Tell anyone you’re going to France and their first question is likely whether or not you plan to visit Paris. It may be one of the most famous and recognizable destinations in France, but there are plenty of hidden gems throughout the country.
One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited is Evian-les-Bains, the site of the LPGA Tour’s final major of the year, the Evian Championship. Nestled between the Alps and Lake Geneva, the views are incredible. Given the city’s name, it should come as no surprise it’s the site where Evian water is bottled and tours of the bottling facility are available.
One of my favorite activities during my annual trip to Evian is a simple one. I love getting up just as the sun is rising and taking a walk along the lake. Looking across Lake Geneva to the other side you can see Switzerland. Directly across from Evian is Lausanne, which is a short 20-30 minute ferry ride and is home to The Olympic Museum.
I’ve stayed the past two years at the Hilton in Evian, which is within walking distance of area restaurants and shops. Rue Nationale was adorned with pink umbrellas during the week of the championship, which created a Mary Poppins vibe on the street. Along this road there are a few boutiques, restaurants and plenty of shops to grab a sweet treat or two. There are two pizza places in town that are popular with the Tour. Zaino, Rapido and the local Thai restaurant, Le Tuk-Tuk are hot spots during the week of the Championship.
Getting to Evian isn’t the easiest, but well worth the journey. Geneva Airport in Switzerland is the closest airport and will likely require multiple connections to get you there. I usually connect in Paris, which leaves just a short one-hour flight on to Geneva. Once you arrive at the airport, it’s about an hour drive to Evian, but it’s right along the lake, which helps to offset the length of the journey.
From Evian, you can also reach Paris by train. After my week at the Evian Championship I took a four-hour train ride to Paris, where I spent the next few days sightseeing. I was in Paris for four days and didn’t come close to seeing all the sites. Be sure to allow plenty of time to be able to see it all!
A few of the highlights of the trip included a trip to the Eiffle Tower, where unfortunately the staff was on strike that day and I wasn’t able to go up inside. I also took a self-guided audio tour at the Louvre and got to see the Mona Lisa. I also visited the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral. Delicious restaurants can be found on nearly every corner where there is plenty of outdoor seating to do some people watching. Cocorico on Rue de Bac was one of my favorite places to eat. It had the ambiance of a rustic, farm to table style restaurant right in the heart of Paris. It was just a few blocks walking distance from the Louvre.
All the major sites are pretty much within walking distance, so if you can book a hotel in downtown Paris you’ll be in good position to take in all the famous attractions. And don’t forget a scarf! All the Parisians are wearing them and you’ll fit right in wearing one of your own.