Abbaye d'Hautecombe © Mathis73
Aix-les-Bains is a popular and fashionable family holiday resort and spa town located on the eastern side of Lac du Bourget, the largest natural freshwater lake in France. Although the lake is icy cold, visitors can sail, fish, play golf and tennis, or picnic on the parkland at the water's edge. Taking a cruise on the lake for a few hours is a must.
The main town of Aix is two miles (3km) inland from the lake and has been built around its thermal springs. Many small hotels line the streets, and streams of holiday visitors take to the baths each day; in the evening, for a change of pace, they play the slot machines at the Aix-les-Bains casino or attend tea dances. The Musee Faure is a great art gallery boasting the second largest collection of Rodin's work in France, as well as art by Bonnard, Degas, Pissaro and Cezanne. The old Benedictine Abbey, Abbaye d'Hautecombe, is also definitely worth a visit: this gothic building is stunningly situated on the lake and can be reached either by boat or by driving along the lovely, winding road. The abbey houses some very significant tombs including that of the last king of Italy.