Vichy, the verdant lungs of the Auvergne
Famous worldwide for its Thermal Spas, lozenges, mineral water, and dermo-cosmetic laboratories, Vichy (in France) is in the heart of the Auvergne region in the cradle of thermal culture, so in every respect, it is an ideal place for revitalization.
Plateaus, forests, and lakes: natural beauty as far as the eye can see... The largest natural park in France invites you to relax with numerous opportunities for hiking, strolling through nature on foot, cycling along, or enjoying recreation on the water. On your own, with your partner, with friends or family, take time to enjoy the pleasures of a trip to Vichy (in France) and its mineral water springs.
Guided by the initiative of the Emperor Napoléon III, the city grew along the shores of the Allier Lake, in the heart of one hundred forty hectares of parks, gardens, and lovely green spaces to relax, read, jog, or perhaps observe rare species of wildlife. Did you know that the two thousand trees in the Parcs d'Allier are listed on the registry of historic monuments?
In July and August, the lake puts out its summer colors and transforms into the Célestins beach, with fine sand, beach volleyball fields, beach cabins, picnic tables, ice cream parlor, etc. There is a patrolled swimming area with a bathing pool and a baby pool for the kids, and many organized activities for the whole family.
Not to be missed:
The cultural season of the Vichy Opera (in France): operas, theatre productions, and concerts are staged here in this true gem of Art Nouveau style.
Vichy new wave (in France) : the Célestins beach and the city center come alive every summer (activities for the whole family).
Guided visits of Vichy (in France): Vichy in the Belle Epoque, Palaces and Grand Hôtels, Napoléon III, History of the Spas: 2,000 years of thermal culture, Sense and Essence: botanical and historical tours of the parklands, Art Deco Vichy, Vichy in arts and letters, etc.
With a wealth of two thousand years of history, the thermal city mixes periods and styles, ranging from neoclassical to art deco to Byzantine. In the 1860s, Emperor Napoléon III made five trips to Vichy (in France) for five separate spa treatments, and he decided to modernize the city. So he is responsible for diking up the Allier, planting English gardens, building chalets, pavilions, the casino, and the St. Louis church with its depiction of the saints of the imperial family...
During the Belle Époque, Vichy (in France) was the perfect example of a cosmopolitan city with its large casino, its mineral springs park, large thermal complex, hotels, and bourgeois villas. Finely wrought balconies, intricate cornices, monumental entrances, and more. Turn down any street, or stroll down the middle of an avenue, and you will discover original and often surprising architecture: typical of the many palaces built in the thermal city in the first half of the 20th century, and which figure among the jewels in the architectural heritage of Vichy (in France).
The grand architectural styles in the city bear witness to Vichy's historical, cultural, and national wealth. Starting in 1861, with the birth of the modern thermal spa, architectural renewal led to building on a whole new scale, including construction of lofty structures and the mixture of neoclassical, neo-medieval, neo-renaissance, and neo-flemish styles.
Aristocrats, statesmen, artists... Over the centuries, they all left their mark on the history of Vichy, and they contributed to the city's fame. Madame de Sévigné underwent two Spa treatments in Vichy (in France), and she lauded their merits in her letters: "We're here amongst a lovely society: the weather is admirable, the countryside delicious," imitated by Adélaïde, Victoire de France, and the Duchess of Angoulême. A great builder, Napoléon III gave Vichy its modern image. In the early 1860s, he signed several decrees ordering the construction of major projects. Composer Isaac Strauss left his mark on the city, as did Albert Londres, and Arthur Callou, creator of the Fermière company in 1862 and father of thermal spa tourism which brought about the development of sales of mineral water in bottles and the commercial use of the Vichy name.
These are some of the attributes that make Vichy a very highly-prized destination city.
Vichy boasts an opera house that is a treasure of art nouveau architecture, a cultural center featuring the latest shows, contemporary art exhibitions, five museums, seven multiplex cinemas in the city center, and many themed guided visits to explore the history and the treasures of the city's heritage. Vichy moves to the rhythm of cultural energy all year round.
The thermal spas are also a must for sports enthusiasts, whether professional or amateur. In the early 1960s, Vichy developed top quality sports facilities. Visitors today enjoy an Omnisports Center spanning 120 hectares that is unique in Europe, 100 hectares of surface water for nautical sports, an ultramodern aquatic stadium, two 18-hole golf courses, and the chance to attend the International Jumping Competition in Vichy held on one of the last grass fields in Europe...
What's more, the city has a wealth of experience and recognized expertise in organizing high-level events and hosting major competitions.