Updated: Mar 13
The first thing that came to my mind whenever I heard the word 'Evian', was the sound of the mineral water pouring from a source.
Evian is the most famous label for the mineral water we buy in every shop in France and Abroad.
I traveled to learn about a city renowned for its healthy mineral water, people have drunk over centuries.
There was another reason for my journey there. The discovery of an exceptionnel exhibition- Artists Voyageuses in the Palais Lumiere -the Palace of lights (from 11 December 2022 till 21 Mai 2023) in Evian.
It was mid-December, just a day after the opening of the exhibition. I arrived at Evian on a freezing day. The first thing I distinguished in Evian is how elegant it is: The beautiful villas located by the lake Leman contribute to Evian's charm and create a picturesque scenery.
Evian shares the enormous lake with her swiss cities neighbors: Lausanne, Genève, and Montreux.
It immediately gives the viewer the feeling of a calmness.
It was in 1790 that mineral water in Evian revealed all its wholesome qualities. Evian has slowly attracted more and more visitors due to its healthy resources; tourists from all over Europe serached for its healing nature.
It was also the time of "La Belle Epoque," and magnificent villas were built.
Strolling in the streets of Evian, these impressive restored buildings were a delight to observe.
The Villa Châtelet
This villa is a testimony to the Belle Époque( Golden days)- The first owner was Charles Taillefer, a lawyer who worked at the end of the 19th century in the French Embassy in London. He desired to construct a villa in a French Renaissance style.
The elegant house has few floors and rooms and melds perfectly with Evian's refined spirit.
In the rooms you can see many paintings exposed. there are also rooms where can be conferences and receptions.
There is a permanent exhibition of Peter Cerruti's paintings, who is not only a painter but the current owner of the villa. It is surrounded by a lovely garden.
The visit to Palais Lumiere -the exhibition "Artists Voyageuses- Travelers artists.
Those who read my reviews of cities I visited, know my love for travelling, I feel such a stupendous vitality once I see a new region, or a city. It inspires my artistic work and has other significant positive effects.
Of course, many people share with me this eagerness of wandering . The experience of exploring new places is recharging us with energy and immerse us in "another world".
Nowadays with social media, we get non-stop images of people posing in tourist sites as hidden corners,we wouldn't know of their existence. But how can we content with that?
To enjoy traveling, one must be adventurous and open-minded and step out of the comfort zone, one needs therefore to move and explore...
The exhibition - Artistes Voyageuses. Artists (female artists travelers) in the Palace lumière was an enlightenment for me at the core of the winter.
It was icy in the morning when I went to the exhibition. The building, Le 'Palais Lumiere' is a Jewel to watch, from outdoors and inside.
Its location, Infront of the lake makes it even more unique.
It was initially a thermal establishment. The architecture reveals a strong connection to the sources of water. It became famous at the beginning of the 20th century.
The luminous Palace greeted me on this cold day with warmth and tranquility.
When did you ever see paintings of female artists exploring the world at the end of the 19th century? It is such an original exhibition.
It was not only beautiful but enlightening.
In the exhibition you would meet about 40 artists: painters, photographers, and sculptures: From la " Belle Epoque" -end of the 19th century till the second world war.
Many of them studied in the prestigious school de beaux -Arts ( fine arts)" in Paris.
I traveled with them to the desert of Sahara or into the landscapes of Africa, India, Madagascar, China, and Thibet.
The artworks brought different subjects: the Bible themes, others the daily life customs in these distant continents(mainly in North Africa). You could see how the exotic landscapes they had seen was an essential inspiration for their work.
But even more surprising is that the paintings and sculptures of these women revealed their strength, beliefs and independence.
No cliché: their imagination and their vision created an authentic world, and makes you travel with them and feel their inner world as contemplating their visual impressions.
The fact that the Palace Lumiere's location is in front of "Leman," one of the largest lakes in Europe, made me think about how it is essential for art, as for his creator, to move, to flow, to cross borders, to change conceptions, and to bring the beauty of various cultures- Just like when we take a boat and sail to different lands.
These female artists were not fragile and domestic as expected back at the beginning of 20 century, but courageous and strong-minded.
This important exhibition was a revelation, and since it is till the 21 of May, you have to go to Evian to see it yourself.
Mid-December, Evian celebrated " Le fabuleux village des flottins". Flottins are the characters who animated the village: The actors and musicians. The city is transforming into a fantasy fairy tale. In the day, you could see enormous sculptures made of this typical floating wood (quite a light wood ) like Giant fishes and other creatures, at night there were celebrations with musicians playing in different instruments in unexpected places.
Bonfires and torches created a magical sight. This is a long tradition in Evian.
Together with the Christmas decoration, Evian sparkled.
Evian is an invitation to travel!
From Evian to Lausanne
Like the flowing water in Evian, you can drift away mentally and physically. Did you know that there are every day few ferries taking passengers from Evian to Lausanne and return, in less than an hour? It seems adventures, but habitants of Lausanne and Evian travel regularly, between these two cities for work.
After crossing lake Leman, it was a pleasure to be in beautiful Switzerland again.
Lausanne was animated on Saturday, and I was surprised how many activities one could do in a day. I discovered the historic town center and reached the hill where the old cathedral is.
Lausanne has a fantastic art gallery, and I recommend vividly seeing the masterpieces there.
The center was pretty crowded and it was way colder than Evian. After being in the museum, I sheltered inside a coffee house and warmed up with a hot drink.
Click inside the image for the website
The Red Swan of Evian
Everyone knows 'Swan Lake' by Tchaikovsky.
In Evian. There is an enchanted place. The hotel "Le Cygne and the restaurant" - (The swan). When you enter the restaurant, it is as if you arrived at a majestic opera house or a ballroom adorned in an exquisite French taste and charm, right from the 19th century, I have shared my impressions with the owner of the restaurant Mr Sebastien Buet who was happy to hear my enthusiasm from his enthralling place.
Being surrounded by a passionate red furniture,made me forget, the wind and the cold that were waiting for me outside.
It was not only spectacular, but the dishes were also very delicious and the atmosphere is particularly festive.
I would also love to sit on the balcony in the summer, as the whole lake is exposed, and the landscape is superb.
I advise to all the beauty lovers and sophisticated restaurants not to miss the experience of visiting restaurant Le Cygne
The walk there is also pleasant as it is on the promenade.
Like the Palais Lumière, it is a must-see place in Evian.
It is a five stars hotel but is more of a palace-Museum, with outlandish architecture built according to the plans of Parisian architect Albert Herbard.
The honorable appartement was built for a visit of the King of England, Edouard the 7th, who died on Mai 1910 without visiting Evian
click inside the picture for the link
The styles are a mix of: Art Nouveau and Art Deco. it is Indeed a royal palace in blue and gold that are filling you with awe when you walk through the different rooms.
You can enjoy also having an afternoon tea or a glass of wine in the hotel's bar.
I wish to return to Evian, maybe for another exhibition, or simply to enjoy the city in a warmer weather, like the exhibition's topic: the 'travelers artists', I would travel now to the summer, to sit relaxing in front of lake Leman, maybe on the terrasse of the restaurant le Cygne or in the prestigious Hotel Royal. The sun will spread soft ray of lights, and the water will radiate in blue, as in the picture that opens this review.
Hotel Le Bourgogne- I stayed in this Hotel - It is a comfortable three stars hotel. With large rooms. There is also a very good restaurant in the hotel. Its location is in the heart of the city center.
I traveled with Lyria
I discovered Lyria first time when I traveled to Switzerland to the city Bern. I booked my tickets with Lyria: a direct train from Paris to Bale and then another hour to the Swiss Capital. Lyria company provides fast travels on regularly basis directly to the Swiss cities like :Geneva, Bale, Lausanne and Zurich.
The good news that they also provide combined travels, as I did to Bern, there is the possibility to book in advance the internal trains with the Leman express, to reach other beautiful cities as : Evian le Bain, Montreux, Vevey, Bern.
The nice and comfortable thing was that I could arrive to Evian Le Bain in France, quickly and smoothly, thanks to the Leman express. Evian is literally just facing Switzerland,
3 hours to Geneva and than an hour to Evian. There was also the option to combine the journey with arriving to Lausanne and then to take the boat to Evian.
The train is super comfortable and there are quite few options to travel to Switzerland in reasonable prices, all these possibilities allow to arrive to smaller cities in France and Switzerland that worth very much your attention and visit.
Text and images- Niva Josef