One of the most spectacular and interesting places my fiance and I visited during a 2005 trip to France was definitely Evian-les-Bains on the French-Swiss border. We got engaged there and no-one (even some French) seems to know where it is until you mention the water!
We threw our budget away and spent a few nights in a three star hotel, Le Bourgogne, situated right in the centre of the town. The tourist office wasnt particularly helpful in our quest for accommodations, they said they could only book for us if we were on the phone from out of town, not if we were already there.
So we did it ourselves, wandering the streets until we found somewhere to stay, a difficult task as the world aerobics championships were set to start there in 2 days.
Sidetrip to Switzerland
Once we checked in, we went down to the foreshore of Lac Leman to catch a ferry over to Switzerland for the day. We spent the day wandering the shops in Switzerland before taking the last nighttime ferry back. From the lake you have spectacular views of the mountains of the Haute-Savoie I swear I could see Mont Blanc!
Market dayDay two was exciting, the market was in full swing outside our hotel by the time we emerged. We wandered it for over an hour, tasting the salamis, hams, cheeses, breads, wines and fruit of the region. The stall holders were very generous- it was almost considered rude to not try before you bought!
Day spa treatmentsIn the afternoon of the second day I booked into the Evian spa centre for a day spa treatment. Called Evian Thermal, the spa offers treatments from one hour to 7 days that all use the naturally therapeutic waters of Evian to heal any ailments that you may be experiencing.
On arrival you are given a gown, slippers, a schedule of what you will be doing and a locker key. The majority of the staff also spoke English, which is really useful if your French doesnt extend to Hydrotherapy massage table!
It began with a hydro massage. You remain completely dry whilst you are doing it. Lying on a bed of water, every tired travellers bone is massaged, rubbed and treated with care. This was followed by a dip in a pool of pure Evian waters and a warning that you must drink 2 litres of Evian a day for any of the treatments to be beneficial.
The Evian pool contained massage jets and an instructor who demonstrated the best way to sit against each different type of jet. Lastly was the aromatherapy oil massage and facial. Pure heaven. Done by hand, it felt like every care in the world was being carried away from my body.
Evian's watersAfter dinner we walked behind the hotel to La Source Chachet, which is the original source of Evian water. Glorified with its own pagoda-like covering and paving stones, the source pumps Evian out at an extraordinary rate!
We got bottles from the hotel and filled every one of them. Theres no need to feel silly doing it either. The locals do it everyday!
Au revoir, Evian!The next morning I was sad to leave Evian, I really felt like I had experienced a place on earth like no other. The air was so crisp, the sky so blue and the swans on the blue lake were so white! It was magical.
And I must admit. Im finding it hard to drink 2 litres of water a day now!
Kylie Archer is a secondary teacher from Sydney Australia. She and her fiance spent a month in France in April and can't wait to go back! They had their best time at Evian-les-Bains.