During the 19th century, the bathing and spa attractions of the lake became popular with the resorts of Divonne-les-Bains, Thonon and Evian. Today, Lake Geneva is still the largest lake in the French Alps and the largest lake in Western Europe. At 58,236ha, this little inland sea mellows the climate of the regions that surround it. From Hermance to Saint-Gingolph, the French shore, a 50km long little "riviera" is favoured by lovers of the lake.
The fauna of Lake Geneva is very varied and includes around thirty species of fish, including the much sought after arctic char, perch, pike, whitefish (known locally as the féra), trout and even crayfish. The lake is also a favourite wintering ground for many birds from Scandinavia or even Siberia, such as the great cormorant.
20,000 small craft regularly criss-cross the lake, for transport, fishing or pleasure. A paddle boat service (the fleet is called the Belle Epoque), has served the main places around the lake since the 19th century and brings back wonderful memories of the style of days gone by. It is run by the Compagnie Générale de navigation.
You can also sail historically with a traditional Savoyard sailing boat. In 2000, the "Memoire du Léman" (memories of Lake Geneva) association faithfully reconstructed one of these large lateen-sail boats that are a symbol of the lake's culture from the 19th century. Since then, she has sailed regularly from May to October, still supported by volunteers, who have become guides, historians and boatmen.
© RA Tourisme / C. Martelet