Vichy, the French capital of relaxation

Posted on 10. Aug, 2011 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, France

Vichy spas are, to say the least, abundant.Very few cities in the world can boast being a spa capital - and luckily for me, Vichy is one of them. Located in the beautiful Auvergne region, it is easily reachable by train from Paris, Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon, which only makes it even easier to add to your bucket list.

My husband and I decided to visit the city to celebrate a mini-honeymoon, and we thought that we might as well splurge and enjoy the little off time we had regardless of the credit card statement. I booked a room at the world-class 4 star hotel spa Les Célestins, and not once did I regret this somewhat costly decision. We were told it was the crème de la crème of Vichy spas by the tourist office, and boy was that an understatement. Upon mention of a honeymoon, they kindly upgraded us to a larger room with a view on the park, and treated us to small attentions like champagne, rose petals and candles. I could not have asked for better service. And let’s not forget the premises themselves: the hotel is located in the heart of a riverside park, thus offering a relaxing and harmonious setting to its guests. In my mind, it doesn’t get any better than falling asleep in a huge and comfortable bed, listening to nature’s live soundtrack.

The hotel & its amenities (photos courtesy of Les Célestins)

The most famous of Vichy spas provides several services: week-long treatments, individual massages and free access to the regular spa facilities like the rooftop pool, giant jacuzzi, hammam and feet relaxation station. There is even a small bar where you can enjoy a selection of therapeutic infusions. Once you enter this blissful establishment, it is forbidden to think about the phone bill, tomorrow’s dinner, the next dentist’s appointment or any other occurence of your regular life. Leave your brain in the locker along with your worries, now is the time for your body to wind down and be pampered by one, or several, while you’re there,  treatments offered by the spa.

But the soothing aspect of the city goes even further than its many thermal hotels: the city itself is as relaxing as it gets. Think of a tinier version of an upscale Paris neighborhood, minus the noise and the dirt, plus the green areas and the fresh air. Sounds good, eh? The two main parks, Parc des Sources et Parc Napoléon III, are certainly going to help you get your nature fix. My favorite is Napoléon III, because of its proximity to the Allier river, and the many waterside restaurants - why not head to the modern Bungalow lounge for a drink after a spa afternoon?

Beautiful Vichy

Vichy isn’t just about hedonism, though: it’s actually an important place in contemporary French history. It was the seat of the French government while Paris was occupied during the World War II, such period best known as the Vichy Regime. There are several interesting sights of this period within the city that are well worth the detour if you’re slightly interested in history. Many other sights are worth the walk, such as the Casino, the Town Hall and the Hall des Sources, where you can taste different thermal waters of the region.

While some of Vichy spas offer week-long treatments, a tour of the city can pretty much be wrapped in a week-end - but it’s going to be the two most relaxing, slow-paced days of your life.

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13 Responses to “Vichy, the French capital of relaxation”

  1. Lauren Rice

    10. Aug, 2011

    Congratulations on getting married! Vichy sounds and looks so beautiful. There’s nothing better than a chance to get away, relax and enjoy nature.

    Reply to this comment
  2. melodie

    10. Aug, 2011

    J’aurais jamais pensé aller à Vichy, que j’associe tellement avant la Deuxième Guerre, mais ça semble sympa! J’aime beaucoup tes collages de photos :-)

    Reply to this comment
  3. Andi

    10. Aug, 2011

    My mother-in-law lives in Vichy and in the spring and fall it is absolutely beautiful to walk around in.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      11. Aug, 2011

      I have no trouble believing that - all of Vichy’s greenery coming back to life, must be pretty spectacular.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Bob Crunch

    11. Aug, 2011

    Great article and it sounds like you chose an excellent spot for a mini-honeymoon. The picture of the spa is taunting me.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Andrea

    12. Aug, 2011

    Looks so relaxing and therapeutic - I love spa getaways!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Auvergne Tourism

    16. Aug, 2011

    Great article and nice views ;-) We lov’it !

    Reply to this comment

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