Cauterets - France
Renowned resort (Renaissance)
It was the sixteenth century that rendered famous the baths of Cauterets. During the Renaissance, Antiquity was in vogue. Associated with the Roman civilization, the Pyrenean Baths were therefore in fashion, thus placing Cauterets among the top resorts in the Pyrenees. Cauterets was so well-reputed that ladies and gentlemen came there in great number, despite a very difficult access to this valley which was exposed to avalanches and floods.
Marguerite de Navarre, sister of Francis I made several trips there.
The treatments used consisted of baths, but also of mud, used in the treatment of rheumatism and which originate from swamps formed by the thermal water in the meadows downstream of sources. The treatment with drinks was also practiced, but it was not until the 17th century that it became the main treatment.
A booming resort (1650-1800)
During the second half of the 17th century, until 1749, the resort was little frequented. The construction of a road linking Pierrefitte-Nestalas to Cauterets, then of another one to the baths of Raillère, allowed the return of many quality foreign customers, attracted by the fame of the waters. From that point on, Cauterets developed a series of activities related to hydrotherapy (accommodation, transportation, patient care, shopping, crafts, etc.).
In 1754, Dr. Jacques Lacrampe was appointed Intendant of the Mineral Waters of Cauterets in the name of the King, this being a sign of the importance and fame of the waters and baths of Cauterets and in direct line with the increasing medicalization of water cities in the 18th century.
In 1789, the baths of Cauterets become the joint property of the seven communes in the valley of St Savin.
A fashionable resort (1800-1870)
In 1830, the aristocratic clientele and the upper middle classes assiduously frequent the resort. Famous people go there one after the other: Alfred de Vigny, George Sand, Victor Hugo, Chateaubriand...
A milestone in the thermal history of Cauterets, 1843 witnessed the opening of the new Caesar and Spanish thermal baths right in the village of Cauterets.
To supply the facility, the sources were captured and lowered by means of an aqueduct.
The Rocher thermal baths will be built in 1863. The thermal baths of Œufs will be built during the same period, being the largest, most beautiful and best equipped baths in the resort and having a 20-meter long and 8-meter wide swimming pool with running sulphurous water which is constantly renewed. It was also one of the most important in Europe. It will later become the Casino of Cauterets, purpose it still serves today.
Massages are developed during this period, while the first pharyngeal pulverization and sulphurous inhalation rooms are installed at the Caesar.
A resort in full Golden Age (1870-1900)
Under the Second Empire, the imperial policy is very supportive of hydrotherapy, thus contributing to the development of Cauterets. For the resort, the period between 1871 and 1899 represents the Golden Age of Hydrotherapy.
In 1871, thermal physicians grouped into the Cauterets Medical Association, which will became the Cauterets Medical Society in 1892. Its purpose is to study the improvements to be made in thermal baths, as well as issues relating to the thermal baths practice.
At that time, diseases of the throat and respiratory tract, as well as the treatment of inflammation of the throat and larynx are the main pathological conditions treated in Cauterets, known at the time as the resort of artists and professionals of the voice.
The treatments are prescribed more and more for children, for respiratory and skin diseases, but also for eye conditions (conjunctivitis, blepharitis ciliaris).
An innovating resort (1870-1900)
Cauterets is a highly innovating resort where new methods of treatment emerge. As early as 1873, for instance, massage will be a highly appreciated innovation among the physicians of the time. The end of the 19th century will bring new methods of treatment to Cauterets.
In 1897, Professor Duhourcau introduced in the thermal practices of the resort a new inhaling device, the Berot inhaler (invention of two craftsmen of Cauterets). A year later, Dr. Depierris invented the pipette nasal douche bearing his name.
From 1875 to 1899, Cauterets is undoubtedly the fashionable resort, visited every year by 20,000 people from outside the valley. Among them, famous visitors: the painter Degas, the writer Hector Malot, the poet Francois Copée, the actress Sarah Bernhardt and also M. de Mohrrenheim, Ambassador of the Tsar of Russia to France.
An world renowned resort (1900-1950)
Between 1900 and 1918, Cauterets consolidates its reputation as a great international resort. In this early 20th century, the hydrotherapy of Cauterets becomes oriented towards specialization in otorhinolaryngology. Moreover, Cauterets has just finalized its new treatment methods: insufflations of sulphur vapours in the tubal-tympanic cavities, washing of the maxillary sinuses, nasal pipette, nasal irrigation with olive and retro-nasal irrigation complete the older methods of gargle, inhaling, spraying, bathing and douching. Rheumatology becomes the other attraction for the resort.
Starting from 1925, the steady development of the thermal spa clientele makes Cauterets again one of the first resorts in France and Europe, with a elite medical personnel and high quality hotels.
In 1932 the inter-war period was marked by the construction of an annex to the Caesar thermal baths and to the Griffons thermal baths. Another innovation in health care takes place in Cauterets in 1933 and consists of the pharyngeal douche with the Castay spray gun.
After World War II, the revival of hydrotherapy will be linked, as elsewhere, to the development of social hydrotherapy. The national union of thermal resorts physicians, under the chairmanship of Dr. Henri Flurin of Cauterets, is the first national physicians’ union to sign an agreement with the National Fund for Health Insurance. This agreement resulted in an increase of the number of persons treated at Cauterets.
In 1950, introducing Proetz's displacement method to Cauterets, Dr. René Flurin turns the resort into one of the places of choice for the treatment of chronic sinusitis.
A modern resort at the forefront of treatments (1980-2000)
The different stakeholders in Cauterets have always been committed to constantly innovating so that the baths continue to be the reference they represent for many centuries.
Many works were undertaken between 1984 and 1999 to modernize and consolidate the baths at Cauterets, as a resort for two handicaps, otorhinolaryngological and the rheumatologic one. They consisted of the renovation of the Itard Pavilion (booths for medical procedures in the Rocher thermal baths), the construction of a new thermal laundry and the opening of the Griffons Rheumatology Centre in 1987. In the old spa of Raillère, a plant which allowed the on-site production of the mud used for rheumatology treatments was installed. This production is now provided by the Caesar Thermal Baths.
In 1999, the Caesar Thermal Baths were extended and modernised. This resulted in offering the best conditions for patients suffering from otorhinolaryngology and double otorhinolaryngology/ rheumatology. Modern and warm, these beautiful thermal baths are also suitable for fitness, both in the summertime and during winter. Whirlpool baths, jet douche, mud treatments are offered to the public, which loves to relax in thermal water.
An ever-evolving resort
Today, care services are provided in both Caesar and Griffons thermal baths. Many measures have been taken to optimize the conditions offered to patients at Cauterets:
One of the latest achievements of the resort is the development of the former "History Hall" of the Caesar Thermal Baths, where young baths patients are welcomed into a modern structure, tailored to their size and tastes and where they can go through the treatment in a more playful manner. A game room allows the younger ones to wait and relax between treatments.
The medical booths of the Itard Pavilion were also transferred in this part of the Caesar Thermal Baths for the ultimate comfort of baths patients, thus limiting travelling from one spa to another.
The members of our nursing staff were trained as hydro-therapists, holding a state diploma. Care services are organized, in a constant effort to ensure perfect hygiene and comfort for the baths patients.
For several years, "La Maison du Curiste", place of animation and meeting, welcomes baths patients and the persons who accompany them. Lectures, tours, excursions and hikes, as well as a wide range of manual activities or games and relaxation sessions are offered to them by a hostess.