The small, unspoilt village of Le Monêtier-Les-Bains is the highest inhabited part of the Serre Chevalier ski resort, at 1,500 metres altitude in the French Alps with breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains.
The area has been a holiday resort since ancient Roman times, its two hot-water springs making it a spa retreat renowned for its healing properties. Thermal pools were opened here between the 18th and 20th centuries. This tradition has been revived in more recent times with the opening of luxury spa retreat Les Grands Bains.
This quaint and quiet village also lies at the heart of the Serre Chevalier ski area, which comprises 250km of tree-lined pistes, with a total of 66 ski lifts. With cobbled streets and rustic French charm, the village is a pleasure to walk around, and the newer buildings have been designed to fit in with the overall atmosphere of the place. The area is also renowned for the friendliness of its local population.
Living in Le Monêtier-Les-Bains and Things To Do
The village has a population of just over 1,000, plus many holidaymakers year-round, but never feels overcrowded. There are more hotels and apartments than chalets, and the prices are considered more affordable than some other Alpine resorts. Weather reports show average temperatures range from -13˚C in January to 17˚C in August.
There is plenty for keen skiers to love here, with a winter season running from early December until late April. Beginners will enjoy the nursery slopes that are situated close to Le Monêtier-Les-Bains, and a generous network of lifts enables more adventurous to easily cover the 250km of slopes that make up the Serre Chevalier resort – you can traverse the whole area in an hour or two. Average snow depth from last year in the area was 41cm at base and 18cm at the summit, and the largest snowfall was 30cm.
In summertime, there is plenty to enjoy in this beautiful Alpine paradise, including 370km of hiking trails, cycling and mountain biking (the Tour de France has been known to pass through these parts), rock-climbing and kayaking on the river Guisane. Or you could try paragliding, horse-riding, swimming, fishing... the list goes on.
Spa lovers will rejoice at Les Grands Bains du Monêtier, 4,500 square metres of thermal baths with plenty of relaxing treatments available on the site of two famous hot springs.
Le Monêtier-Les-Bains Leisure and Culture
You can discover the rich history of Le Monêtier-Les-Bains, including Ancient Roman remains, the saga of Escartons Republic and some beautiful 15th-century frescos, by taking a guided tour of the village, which operate once or twice a week during holidays.
The Saint-Pierre chapel also contains the Museum of Sacred Art, which assembles together religious artefacts from some 30 surrounding churches dating from between the 15th and 19th century.
Le Monêtier -Les-Bains has a vibrant year-round calendar of parades and concerts, including the St Valentine's Day Parade, as well as a torchlit storytelling walk by night. Jazz lovers will enjoy the annual L’Altitude Jazz Festival in late January and early February across the Serre Chevalier resort, with acts performing from around the world.
Le Monêtier-Les-Bains has plenty of beautiful chapels and churches, as well as a public library and a two-screen cinema for those fond of quiet pastimes.
Investment Potential in Le Monêtier-Les-Bains
If you were buying a property in Le Monêtier-Les-Bains, you'd be getting a fantastic location high in the Alps amid a world-class ski resort. It is peaceful but also has good transport links for its altitude (the road to Grenoble runs right through the heart of the village).
The Serre Chevalier resort last year announced a 30-year investment programme totalling €134 million across the area. The money will be used to upgrade many of the ski lifts, as well as increasing the accommodation available - introducing 2,600 more beds across the resort. It is projected that this will increase the number visitors by 20% during the low season.
Transport to Le Monêtier-Les-Bains
The nearest airports to Le Monêtier-Les-Bains are Turin (two hours' drive away), Grenoble, Lyon and Milan (all around three hours' drive away). You can also travel by train to Briançon, which has services to Paris and Marseilles. Alternatively, you could catch the TGV to Oulx (on the Paris-Milan line), and then catch a 30-minute bus to Le Monêtier. The local villages are connected by buses which run regularly every day until 11.30pm, and there is also a two-hour coach to and from Grenoble.
With world-class skiing across 250km of well-connected pistes, great snowfall, as well as spectacular views of the Alps and a quaint village atmosphere, Le Monêtier-Les-Bains provides all that lovers of the mountains could ask for. Unspoilt, pretty and full of history dating back to Roman times, as well as two hot springs legendary for their healing properties, it's a great place to spend time - and, with a comprehensive project of investment in the local area ongoing, it's set to stand the test of time.