Aix Heritage and culture
Roman ruins, châteaux and abbey, churches, Belle-Epoque residences… the history of Aix-les-Bains and Lake Bourget in Savoy is rich and plentiful. An invitation to contemplation over a weekend, or even a holiday.
Aix-les-Bains, a city where you can go back in time
A stroll in the heart of the city of Aix reminds us of the city's glorious past.
Discover, one of the most beautiful Town Halls in France in the heart of Aix. A former feudal castle, the existing building was built at the beginning of the 16th century in pure gothic style recognisable at its entrance gate with an low-slung arch and its mullioned windows.
With its history with the water and its respected spas frequented in the 19th century by the European aristocracy, Aix has inherited a rich residential architecture. The whole of Aix bathed in the Belle Epoque: the Aga Khan, the maharajas, emperors, princes… the jet-set. You can still admire the facades of the former palaces: the Grand-Hôtel, neo-classical style, the château de la Roche du Roi, a listed historic monument, the Bernascon residence, in neo-Louis XIII style, the Mirabeau, the Royal, the Excelsior or the Splendide.
Guided tour idea:
The old palaces
Rich specific architecture of the the Villes d'Eaux, literally the "Cities of Waters", these witnesses of the Belle Epoque
were built to accommodate a wealthy and cosmopolitan society. To discover accompanied by a talking guide.
Cultural and surprising tours
You can't stay in Aix-les-Bains without a small visit to the Casino Grand Cercle, created in 1847, which is worth a look, with its French style romantic theatre and ceilings with mosaics by the Venetian Salviati!
Another thing worth seeing are the national spa baths, constructed in 1777 by the King Victor-Amédée III and enlarged in 1932. The new Art Déco style building, notably has a hall and two luxury cabins listed as historic monuments.
Art lovers must visit the Faure museum, which hosts a collection by Impressionist painters (Cézanne, Degas, Pissarro, Bonnard, Marquet…) and the second biggest collection in France by Rodin, with more than 30 sculptures.
Around the lake go to Hautecombe Abbey, a masterpiece of Gothic troubadour style and the mausoleum of the princes of the House of Savoy. It has overlooked the lake since the 12th century and has a chapel of the Princes and a ferryman's barn with a beautiful Cistercian austerity.
Enjoy the peace and silence offered by the small Bourget-du-lac priory, established in the 11th century, with its Norman crypt and its French style garden, and have a look at the Chateau of Thomas II of Savoy.
Stroll in the footsteps of Lamartine
Start with a visit to the Faure museum, where the house of the poet has been rebuilt.
Then continue by walking near the Cave of Lamartine. In the direction of the creek and the small Bourdeau port, take the small path with the steps. This path leads you to a small pebble beach, where the cave is. It is here that the poet looked around and let his imagination wander. There he called to mind "the darkest abysses", the "speechless ledges" and "the black fir trees" of the lake.
Take with you his first collection of poems Méditations written mostly in Aix and allow yourself to daydream:
O Lake! Caves! Speechless ledges! Gloaming glades!
You whom Time shields or can bring back to light,
Beautiful Nature, keep the memory-
The memory of that night:
Memory in your stillness and your storms,
Fair Lake, in your cavorting sloping sides,
In the black fir trees, in the savage rocks
Rising above your tides;
Let the bewailing winds and sighing reeds,
Let the light balm you blow through cliff and grove,
Let all that man can hear, behold or breathe
All say: "They were in love."