The first thing our mind goes to when thinking of Evian is bottled water, however, beyond being one of the purest mineral water brands, Evian is the name of a beautiful spa destination, and it is of course where the water is sourced.
The idyllic town of Evian is located on Lake Geneva and has been quite popular for centuries as a spa destination with both royalty and celebrities looking to breathe in fresh air and to look after their mind, body and soul. Escaping busier cities, Evian is a welcome change of pace with its open spaces, the breathtaking lake and clean air. It was in 1789 that the virtues of Evian natural mineral water were first discovered, with the site of the water filtering it during its 15-year journey as it makes its way under thick layers of clay, the water boasts a unique balance of minerals. At the time, the newfound pollution-free water, that is pH neutral and with a low mineral content became the drawing card, transforming Evian into a popular thermal spa destination. Evian’s first thermal baths were inaugurated in 1824, attracting socialites of the time and European bourgeoisie who came for the benefits reaped from the water, The Thermes d’Evian have long been famous amongst visitors looking to preserve their health in a natural way with the water’s therapeutic benefits.
Today, with everyone seeking to improve their health, spa getaways have never been so popular and it’s only fitting that Evian’s oldest hotel has embraced the destination’s origins becoming a health retreat, more specifically a yoga retreat. Opening its doors on the 16th of June in 1909, the Royal Hotel was named in honour of King Edward VII of England and its roll call of future guests, who over the years included Anna de Noailles and Marcel Proust, who wrote chapters of his In Search of Lost Time at the hotel. Receiving the Palace distinction in 2016 and nominated for the Prix Villégiature award for best resort in Europe the same year, the Royal Hotel continues to work to remain Evian’s luxury hotel, seeking to offer its guests exclusive service, and in doing so it has called on the expertise of Julien Levy, a yoga instructor who has created the Yoga Season Experience programme exclusively for the hotel.
The 2-day retreat, which of course can be prolonged upon request, includes daily meditation classes, morning and evening yoga, and treatments at the hotel spa that also focus on the needs of your body depending on the time of year, with Levy’s programme focusing heavily on the changing of the seasons and their effects on the human body. In the summer the body is in a happy state, in turn Levy’s yoga classes focus on the inner light while the massages focus on nourishing the body, while in winter the body is in need of regenerating, to wake up from its sluggish state brought on by the weather, and to counteract that feeling hot stone massages at the spa are prescribed to help relax the body while Levy focuses on more mellow poses, slowly stretching the body, although the yogi adapts to the levels of each guest. To round out the retreat, the hotel chef has created a vegetarian menu that focuses on giving the body its required nutrients using seasonal produce, complementing the healthy physical aspects of the programme with healthy meals.
Evian Resort Golf Club
With sweeping views of Lake Geneva and the city of Lausanne, the Swiss city on the other side of the lake, Evian is also an attractive destination for travellers looking to spend their time outdoors. For the active, there is no shortage of sporting activities with rowing, sailing and water-skiing as only some of the water activities you can partake in. Of course, avid golfers will be living their golfing dream by playing golf at the Evian Resort Golf Club where The Evian Championship is held. Overlooking Lake Geneva, it was one of the first golf courses to have been created in France.
For travellers with more of an inclination to relax and just take in the peace and quiet, or who are looking to enjoy more of an arts and culture break, a visit to the Palais Lumière is a must with the space hosting through until the 7th of October, 2018, a temporary exhibition entitled Picasso, l’Atelier du Minotaure, showcasing a selection of the artist’s works from both public and private collections.
Meanwhile, for music lovers and appreciators of fine architecture a visit of the Grange au Lac is highly recommended. Designed by architect Patrick Bouchain, the Grange au Lac is a magnificent work of art built entirely from pine and red cedar and adorned with six Murano and Bohemian crystal chandeliers that light up the space, creating an extraordinary juxtaposition of the materials. The venue hosts the annual Evian Musical Encounters music festival as well as Jazz at the Grange, a three-day winter festival that celebrates the sultry sounds of jazz.
For avid foodies, dinner at Les Fresques must be programmed. Awarded its first Michelin star in 2018, the restaurant is where chef Patrice Vander has orchestrated a contemporary menu that boasts seafood dishes using seafood from Lake Geneva as well as his classic dishes that include wild sea bream marinated with mango, wakame and caviar, and Bresse chicken breast served with foie gras. The dining room features a ceiling beautifully covered with frescoes by Gustave Jaulmes and offers gorgeous views of the lake, adding an exclusive ambiance to the starred culinary experience.
Of course, a visit to Evian is incomplete without a round of games at its famous casino. 1912 saw the opening of the Evian Casino and today it still remains one of the main attractions of the city with 287 slot machines and 10 gaming tables including roulette and Black Jack.
Only three hours away by train and an hour by plane from Paris, Evian is the perfect balancing destination for a little bit of R&R after basking in all that bustling Paris has to offer.