Mont Blanc mayor threatens to sue mountain climbers (again)

After suggesting that hikers should pay a 'funeral deposit' before climbing Mont Blanc, the local French mayor has again hit the headlines by threatening to sue climbers.

Mont Blanc mayor threatens to sue mountain climbers (again)
This aerial view of Mont Blanc (back L) amd the dome du Gouter (C) in France in 2019. (Photo by Eric Feferberg / AFP)

Jean-Marc Peillex mayor of the French village of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains has made headlines once more after threatening to file complaints against two people who climbed Mont Blanc and slept at its summit, calling them hurluberlus (fools).

This time, the Mayor has focused his attention on two hikers who posted a 45-minute YouTube video titled “DORMIR au SOMMET DU MONT BLANC : 9 jours d’expédition” (Sleeping at the top of Mont Blanc: 9 days of expedition) which detailed their journey of climbing and camping on the mountain.

Peillex told BFMTV on Monday that the climbers had create “bad buzz” by “[flouting] the law,” as all forms of camping throughout the Mont Blanc Natural Habitat Protection Area (APHN) are prohibited, according to a decree passed in October 2020. Failure to comply with the rule can lead to a year’s imprisonment and a fine of €150,000. 

The mayor said that the law is intended to protect Mont Blanc’s natural habitats, and that wild camping is only allowed in extreme cases or next to the Tête rousse refuge area. 

“They played with fire and they got burned,” the Mayor told the French news station, adding that it would now be up to the courts to respond.

According to Le Figaro, the two mountaineers said that they were aware that restrictions existed to protect the mountain, but that they did not realise there was a total ban on camping in place during the off-season.

I think I’ve heard the name Jean-Marc Peillex before?

Yes, you probably have – he’s no stranger to headlines.

Over the summer, Mayor Peillex warned visitors they might be climbing with “death in [their] backpack” after putting forward plans on social media to make climbers pay a €15,000 deposit to climb Mont Blanc via the Goûter route.

Pelleix explained on August 3rd that he arrived at the €15,000 because it corresponded with “€10,000 for the cost rescue, and €5,000 for the cost of a funeral” as it is “impermissible that the French taxpayer be the one to cover such costs.”

Saint-Gervais mayor Jean-Marc Peillex (L) poses on September 28, 2011 during the drilling operations to pump water out of the Tete Rousse glacier above the French Alps town of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains. (Photo by JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT / AFP)

Jean-Marc Peillex has fought against mass tourism on Mont Blanc for several years. In 2018, he requested that French gendarmes block several Latvian mountaineers from making the ascent with a large pole and a Latvian flag to commemorate the country’s independence, and last summer he shared a video warning people not to attempt climbing the mountain as it was “not the moment” and that the mountain was “angry.”

The mayor also wrote to President Emmanuel Macron in September 2022 to ask that he “act to fight against the over-visiting of natural areas.” 

Do others in the Alps agree with him?

Peillex’s statements can be polarising. Other mayors from towns in the Mont Blanc area have at times disagreed with the  Saint-Gervais’ mayor’s approach.

According to CNN, in August, Roberto Rota, the mayor of Courmayeur, on the Italian side of the mountain, told Corriere della Sera that “asking for a deposit to climb the mountain is surreal” in response to Perreix’ attempt to institute a €15,000 deposit to climb the Mont Blanc.

And most recently, Antoine Beis, an aide to the mayor of Chamonix, told BFMTV that Jean-Marc Peillex’s most recent comments constituted “dangerous democratic drift.”

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Nuit Blanche 2023: What’s on and where to go in Paris

During this year's all-nighter event in Paris there will be film screenings and street art exhibits, as well as free museum entry at some of the capital's best art and culture venues. Here is the schedule for the 'Nuit Blanche'.

Nuit Blanche 2023: What's on and where to go in Paris

The annual Nuit Blanche celebration in Paris will take place on Saturday, June 3rd, and the city has plenty of activities to enjoy all night long.

This year, the event was organised by artistic director Kitty Hartl, who also coordinated the 2022 event. With nearly 200 cultural activities and art exhibits running throughout the night, everyone will be able to find something worth staying up for.

You can find the full agenda HERE.

Artistic exhibits

“Artistic posters for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games” – If you are not available on Saturday the 3rd, you can still see a special Nuit Blanche exhibit on Thursday, June 1st from 3pm until 8pm.

For each Olympic and Paralympic Games, artists are invited to contribute to the collective memory of the event by creating a body of original artwork intended to demonstrate Olympic values, such as inclusivity and innovation. Seven artists were commissioned to come up with Olympic and Paralympic posters, which you will be able to see during the exhibit. The event will be held at the Auai de la Mégisserie in Paris’ 1 arrondissement.

“Nuit Blanche at the Holocaust Memorial” – During Nuit Blanche, the Holocaust (Shoah) Memorial will present works of art related to the Armenian Genocide via the personal story of artist Melik Ohanian in an evening titled “Remember, It was tomorrow”. You can find more information here.

“Breuer.121” – Held at the Hungarian cultural centre, the Institut Liszt Paris, this exhibit will show the works of Marcel Breuer, who graduated from the Bauhaus school in the 1920s, and gained an international reputation for his tubular furniture. On the event of his 120th birthday, the exhibit will show Breuer’s entire body of work and discuss his influence on Hungarian Brutalism. It will run from 7pm until 11pm. More information found here.

“CAPITALE(S), 60 years of urban and street art in Paris” – Nuit Blanche will represent the final day of the “CAPITAL(S)” street art exhibit at Paris’ Hôtel de Ville, which will keep its doors open to the public until midnight during the event. The exhibit shows works from 70 prominent street artists, both French and international. The event will run from 6:30pm until midnight, and though it is free, you will need to reserve a ticket in advance. You can find more information here.


Several museums across the city will offer free entry during Nuit Blanche, and some have special exhibits going on for the night as well.

La Bourse du Commerce – During Nuit Blanche, entry will be free until midnight. There will also be a special event titled “Before the Storm” running from 7pm until midnight at the museum, which will show the works of 15 artists exploring tensions and impacts brought on by climate change. 

Picasso Museum – The Picasso Museum will also open its doors for free, with special events throughout the night. From 9pm until 11pm, there will be a DJ performance by the artist Radio Nova in the courtyard. You can find more information here.

Pompidou Modern Art Museum – The Centre Pompidou will offer immersive installations and performances starting at 6pm at the Piazza in front of the museum. The public will also be granted free entry into Galerie 3, where a light and sound performance by Camille Juthier will take place, as an exploration of the universe.

The Musée d’Orsay – Even though the museum will not allow people to take tours of all its galleries during Nuit Blanche, there will still be an event worth seeing, running from 7pm until 4am – an outdoor showing of the film “Le Fond de la Seine” which gives a portrait of the river using underwater and landscape images to show its history, connection to people and industry and how the water runs out to the ocean.


“The Orchestre Colonne” – one of France’s oldest orchestras, founded in 1873, the Orchestre Colonne will offer a show running from 8pm to 11pm during this year’s Nuit Blanche. The team of over 47 musicians will play Verdi, La Forza del destino (overture) and Brahms’ 2nd symphony. It will be held at 23 quai de Conti, in Paris’ 6th arrondissement. You can find more information HERE.

“Nour Kara & Juliette Capel – Women, Life, Freedom” – this experimental live music show will honour Iranian women’s struggle for freedom. Starring Nour Kara, Iranian electronic music producer, and Juliette Capel, cellist and percussionist, the show will offer a non-classical interpretation of the cello, partnered with electronic and experimental music effects. The event will take place at the Mairie of the 19e arrondissement, going from 9pm until 10:30pm.

“III Julien Signolet & Mathias Durand” – Enjoy an immersive musical experience with live performances by Mathias Durand. This installation will join visual effects, dance and sound. It will take place at the Collège des Bernardins at 20 rue de Poissy, in Paris’ 5th arrondissement, going from 7pm until 2am.

Activities for kids

“109 LOSANGES” – located along the banks of the Seine, the Federico-García-Lorca garden will host several open air art exhibit, with trees and pathways illuminated with lights to create a fun, immersive and colourful experience. It will run from 7pm until 3am, taking place on the Georges-Pompidou pathway in the 4th arrondissement.

“The Europa Experience” – Inspired by the world of gaming, this video event is a collaboration between two artists. In the exhibit, viewers will enjoy a 2D to 3D video as the character walks around video game landscapes and modernist paintings. The event will be held at 28 place de la Madeleine, in the 8th arrondissement. It will run from 7pm until midnight.

“Aiguillage galerie” – From the young comics collective, this multimedia event will allow you to discover comic books, immersive video projections, and fascinating animations. It will be held at 19 rue des Frigos, Building B, in the 13th arrondissement, running from 9pm to 1am.