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Evian-les-Bains or Evian lies directly across from Lausanne on the french side of Lac Leman. There is a ferry that runs between Ouchy, Lausanne and Evian every two hours. So off we went as it was a sunny spring day and the lake was very calm.

The trip took about 35 minutes. On weekdays, the commuters use this ferry but on weekends, tourists predominate. Judging from the ferry, Evian looks much smaller than Lausanne.

No passport control – although I brought mine.

Evian is of course most famous worldwide for its bottled mineral water.  It all started here at the Source Cachat. I had a good drink and filled my little empty bottle. There were a few tourists but some locals came with racks of bottles.  After a while, every one left, all you could hear was the sound of water splashing.

This is a short history of the discovery of Evian’s mineral water (Wikipedia).

In 1789, during a walk, the Marquis of Lessert drank water from the Sainte Catherine spring on the land of a Mr. Cachat. The marquis, who was allegedly suffering from kidney problems, drank regularly of the water while he walked, and claimed that his health improved. Encouraged by Lessert’s advocacy of the ‘miraculous’ water, local doctors began to prescribe it as a health remedy. In response to the growing success of the water, Mr Cachat fenced off his spring and began selling the water. The first baths appeared in 1824. The name of the spring was changed from Sainte Catherine to the Cachat Source.

In 1859 the business became a public company as the “Société anonyme des eaux minérales de Cachat” and a year later it became French when Savoy was incorporated into France under the Treaty of Turin. The French Ministry of Health reauthorized the bottling of Cachat water on the recommendation of the Medicine academy in 1878. In 1908 Evian water began to be sold in glass bottles manufactured by the glass factory Souchon-Neuvesel which today is a part of Owens-Illinois and first PVC bottle was launched in 1969. The next year the BSN Group, which eventually became the Danone Group, took 100% control of Evian brand. 1978 marked an entrance into the U.S. market.

This is the billboard that is placed diagonally opposite the Source Cachat on the wall of the former pump room – “Welcome into our factory”. The actual bottling plant is located 5 km from the town centre in Amphion.

This art nouveau building is the former pump room of the water source and has been used as an information center for the mineral water.  When we visited, it was closed and will reopen in the summer.

The story of the mineral water as told by Evian can be found on its web site. The current owner Danone has been commissioning fashion designers to create annually new bottles for the water – see our earlier post – Designer bottled water.


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