Luchon (France)

lia
January 9, 2018

Set high in the Pyrenees mountain, Luchon is renowned for being a winter sports and ski resort but also a classic spa town, 2000 years old, famous for its Vaporarium,a huge natural-steam-gallery in the rock unique in Europe!

The Romans first developed baths at Luchon, dedicating them to the goddess of water, Ilixion, thus starting a 2000-year-old tradition of thermalism which continues to this day. Throughout its history, the Queen of the Pyrenees has welcomed illustrious guests such as Richelieu, Napoleon III, Alexandre Dumas or Gustave Flaubert, witnesses of Luchon's golden era. Memories of those years can still be evoked in a stroll trough Luchon's main street, the Allée d'Etigny, surrounded by pintoresque Belle Epoque villas, hotels and lush gardens.

The opening of the mountain hotel Superbagnères in the 20th century complemented the spa town with a winter sports resort, turning Luchon into a vibrant holiday destination for hikers, spa-goers, skiers, bikers, etc. Visitors shouldn't miss Luchon's rich cultural and festive life, whose major highlight - the colourful Flowers Festival - takes place every August.

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Luchon Tourist Officce

 

The fame of Luchon's healing waters started in the Gallo-Roman times, being the Romans the first who developed the town and its primitive thermal facilities, naming the place Ilixion, a pre-roman water goddess.

After six centuries of prosperity and opulence, the Barbaric Invasions dealt a fatal blow to the prestige of Luchon, and the thermal baths remained being only used by the local population. Luchon would continue its thermal tradition in the following centuries, being a modest but popular spatown, thanks to its strategic locations and its proximity to the Way of Saint James.

The bloom of the spa town began only in the mid 18th century. In 1759 Antoine Megret, Baron d'Etigny and intendant of the Gascony province, visited Luchon for the first time and completely fell unders its charm, thus promoting its urban development. He commanded the construction of new, elegant, thermal bath to harness the waters, and also of a new road, today's Allée d’Etigny, connecting the new spa stablishment to the town. By that time, Luchon began to welcome prominent guests, as the Duke of Richelieu, who in 1763 visited the town pread the word about Luchon's marvel at the French court in Versailles

By 1848, the Chambert thermal baths, named after its creator, were built upon the remains of the old Roman baths and in 1867 Empress Eugenie, consort of Napoleon III started visiting Luchon, where a small wooden building was erected in her honour. The reputation of spa town was launched, and grew even more with the Pyrénéisme craze that spread through the second half of the 19th, the arrival of the railway (1873) and the construction of the casino (1880) .

By the end of the 19th Century Luchon was at the height of its fame; a health resort welcoming famous visitors, aristrocrats and artists, from all around the world.

That popularity is reflected in the extraordinary thermal architecture of the period - a multitude of styles and influences, seen today along the Allée d'Etigny and in the Casino, with its Italian theatre and Tunisian lounge.

 

Luchon’s hyperthermal waters are known for being the most sulphurous in the Pyrennes (33mg HS/l), described by the Ancient Greek geographer Strabon as "sources excellent water”.

Due to its composition, they have a a particularly anti-infectious quality, with important healing properties They are used today to treat rheumatisms, fibromyalgias, and diseases of the respiratory tract, as well as being popular for stopping smoking. Post cancer treatments, and the treatment of asthma in children is also available along with coaching, back treatments and more.

The Thermal baths of Luchon have not ceased evolving with the reorganization of the care services and the development of new therapeutic tecniques and technologies. In adittion, the “Luchon Forme et Bien Etre” is a completely modern centre for health and wellbeing built on the foundations of the Roman baths

The Vaporarium is, without a doubt, the main attraction at Luchon's spa, a magical system of subterranean caves,1200 metres long, where sulphuric hot springs leak trough the walls, creating a soft humid heat between 38º and 42ºC. It is the only natura hamman in Europe.

Although it was discovered in 1929, the curves in the rock and long galleries were and used by the Romans. It was further developed in 1969 with the constructio of the current building, and in 2010 it was completely refurbished and modernized.

Springs:

Pré, Reine

Earliest known use:

Roman

Hottest Spring:

42ºC

Chemical Elements:

Sulphur

Façade of the Luchon Forme et Bien-être Centre and the Vaporarium

Chambert Thermal Baths & the Luchon Forme et Bien-être Centre

Let yourself be surprised the magical Vaporarium and take advantage of the hot springs, and their renowned thermal qualities whilst relaxing in its 34°C pool, equipped with bubble beds, hydrojets and swan-neck showers.

A statue in Luchon remembers the Baron D'Etigny, promoter of the development of the spa town in the 18th century

Luchon is a obligatory stage of the Tour de France since its first edition

The Casino of Luchon

The Bear of Luchon is the children's favorite statute - one of the many in town - who enjoy sliding on his back

Le Majestic, one of the grand hotels in Luchon

A view of the quiet Thermal Park, were you will find your perfect spot to relax and day-dream!

Salle Henri Pac, the theatre of Luchon

La Fête des Fleurs - Luchon's Flower Festival fills the town with music and colourful flowers for 4 days at the end of August.

Villa Julia, one the many refined manor houses of Lucho. It was the residence of writer Edmond Rostand, author of Les Musardises