If you are looking for a different way to get to the northern side of Lake Geneva from Evian, you might want to consider taking the ferry. It will get you there in just 35 minutes, but it is a bit pricey, especially if you are family.
Ferries depart regularly from Evian daily depending on the weather and season (check their website for details and times). The price (2013) is €34 per person for a round trip Evian-Lausanne-Evian ticket (€17 for children). If you are a family with several children, this could add up quickly, unless you simply want the experience on the boat and that may be worth the price of the ticket. Some ships offer food services as well, but for a 35 minute trip, I’d prefer to wait until I was in Lausanne to find something better.
On a clear day, the views from the middle of Lake Geneva will be spectacular with the mountains all around. This would be a photographer’s delight!
Driving around to Lausanne will take about an hour and then you pay for parking. For a solo traveler that doesn’t mind walking once in Lausanne, the ferry makes sense. But for a group, the ferry will cost more than gas and parking. It just depends on your priorities.
There is a good bit of street parking in Evian; much of it has a fee during the daytime and then free after 7:00 pm through 9:00 am. Rather than worry about having change all the time or making sure we had a parking space each time we returned from our daily excursions, we opted to use the parking garage at the Hilton. While the hotel uses this garage, it is a public parking garage. The cost is only 50 cents per hour (or €12 for 24 hours) and it is all covered, located centrally near the shores of Lake Geneva in Evian. If you can get free parking on the street, great! If not, then you might consider the parking garage.
We drove to Evian because we had planned on using our car for our many day trips during our vacation. Easy to find because it is along the southern shore of Lake Geneva, Evian’s main road (D1005) goes from one end of the lake to the other, passing through the border of Switzerland on either end. We drove both ways since we visited Geneva one day, headed into the Swiss Alps on another day, and on a third day headed around the lake to the northern side.
It is a two-lane winding road for most of the time, going through smaller towns along the way. As you reach the east end of the lake, the road becomes larger and eventually you come to the highway. On the west end, you enter into the city center of Geneva.
As you leave Evian and enter Switzerland, be sure to have your passports ready because the guards may stop you. Most of the time we were just told to pass through, but on one occasion we had to show our identification and we were questioned on whether our car was a rental or not.
To get to Evian from Geneva, we enjoyed a leisurely ride along a country road (D5) that passed through some lovely little villages to get to Yvoire, it was barely imperceptible that you were passing from Switzerland to France as there was no border guard, at least not that day. After stopping in Yvoire, we connected with another slightly larger road (N5) to go the rest of the way to Evian, we must have hit it during the evening rush hour as there was quite a bit of traffic.
As with most of the driving on this trip, we found that directional signs were excellent, we rarely consulted our map.
There is parallel parking along the main road through Evian, metered closed to the center, time restricted a little further out. There are also garages if you need to stay for a longer time. It's helpful to know the days of the week in French, parking is sometimes free even at the metered spots on Sundays and after certain hours on the other days of the week.
Always check to see if there is a pay box where you park, meters are not the individual ones next to your space. Most of them print out tickets based on the amount of time you think you will spend there which you place on your dashboard, non metered spots may require you to put your time disk on the dashboard.
evian is a small and safe town- walking around will help in discovering many of the hidden streets and monuments- take a camera with you
There is a free parking on the main Avenue along the Lake at the height of the Cruises boat harbour at your right hand coming from Thonon next to La Frégate bar.