The Savoie-Léman hotel school: the oldest public hotel school in France and one of the most renowned


The town of Thonon les Bains was frequented, at the beginning of the 20th century, for its thermal baths and had many hotels and also a palace. The municipality then took the decision to create a hotel section within the college of the city (now become the Jean-Jacques Rousseau college). This in order to be able to train qualified personnel for the hotels of the city.

In this continuity and this need to train hotel staff, the first public and free French hotel school was created in 1912 at the instigation of the Senator of Haute-Savoie, Jules Mercier. The building was designed by architect Louis Moynat in a functionalist architectural style. This Savoie and Lake Geneva hotel school is therefore located at the corner of boulevards Carnot and de la Corniche in Thonon les Bains. It has a school as well as a 3* application hotel which is open to customers and allows students to train.

During the Second World War, in February 1944, the school-hotel was requisitioned along with other buildings in the city by the Militia . It only regained its vocation after the war and underwent successive transformations: creation of the boarding school (today more than 250 interns) and very important renovation of the Lycée and the hotel between 2003 and 2007.

School today

The Ecole Hôtelière Internationale Savoie Leman has become a real high school for trades, educating students in the hotel and catering sector. It is recognized in the profession as one of the most renowned but also the oldest public hotel school in France.

he establishment now welcomes more than 600 learners from the CAP to the Professional License, through school or through apprenticeship, students come from all over France to join this establishment, most of them post baccalaureate.

The school includes:

The hotel and catering professions attract as many women as men, the establishment notes a parity in the number of their students (variable in certain years).

The largest numbers follow the Technological Baccalaureate in Hotel and Restaurant Science and Technology training and the BTS in Hotel and Restaurant Management training.

Regarding the openings, they depend of course on the exit diploma. The CAP Pâtissier fit into their field of training. As for the Professional Baccalaureates, they fit into very operational positions either in the kitchen or in service. For the BTS, the positions are medium-term positions of Operational Managers either in Catering or in the Hotel industry. Some are taking over businesses in the industry.

Many students from higher education go abroad before returning to France for managerial positions or creating their own business. Some gastronomy enthusiasts work for starred tables

For lovers of gastronomy, the “stars” are always a dream . Positions in accommodation in “high-end” establishments are always popular with students even if the school notes a diversification of backgrounds and passions (coffeeology, for example, is very popular at the moment, the concepts a little more trendy in catering as well) .

Some former students…

Over the years, the School has developed a global network of former students.

Big names in the catering and hotel industry have studied at the SavoieLéman school. Among these people we find:

  • Georges Blanc – Chef, 3 stars in the Michelin Guide & 4 toques in Gault&Millau
  • Laurent Duc – President of the Union of Hotel Trades and Industries (UMIH)
  • Laurent Derhé – Meilleur Ouvrier de France Sommelier (2007) and owner of the Auberge de Ru
  • Yann Caillère – Former Deputy CEO in charge of world operations of the Accor group and currently CEO of the Parques Reunidos group
  • Franck Josserand – Best Worker of France

And many others !

Testimonials from former students:

“Training at Thonon provides a solid base of basic skills and great versatility. Then, by adding experience, you acquire a very good adaptability in business which allows access to extremely diversified positions and which allows you to considering the creation of a company. This is precisely the project I have embarked on. At the same time, I am piloting with a group of former students the structuring of the network of former students, a very exciting process for me who will have to recruit very soon”.

Yannick Crespin – BTS 2007

“The Savoie-Léman hotel school gave me international mobility (BTS internship in the USA, Oenology Club trips to Portugal and Hungary, Thailand for the Humanitaï project). It is operational vocational training that provides an excellent foundation either for integration into employment or for the pursuit of studies. For my part, I chose to continue with a Bachelor’s degree. The period spent at Thonon built me and not just professionally.

Timothée Pelican – BTS 2017

The campus

The Ecole Hôtelière Savoie-Léman is the institution carrying the Campus des Métiers and STHAR Qualifications (Support for Tourism, Hospitality, Agri-culinary and Catering).

On January 22, 2020, the Campus officially launches its platform which brings together its partners and funders.

The Campus des Métiers et des Qualifications brings together around fifteen high schools from the Grenoble Academy, including the Savoie Léman hotel school, which is the headquarters and the pilot of the campus.
This project aims to increase professional mobility and promote recruitment for companies in the sector. Indeed, companies will be able to submit their job offers regardless of their geographical location and also to access the CV library of learners.

All former students of the school have the opportunity to register on the platform. It is also a place of information on courses, information centers and allows you to discover testimonials and portraits of professionals in the sector.


The school invests alongside the other establishments on campus in career counseling operations (“Orientation FoodTruck Fall 2021, Studyrama, Forma, etc.). It also hosts a study pursuit forum once a year. In addition, pupils and students participate in cooking or service competitions, coached by their teachers.

The establishment is also invested in a humanitarian project, in connection with a hotel school in Thailand (
Humanitai project). For more information, do not hesitate to consult their website. .

Thank you Sylvie ROSSI , the operational director of the Campus des Métiers et des Qualifications Hôtellerie et Tourisme de montagne for her contribution to this article.