Mont-Blanc tramway in winter
©Boris Molinier
The Mont Blanc Tramway in summer
©Bernard Tartinville
The Mont Blanc Tramway An unforgettable journey from Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc

Mont-Blanc tramway

The Mont-Blanc tramway, or TMB as it’s known here, runs from Le Fayet (580 m) to the Nid d’Aigle (2372 m) after a 12.4 km journey. It takes climbers to the start of the ascent of Mont-Blanc via the voie Royale, and offers contemplative climbers and families safe access to the majestic spectacle of the high mountains.

On board, breathtaking scenery flashes before your eyes and Western Europe’s highest peak appears more majestic than ever. Discover below the fabulous destiny of France’s highest cogwheel train.

 

Saint-Gervais TMB station
©Hugo Guillerez

Between forests, mountain pastures and mountains A journey to the top of Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc

Discover the history of France's highest cog railway

From 1835 onwards, numerous projects were submitted for the installation of a ski lift to the summit of Mont-Blanc. In 1904, the Haute-Savoie General Council approved Henri Duportal’s proposal. Thus was born the Compagnie du tramway du Mont-Blanc.

A tramway today well known to mountaineers

When work began in 1906, the TMB was intended to carry passengers to the top of Mont-Blanc. Technical difficulties, the estimated cost and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 ultimately scuppered the ambition of this magnificent project. But nothing was lost!

As soon as it opened to the public in 1909, the Mont-Blanc tramway became an indispensable means of transport for mountaineers setting out to conquer the highest peak in Western Europe. It dropped them off at the Nid d’Aigle from where they prepared for their ascent, not far from the Bionnassay glacier.

Recognizable engines

Today, the Mont-Blanc tramway has become a popular tourist attraction in Saint Gervais. Every day, Anne la verte, Jeanne la rouge and Marie la bleue, the TMB’s three trains, take it in turns to take passengers to the Les Houches ski area in winter, or to the many hiking trails in summer.

From Le Fayet, the Mont-Blanc tramway stops at Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc, 792 m above sea level, before beginning its ascent. Motivon, Col de Volza, Mont Lachat and Bellevue at 1,800 m are other winter resorts served by the TMB. Want to reach the Nid d’Aigle? You’ll have to wait until summer. Allow around 1 h 15 for the whole journey.

 

From Saint-Gervais to the Nid d'Aigle : Opening onto the high mountains

Whether you’re an accomplished sportsman or just a lover of the peaks, the Mont-Blanc tramway offers you the chance to discover all the facets of the high mountains.

Hiking tours for all levels

There are many hiking tours on offer departing from TMB stations. They allow young and old alike to encounter a marvelous natural world:

  • Looking for a route that offers panoramic views of Mont Blanc? Take the TMB to Bellevue station. A footpath takes you up to the Col de Volza, from where you can take the Mont-Blanc streetcar back down to Saint-Gervais.
  • From the Nid d’Aigle station, set off to discover the Bionnassay glacier. It takes around 1 hour to complete the round trip of this beginner-level walk.
  • Advanced sports enthusiasts can tackle the descent from the Nid d’Aigle. This difficult hike joins the Tour du Mont-Blanc itinerary at Chalet de l’Are, then climbs back up to Bellevue station, or allows you to make the ascent to the Col du Tricot.
  • For mountain bike enthusiasts, bikes are accepted on the first and last three trains of the day.

Assaulting Mont-Blanc

The TMB is used by 75% of all mountaineers who climb Mont-Blanc. From the last station of the Nid d’Aigle, experienced mountaineers can reach the Goûter refuge at 3815 m, one of the highest in Europe, before the final assault on the summit via the voie Royale. Don’t forget to reserve your places well in advance of the ascent. Accompaniment by a mountain guide is highly recommended, both for safety reasons and to make the most of their knowledge.

A historic metamorphosis

The three trains and the diesel locomotive, which have been in service for over 60 years, are showing signs of fatigue. Upkeep and maintenance are becoming increasingly difficult and cost-prohibitive due to the obsolescence of the equipment. Despite regular inspections and renovations, the latest inspections confirm the fatigue of mechanical components and the obsolescence of electrical components. A replacement of the rolling stock had become inevitable.

A more modern and still authentic Tramway du Mont-Blanc

With a progressive commissioning of the new Tramway du Mont-Blanc, the complete renewal of the trains will be effective for the 2022-2023 winter season. After the first arrival of the new Marie locomotive in March 2022, it will be Anne, Jeanne and Marguerite’s turn to join the Tramway du Mont-Blanc’s tracks and ensure the countless round trips between Le Fayet and Le Nid d’Aigle for decades to come.

With a seating capacity of 120 in addition to the 80 standing passengers, the comfort and experience offered to tramway users will be all the better. The addition of a 4ᵉ train (Marguerite), compared to the 3 of the previous generation, will also increase the frequency of rotations and enable passengers to take the direction of the summits in a fluid and pleasant way.

Livraison de la nouvelle motrice du Tramway du Mont-Blanc
Livraison de la nouvelle motrice du Tramway du Mont-Blanc
Livraison de la nouvelle motrice du Tramway du Mont-Blanc

The new Tramway du Mont-Blanc is also:

  • A top speed that increases from 15 km/h for the old tramway to 20 km/h for the new one, reducing travel time from 580 meters above sea level at Le Fayet to 2372 meters at Le Nid d’Aigle.
  • An additional guarantee of safety thanks to 2 driver’s cabs.
  • Easy access for people with reduced mobility, notably thanks to level access to the trains.
  • A special focus on environmental protection. For many years now, electric trains have been a gentle, environmentally-friendly means of transport. To take this a step further, the new Mont-Blanc streetcars are equipped with a recharging system on descent, to optimize their consumption.
  • A new, rethought immersive experience. The new Mont-Blanc tramway features screens and sound systems to provide passengers with all the information they need for their day, and to liven up their journey.

 

Behind the scenes of the Tramway du Mont-Blanc

Une journée aux commandes de l'ancien Tramway du Mont-Blanc !
Une journée aux commandes de l'ancien Tramway du Mont-Blanc !
Une journée aux commandes de l'ancien Tramway du Mont-Blanc !

Mont-Blanc Tramway fares and timetables

The frequency of trains depends on the tourist season:

  • 4 to 6 departures a day between mid-December and mid-April;
  • 8 to 9 departures a day between mid-June and mid-July and during the first half of September;
  • 10 to 11 departures a day between mid-July and the end of August.

To enable as many people as possible to enjoy the charming journey aboard the Mont Blanc tramway, there are fares for children and adults, as well as a family package. There’s even a group rate for 20 people or more.

The Mont-Blanc tramway and its old-world charm await you for a fabulous journey into the world of high mountains. Would you like to spend an unforgettable moment surrounded by snow-capped peaks? Take one of the last streetcars of the day up to the Nid d’Aigle and admire the sunset while sipping a drink at the refuge of the same name.

Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc "Mont-Evasion

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