Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Last months I  spent 10 days with 2 friends in Thonon-les-Bains which once has been  the historic capital of Chablais, a province of the old Duchy of Savoy. The town was the capital of the Dukedom of Chablais. It is located just at the Geneva lake but on the French side, and only a few km away from Geneva.

In 2004, when working for the bypass road Thonon-les-Bains, excavations on the site Genevray led to the discovery of a necropolis. According to mythology, the city was founded by an ancient Germanic tribe who took part in the massacre of the Romans in the Black Forest.

The historic center, built around the Grande Rue, is characterized by narrow streets, lined with buildings of three or four floors. The artery has a commercial and residential pedestrian zone, and is adjacent to the oldest street in the city, the street-Coq Chante. You can read more here.

We walked along the lake front and admired the yachts and boats in the habour

The city has a very pleasant architecture which reminded me the South of France.

This is one of several fountains and springs  trickling in Thonon town centre and takes pride of place on the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville. (City hall)

The Château de Sonnaz was built in 1666 on the ruins of Thonon’s medieval château. It belonged to the Gerbaix de Sonnaz, one of Savoie’s oldest families. It now houses the Musée du Chablais and Thonon-les-Bains Tourist Office. We visited an exhibition where we could see which what phantasy all kind of stuff was smuggled from Switzerland to France or rather from France to Switzerland. Really amazing ! I will write about this in a separate post.

The city is located on two levels and to get into the old town you have to take the funicular,

which gives you a wonderful view on the Geneva lake. Thonon’s 19th Century hillside railway, Constructed in 1888, ‘Le Funiculaire’ was moved by a counter-weighting system using 11 tons of water. Today, it still links the port to the town centre, but since 1990, it has been powered by electricity.

When we were up in the old town, there was just a flea market taking place.

Since the 90s this former Monastery of the Visitation chapel has been dedicated to modern art and welcomes well-known artists all year round. There are also concerts taking place. We couldn't see the inside it was closed unfortunately

We continued our walk through the little streets with the beautiful old houses and arrived at

the wash-house which  was very important for social reasons as one of few places were women could meet up and talk. Doing the laundry was physically challenging so doing it in a group made it more manageable as women could chat, joke, sing and sometimes even fight.

Even today women use it for especially big pieces of the laundry or carpets. 

We took the funicular to get down to the harbor again and returned home.

Thonon les Bains is a famous place where lots of very wealthy people have their holiday villas or even permanent homes. As it is so close to Switzerland it is certainly also useful for their piggy bank. .


Anonymous said...

What a lovely and charming place! gorgeous photos too.

A Lady's Life said...

How lovely. I love the marina.
I would hang there. lol

Linens and Royals said...

Another beautiful and interesting place I would never know about if it were not for your travels.

eileeninmd said...

What a lovely place to visit. Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing your visit.

Sandra Carlier said...

What a beautiful place! Thanks for sharing! Must be funny to take the funicular! It makes me think to Monaco when you want to go at the top of the town but it is an ascensor!
The fountains are nice. And I imagine the women washing. In les Pyrénnées we saw fishes in a bachal where women were used to work in the old time!

Fun60 said...

Lots of history as well as beauty in that town.

diane b said...

That is a beautiful town with such an interesting history.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh that is so beautiful! Everything about this place seems like magic to me.


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I love writing, traveling and photography. . I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.


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