Hotel tradition at the foot of Mont Blanc
A marvellous intergenerational story told by our hoteliers!
Chamonix began to develop as a tourist destination in the mid 1700s; the first inn to offer hospitality to travellers was opened by Madame Coutterand in 1770. The first "luxury" hotel was the Union, which opened in 1816, followed by the Couronne (Crown), the hotel Royal, the hotel d'Angleterre and many more.
In 1783 Chamonix welcomed 1,500 summer visitors, in 1855 they were 5,000, in 1865 12,000 and by 1891 this figure had doubled to 24,000. At the turn of the century in 1901 (the year the train arrived in Chamonix) 51,000 visitors were registered, and just ten years later in 1911, numbers had increased massively to 332,000! Indeed Chamonix was one of the first tourist destinations to attract city dwellers who flocked forth to experience the joys of the mountains.
The turn of the century paved the way for winter tourism, bolstered by the first Winter Olympics held in the valley in 1924 . The Chamonix Valley Tourist Office brochure dated 1922 lists a total of 78 hotels and inns, and no less than three Palace-hotels, totalling more than 4,000 beds. The vast majority of these establishments belonged and were managed by local families: Cachat, Claret-Tournier, Carrier, Tairraz, Folliguet, Chamel...
Today, the Chamonix valley counts approximately 6,600 hotel beds, for a total of 21,000 professional beds (gîtes, holiday clubs, campsites, etc.) Over the past 100 years, the hotel business has seen many changes and the vast majority of the original hotels have been converted into private apartments.
This is why we wish to highlight the remaining multi-generational hotels in the Chamonix Valley. We pay tribute to the commitment of these families, to their profound sense of identity and their personal and authentic expression of hospitality.
Le Hameau Albert 1er 5*, Chamonix : 1903
Hello, let me introduce myself, Perrine Carrier, now director of our family establishment, the Hameau Albert 1er hotel in Chamonix. We have an incredible story to tell, and, as the 5th generation, I have the good fortune to be the torchbearer.
In a few words: our establishment was built in 1903 by my grandfather and named the Pension du Chemin de Fer. This date corresponds to the arrival of the railway line and the construction of the SNCF station in Chamonix. Thanks to this new means of transport, tourists flocked to the valley and found our hotel conveniently located just 100m from the station.
Our establishment has evolved in unison with the history of the Chamonix valley, the conquest of high peaks and the development of mountain sports. As an example, a central heating system was installed in 1924 in order to accommodate customers attending the 1st Winter Olympic Games… Winter tourism was born.
Today, our small family pension has become a Hamlet; the Hameau Albert 1er, in the heart of Chamonix, a 5* hotel with 37 rooms, suites and chalets, a gastronomic table, a farmhouse table, a spa with indoor and outdoor swimming pool facing Mont Blanc.
We continue to make developments for the comfort of our customers, whilst being guided by achievements and values of previous generations. We propel ourselves towards the future with a respect for family identity and strive to offer our guests a 5* experience but 'like at home'. It is the desire to share our attachment to these mountains and this valley which inspires us with humility, respect, and a certain idea of what is beautiful, aesthetic and good.
Looking forward to counting you amongst us.
Hôtel la Prairie, Les Bois : 1905
Our family, seasonal establishment was built between 1900 and 1905 by my great-grandfather HENRI CLARET-TOURNIER, farmer in the village of Les Bois and mountain guide during the summer season. A great visionary, he understood very quickly that tourism was going to develop in our beautiful valley.
Opposite the farm he built a small hotel with 10 rooms with the help of Italian workers (stonemasons) who were working on the development of the railway. The first client arrived in the summer of 1905, and very quickly this small "pension" began to attract an excellent clientele. The tranquility of the village, the enchanting site of the hotel, the kindness of the owners were commended in the guestbook of La Prairie.
After Henri (1905-1917), my grandmother Perlina took over, in the same spirit as her parents (1918-1950). The hotel only opens during the summer because the hamlet of Les Bois is too far from the center... In the 1950s, my parents Jean and Louisette Bossonney became involved in the hotel and undertook major renovation work. Guests of the Prairie appreciated the quiet, restful location and a good table!
When my father died in 1991, it was with passion that I took over the running of this small hotel, so reminiscent of my childhood. We cannot guarantee any great luxury, but simplicity and a warm welcome. Although recently renovated, the interior maintains its authentic ambience, a touch "vintage", and still only opens during the summer. Our customers seek calm and an art of living. As they tell us: "At La Prairie we forget everything, no more stress, we feel at one with nature"... Some never use their car during their stay!
As I write to you, the fifth generation is preparing to take over the reins of the establishment, bringing with them a youthful touch!
It is true that we face many demands, both administrative and financial, but the respect we have for our elders and the heritage they have built through hard work and their faith in our valley is stronger than anything.
L’hôtel Aiguille du Midi, Les Bossons : 1908
Our establishment has been in operation for 5 generations now. We are proud to continue this family tradition. When it opened, it was simply a country house that welcomed the first tourists who travelled to Chamonix by train. There was only one tourist season: summer. At the time, there was no question of spending a night at the hotel. Stays were a minimum of one month and full board!
Year after year, the establishment expanded and modernized: addition of bathrooms in each room, leisure facilities, improved catering options with homemade products, a terrace...
Every season offers its share of new features and constant improvements. Soon to come are charging terminals for electric vehicles, an upgrade of the spa... and many other projects!
Between tradition and modernity, there is no need to choose. We strive every day to adapt our establishment to demand while keeping our values: simplicity, authenticity and conviviality.
Carla, Vincent, Marie-Laure and Antonin, the fifth generation.
L'hôtel Richemond, Chamonix : 1914
Built in 1914, this Chamonix institution has been managed by the same family for 5 generations. Indeed, the Folliguet family is one of the oldest in Chamonix. In 1945 Geneviève Folliguet married Jean Sarraz-Bournet and today it is their grandchildren who run the hotel, driven by the same attachment and passion as their elders.
Located in the heart of Chamonix, overlooking the town's main pedestrian street, the Richemond's appeal lies in its old- fashioned grandeur and timeless oblivion! The authentic 5-storey granite establishment offers 52 comfortable rooms and delightful public areas where the decorative and architectural features recall the Belle Epoque. Guests will be charmed by the period furniture and the grand entrance hall where a fireplace and bar exude warmth, hospitality and the art of living.
Claire Sarraz-Bournet and her brother Bruno know the sometimes turbulent history of this beautiful establishment by heart. The First World War led to the temporary closure of the hotel. It subsequently enjoyed the golden age of the Roaring Twenties, before being occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. The development of winter sports hailed the arrival of a new clientele and brought a second lease of life to the hotel Richemond.
In front of the hotel is the Villa Beauséjour, built in the 19th century and home to the Sarraz-Bournet family. A plaque on the villa states that the famous English mountaineer, Edward Whymper, stayed here in 1896.
L'hôtel Hermitage Paccard, Chamonix : 1920
Since 1920, the Maison Paccard has seen many changes, even in the peaceful district of Les Mouilles on the outskirts of Chamonix. Meet a family, 4 generations of hospitality, and still the same enthusiasm for the well-being of their guests.
It all began when Marie Yvonne Charlet (daughter of a mountain guide) and Emile Paccard (maitre d'hôtel) decided to build a guest house. This pension was the fruit of a lifetime of hard work, making their "Hermitage" into the kind of retreat where guests would feel at home.
In the 1960s, their son Louis Paccard and his wife Jeanine Thentz enlarged the pension, which then became a 2-star hotel. Many happy years passed, customers liked the Hermitage and would come back every year.
The next generation in the 90s, were the sons, Michel and Didier Paccard. With much TLC, Michel and his wife Sophie modernised and upgraded the hotel in order to obtain a 3rd star.
They are delighted to now share the adventure with their daughters who continue to modernize the Hermitage, whilst ensuring its authenticity is not lost. The gardens have been landscaped to offer guests a little alpine paradise and the hotel now adorns a fourth star.
Travellers from the world over come to share a few moments of life here, as a gift to the Paccard family who have made hospitality their leitmotif. The family house spirit continues, the daughters, Perrine and Myrtille are delighted to be able to perpetuate a beautiful story and to take care of this authentic century-old residence, which looks resolutely to the future.