Royat-Chamalières - France


The dramatic gorge of the River Tiretaine runs through Royat and Chamalières high among the mountains of the Massif Central, not far from Clermond Ferrand. Originally built around separate monasteries, founded by the Count of Genesius in the 7th Century, the springs have been in use since the first century. Thousands of anthropomorphic figures showing limbs and internal organs were discovered in the shrine at the “Source-des-Roches” mineral spring in Chamalières. Known as ex-votos, meaning images offered to a deity, these figures were used by Gallo-Romans in their search for health. They also had extensive bath houses, part of which can be seen in the spa park, which extends along the river, past the buvette (drinking fountain) to the thermal baths and the impressive St Mart Pavilion entrance built in 1912.
Today, however, it is the Baroque charm of the towns that are most visible. Huge villas and richly decorated hotels hark back to the days of royal patronage in the second half of the 19th century when new roads and the railway brought large numbers of visitors to enjoy the new thermal park, hotels, theatre and casino following in the royal footsteps of Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie (1863) and the Prince of Wales (1884) . Animated tours of the town with the larger than life character Hortense bring to life some of the antics of the visitors in this period, and is a treat not to be missed!
Royat Chamalières kept developing throughout the early 20th century, and despite the dark days of the second world war, when the wealthy European patients stopped coming to the spa, it reinvented itself with the establishment of the Institut de Recherches Cardio-Vasculaire (IRCV) in 1946, and is now a leading research and treatment centre for cardiovascular diseases and rheumatology. Those seeking relaxation rather than the cure can enjoy the new “Royatonic” baths with wellness and beauty packages, in an internal landscape that includes caves, geysers, underwater currents and volcanic rocks under an impressive dome.

Historical background

Only one man is the cause of the formation of the ROYAT and CHAMALIERES villages: The count GENESIUS, married to HELIDIA, Spanish with royal blood. The couple didn’t manage to have a child, so the bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, SAINT-PRIEST, advised them to attract divine benediction by dedicating a part of their fortune to the foundation of lone or abandoned women’s refuges. That’s why during the years 654-670, GENESIUS made build three monasteries at MARSAC, CHAMALIERES and ROYAT.

Both villages were formed during the medieval era around their initial monastery. They were linked by only one way following the TIRETAINE river which supplied with water many mills.

The Spa is located on the two towns of ROYAT and CHAMALIERES.


Thermal History of Royat-Chamalières

Ancient Times
the thermal water was used in the first century. A sanctuary was discovered in a place called « Source des Roches » where thousands of wooden ex-votos were found out.They were preserved and exposed at the BARGOIN Museum of Clermont-Ferrand)

Gallo-roman period
the ancient Spa is quite the same as the one now. Roman Baths are the most important remaining part. It is made of three large swimming-pools laid out in a single line and four rooms heated by an underground system (hypocaust).

Medieval Times
A few baths could be found in the monastery which was founded in the 6th century by the Roman pratician Martius (Saint-Mart Monastery).

19th century
in 1822, the Cesar spring was discovered.In 1843, Antoine Védrine, a priest from Royat (1792-1873), asked the mayor of Royat François Thibaud-Landriot(1777-1848) and the fountain-maker Antoine Zani to look for other thermal springs. Several hot springs and a major one called «Grande Source» were discovered.  In 1844, Antoine Zani and 17 other owners obtained the right to exploit the «Grande Source».
In December 1850, the mayor François Bourgoignon, Jean-Baptiste Buchetti-Zani the fountain-maker and Nicolas Lhuer signed a lease. They were asked to build a spa, following an estimate by Ledru. It was built from 1852 à 1856.  In July 1862, Napoléon III and Impress Eugénie came to the Baths. From then on, they were called «Source Eugénie» (Eugénie's spring). The «Grand Hotel» was built by Léon Servant in 1865. The Papon concert hall, opposite the spa was inaugurated in 1868.
In 1872, the thermal park was planned out. In 1874. The « Casino Chalet » was built by an architect called Jacques Cournol. In 1875, development of a town planning. The spa was linked to Clermont-Ferrand thanks to the new road of Clermont-Ferrand. Nowadays it is the Avenue de Royat and Rue Blatin. After the building of an imposing viaduct, the Railway was opened to the public in 1881. The Railway station was inaugurated five years later.
From 1878 to 1880, many hotels were built along the Boulevard Vaquez, for the tourists who came by train. In 1882, a new Casino called « Casino Samie » was built by an architect named Lecat. In 1884, the Prince of Wales came to the « Grand Hotel » followed by a lot of English people. An Anglican chapel was built two years later.
The spa became the place-to-be. Thanks to a new electric tramway (1887) designed by Jean-Baptiste Claret (1836-1907), Montferrand was linked to the spa, going through the famous « Place de Jaude ».
The spa was so successful that a theatre was built by Théodore Charpentier from 1891 to 1892. A third Casino, the « Casino en Planches », was open to the public from 1892 to 1895. The « Chapelle des Baigneurs » was designed by Jules Painchaud in 1894.

20th century
on February 11th 1911, in spite of its success, the «Compagnie générale des Eaux Minérales» of Royat went bankrupt. From 1912 to 1914, Auguste Rouzaud gave a new impetus to the spa with the help of an architect called Louis Jarrier (1862-1932). The Saint-Mart pavilion was developed as well as the « Buvette Eugénie ».
The « Casino Chalet » burnt down and Auguste Rouzaud asked Guillaume Tronchet to build a new one (1920 to 1921). Antoine Chanet et Jean Liogier were asked to develop the Velleda spring in 1936 and the pavilion Saint-Mart in 1937.
Like many other French spas, it was difficult for Royat/Chamalières to recover from World War 2. The « Grand Hotel » and the « Majestic Palace » were closed, wealthy European patients stopped coming, and middle-class patients replaced the well-off customers. A lot of palaces were changed into furnished flats.
In 1946, the « Institut de Recherches Cardio-vasculaires » (IRCV) was inaugurated. The spa kept developing. Jean Revenel, mayor of Royat from 1954 to 1977, fulfilled his dream of a green city. He bought the land along the river Tiretaine between the « Place Allard » and the « Bourg de Royat » to extend the thermal park.

21st century
For the past ten years, the spa has completed some large scale of treatments. Since 2007, Royatonic (a thermoludique center) has been providing customers with new thermal water activities which include waterjets, hammam, sauna, massages (Institut SanHoa).

A 4 star Hotel opened in 2008 and this is the only one establishment of this grade in the area.

Water sources

The spa centre at Royat-Chamalières was one of the first centres throughout Europe to cure cardiac problems and circulatory illnesses. Royat-Chamalières owes its excellent reputation of curing illnesses (rhumatism, cardiac and circulatory problems) to the unique composition of the spa water (99.4 % pure carbonic). The most used spa spring for local application is called “Eugénie” (100.000 litres per hour). The 32.5°C warm spa water is characterized by the extreme high degree of minerals and trace elements (5 grammes per litre).

Spa and treatments

Spa treatments

1st Spa Station in Europe for the treatment of the cardiovascular diseases, 1st French Spa Station for the double treatment of rheumatology and cardio-vascular diseases, the Spa Station of Royat – Chamalières naturally owes it to the quality of its medical teams, to its modern equipment of care, to its innovative will and its efforts in research.
The Thermes of Royat are used to treat two main conditions:
  • Cardiovascular diseases, including the arteritis of the lower limbs
  • Raynaud phenomenon (such as the sclerodermy),
Rheumatology, mainly arthritis, osteo-articular trauma scarsles and fibromyalgia
The thermal establishment proposes many cares: thermal mud applications, sub-cutaneous thermal gaz injections, mobilizing pool, upstream walking lane in thermal water, baths with immerged shower, thermal steam shower.

Spa beauty products

These services are offered by the Royatonic Spa Centre
In a wide space surrounded by volcanic rocks, below a majestic dome, shoots out a surprising geyser. The lagoon of the indoor pool and the outdoor pool propose swan necks, bubble beds, pressure jets, perfumed bath, underwater currents, underwater massage loungers, jacuzzi,…, to enjoy the pleasure of this hot thermal water (32° – 34°C).
A large hammam area and a Nordic area (saunas and cold water well) as well as booths for massages and esthetical cares are awaiting you for some royal relaxation moments. A spa completes this offer, with beauty treatments.

Famous visitors

Napoleoion III and the Empress Eugenie

Facts and figures

  • Demography(source INSEE):

ROYAT : 4618 inhabitants
CHAMALIERES : 17 730 inhabitants.


Arrival (2009)


Total numbers of nights in hotels : 61 700 (7% of foreigners) (Auvergne Thermale Numbers)

Medium stay length (2009)

Leisure tourism: 2.4 days

Thermal cures : 20 days


Brief report on the tourist flow in the last five year


There is a growth of tourism in summer, who stay in our camping site, which proposes a lot of activities and a swimming pool. Thoses tourists are very insteresting in Vulcania, the european volcanism park, which is only at 20 kilometers from Royat – Chamalieres.


Other forms of complementary tourism

Urban tourism & Business tourism


Indeed,The ROYAT-CHAMALIERES Spa is 5 minutes by car from the center of Clermont-Ferrand (the regional major city).


Green Tourism : The Spa is also located near the regional nature park of Auvergne Volcanos. The Puy de Dôme is 10 minutes by car from the city.


Arrivals and attendances of spa touristsP (2009)<

Royat – Chamalieres is the first thermal spa town in Auvergne.
There are 8500 spa tourists/year.

Accomodation capacity


Category Number of Hotels Number of rooms Accomodation Capacity
Hotel 4* 1 43 86
Hotel 3* 3 112 224
Hotel 2* 5 117 234
No-classified hotel 4 74 148
Total 13 346 692


1 Camping Site 4 stars with 196 places

259 Apartments or holidays cottages

2 Bed and breakfasts
2 Residence of tourism

A total Accomodation capacityin Royat and Chamalières: 5 886 touristic beds

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