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