I love Paris. Of course, everyone loves Paris. Every girl worth her couture would. To see more of the country though, most people tend to swan about the lavender fields of Provence, or pretend to be movie stars in the South of France (Nice, Cannes, anyone?) That’s the essence of a French holiday, right? Wrong. The secret lies in a luxurious spa town that’ll bless you with both, the best skin of your life and peace of mind, which we think, are the keys to that sense of je ne sais quoi, that French girls possess. Don’t envy filles françaises when you can capture their vibe and take it home.
We’re taking you deep into the Haute-Savoie region in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes territory in South-Eastern France. It’s every bit as elegant as the name suggests and home to the spa town of Evian-les-Bains. Built on the shores of the French side of Lake Geneva, the buildings here have ornate, aged, cornices, a charming funicular, and houses painted the colour of macarons. E-L-B could well be a Wes Anderson movie set. At night, the lights of Lausanne (Switzerland) twinkle from across the lake, illuminating the way forward to a very cinematic holiday.
Evian-les-Bains is still reminiscent of the French Belle Epoque era with its lakeside promenade, marina, and monuments like the Palais Lumière, the former thermal spa which is now a cultural centre. It’s also home to the famous Cachat spring, one of the many sources of Evian here. This mineral water spring is why Evian is known all over the world. Named after Gabriel Cachat, the owner of the garden where it ran at the end of the 18th century, it was built in 1903. What you can gather from all of this, is that the whole town drinks Evian water, straight from the source.
Since this is a spa town, where you stay is obviously, of immense importance. Our pick is the stunning, sprawling, Hotel Royal Evian Resort, which is also a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. Located on a lush, 19 hectare property, the plush rooms (yes, it’s quite possible to sink into a bed and never want to get out) each offer a panoramic view of Lake Geneva. It’s quite possible to sit for hours, swathed in a robe, drinking coffee and looking out over the water. It also helps that nature is at the forefront here, as a walk around the property will reveal, with manicured greenery in abundance. The hotel itself though, is truly magnificent, with sky-high ceilings dominated by elegant neo-baroque frescoes, wide arches and domes. There’s an airniess and a sense of harmony here, that spill over to the wonderful terraces, where one can sit with a book, cuddled up in a cashmere blanket. Therapeutic, is the word that comes to mind. Which leads us to why you may never leave the hotel on your visit: The Spa Evian Source.