With all the rain in the UK, memories of lazy warm days spent on the banks of Lake Geneva seem very far away. There are a number of municipal lakes down the valley from Chamonix (e.g Base de loisir des Ilettes, at Sallanches and Plan d’eau biotope at Combloux as suggested here) but none large enough to see floating gin palaces on.
We’ve visited Lake Geneva a number of times to enable the kids to let off steam at the fantastic Aqua Parc at Le Bouveret on the Swiss side of the lake. Its a great venue in good or bad weather, but as with any key attractions can be rather busy at times and perhaps a little contrived. However, the French offer some fantastic municipal facilities, so naturally these are also on offer on the banks of the Lake if only you follow the shore around a little. Thonon-les-Bains is one such location.
Admittedly we were ‘tipped off’ and didn’t find the pools by accident, but they were certainly worth the 103km trip (1.5hrs). Kind of the best of both worlds: indoors and outdoors pools, diving boards and large slides into the lake itself, plus a very reasonably priced licenced cafe, far nicer than just a ‘chip factory’, and of course fantastic views. Being run by the council it was also decked out in many beautiful plants with plenty of well manicured lawns for sun bathing; a great environment for relaxation. Plage les Thonon is also a cheaper swimming experience than Aqua Parc.
After spending a lovely day at the pools, the marina and town centre are only a short walk away.
There are plenty of restaurants along the lake front to choose from, or alternatively you can take the funicular up the hill and wander around the small old town. Ok it might almost be quicker to walk up the hillside yourself than the funicular, but at least you can face the lake during ascent and see the fantastic panorama of the marina below being revealed as you reach the top (and avoid having to listen to the kids complain they are tired).
So all in all a great day out.