Welcome (virtually) on board

Thonon-les-Bains, sub-prefecture of Haute Savoie, has 36 000 inhabitants. The city is configured in amphitheatre like almost all the cities around the lake. There is therefore a lower part of the city located at 370m altitude (lakeside and harbors) and an upper part of the city located between 410 and 569 m altitude (shopping, pedestrian and historical center as well as the food market on Thursdays).


Long des Quais de Rives

From the esplanade where the Ferris wheel is located, between the sailing school and the fish farm which is used to restock the lake, the quayside is an ideal place to stroll and admire Lake Geneva. The largest lake in Western Europe is crossed by the Rhône. Its dimensions are: 72.8 km long, 14 km wide and 310 m deep (the height of the Eiffel Tower). It is populated by a wide variety of fish, the most famous of which are perch, féra, arctic char, pike, trout and carp. Fishing is authorized in Lake Geneva from the shore as well as on the lake, provided that you obtain a special fishing permit (information and sale at the Tourist Office)

photo : karadrone

Plage Municipale

This privileged swimming area takes place in a 3 hectare flowered park where bathers can enjoy several pools, an access to the lake, a restaurant by the shore and a snack bar. A little higher up, the public can access the lake directly and enjoy the Pinède beach by taking the path that borders the municipal beach and the vineyards of Ripaille. It is also here that you will be able to initiate yourself to various nautical activities such as stand-up paddleboard, canoe, windsurfing or pedal boat rental. All these activities can be booked on thononlesbains.com


Château et domaine de Ripaille

The Château de Ripaille is one of the jewels of the Haute Savoie heritage. Ideally located on the shores of Lake Geneva, it was built in the 15th century by the first Duke of Savoy, Amédée VIII, in order to make a hermitage for great lords and to retire there. Several religious orders took turns owning it, including the Chartreux monks, who occupied the estate from the 17th century until the French Revolution. The restoration of the Château began in 1892 under the impetus of Frederic Engel Gros, an Alsatian industrialist and art lover. He used the “Art Nouveau” style and called on leading architects. Thanks to Engel Gros, Ripaille became an example of the modernity of 1900.

Thanks to its vineyards, the domain of the castle extends to the entrance of the forest of Ripaille, and offers a clear view on the Dent d’Oche, one of the major summits of the Chablais massif, which culminates at 2222m of altitude and is a delight for hikers.

For your visit, tasting or purchase of local products, get off at this stop.

The Ferris Wheel, the funicular, the museums, the Château de Ripaille and the municipal beach are partners of the Pass léman, a tourist pass offering free and reduced rates at about fifty partners on the French side of Lake Geneva and the surrounding mountain pastures.  On sale in all the Tourist Offices of the French side of Lake Geneva.


Réserve Naturelle et Fôret de Ripaille

From the avenue of Saint Disdille, you can freely visit the natural reserve of the Delta de la Dranse and from the Ripaille road access the forest that bears the same name. These sites offer an amazing diversity of environments in such a small area. These incredible and unusual natural settings are home to numerous species (fauna and flora) and more than 200 species of trees.

Located between Thonon and Publier, the natural reserve of the Delta de la Dranse is one of the last natural areas on the shores of Lake Geneva that is home to many animal and plant species. This area is classified as a SPA (Special Protection Area) for its ecological and environmental values.

The tourist office also organizes guided tours and night visits of this sensitive natural area, ideal for observing the migration of birds and the life of the beaver.

chapelle de Concise - façade

Quartier et Chapelle de Concise

Concise is one of the old hamlets which were attached to Thonon during the extension of the city… Today it is a district on its own in Thonon, but it has kept its chapel, its square, its wash house, its village atmosphere… and its charm! Nestled in the heart of the hamlet of Concise, the chapel already existed in the 11th century.

In the choir is a mural painting dating from the end of the 13th or beginning of the 14th century (discovered in 1976 during renovation work) representing the beheading of Saint John the Baptist.

It is the only known painting of this period in the region, making the transition between the fresco of Allinges (XIth) and the important vestiges of the XVth century of Abondance and Annecy.

Considering that the chapel of Concise is distinguished by its painted content which makes it an “important element of the Chablais heritage, it was registered as a historical monument in Thonon on October 22, 2015.

It can be visited in July and August, you will find the days and times on the website of the Thonon tourist office.

Vue du belvédère@Sémaphore photographie

Square Paul Jacquier et Belvédère

The Paul Jacquier square, a former English garden, is home to the Maurice Novarina theater (architect from Thonon). Occupied by the Maison des Arts du Léman, the theater gives over 150 performances per year of dance, music, theater and even festivals. On the site, you can discover the remains of an ancient Gallo-Roman potter’s kiln and the Etrave gallery, a photography exhibition center with a rich and varied program.

Back in the upper town, we are now overlooking Lake Geneva at an altitude of 400 meters: the belvedere of Thonon, a place that certainly offers one of the most beautiful views of the city of Thonon les Bains. From here, you can observe the lower town, the Swiss neighboring area (Morges in front, Lausanne on the right, Nyon on the left) and the Jura mountains.

Eglise Saint François de sales

Centre-ville et marché

You will walk through the heart of the thermal town, discover a commercial city with a rich history and an important heritage. The city center welcomes every Monday, Thursday and Sunday mornings the weekly food  markets of the city of Thonon les Bains.


Pôle de la Visitation

The large building to the north of the square is the monastery of the Visitation of Saint Mary. Various buildings are arranged around the western courtyard: an old house on the rue des Granges, the church to the north and, to the east, a main building and the choir, all forming an unfinished cloister. The cultural center of the Visitation now houses several structures, including the Media Library, but also the Académie Chablaisienne, a learned society created in 1886, as well as the School of Music and Dance of Thonon and Lake Geneva. The old chapel houses a contemporary art exhibition center, with 4 major thematic exhibitions per year of high quality.


Grande Rue

The pedestrian and historical center is home to many small shops of all types and restaurants with various specialties. A place where inhabitants and visitors like to meet and soak up the atmosphere of Thonon of yesterday and today. Sometimes to stroll in the animated streets, sometimes to shop or to discover the church of Saint Hyppolyte and the basilica of Saint François de Sales, which have the particularity of being next to each other and from a completely different period.

The basilica Saint-François-de-Sales is a catholic church of Thonon-les-Bains (Haute-Savoie) in France. It is of traditional plan and neo-classical style. It almost replaced the church of Saint-Hippolyte, but against all odds the inhabitants and believers defended their church, and the basilica was built from 1889, next to the first building. Thus, the two churches communicate, creating an important space for each mass and various concerts of classical music.

102- funiculaire

Retour au Belvédère et Funiculaire

The funicular of Thonon, which runs along the district of Rives, is certainly the most visited heritage equipment of the city nowadays. This original means of transport allows to reach the port of Rives from the city center while avoiding the 50 meters difference inelevation that separates the upper town from the village of Rives. It was built in 1888. The funicular has the particularity of having a curved route; it is one of the only funiculars in the world whose cars pass each other in a curve!

The funicular is free of charge for Pass Léman holders.

Château de Sonnaz

Château de Sonnaz : l'Office de Tourisme et le Musée du Chablais réunis

Built by François Michel de Sonnaz between 1666 and 1668, on the remains of the outbuildings of the former Château de Thonon mentioned above. This seigniorial residence, acquired by the City of Thonon in 1949, has a prestigious past; indeed, the sovereigns of the kingdom of Piedmont Sardinia used to reside there during their stays in Chablais. Victor Amédée stayed there in 1724, then, at the beginning of the 19th century, it was the turn of Victor Emmanuel or Charles Felix, king of Sardinia and duke of Savoy.

The castle now houses the Thonon Tourist Office, created in 1894, which makes it one of the oldest in France. In the basement, the Chablais Museum hosts permanent exhibitions and each year an original temporary exhibition!


Mairie et Château de Bellegarde

The historical center of Thonon’s sociability, the town hall square was originally devoted to commercial activity, notably to fairs and markets. Facing the fountain stands the town hall, rebuilt by two architects, Joseph Mazzone from Carouge and Louis Perregaud from Lausanne in 1821 in the neoclassical style typical of Piedmontese architecture.


Ancien Grand Hôtel des Bains et Lycée hôtelier Savoie Léman

Along the belvedere, you can admire the former Grand Hôtel des Bains, now a private residence. Then not far away, on the other side of the road, at the corner of Boulevard Carnot and Boulevard de la Corniche, stands the elegant silhouette of the catering college, which is very famous in the profession. The catering college now houses a brasserie and a gourmet restaurant, as well as a three-star hotel with 32 rooms.

We will not take the road to the thermal baths, but you should know that not far from here is the Valvital thermal center. In the heart of a green park, close to the pedestrian streets, the thermal center offers different types of cures, relaxation and fitness treatments. Today, the thermal baths combine their cures activity with fitness and thermoludism. You can take advantage of an aqua-relaxation space and its thermal swimming pool at 32°, its Hammam, Sauna, musical Grotto, and its experimental showers…

Valvital thermal centre is a partner of the Pass Léman, and offers a one time 50% discount to their holders.


Retour au port de Rives et Port de Pêcheurs

We are now above the fishermen’s port, animated by a dozen professionals still active today. Each one of them has a “guérite”, a sort of workshop where they store, cut, transform and sell their products, which will then be sold to restaurants and shops in the region. You can also buy the fish directly from the fishermen, do not hesitate to ask for the contact to the advisers of the tourist office.

You can discover the lower part of the city, visit the Ecomuseum de la Pêche et du Lac and the fishermen’s huts, enjoy the terraces of the restaurants and the ice cream kiosks. It is also from this location that you can embark on one of the CGN boats to visit neighboring Switzerland (ticket on sale at the tourist office) or rent a boat.

This picturesque district, located at the foot of the city, was built in the middle of the 13th century. In the past, this village with its narrow, steep streets was occupied by fishermen and boatmen. Today this area offers a real Dolce Vita to the walkers. From the terraces of the port, offer yourself a real postcard, worthy of the French Riviera by tasting the famous perch filets of Lake Geneva.


End of the tour

To take the little tourist train of Thonon for REAL, you just have to go to the port of Rives and jump in one of its 3 wagons, every day from 11 am (except on Mondays in low season), between June and September, every year.

The complete 40-minute loop costs 7 euros per person and is offered at a reduced rate with the PASS Léman. Ask for it at the Tourist Office of Thonon!