St Gervais, history, life & property
Category: > | 24th May, 2014
We take a look at St Gervais Les Bains, the gateway to the Chamonix Valley, a staging post for climbing Mont Blanc and home to restorative thermal spring spas for hundreds of years. Today the French mountain resort is a thriving town with a buoyant property and holiday rental market.
St Gervais shares its name with two of its most significant geological features. Often called St Gervais les Bains or St Gervais Mont Blanc in reference to the thermal springs bringing warm mineral water to the surface from deep below the staggering peak of Mont Blanc. For over 200 years wealthy travellers visited St Gervais for the rejuvenating powers of the hydrotherapeutic waters and incredible scenery.
St Gervais Les Bains Today
Today the town has an elegance rare in mountain resorts as it retains much of the 19th century architecture of a town built around health and wellbeing in an age of ambition. Wellness holidays in St Gervais remain popular with a wide range of health & beauty treatments available including the natural thermal spas. The scenery is particularly beautiful, being at a confluence of glacial valleys with great extremes from the valley bottom to the peaks above. Visitors and residents enjoy staggering views of the natural alpine environment in all seasons. The resort of St Gervais is committed to protecting its natural heritage, limiting the impact of its commercial success on the environment. The town has worked to limit over development and reorganise tourism to have a more positive effect on the environment. Steps already taken include the installation of eco-friendly "dry toilets" at mountain refuges as high as 4,362m (the highest in Europe) and using eco-friendly materials in their roads & construction projects. This commendable initiative is supported by locals and the ex-pat community as the benefits to secure the resort a sound ecological and commercial future.
St Gervais Ski Destination
As a ski destination St Gervais does very well. A town with four villages at different levels up the mountainside from the main town centre at an altitude of 900m - and the village of Le Fayet at 580m - with pistes soaring well above 2000m. Skiers and snowboarders access over 440km of pistes in the Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area. The ski area is noted for its significant size and variability and yet being peaceful and rarely crowded. An additional ski option is the 55kms of pistes on the opposite side of town from Les Houches, which is accessible by the Mont-Blanc Tramway, one of the oldest rack and pinion railways in the country. The TMB (Tramway du Mont-Blanc) departs from St Gervais les Bain allowing access to the famous ascent of Mont Blanc the "Voie Royale". The result is a mountain town with a timeless appeal supported by its unique location and history.
St Gervais Property Market
The value of St Gervais's history and location is reflected in its property market. Alpine property came under downward pressure through the financial crisis with significant falls in many resorts. St Gervais seems to have weathered the downturn with prices remaining stable. Local property specialists believe that the signs of growth are now firm and a steady increase in prices can be expected.
According to Kate Scott, France Property Angel's agent in St Gervais "St Gervais is very much on the 'up'. As a village it feels very french, and has a thriving population year round. From cruisey pistes to challenging off piste, the ski area, linking with Megeve, offers a huge variety for all the family, all with the stunning back drop of the Mont Blanc massif. St Gervais is definitely a great place to invest in property at the moment, gaining fast in reputation, it hasn't yet seen the big surge of investment in private properties that many other ski villages experienced before the financial crisis, so many properties have huge potential with just a small amount of improvement or renovation."
Property for sale in St Gervais varies in price significantly depending on the location within the cluster of villages, with central accommodation fetching the highest prices. Central apartments can also fetch a higher rent in the ski season but can have limited outside space. This is of little consequence in the winter but in the summer holidaymakers tend to choose accommodation with a nice big garden which tend to be further from the centre.
According to Meilleursagents "the price of an apartment in St Gervais is between 2,317Euros to 4,742Euros per m2, with the average sale being around 3,493Euros per m2. Chalets average around 5,500Euros per m2. Whilst these are averages there can be a big variance from the average for the most ideally located properties.
Those interested in property in St Gervais do best by working with a local expert to find the style of apartment or chalet that will perform best for the buyers needs. With the market looking strong and the excellent local environmental governance it is certainly an attractive time to look at property in St Gervais.
Properties For Sale in St Gervais
Here are some of the lovely properties currently available in St Gervais. Click on each picture to see more details.