Aix-les-Bains is a beautiful spa town located in Savoie, on the shores of Lake Bourget and close to Chambéry. It has a population of 29,000. Its historical heritage and cultural activities attract many tourists.
History and heritage
The town has been awarded the “Ville d’Art et d’Histoire” label since 2014. In the Neolithic period, people settled in villages on stilts on the banks of Lake Bourget. These settlements have been classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site. During the ancient period, the Romans were particularly fond of the hot mineral springs. They built thermal baths and a magnificent temple dedicated to Diana (Roman goddess). From the Middle Ages to the Revolution, the town was a small village of 1,000 inhabitants. In 1793, a major fire destroyed half of the houses and the town was rebuilt with a street alignment plan.
The first spa was built in 1783, with the Empire, celebrities came to spa and the resort attracted more and more visitors, which led to the development of the hotel infrastructure. At the beginning of the 20th century, the construction of the railway station and the development of the port allowed for economic growth. By the 1980s, Aix-les-Bains was the leading spa in France.
The town’s heritage is made up of remarkable elements:
- The Arch of Campanus: this is a Roman funerary arch which symbolises the passage to the afterlife.
- The old Town Hall: it dates from the 16th century and is built in the pure Gothic style with its low-arched entrance door.
- The Château de la Roche du Roi: this oriental palace with a dungeon, terrace and balconnet is an eccentric building that deserves a visit.
- The Palaces: many were built in the 19th century, such as the Grand Hôtel, the Splendide and the Excelsior.
- The Casino Grand Cercle: its remarkable architecture is a testimony to the Belle Epoque.
- The former national thermal baths and the thermal baths park: they bear witness to the importance of this activity in the Aix landscape.
The Royal Abbey of Hautecombe overlooks the Lac du Bourget. It houses the tombs of the Counts of Savoy and the last kings and queens of Italy. The audio tour guides you through the building to discover the neo-gothic architecture, the large frescoes, the marble sculptures and the Grange Batelière. Visitors can participate in daily prayer services. Outside the summer months, guided tours of the terrace and the royal flats inside the abbey are available. For children, a monk tells the history of the site. You can take a boat from Aix-les-Bains to do this tour.
Top rated hotels
Depending on your budget, we have selected five hotels in Aix-les-Bains that offer excellent value for money and have very good customer reviews.
Golden Tulip Aix les Bains – Hotel & Spa
This 4-star hotel is located 200 m from the train station and 700 m from the congress centre. It features spa and wellness facilities that include: a jet pool, sauna, sensory showers and an infrared Iyashi Dome. The restaurant “L’Alchimiste” serves excellent traditional French cuisine.From €110 per night.
This hotel is located near the Casino Grand Cercle and the national thermal baths. It has 62 spacious, air-conditioned rooms and an underground car park (fee required). You can relax in the indoor swimming pool, sauna and hammam.
From € 80 per night.
Hotel & Spa Marina d’Adelphia
Situated on the shores of Lac du Bourget, this large hotel offers high quality facilities, including 3 heated swimming pools, a gym, a hammam and a sauna. The rooms are air-conditioned and offer a beautiful view of the lake or the surrounding mountains. A very nice place to stay,from € 80 per night.
Mercure Aix-les-Bains Domaine de Marlioz Hotel & Spa
The hotel is ideally located in the Marlioz area. It features a thermal centre with a large indoor swimming pool and a spa reserved for people over 15 years old. The ski resort of La Féclaz is only 20 km away. The rooms are large, air-conditioned and have a private balcony.From € 107 per night.
Best Western Aquakub
This new hotel is located 200 metres from the Lac du Bourget and features a gym, an indoor swimming pool, a wellness centre and a restaurant with a panoramic view of the lake. The restaurant “Le Kubix” serves refined local, French and international cuisine. Parking is free of charge.From € 85 per night.
The Place Clémenceau Market
The Aix-les-Bains market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Wednesdays all day, it is a large fairground and food market. On Saturdays, you can buy fruit and vegetables as well as Savoyard specialities from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.Address: 38 place Georges Clemenceau, 73100 Aix-les-Bains.
Ideas for cultural and sporting activities
The cultural and natural richness of the site allows for beautiful walks:
The lake path
The start is on the Rowing beach. The walk, along the greenway, measures up to 8 km along the lake. You can also do it with rollerblades. There are many benches to enjoy the lake view.
Walk along the water
This path is partly laid out on footbridges. It allows you to discover the fauna and flora, including the beautiful reed beds. It is closed from 16 October to 15 March. You can admire the Maison de la Roselière which is a rare 19th century property with direct access to the lake. Frogs and water lilies can be seen along the way.
Walk along the lake esplanade
This is the favourite walk of the people of Aix. This long promenade crosses a large wooded park equipped with refreshment stands, snack bars and children’s games. The site measures over 8 hectares. The area offers many activities: small wooden horses, rosalia, merry-go-rounds, boat hire and trampolines.
This tour takes you around the emblematic places of the town centre, starting from the tourist office. A visit to the Faure Museum is possible. The walk starts at the town’s Tourist Office. The walk lasts 2.5 hours and requires a total of 2.7 km.
Grotte aux Fées hike
A one-hour walk through undergrowth and glades, starting from the Corsuet forest. This walk is best done in autumn to appreciate the magnificent golden hues of the tree foliage. It takes 2 hours to appreciate the panorama of the Lac du Bourget.
Mont Revard hike
The hike starts from Mouxy station to reach the Revard lookout and its glass platform. This walk is easy and accessible to pushchairs. The view, from the platform, is magnificent on the Bourget lake, the Dent du Chat, the Bauges massif and the Mont-Blanc.
The Musilac Festival
This music festival is the biggest pop-rock event in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Over 4 to 5 days in early July, 110,000 festival-goers gather on the shores of Lake Bourget to attend concerts. Musilac has already welcomed some of the world’s biggest stars: David Guetta, Stromae, Mika, Peter Gabriel, Indochine, The Cure, Placebo and Muse.
The event is located on the esplanade of the Lac du Bourget, near the mouth of the Sierroz. It is strongly advised to book your seats in advance.
The Aix-les-Bains racecourse
It was built during the Belle Époque, in 1883. It is the only facility dedicated to racing and sports betting in the Alps. The racecourse has large grandstands, a panoramic bar and an open-air restaurant. The structure that manages this facility is the Société des Courses d’Aix-les-Bains.
It offers ten races a year from mid-June to mid-August, including five trotting and five gallop meetings. All these meetings are classified as Premium.
Aix-les-Bains Town Hall: located on Place Maurice Mollard, is open from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 12 pm and from 2.30 pm to 6 pm except on Fridays, when it closes at 5 pm. Aix-les-Bains Town Hall‘s official website.
Aix-les-Bains Tourist Office.