La Folie Douce, a new ambiance for St Gervais.
So with winter fast approaching, there are a few new developments this season in St Gervais. Last year, the gondola cars were replaced between the town and the Bettex, and this year the Mont Joux chair has been upgraded to a new, faster, 6-man chair lift. This will be especially appreciated during the peak season as it’s a popular area.
At the top of the chair, the old Mont Joux restaurant has been completely changed. It is now La Folie Douce – loosely translated as “the Gentle Craziness”. For those who have previously been to Val d’Isère, Val Thorens, Méribel or Alpe d’Huez, they may have already come across La Folie Douce, a concept that started over 30 years ago. Luc Reversade, a former ski instructor, founded the first one in Val d’isere and it’s reputation has grown and spread to other resorts. It is now seen as “the place” for après ski.
Now it’s the turn of St Gervais where, at over 2000m just off the new Mont Joux chair, there will be the 5th Folie Douce. It will consist of 2 restaurants, one called “La Fruitière” with quality dining and a more low key self service style restaurant called “La petite Cuisine”. The key component with La Folie Douce, is that as well as a restaurant, it’s an outdoor music and clubbing zone.
La Folie Douce will have DJ’s, live music and cabarets, which will be no doubt especially appreciated by young people, but apparently aimed at all ages groups. It’s about having a drink, listening to music in a fabulous setting, dancing and soaking up the atmosphere and coolness. Every day after lunch the St Gervais Folie Douce will provide a lively party atmosphere which will continue until the ski lifts’ closing time.
St Gervais has traditionally been a family resort, and Megève, which is linked into the same ski area, has always held a high-end, classy reputation, so this new venture shows an openness to branching out and innovating. As with any change however, some St Gervais associations and locals are less than impressed. They fear the (potentially far reaching) noise that the venue could create, and say it could detract from the peacefulness of the mountains. Given that St Gervais’ slogan is “la montagne à l’état pur”, “The mountain in it’s pure form”, it is debatable whether having House music blaring from the roof tops, will quite mesh comfortably with this ethos.
Other detractors comment that turfing out a load of drunk youths at lift closing time, causing them to funnel down the easy beginner’s run on the St Gervais side (Chateluy), could lead to overcrowded sections and increased accidents. However, as other mountain restaurants bar/cafés have served alcohol and also close at the same time, there is no reason why this should be the case.
The Maire of St Gervais, Jean Marc Peillex, has also been quick to defend the project and says it will operate within normal ski area opening times and within a framework. He doesn’t believe there’s any reason why it should be a bad thing. The project will also create around 40 jobs.
This season it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Hopefully La Folie Douce will be a lively place with an uplifting atmosphere, enhancing people’s enjoyment of their holidays without having a negative impact. It will help keep St Gervais fresh and attract a new younger generation of holidaymakers which is important in securing any resort’s future.
If nothing else, St Gervais is demonstrating it’s ahead of the curve. Some much “flashier” and better known resorts such as a Verbier, and Zermatt aren’t due to get their Folie Douce until the next few years.
St Gervais’ La Folie Douce will be ready to open its doors on the 20th December 2014 as the season kicks off.