Thonon-les-Bains is a town on the southern shore of Lake Geneva in the northern part of the French Chablais region, and is the sub-prefecture of the Haute-Savoie department.
The town has more than 35,000 inhabitants, known as the “thononais” and “thononaises”, and covers more than 1,600 hectares at an altitude of between 370 and 570 metres. Thonon-les-Bains is bordered by Anthy sur Léman, Allinges, Armoy, Champanges, Féternes and Publier. It is located 9 km fromEvian, 31 km from Annemasse and 74 km from Annecy.
In the commune of Thonon, you will find the river Dranse, which flows down from the Haut Chablais, as well as a pond called “L’étang de la dame”. You will be able to stroll on its port, at the edge of the lake Léman, which ensures lake connections with Lausanne in Switzerland.
History and heritage
The Castle of Ripaille
This magnificent historical monument was built in the 14th century. It is a high place of wine and culture in the Haute-Savoie. It was the retreat of the first Duke of Savoy, Amédée VIII.
The largest freshwater lake in France has 53 km of shoreline in the Chablais region. The lake is 180 km long. On the Swiss shores are the cities of Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux. On the French shores, you can visit Evian-les-Bains and Yvoire.
The cultural centre of the Visitation
This former 17th century building has been transformed into a contemporary art space, music school and media library. You can appreciate the imposing glass roof in its entrance.
The Basilica of Saint François de Sales
This remarkable religious building was completed in the 20th century and the vaults and stained glass windows are well worth a visit. Its architectural style is neo-classical. The church is dedicated to Saint-François-de-Salle.
Cultural and sports facilities
Many shows are held in Thonon throughout the year:
- The Festival des p’tits malins in October: theatre, dance, songs, book festival and cinema are on the programme.
- Les nocturnes chablaisiennes: every Friday evening, the terraces come alive and the musicians meet the public. It is also an opportunity to discover the local produce and specialities and to meet the associative world.
- Argentinean tango classes at the Visitation cultural centre.
- Concert at the port of Rives: on the terraces of the port in August.
- Fiesta des petits Loups: every Wednesday evening in summer at the port of Rives: humour and acrobatics for children.
- Fireworks on 14 July in Thonon and on 15 August in Evian.
The Montjoux Festival
This pop rock and French song festival was created in 1997. It is a growing success with more than 14,000 spectators who attend 3 evenings of concerts each year during the first week of July in the beautiful setting of the Domaine de Montjoux. Each year, 12 concerts are offered to the public. The following artists have already performed: Mika, M, Tryo, Renaud, Yannick Noah, Garou, ShakaPonk, Soprano, Selah Sue, Bernard Lavilliers, BB Brunes and Bénabar. The shows are performed on two stages. An off part of the festival is dedicated to new emerging talents.
Due to the health crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 editions are cancelled. In order to cope with the growing success of this festival and to accommodate a larger audience, the organisers plan to transfer it to the neighbouring town of Publier. The large Place du Miroir should be the chosen site with a capacity of 10,000 spectators per evening.
The Christmas market
This flagship event of the end-of-year festivities is the largest on the French shores of Lake Geneva. 51 wooden chalets set up on the Belvedere offer festive products that are great gift ideas. In addition to the chalets, the Thonon-les-Bains Christmas market includes Santa’s house, an ice rink, eight eateries, bars and a large arch. In the town centre, animations are set up on the main squares of the town: merry-go-rounds, ice sculptures and face painting. A mapping is projected on the façade of the town hall. A small Christmas train runs through the city.
The Rock’n Poche Festival
Every year since 1992, the small village of Habère-Poche, located 30 minutes from the town of Thonon-les-Bains, hosts an alternative rock and song festival on the last weekend of July. The musical event takes place at the foot of the chairlift and a campsite allows festival-goers to settle in the mountain pastures. Over two days, numerous groups perform in front of more than 10,000 spectators. The programme is national, but also regional and local to facilitate the emergence of new talent.
Due to the health crisis, as in 2020, the 2021 edition of the Rock’n Poche Festival is cancelled. It is replaced by“La Guinguette des Alpages” which offers four concerts over two days at the end of July.
The municipal sports school
This is an innovative scheme which allows children from CE1 to CM2 to practice 4 disciplines during a year plus cross-country skiing. Every 7 weeks or so, the children start a new discipline. The structure offers to discover nine sports disciplines in total with sports professionals: rugby, swimming, athletics, judo, handball, American football, fencing, basketball and cross-country skiing.
Top rated hotels
Depending on your budget, we have selected five hotels in Thonon-les-Bains that offer excellent value for money and have very good customer reviews:
The Originals City, Hôtel L’Arc-En-Ciel
A convenient hotel located 5 minutes from the town centre and with an outdoor swimming pool. The hotel’s restaurant “Les Maronniers” produces inventive cuisine inspired by traditional Haute-Savoie dishes. Also at your disposal: table football, table tennis and billiards.From 76 € per night.
Hotel Les Marronniers
This beautiful hotel is located just 1.1 km from the city’s thermal baths. It offers family rooms. The buffet breakfast is served in the breakfast room. The hotel has 2 car parks. In the summer you can enjoy the garden and the outdoor swimming pool.
From € 69 per night.
Hotel À la tasse à moustache
Ibis Thonon Centre
Located in the city centre, this hotel offers the comfort of Ibis Hotels with air-conditioned rooms and a breakfast buffet with madeleines and pastries baked on site. The Château de Ripaille is only 3 km away for a visit.
From € 66 per night.
Le Comte Rouge
A beautiful hotel located near the shores of Lake Geneva and a 5-minute walk from the thermal baths. The Thonon-les-Bains funicular and a cinema are within walking distance. Guestrooms are spacious and have a contemporary decor. The dining room is equipped with a fireplace.From € 54 per night.
Ideas for activities to visit Thonon-les-Bains
This spa town offers many ideas for outings:
Thonon-les-Bains thermal centre
The virtues of Thonon’s water have been known since Gallo-Roman times. Nowadays, people from all over the world come to take advantage of the diuretic, rheumatological and dietetic actions of the Valvital spa. The town’s fountains allow you to collect Thonon’s mineral water during your visit. The centre offers 600 m² of relaxation space, a thermal pool heated to 32° C but also a hammam, musical grotto, sauna, ice fountain and cold water well.
The Chablais Museum
Located in the castle of Sonnaz, it hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions to understand the memory of the region. This historic residence has a magnificent panorama of Lake Geneva.Address: 2 rue Michaud, 74200 Thonon-les-Bains.
The Lake and Fishing Ecomuseum
This museum is located in three traditional huts. It is the guarantor of the memory of professional fishermen. You can discover the unique atmosphere of a fishing village.Address: 2 quai de Rives, 74200 Thonon-les-Bains.
The Dranse Delta Nature Reserve
This natural site is located between Thonon-les-Bains and Publier. This green setting is home to one of the last natural areas on the shores of Lake Geneva. To reach this delta, go to the end of the avenue de Saint-Disdille, take the road on the right and park in the parking area. You then follow a natural path through a forest area populated by small passerines such as tits and warblers.
As you continue to the mouth of the Dranse, you may come across herons and goosander. Some trees are eaten by beavers. Afterwards, you have to take the path back to the car park. During the summer, a naturalist guide can accompany you (information at the Thonon-les-Bains tourist office).Address: Avenue de Saint-Disdille, Delta de la Dranse, 74200 Thonon-les-Bains.
The capital of the Chablais region has many educational establishments:
- Sixteen nursery and primary schools,
- Seven secondary schools,
- Six high schools, three of which are professional and two private.
The markets of Thonon-les-Bains
The capital of the Chablais region offers two weekly markets of good quality with fresh local produce.
- The big Thursday market which takes place in the renovation area every Thursday from 9 am to 1 pm. On 15 August and Ascension Day, the market is maintained. The food section offers food products from the region. You will also find clothes, local crafts and decoration.
- The small Monday markettakes place on the Place du Marché and Avenue François de Salle, and is devoted solely to local market gardeners and producers. Open every Monday from 7am to 1pm except Whit Monday.
To discover the town and its surroundings, the Thonon-les-Bains agglomeration has a wide range of public transport services:
- The BUT network (Bus Urbains Thononais) which connects nine communes (Allinges, Anthy sur Léman, Evian-les-Bains, Margencel, Marin, Maxilly-sur-Léman , Neuvecelle, Publier and Thonon-les-Bains) with 10 regular bus lines. You can get all the traffic information live.
- The Léman Express is a rail service that links the city’s urban areas with the whole of Geneva. By using the Léman Pass, you can discover Geneva with a cross-border journey in a single ticket. This intermodal offer allows you to combine all public transport: train, bus and funicular.
A“Cityz” car-sharing station is available on rue Jean Blanchard near the SNCF station with two self-service vehicles.
The Thonon-les-Bains Town Hall: located on Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, is open from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 12 pm and from 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm. Official website of the Thonon-les-Bains Town HallThe Thonon-les-BainsTourist Office