A LA DÉCOUVERTE DE | DISCOVER
Even if you've not yet made it to the town itself, it is nevertheless almost guaranteed you've bought the spa town's most famous export: Evian water.
Located on the banks of Lac Léman* in the Haute Savoie region and a truly stunning 35-minute ferry ride from Lausanne in Switzerland, Evian-les-Bains is a high-end spa town. Past visitors have included the Lumière brothers (pioneers of French cinema), Marcel Proust, King George V of England, François Mitterand and King Farouk of Egypt. Since 1994, the best female professional golfers from around the world have descended upon Evian for the prestigious Evian Championship, held in September of each year.
The French have had a longstanding interest in the curative powers of spring water, dating back to Napoleon's first French Republic. So much so, in fact, that in 1807 a scientist was despatched to analyse the waters of the region. Deeming them sufficiently pure, the construction of linking infrastructure followed soon after and before long a booming spa town was born. The town of Evian was so synonymous with water than in 1859 its name was changed to Evian-les-Bains to capitalise on its popularity for those seeking le cure*.
With this rise in popularity came the need for more and more hotels, and in 1909 the most luxurious of them all was constructed: l'Hôtel Royal Evian (pictured). Set on 47 acres of wooded grounds, the hotel comprises 150 chambres*, three restaurants, a La Prairie spa (if there's a heaven, I hope it's this), four tennis courts and a ski-shop (naturellement*). Like most things in Evian, the hotel is owned by the multi-national food products company Groupe Danone (2015 turnover €22.4 billion), whose brands include Evian, Badoit, Volvic and Activia. Interestingly, Groupe Danone is dwarfed in financial terms by one of its neighbours just across the lake in Switzerland, Nestlé S.A., whose 2015 turnover was a touch shy of €250 billion, ten times that of Danone's.
Alors voilà*, yet another French village* to add to your list of destinations.
Fun fact: in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein spends the first night of his lune de miel* in Évian. Sadly (and a lot less romantically) he is unable to prevent his monster from strangling his new wife Elizabeth.
*Lake Geneva | *thermal therapy | *rooms | *naturally | *So there you go | *village | *honeymoon