Water is the principal element to life, and ubiquitous throughout the territory connecting Abondance Valley to Pays d’Évian. Water reigns supreme here: the spring for the internationally renowned mineral water brand Évian® is here, but the lake, rivers, and snow are just as legendary, and their preservation is a paramount concern. Here, the heritage and living environment are consolidated.
Between the lake and the mountain tops, between sky and peaks, between crystalline water and snow, between Switzerland and France, welcome to the Pays d’Évian – Vallée d’Abondance, a protected and harmonious land where peace, good will, sunshine, and gentle living preside.
Lake Geneva was formed from a glacier and is the largest alpine and subalpine lake in Europe. Approximately 72.8km long and 14km at its widest point, its croissant-shaped Lake Geneva is oriented East to West. Located between Switzerland and France, the North shoreline and its two extremities are shared between the Geneva cantons Vaude and Valais (Swiss). The South shoreline is French and located in the Haute-Savoie department. The French-Swiss border cuts across the centre of the lake.
The lake was formed from the gradual retreat of the Rhône glacier after the last ice age almost 16,000 years ago. Its banks have been artificially strengthened. A real inland sea, the French-Swiss lake holds 89 billion m3 of water, ranging in temperature from 4° to 25°C on the surface, depending on the seasons. Lake Geneva has many tributaries including the Rhône, and the most important is the Dranse that contributes 75% of its influx.
The Dranse is the union of three mountain rivers that descend from the Haut-Chablais summits and join together about ten kilometres above the lake, which then runs into Lake Geneva to form a delta. The Dranse delta nature reserve is located west of Évian-les-Bains in Publier, and spreads out across 53 hectares.
The Chablais Massif is the second largest mountain range in the Northern Prealps. Crowned by many summits, with the Mont de Grange, reaching 2,432 metres above sea level and the Dent d’Oche, at 2221 mètres.
Before the mountainous terrain, there was an ocean. The sediments at the bottom of this alpine ocean formed rocks which, during the creation of the Alps, folded, fractured, and reared upwards to offer a striking spectacle all across Chablais. When travelling through the geosites, we discover the time perspective of hundreds of millions of years of structural development, tens of thousands of years of glacial activity, thousands of years of human presence and exploitation of mineral resources and aquifers.
Rich in geological history, the vast Pays d’Évian Vallée d’Abondance mountainous region provides infinite possibilities for hiking and skiing! But that doesn’t include the many other diverse winter and mountain activities also available here.
From Lake Geneva (372m) to Mount Grange (2,432m), this territory is plural, singular, astonishing, and natural, the Pays d’Évian Vallée d’Abondance has so many facets you will be constantly surprised as you set off on its discovery! Anchored at the heart of the Chablais Prealps, this jewel is graced by Central and Western Europe’s largest alpine lake and is nestled at the entrance to the Portes du Soleil, one of Europe’s largest ski domains. With its privileged geographical location between a famous lake and its almost seaside feel, to a high alpine mountain atmosphere at altitude. Here the territory combines natural elements: water, snow, air, land, stone, and wood gathering 22 communes together which are both complementary and contrasting. A multitude of inspiring options for the ultimate tourist destination all year round!
The Abondance Valley first acquired the prestigious label “Pays d’art et d’histoire” in 2009 before it was extended to the Community of Communes in 2019. Rich and varied, this distinction refers to the religious architectural (Abondance Abbey, Meillerie Priory, Saint-Paul Priory, etc.), agricultural (agropastoralism, viticulture and fishing), ethnological (traditions and expertise), and sporting heritage, and much more!
The Chablais Geopark, 4th French Geopark, offers 23 sites revealing the rich local secrets, seven of which are in the Pays d’Évian – Vallée d’Abondance territory, so you can easily imagine how beautiful the hiking is here!
Situated on the Gavot plateau, the impluvium, is a nature reserve where Évian®’s mineral water source comes from. With natural filtration, this is where the rain and snow are stocked before slowly being filtered and purified through the many geological strata.
The Dranse Delta, nature reserve alone contains a third of the Haute-Savoyard flora, around 800 species, and many areas classed in the European Natura 2000 network particularly including 38 wetlands on the Gavot plateau.
The diverse landscape provides the possibility for many outdoor activities. In the mountains, winter sports fanatics are well looked after with a total of five ski resorts in two ski domains:
– The Montagnes d’Évian (Thollon-les-Mémises, Bernex and
Abondance): 1100km of ski runs, 1,000 m of vertical elevation, 150 artificial snow cannons, 3 snow parks, 3 boardercross, one Big Air
– The Portes du Soleil (Châtel, La Chapelle d’Abondance and Abondance): 12 French-Swiss ski resorts, 650 km ski runs.
As well as Alpine skiing, there are several Nordic skiing domains on the territory, diverses possibilities for ski touring, dozens of kilometres of snowsheoing trails, but also ski-joëring, dog sledding, and paragliding.
Lakeside, there are more relaxing experiences in sumptuous places from Publier to Saint-Gingolph.
For the hiking and snowshoeing itineraries in the area, both summer and winter, you can use your smartphone like a hiking GPS with this app. Additional functions include the cultural calendar as well as other tourist and handy info.