Hotel Les Cygnes

The Joint

8 Avenue Grande Rive
74500 Evian


This place was simply delightful. Located directly on the southern edge of Lake Geneva (in France, not Switzerland, though it’s quite close to the border). It’s a beautiful turn-of-the-century hotel with excellent – really excellent – dining facilities.

france_ascension_2006_001france_ascension_2006_002Our room was small and quaint. It was on the European first floor overlooking the terrasse, which must be simply great for outdoor dining literally on the lake (notice the clarity of the water). We were surprised at the ample and modern bathroom with large shower cabin.

For dinner, we ordered the fixed-prices menus at EUR 24 each. The seafood soup had a nice strong fish flavor to its broth, and the two large crayfish in my bowl helped make sure everything at the bottom of my soup bowl was ship-shape. My entrée was something brand new for me – ray in a garlic butter sauce. I had a little trouble with the chewiness of it until I remembered what rays have in common with sharks – cartilage. Once I figured that out, no problem.

My favorite part: the dessert. I had a Trio de Crème Brûlée, which meant three small cups of creamy honey-, mint-, and lavender-flavored custard under a crisp burnt sugar shell. It was garnished with candied orange peel and other sweets. It was as pretty as it was delicious. I’m sure a cup of coffee to go with it would have been outstanding, but I’d had a long day of driving and needed to guarantee a good night’s rest to prepare for the next day.


I have to pat myself on the back – I really found something special here. The low season rate for a double is €70 and the high season is only €80. The staff was charming and patient. The accomodation was small, but really welcoming. We had a teeny-tiny balcony that opened to a stunning view of Lake Geneva. The thing that really tends to swing my decision of whether I like a hotel or not is the condition of the bathroom, and Les Cygnes has a great one. The room is well arranged and well lit and the shower is nice (tubs are available on request).

We also chose to eat there, having rolled into town a little late. As Cliff mentioned, we had the prix-fixe menus and I had the exact opposite of his choices. I started with a salad of asparagus, some kind of air-cured ham (sliced ultra-thin) and shavings of parmesan on a small bed of mixed greens. There was what tasted like a Dijon-mustard based dressing drizzled over the whole thing. It was unbelievably yummy. The way the flavors played-nice together was delightful. I nearly licked the plate. Next was the main course, fricaséed squab with prunes and bacon. I’d never had squab before, but it sort of reminded me of duck without the greasiness. It was in a richly-flavored sauce and came with a small side of roasted vegetables. Wonderful! Dessert was a slice of light-textured flourless chocolate cake with mango compote and mango sorbet. Again, the flavor combinations were intense and surprising and, ultimately, delicious.

This is easily the nicest place I have stayed in its price range. We were both so excited about this discovery that we’d love to plan a trip back to Les Cygnes when we can spend more time there.