Challes les Eaux & the vineyards

Scenery, serenity, R&R... soak up some me-time and roll with the seasons.

Challes-les-Eaux brings visitors a leafy setting ideal for a spot of pampering between the Bauges and Chartreuse mountains. The spa town and vineyards are just outside Chambéry with the first wineries just a few miles from the town centre in Saint-Jeoire-Prieuré and Saint-Baldoph!

“Everything appears phenomenal, Sire, in the Challes spring! ”
Louis Domenget to the King of Piedmont-Sardinia

Challes les Eaux, the Sulphur Queen

Dr Domenget discovered the hot spring in 1841 and brought its therapeutic qualities to light. The fate of this rural town was changed forever. For years the Savoie royal family’s military doctor championed Challes water which was nicknamed the “Sulphur Queen” because of its high sulphur content (among the highest we know of). An actual spa was built in 1874 and expanded in 1927 and 1939 then renovated by its current owner, Chaîne Thermale du Soleil.

Europe’s most sulphur-rich water springs up in Challes les Eaux from over 100m deep. Its sulphur content gives it antibacterial, decongestant, healing and antalgic properties. Social security-approved medical treatments are provided for breathing issues (all ages) and gynaecological issues.

The perfect place to unwind

Affluent customers came to Challes to “take the waters” in the early 20th century. You may have bumped into André Gide, Louis Jouvet or Michèle Morgan in the spa’s grounds… Follow in their footsteps and treat yourself to over 150 years of expertise in health and wellbeing!

Thermes de Challes provides medical treatments for breathing issues alongside a wellness haven. You’ll be pampered by a caring team of professionals.

Scrubs, relaxing massages, facials, body treatments, aromatic wraps, slimming treatments, multi-sensory hydromassage, pressotherapy, Turkish bath, relaxation area, gym aaaaaand relax!

Mums-to-be, new mums and athletes can get tailor-made treatments at Thermes de Challes.

Take to the skies for a breath of fresh air

Leysse Plateau near Challes les Eaux is the easiest to reach part of the Bauges Mountains from Chambéry Valley.

There are all kinds of trip ideas: hike to the “Trou de l’Enfer” (hell hole) through the “Bout du monde” (end of the earth)… Climb up to Mont Saint Michel and gaze at the incredible views of Chambéry and Chartreuse Mountain from Saint Michael’s Chapel that has stood at the top since the Middle Ages.

Stroll around La Thuile Lake and soak up its idyllic setting. The reed-lined lake has held onto its wonderful wild side. The lakeside path makes for a lovely walk no matter the season.

Feet on the ground, head in the clouds: the Centre Savoyard de Vol à Voile Alpin at the Challes aerodrome dates back to 1913 in one of France’s best regions for gliding. The best gliders come here every year to fly over 1000km. Experience the joys of gliding on maiden voyages suitable for all abilities.

Mix things up and experience powered flights (planes and helicopters) in the plain or mountain as well as microlighting or hot-air ballooning which you can do at the aerodrome or in the Challes les Eaux area.

Vines, an age-old regional tradition

The Savoy vineyards are fantastic landscapes sculpted by man on steep hillsides with views of the snow-capped Belledonne Mountains and Mont Blanc…

Savoy may not be the most famous winemaking region but it is one of the oldest in France as vine growing was first mentioned in 600BC. Monks conducted the first experiments in winemaking and vine growing in the Middle Ages before it became a major farming activity in the Savoy Duchy. Vines covered the plains up to the hillsides at an altitude of over 1000m between the 16th and 18th century.

When Savoy became part of France in 1860, it had a significant effect on Savoy wine as it became a direct competitor with wine from the South of France.

When phylloxera ravaged the whole of France and reached Savoy in 1877, the local vineyard almost didn’t survive.

The Post-War period in the 20th century saw the Savoy vineyard rise like a phoenix from the flames: vine growing and winemaking methods were updated, the yields and quality improved. It was transformed by the industry’s organisation, the boom in winter tourism and being awarded the AOC (PDO) designation in 1973.

Vines have played a huge part in sculpting the Savoy landscape. The vineyard now takes pride of place in the region’s agricultural economy. The current vineyard is now only in the best spots for growing it so the quality is consistent. Savoy organisations, associations and professionals have now all come together at the Maison de la Vigne et du Vin to champion and promote Savoy wines.

Explore an ancient vineyard approved by Vignoble et Découvertes since 2011.