A high-market holiday resort and spa town on the shores of Lake Geneva, it has been visited, over two centuries, by royalty such as Kings Edward VII and George V of the United Kingdom and King Farouk of Egypt, and celebrities such as countess Anna de Noailles and Marcel Proust.
The springs of Evian were still rather unknown at the time of the French Revolution. But the First Empire's interest for spa towns inspired a scientist to analyse the Evian springs in 1807 and 1808.
A lakeside port and a new road (RN5) connecting the town to Milan and Paris were constructed in 1809. In 1823, Genevan entrepreneur M. Fauconnet launched the Évian mineral water company (Société des Eaux Minérales d'Évian) and purchased the cities' two main springs (the better-known being the Cachat spring named after the family that sold it) in March 1827. M. Fauconnet's company eventually went bankrupt, and the springs were bought by the Hôtel des Bains.
In the following years, many hotels (Hôtel des quatre saisons, Hôtel de France, Hôtel des Alpes) were built, helping the town's popularity as a holiday resort.
The Cachat mineral waters SA (Société Anonyme des Eaux Minérales de Cachat) was created in December 1859 by Parisian investors, selling Évian water, and in 1865 the small town changed its name to Évian-les-bains to promote its rise as a spa town. Three other springs joined the Cachat (Guillot, Bonnevie, Corporau). Improvement in transportation (a railroad station) helped make the town a more famous spa.
In the late 19th century, the city contained more than 20 hotels. The hills and the lakeshore were covered with noble houses and luxurious villas and a theatre and a casino were built on the lakeside. In 1902, the baths were constructed and in 1909, the architect Hébrard built one of the most luxurious hotels: the Royal Hotel. Evian considers itself one of the top European spas, claiming popularity with high society figures such as Countess Anna de Noailles, Frédéric Mistral, the Lumiere Brothers and Marcel Proust.
After World War I, the city maintained its status as a high-class spa town, hosting socialites and royalty such as Aga Khan III, the Maharaja of Kapurthala, Albert Lebrun (President of the République), King George V of United Kingdom and King Fuad I of Egypt.
The Évian Conference was convened in Évian in July 1938 to discuss the problem of Jewish refugees. During World War II, German forces occupied Évian and the town's statue of General Dupas was removed.
The Évian Accords, which ended the Algerian War and recognized an independent Algeria, were signed there on 18 March 1962. The G8 began its 29th summit meeting in Évian on 1 June 2003. From 26 to 30 August 2015 the 6th Annual Summit of the G-20Y Association was held there.
Évian still derives funding as a holiday resort and spa town.
The town is home to Évian mineral water, which adds significantly to the economy, together with the Casino d'Evian, the largest themed casino in Europe, and the Evian Royal Resort, the reported favorite holiday destination of former French President François Mitterrand and King Farouk of Egypt. Many of the inhabitants of Évian work in Lausanne and other Swiss cities nearby.
The two largest hotels in Évian are the Hotel Royal (where the G8 summit was held) and the Hilton.
Évian is served by a bus network, as well as a train station with regular trains to Geneva, Annemasse, and Bellegarde, as well as less frequent services to Paris and Lyon. There is also a very busy ferry service running between the town and Lausanne, as well as a more tourist-centered service that runs to Yvoire.
The town has some golf courses, and hosts The Evian Championship women's professional golf tournament, founded in 1994, every summer.
The Evian Thonon Gaillard F.C. football club was located here before relocating to Thonon-les-Bains.
The Club de l'Aviron d'Évian is the local rowing club.
The town has an average-sized Arab presence for the region (6%) as well as a sizable Swiss presence (11%) due to its proximity to Switzerland. It also supports a small Jewish community, who maintain a synagogue in the town.