amongst skiing visitors, so much so that for many people the Savoie food is now a major reason to return to France for the annual ski trip!
Savoyarde cooking relies exclusively on products and ingredients from the area and, because of this, is unmistakably authentic. Staple ingredients include cheese and potatoes (grown over the summer and stored during harsh winters).
Cheese making has always been a hugely popular pursuit in the Savoie and Abondance, Beaufort, Tome and of course Reblochon all work wonderfully well with traditional Savoyarde fare. Cured meats also form a large part of the local dishes that are still enjoyed today, and they feature in a number of traditional recipes, e.g. Fondue, Raclette, Tartiflette, Crozets, Diots and Charcuterie & Cornichons.
Tarte aux Myrtilles is perhaps the go to dessert.
Apart from traditional Savoyard food there are several local restaraunts that specialise in modern and fusion menus.
Red wine recommendations: Mondeus, Gamy, Jongieux, Chignin,and Arbin White wine recommendations: Apremont, Chignin, Crepy, Ripaille, Abymes
All regular regional French beer is available in the village but look out for the locally brewed Saint Gervais, La Marmotte Beer.
Liqueur Genepi is a mountain plant and is the basis of the traditional herbal liqueur drunk in Savoyard ski resorts. It is generally served at the end of the meal as a digestif. It's not sweet like other digestifs, in fact it has a strong herbal taste that resembles chamomile …….. the flavor of génépi can be an acquired taste.
Poire Williams is the name for eau de vie (colorless fruit brandy) and is also popular in the area
Activities near Les Contamines
|Local sports activities
On-site: Mountain biking, Cycling, Walking
Within 15 minutes: Swimming, Horse riding, Climbing, Sports centre, Fishing, Skiing
All included above
|Local leisure activities
Within 15 minutes: Food shop, Restaurant, Shopping
Within 45 minutes: Cinema