Aix-les-Bains – Country Roads of France
Aix-les-Bains, on the edge of the Le Lac du Bourget, is France’s most celebrated natural lake. Aix-les-Bains was a spa town back in Roman times and has been one of France’s premier spa resorts since the eighteenth century. Some of the old elegant architecture reflects Aix-les-Bain’s belle-epoque heyday, when high society from across Europe dropped by to relax and enjoy the waters. The British and Queen Victoria were especially partial to the place.
In the heart of the town is the 19th century Thermes Nationaux (thermal baths), currently being renovated. These days it no longer attracts high society and is particularly popular with French pensioners who come to enjoy their state-funded thermal treatments. If you happen to be in town when the baths are open, you may be able to visit the basement of this building where remains of the original Roman baths can still be seen.
It is well worth taking a stroll through the nearby Parc Thermal to enjoy its beautiful and brilliantly laid-out flowerbeds, ancient trees and the islamic style fountain, an ornate memorial to commemorate King Hassan of Morocco who was always very fond of the town. In the park is a 300-seat outdoor theatre, which hosts a variety of events during the summer months. The afternoon we were there, line dancing was in progress (really!).
We were told that at 3:30 pm there is music in the town square and dancing. True enough, by the Hotel de Ville there was live music and the locals, dressed up for this regular afternoon tea-dance, danced away to the music. It was entertaining to watch the different dancers and poseurs and it was obvious that some of these residents spend a fair amount of their time showing off their skills there. Definitely worth a visit, even if ballroom dancing isn’t your thing.