• Around the lakes

Geneva, the largest of the four lakes

At an altitude of 372 m, the largest of Savoie Mont Blanc’s four lakes is set in a Riviera-esque landscape. Connecting France and Switzerland, the lake’s temperate climate provides favourable conditions for southern vegetation. The 53 km-long French shores steer the undulating course of Lower Chablais, home to two spa towns: Thonon-les-Bains and Evian-les-Bains. 

Crossing the divide

AN INLAND SEA

The lake goes by different names: Léman, Lake Léman and Lake Geneva.

On the Swiss side, it stretches as far as the cantons of Geneva, Vaud, and Valais, while over the border in France, its sunlit shores run along the northern part of Haute-Savoie

Did you know? Lake Geneva is the largest lake in western Europe.

Year-round activities

STOCK UP ON THE OUTDOORS

The Dranse river, which begins in Morzine, is one of the lake’s tributaries and well-known for white water rafting. Thrill-seekers looking to take to the air can also try out paragliding, gliding and microlighting. 
The Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains has one of the most beautiful courses in Europe. A little further along the southern shores, in the woodland near Thonon-les-Bains, visitors can try out rope bridges and zip lines at the aerial adventure course.

BEACHES AND WATER SPORTS

Awarded French Water Resort 4*status, Thonon-les-Bains offers a whole host of water sports including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, rowing and diving. 

For those looking for a Mediterranean feel, the natural, fine, sandy beach at Excenevex transports bathers to southern climes.   

Taking a lake cruise is also very pleasurable, and passengers can choose from a belle epoque paddlewheel steamboat to more unusual means of transport like the solar-powered shuttle or the ‘La Savoie’ sailboat. The ports of Thonon-les-Bains, Evian-les-Bains and other lakeside villages have many spots reserved for visiting pleasure-boaters. 

Nautical activities
Sightseeing and heritage

FROM NATURE TO CULTURE

Visitors to château de Ripaille, on the hills behind Thonon-les-Bains, can learn about the history of the first Duke of Savoy. The ecomuseum in the port of Rives displays different local fishing techniques. 
Walkers stopping off in Evian can explore the Villa Lumière and Cachat spring. Further east, the medieval village of Yvoire, awarded ‘Plus Beaux Villages de France’ status (given to France’s most picturesque, authentic villages) is home to a plant maze known as ‘le Jardin des Cinq Sens’. 
Each of the lakeside villages are charming in their own way: Chens-sur-Léman’s château, Nernier’s literary and artistic heritage, Amphion les Bains’ historical link to Anna de Noailles and Meillerie’s fishing tradition. 

The Pré Curieux gardens in Evian are devoted to water conservation, with an interesting collection of water lilies and aquatic plants. Near Publier, the Dranse Delta Nature reserve offers safe haven to a variety of species such as tits, herons and beavers. 
The Ripaille estate’s botanical gardens in Thonon-les-Bains showcase an array of tropical flora. For those looking to stretch their legs, the Bois de Ville forest reaches back from Thonon towards the Hermones mountains. Not far away in Sciez, the Eagles of Geneva animal park hosts various shows including falconry displays, medieval fairs and traditional storytelling. Further west, the Châtaignière and Rovorée estates offer visitors a peaceful moment of quiet contemplation. 

Cultural sites

 

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    Recharging your batteries

    HEALTH AND LIFESTYLE

    Lake Geneva is well known for its spa towns. These include Evian-les-Bains and Thonon-les-Bains, which were sought-after international destinations among high society during the belle époque. So why not take advantage of the setting to enjoy a relaxing stay at one of the local health resorts? Both towns have given their name to the natural mineral water they produce.

    You can also dine al fresco at one of the many lakeside restaurants, and try Lake Geneva’s emblematic perch. There are two Michelin-starred restaurants: Ô Flaveurs 1* in Douvaine and Les Fresques 1* in Evian. Local cuisine is rooted in Chablais, where many traditional recipes draw on the local Abondance cheese. Many famous wines also come from the Chasselas vines grown on the south side of the lake, such as Ripaille, Crépy, Marignan and Marin. 

    THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PANORAMAS

     From the châteaux des Allinges you can enjoy a clear view over Lake Geneva and Chablais. A marked trail offers walkers information about the history of this dividing line between two lands. 

     The region known as Pays de Gavot, in the rural hinterland of Evian, is a perfect place for walking and hiking. Thollon-les-Mémises and the surrounding cliffs offer stunning views over the lake. 

     Routes from the village of Bernex, up to Dent d'Oche, Mont Bénand and Pointe de Pelluaz reward hikers with magnificent mountain-top views over Lake Geneva. 

     For a panoramic viewpoint over the lake, Mont-Blanc and the Jura mountains, head to Mont Salève, located south of the lake, before reaching Bornes plateau. The western slopes of this mountain are covered in forests and meadows and scattered with colourful villages.  

    Discover lookouts