Chris on a powder day at Les Contamines, just up the road from St Gervais Our insider for St Gervais is chalet host extraordinaire Chris Barrow. He has spent the past 6 winters in the town (and the odd summer too), exploring the Mont Blanc ski area and running the excellent Chalet La Charme.

Chris can also lay claim to being the closest companion of Skye, St Gervais' famous paragliding dog. He's a top guy and knows the area like the back of his hand, and is always happy to offer tips to his guests on where's best to ski.

How long have you lived in St Gervais ?

5 years, the 2010/2011 season will be my 6th winter here.

What is your favourite thing about the resort?

St Gervais is a quiet, traditional, alpine resort, not that well known compared to it’s near neighbours, Chamonix and Megève. Consequently, lift queues are rare, even during February holidays, and New Year. The skiing is extensive, varied, and has something for everyone. Untracked powder can be found easily, days after a fall. And of course, it has stunning views of Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc.

Where’s your favourite place to eat on the mountain?

St Gervais and Megève are linked, so it’s no surprise that we are spoilt for choice in terms of quality restaurants. However, even with all this quality, I would go for the Auberge à La Ferme de La Venaz, run by Babette and Florian, and located on a blue run, above St Gervais Le Bettex. A very small, rustic farmhouse, with a log fire, it serves, for example, a baguette filled with steak haché and fries, for just €6. Unbeatable value for money. Oh, and the views are fantastic, across to Chamonix and Mont Blanc.

And where’s the best food in town?

Le Serac in the centre of the village serves a very tasty, modern, French cuisine, and was mentioned in the recent Michelin guide.

Where would you ski on a powder day?

St Nicholas de Veroce. Very quiet, east facing slopes, open bowls and skiing through the trees. It has everything, but not the crowds!

What is your favourite run in the ski area?

Milloz. A long, wide, cruisy red run through the trees, down to Megève. It’s never that steep, and it’s perfect for teaching, and practising ski techniques. It’s even got very good off piste to the side.

If you were to spend a full day treating yourself, what would you do?

Just living here is a treat!! Apart from a whole day’s skiing without looking at my watch, I might plan a trip to nearby Annecy, and take in the sights of the quaint, medieval town.

Any advice for families coming to the resort?

Probably bring a car, as there is so much to see and do away from the skiing. Annecy for example, or nearby Chamonix and Megève. The Tramway du Mont Blanc is France’s oldest mountain railway, and takes clients on a picturesque journey through stunning mountain scenery, seeing glaciers and wildlife on the way. Or they could try dog sledding, tandem paragliding, or ice skating, all available in St Gervais.

Where do you like to go for a few drinks after a hard day’s skiing?

Apart from the comfort of Chalet La Charme, in front of a cosy, roaring log fire?! I would go to the Brasserie du Mont Blanc in the centre of town. Traditionally French, but with good service, good atmosphere, pool table, and sport on tv!

Where would you take beginners if you had some to stay?

Les Contamines, about a 10 minute drive away. It has wide open, gentle slopes, not a lot of people, and is perfect for developing beginners’ confidence, as they make their first, tentative turns.

What’s your favourite piece of St Gervais related trivia?

The commune of St Gervais has the highest vertical distance from bottom to top, of any commune in France. From St Gervais Le Fayet at 580m to the summit of Mont Blanc, which is part of St Gervais, at 4810m.

Any parting words of wisdom?

St Gervais suffers from the perception of being relatively low, with an outdated lift system. The latter point has been addressed over the last few years, with a lot of investment modernising the lift system. This is an ongoing development. As for the altitude, whilst relatively low, it benefits from being next to Mont Blanc which due to it’s height, has it’s own weather system, resulting in proportionately high snowfall. In addition, most slopes are summer pasture, which therefore only need a few inches to make them skiable. St Gervais is an undiscovered gem.