Vichy in the Auvergne Region is an all-inclusive spa town that is a about an hour drive north of Clermont-Ferrand. Historically speaking, it was also the seat of government during World War II during Pétain’s collaboration with the Regime. This was the center of free France during the occupation by the Nazis.
Vichy Mineral Springs
There are six different sources of mineral springs which you can easily sample at the Hall des Sources in Parc des Halles. These mineral waters claim to be a cure for 50 different ailments. Residents frequent these sources with such regularity that in the local pharmacies you can purchase a small graduated cup with its own straw carrying case for your personal use of the waters. The origin of some of the sources are actually in this building. Others, like Célestins have their own separate building.
Each tap told you the source of the mineral spring, its temperature, what particulates it contained and what health benefit it carried. In the case of the two springs below, the actual source was there in the Hall and you could see the water bubbling up from underground. Note on the upper rim of the Chomel Source that the water temperature is 43.5 degrees Celsius!
We entered the Parc des Célestins through a shady path and wandered until we came upon a beautiful white building that houses the source. The pavilion was a peaceful place to sit and enjoy the shade and the restorative waters. The Célestins water is less mineralized than the other sources so it was, in my opinion, more refreshing. Yes, I had to try every available water just out of curiosity – some were acceptable, some barely tolerable, some difficult to swallow because of the smell and some refreshing.
Vichy Parc des Sources
Napolean III laid out the Parc des Sources in the center of town in 1812. The park is truly an oasis in the middle of the city and a wonderful place to walk in the rain. A wrought-iron canopy covers the walkway around the park.
This great little tea shop faces the park and made a delightful place to have breakfast. They had a wide selection of teas and coffees and wonderful croissants. The shop was at the end of a long covered area of shopping where a Saturday morning market was being held.
This church of two-levels has some amazing frescoes that you should be sure to see while you are in Vichy. There is also a wonderful little café in the shadow of the church that we enjoyed. The day was extremely hot but the cool stone wall of the church rising up beside our table along with the continual shade made it a very pleasant place for lunch and as you can see, we were the first to arrive!