Gateway to the Auvergne Volcanic Nature Park, Châtel-Guyon represents the classic example of a French mountain spa resort, a Bélle Epoque town built around the thermal park, with theatre, casino, and many villas and grand hotels that used to host kings, sultans and maharajahs. Its magnesium-rich waters, the Gargouillox ("Gurgling Waters", due to the particular noise they make when gushing out) have been sucessfully treating bowel disorders for over 150 years.
At the beggining of the 20th century, up to 28th springs were located in Châtel-GUyon, some suppling the fountains of the thermal park, others the Great Thermal Establishments. A new modern thermal resort is currently under construction and will open its doors by 2020 - with a 33M € investment, is the largest spa project undergoing in France.
Unlike other continental spa towns, Châtel-Guyon was not founded by Romans. The history of its development start just at the end of the 17th century, with the discovery of the mineral springs. Before that, the life of the Châtelguyonnais was mainly organized around wine-growing, a peasant town born upon the ruins of the castle of Count of Auvergne Guy II, who founded it around 1185 to protect his domain and named it Castrum Guidonis.
Châtel-Guyon modern history's starts in 1671, when French chemist Duclos carried out the first analyses of the mineral springs. The city was well known in the 18th century, but only really became famous in the 19th century, particularly with the arrival of the railway at nearby Riom in 1855. The first thermal establishments were built in 1817 but not fully developed until 1858, when the Bosson brother took the concession. In 1878, the Châtel-Guyon Waters Company, bought the Brosson and the Barse installations, and started major urban planning, in particular the realization of the avenue des Bains (today avenue Baraduc) and the construction of the new Great Spa Establisments.
In 1912, Châtel-Guyon was declared a spa and had its own major railway station built. The golden era saw the construction of the the great spa establishments (1908), the hotels, the casino and grand theatre, which today showcase some stunning architectures, combining different arctistic styles to great effect.
There are five major springs in Châtel- Guyon, with similar compositions but with different concentrations. The waters contains chlorine, bicarbonate and calcium, and are particulary rich in magnesiums and silicon.
Magnesium is specially indicated to regulate intestinal transit, effecting on the colonic motricity, and to balance intestinal flora. It also has cytoprotective and healing effect on the intestinal mucosa. In addition, the exceptional content waters in silicon participates in the effectiveness of the course of treatment in rheumatology, as silicon is an an essential component of bones, cartilages and collagens: it enables the solubilization of microcrystals and regulates the calcification processes in inflammatory rheumatisms.
Thermal water is used mainly in drinking cures, following a similar path to many other European spas: the water is taken at regular intervals, 4 to 6 times a day, if possible on an empty stomach in the morning, at lunch time and at the end of the day in gradual doses. Besides drinking, the thermal establishments offer complementary treatments such as clays, underwater jets, whirlpool baths, steam baths, irrigations, sprays, Scotch hose treatments and Vichy showers.
The Casino of Châtel was built in 1900 upon the designs of Parisian architect Albert Le Voisvenel. The rich ornaments of its façade bear testimony of German rococo.
The Continental Hotel, built in 1900 by architect Driffort, is located atop the highest area of the town, 430m asl. For the comfort of its guests, it was connected to the thermal bats by a cable railway.
The hallway of the Great Spa Establisments, with its red marbled columns and twin staircases, combines different architectural styles to great effect
The Art Deco stained-glass window in the lobby of the Grand Hotel was built in 1930
The old railway station was built between 1910 and 1912 by architect Marius Toudoire, designer of the Parisian Gare de Lyon. This classically styled building is today home to La Mouniade Cultural Centre.
The Serge Villa (1901) was designed by architect Driffort, also the author of the Continental Hotel
The Splendid Hotel (1881), is made up of large bays, balconies and loggias, all ornated with blue ceramic friezes
Details of the eclectic Les Jeannettes Villa