Brévent cable car: 100 years of history


Undoubtedly the visually “star” cable car of Chamonix due to its location which makes it impossible to miss, the Brévent cable car impresses the visitor with its reach in the sky, between Planpraz and Brévent, under the eyes of downtown tourists.

For a hundred years now, climbing enthusiasts, hikers, skiers and tourists have been using this cable car with its fascinating history every day, which has enabled thousands of visitors, whether sporty or not, to access to one of the most beautiful panoramas of the Alpine landscape.

Brevent cable car, author Guilhem Vellut, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, photo source

It was as early as 1912 that the idea of ​​this cable car was born in the mind of Alfred Cachat, owner of two large Chamonix hotels, Mont-Blanc and the Majestic.

Alfred Cachat imagined an “aerial funicular” which would link first the Planpraz hill, then the summit of Brévent, which is then a popular viewpoint, but accessible only by the “chimney of Brévent”, aerial passage, equipped with ramps which cross the last rocky barrier which gives access to the summit.

After many setbacks, Alfred Cachat gave up, and it was Édouard Pellerin, a promoter who got down to the project with André Rebuffel, a consulting engineer and prime contractor.

In 1920, work began and a first cabin was delivered in 1927 by the René Schmidt Chamonix workshops.

On July 30, 1928, the third cable car in France officially opened. 

Tourists are then propelled at an altitude of 2,000 meters in a few minutes, while until then it was on the back of a mule that one reached Planpraz's viewpoint. 

At the same time, opposite, the Glaciers cable car, which must lead to the Col du Midi, is facing multiple construction difficulties.

The Brévent summit, at 2,500 meters, became easily accessible

In 1930, the second section was opened, and the Brévent summit, at 2,500 meters above sea level, became the fashionable belvedere, where tourists flock to take advantage of the refreshment bar, facing a unique panorama, and the Mont -Blanc. And thanks to a daring range of 1,950 meters long and 500 meters in elevation, without any pylon, it was a real technological breakthrough for the time.

Then skiing took off, and Brévent became the starting point for dizzying and unprecedented descents, from what will become its ski area, particularly the famous track “Charles-Bozon”, and its 1,500 meters of a drop to Chamonix.

Modernization of the cable car

After 57 years of good and loyal service, in 1979, it was the arrival of a brand new model of cable transport built by the Isérois Montaz-Mautino, a gondola on the first section to Planpraz, with a flux of 1,330 people per hour and a duration of seven minutes per travel, which is a lot, compared with the 150 people per hour of the first cable car.

In 1988, new modernizations, total redesign of stations, and new equipment, with two cabins with 60 seats on the second section. 

In 2008, a new modernization project eliminated the departure station, as well as the original concrete pylons, which would cause some debate as to the need to preserve these vestiges of the past.

 New cabins are installed, and the ski lift continues its mission, well anchored in Chamoniarde tourist history.

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