576km (358 miles) SW of Paris; 42km (26 miles) NE of Geneva
On the château-dotted southern shore of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), Evian-les-Bains is one of the leading spa resorts in France. Its lakeside promenade, lined with trees and lawns, has been fashionable since the 19th century. Evian's waters became famous in the 18th century, and the first spa buildings were built in 1839. Bottled Evian is considered useful in everything from baby formula to salt-free diets and is seen as a treatment for gout and arthritis.
In the days when Marcel Proust came to enjoy the Belle Epoque grandeur, Evian was the haunt of the very rich. Proust modeled his "Balbec baths" on Evian's. Today, the spa, with its promenade and elegant casino, attracts a broader range of guests -- it's not just for the rich anymore.
In addition to its spa buildings, Evian holds an imposing Ville des Congrès (Convention Hall) that has earned the resort the title of "City of Conventions." From late April to September, the Nautical Center (tel. 04-50-75-02-69) on the lake is a popular attraction; it has a 115m (377-ft.) pool with a diving stage, solarium, restaurant, bar, and children's paddling pool.
The major excursion from Evian is a boat trip on Lake Geneva offered by the Compagnie Générale de Navigation (CGN), a Swiss outfit whose agent is in Evian. Call the port office directly at tel. 04-50-70-73-20. Contact the company or head for the Office de Tourisme for prices and hours. If you want to see it all, you can tour both the Haut-Lac and the Grand-Lac. The most popular trip is the crossing from Evian to Ouchy-Lausanne, Switzerland (the port for Lausanne), on the north side.
Crescent-shaped Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) is the largest lake in central Europe. Covering about 362 sq. km (140 sq. miles), the lake is formed by the Rhône River and is noted for its exceptional blue color.