Aix-les-Bains has been shaped by thermalism, as its Roman remains, its Belle-Époque palaces and villas, its Art Deco thermal baths and its romantic gardens testify. Day visitors, follow the suggestions of Agnès Miège, manager of the town’s brand new Art and History Town department.
The National Thermal Baths
There is an ocean liner of more than 50,000 m² in the heart of the town. Since 2008, no more attention has been paid to it. The building houses notably the Tourist Office and the Art and History Town department created at the same time as the town obtained the eponymous label in 2014. While waiting for the future restoration of the premises which trace the thermal business since ancient times, the colossal hall in the Pétriaux Thermal Baths, named after their architect, must be visited. Dating from the 1930’s, it symbolises the desire of the managers of the period to make the thermal establishment the most luxurious in Europe. The hall’s great volumes are impressive, just like its Art Deco style which favours concrete, glass and wrought iron work. The 21st century visitor can guess at the original splendour that lies beneath the patina of time.
The Belle Époque palaces
Thermal bathing in Aix attracted the aristocracy and wealthy of Europe, from the beginning of the 19th century right up until the 1930’s. On the heights of the town stand the old palaces and villas, where the wealthy cosmopolitan population stayed and feasted. Most have been converted into apartments. The public can only gain access by the exceptional means of a guided tour which can be made to three of them. But, just seen from outside, the spaciousness and façades of these residences speak volumes for the prestige and splendour of the waterside town during the Belle Époque.
The Faure Museum
This intimist museum, little known to the wider public, symbolises the refinement of the town in the golden age of thermal bathing. Established in a villa in 1900, it displays a vast collection of paintings and sculptures bequeathed to the town by Doctor Jean Faure, an enlightened art lover in the first half of the 20th century. Great masters of impressionism rub shoulders with the second largest collection of Rodin in France. Visitors of a literary inclination will appreciate the reconstruction of the room in the Perrier boarding house occupied by the poet Lamartine, a famous guest to the waterside town. A special visitors’ guide for a young public will arouse the curiosity of children. The cherry on the cake is the very beautiful view over the Lake le Bourget from the gardens.
As you enter the Grand Cercle Casino, you will be greeted by an outstanding setting under the majestic ceilings of the famous Venetian mosaic artist Salviati.
The establishment will offer you slot machines, French roulette, English roulette, Black Jack, Stud poker, Texas Hold’em poker…
The Grand Cercle Casino also houses bars, discothèque, pub, restaurant, theatre and reception rooms.