Luchon - France

Introduction

The Romans first developed baths at Luchon, dedicating them to the goddess of water, Ilixion, thus starting a 2000-year-old tradition of thermalism which continues to this day. Set high in the Pyrenees, with stunning scenery surrounding the town, Luchon has the only natural hammam in Europe – a magical system of subterranean caves, 1200 metres long, where hot springs which leak through the walls create a soft humid heat between 38oC and 42oC. This natural Vaporarium was established in 1929 but the curves in the rocks of its long galleries were conceived and used by the Romans. Over the years it has been developed, and was completely refurbished in 2010.

 

Historical background

Luchon, 2000 years of Thermalism:

A reputation earned through 2000 years of devotion to the theraputic values of Luchon's water.
Our noble title dates back to the time of the Romans who first developed the town, then called ILIXON (goddess of water), and dug the first thermal swimming pools.
After six centuries of opulence, the barbaric invasions dealt a fatal blow to the fame of Luchon which fell from prominence with the baths being used only by the local population.
In the XVIII century, Jacques BARRAU, consul of the town, submitted to Antoine MEGRET, Baron d’ETIGNY the superintendant of the province his project to revive the fortunes of Luchon. In 1759, the Baron D’ETIGNY visited the city and fell under its charm. He constructed a grand and elegant building to house the Thermal baths, and a new road, the Allée d’Etigny, to connect the Thermal baths to the town.
In 1763, the notoriety of Luchon is supported thanks to the arrival of the DUKE OF RICHELIEU who promoted Luchon at the court of Versailles.
In 1848, the establishment Chambert, name of its creator, was built on the remainders of the Roman Thermal baths.
In 1867, the Prince Imperial, son of Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie stayed in Luchon to experience the Thermal baths where a small wooden building was erected and reserved for them.
The reputation of Luchon was thus made and the Thermal baths of Luchon developed
In 1929 the Vaporarium, a natural hamman, was discovered, revealing 1200 meters of sulphuretted galleries whose curves in the rock were conceived and used by the Romans.
In 1954, the Pavilion Prince Imperial was built in replacement of a small wooden building and is now used as the Pavilion for the refreshment bars.
In 1969, the Vaporarium, unique in Europe, was further developed with the construction of the current building which was modernized in 2010 with a total restoration.
The Thermal baths of Luchon have not ceased evolving with the reorganization and the restoration of the services of care, developments in therapeutic technologies and the creation of the “Luchon Forme et Bien Etre” a centre for health and wellbeing.
Recent drillings have made it possible to collect the thermal springs from deep in the ground thus preserving the constant purity of this 14.000 year-old water.
After twenty centuries of history, Luchon is today as always the place that the Greek geographer STRABON decreed, the source of “excellent water”.

Water sources

Luchon’s waters are known for being the most sulphurous in the Pyrennes, which gives them a particularly anti-infectious quality, promoting healing. They are used today to treat rheumatism, fibromyalgia, and diseases of the respiratory tract, as well as being popular for stopping smoking. Post cancer treatments, and the treatment of asthma in children is also available along with coaching, back treatments and more. The “Luchon Forme et Bien Etre” is a completely modern centre for health and wellbeing built on the foundations of the Roman baths.

Composition of the water of the thermal baths: Sulphurized water, the hyperthermales of Luchon are most sulphuretted of the Pyrenees. Sulphuretted water hyperthermale (33mg HS/l) combines virtues healing with an anti-infectious action.  

 

Spa and treatments

Thermal Care: Respiratory ORL tract, rheumatology, fibromyalgie, nicotinic weaning (stopping smoking).

Famous visitors

The Prince Imperial, son of Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie.

Facts and figures

Demography: 4500 residents, increasing to 20000 with visitors during high season.

• Number of tourists (2009): 351152

• Tourist frequentation (2009): 1.135.400 nights
• Average Duration of stay (2009): 3.23 days
• Short report/ratio on tourist flow during five last years: Regular increase in the tourist frequentation over 5 years with on average increases of 4% to 10% and in particular between 2009 and 2010 + 10.4%
• Other forms of complementary tourism: Ski, Thermoludisme, VTT, Parapente, Golf, Aerodrome, Excursion, swimming pool, house of the curist. Fishing (truts)–
• Arrivals and frequentation of the thermal tourists:13032 for 21 nights
o March (744)
o April (970)
o May (1176)
o June (1721)
o July (2169)
o August (2261)
o September (3052)
o October (939)
• Capacity of lodging:
o Hotels 4*(1), 3*(1), 2 *(11), 1* (7),0*(3) around Luchon (8 hôtels)
o Inns of mountain (3)
o Guest houses/B & B (9)
o Boarding house (2)
o Residence of tourism (5)
o Group Accommodation (10)
o Camp-sites (8)
o Children’s residence (1)
o Estate agencies (6)
o Furnished rental accommodation (472)

 

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