The Tramway du Mont Blanc (also known as TMB and Mont Blanc Tramway) is one of France’s last mountain rack-rail trains along with the Montenvers Train in Chamonix and the highest railway in the Haute-Savoie department of France.
This cog railway winds its way up from Saint-Gervais, Le Fayet, between meadows, pastures and small mountain lakes, via Les Houches to the Nid d'Aigle (The Eagle's Nest) at 2,372m.
Tramway du Mont Blanc - A Tourist Attraction
The line is worked by three old trains, each painted a different color: blue, red and green. In 1957, the trains are named after daughters of the owner. The names Anne, Marie and Jeanne are painted in gold on each train.
The legend recalls that in the 1950’s, the director of TMB, Pierre Noury, was father to eight children: Thomas, Marie, Dominique, Anne, Jane, Margaret Mary, Ambrose and Jerome. In 1957, the TMB bought 4 new trains to be named after the four daughters.
Three trains were delivered and duly named Anne, Marie and Jeanne. The fourth train was never delivered so Marguerite missed out, she never got her train!
Tramway du Mont Blanc - The Trip
Starting from Le Fayet (584m) or Saint-Gervais (792m), the Tramway du Mont Blanc enables you to reach the Nid d'Aigle (2380m), at the foot of the Bionnassay glacier. There are 6 possible stops. If you are in Les Houches, you can take the cable car to Bellevue (1,794m) to join the Tramway.
From Le Fayet or Saint-Gervais to the Voza Pass (1,653m). After making a stop for the residents of the village of Motivon (1400m, only accessible by the Mont Blanc Tramway in winter), the train crosses the forest and reaches the Voza Pass in 45 minutes. From there, you can enjoy the view over the Bionnassay Glacier and the Aiguille du Goûter.
From the Voza Pass (1,653m) to Bellevue (1,794m). The Tramway du Mont Blanc crosses the mountain ridge, giving a 360° view over the Contamines Valley, the Aiguille du Goûter, the Aiguilles Rouges massif and the Aiguille du Midi.
The journey takes 1h from Le Fayet to Bellevue, with four or five trips operating per day. Length: 9.1km to Bellevue, 12km ride from Le Fayet (580m) to the Bionnassay Glacier (2,372m) at the foot of Mont Blanc.
Stops Along the Route of the Tramway
Six stops offer many opportunities of departure for people: Saint-Gervais - 792m; Motivon - 1,400m; Voza Pass - 1,653m, Bellevue - 1,794m, Mont Lachat - 2,115m and the Eagle's Nest - 2,380m, before the glacier Bionnassay.
You can take the Tramway du Mont Blanc from the 2 main stations, Le Fayet or Saint-Gervais. The stop in Motivon is situated in the middle of a forest and used mostly by local residents.
If you wish to take the train from Col de Voza, Bellevue or Nid'Aigle, then remember to carry your cheque book or sufficent cash as credit cards are not accepted here.
The train runs to and from Nid d'Aigle ONLY in summer. In winter the train line stops at Bellevue. Here are the Tramway du Mont Blanc timetables and prices and rates for adults, youngsters and family packages.
Attractions of the Area in Summer and Winter
There are several activities on offer at the Bellevue terminus. In the summer:
- an old-world trip into the heart of nature in a mountain rack-rail train;
- pedestrian path running alongside the railway to the Voza Pass;
- panoramic views of the Bionnassay glacier and the Chamonix and Contamines valleys.
In winter, activities for:
- skiers and snowboarders. There is direct access to the Saint-Gervais/Les Houches skiing area (save time by buying your ski passes directly at the Le Fayet and Saint-Gervais departure stations!);
- cross-country skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts. Access to the Bellevue cross-country skiing plateau;
- snowshoers and sledgers. There are runs alongside the railway to the Voza Pass;
- hikers and equipped climbers. Access the Tête Rousse and Goûter refuges on their ascent of Mont-Blanc. Nid d'Aigle is the well-known starting point for the main summit up Mont-Blanc. The route is taken every year by mountaineers from all over the world.
There are 3 restaurants along the way:
- the Buffet de la gare in Saint-Gervais, old-world setting and family atmosphere (tel. +33 (0)4 50 78 09 78);
- two mountain restaurants at the Voza Pass and Bellevue.
Refuges and mountain huts along the way:
- Refuge Tète Rousse: + 33 (0)4 50 58 24 97, Madame TUVERI 277 Route de Lieutraz 74130 Brison, + 33 (0)6 19 02 90 71, fax + 33 (0)4 50 96 13 41
- Refuge Goûter: + 33 (0)4 50 54 40 93, Claude et Nadine BARNIER, 72 rue de la mairie 38960 St Etienne de Crossey, + 33 (0)6 43 84 44 92, firstname.lastname@example.org.