Situated at 850 m. above the sea, near the foot of the Puy de Sancy (1886 m), La Bourboule, with its 2.100 inhabitants, is the most populated spa town in the Sancy area. It is built along the banks of the Dordogne river, which is crossed by up to 12 bridges from where to admire the peaceful setting.
With a distinctive charm retained from its Belle Èpoque golden years, the spa town is today a family-friendly destination, with its thermal medical bath speacialized in treating children and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Its nearby ski resort, an ideal spot for cross country skiing has no few than 49km of pistes
La Bourboule's name may have come Borvo,the Celtic god of spring water, or could be derived from the old French word "borboler". Eitherway, it is very likely that ancient Celtic local tribes probably have known about the hot spring in the area, although the very first basic bathing facilities were not built until the 15th century. In 17th and 18th centuries, the discovery of new hot springs, along with the publication of treatises on the quality of waters, began to attract the first visitors.
In the 19th century French botanist Henri Lecoq published an inventory locating 5 springs in the area. This was an springboard for the development of the spa station. In 1828 the first modern thermal establishments, the Choussy baths, were built, followed by the Grands Thermes, hotels, a spa park and two casinos. This blooming period is marked by the so-called "War of the Wells", a dispute between the families Choussy and Mabru upon the property of the different hot springs.
In 1875 the town becomes an independent municipality and the Waters Company responsible for the springs is founded, La Bourboule is then ready for a ready for a period of expansion and prosperity that would be enhanced with the arrival of the railway, turning into one of the most prominent spa resorts in the Massif Central.
Since 1940s, La Bourboule has specialised in treating children for asthma, allergies and skin conditions, being one of the first and largest family thermal centres in France.
La Bourboule's waters, described as "arsenical", are quite rare and have some unusual qualities. Both for bating and drinking, their use strengthen the respiratory mucosa, thus inhibiting the diffusion of allergens. They also stimulate the immune system permanently and improve the quality of skin.
Because of their unique composition, this water produce a wide range of curious effects: in the past, the poors would wash their linen in the springs, with a bright bleached result. French beans are said to retain their bright green colour when cooked in these waters.Nowadays, there are 3 thermal establishments operating in La Bourboule: the Grands Thermes of La Bourboule, owned by the municipality and the Thermes Choussy and Résidence thermale Choussy , owned and managed by La Bourboule Mineral Waters Company. All of them offer a wide range of medical hydrotherapy treatments specially indicated for skin and respiratory conditions, and also children's growth conditions. Le Grands Therme also propose an specific line of dermocosmetics.
La Bourboule also has a newly aqua-recreational centre with saunas, hammam and Jacuzzi.
La Bourboule is the perfect destination for families, a children's thermal station with of specially-designed activities they can enjoy in the Park de Fenestre, a landscaped garden created fin 1874 on the left bank of the Dordogne river. This 12 hectares park is made of lawns, flowers and trees clumps, including centenary redwoods, and also an ornamental pond.
Children also have their special ddivated events, like the “Plein la Bobine” cinema festival where younger visitors can take part in cinema-themed workshops.
The medical and wellness offers is complemented with plenty of outdoor and indoor activities, including a cable car to the Charlannes site, a horse-riding centre, a mini-golf, tennins courts, a billiard room, two casinos (for adults and children), cinema, discoteque, etc.
Cariatyds at the ancient Casino, today the Town Hall
Casino Chardon: a majestic building result of several construction schemes. The art-deco style, geometric decor is reminiscent of oriental calligraphy.
Mosaic detail of the ancient Rozier pâtisserie façade