Vichy, FRANCE: Queen of the Spa Towns
Vichy, ‘Queen of Spas’, and France, greatly contributed to the creation of nineteenth century European spa culture. It is the most prestigious and well-known French spa town, the model spa. Located on a flat plain beside the River Allier, it combines Parisian urban principles with a spa promenade inside the city. Napoleon III encouraged the building of a new spa town laid out with parks and boulevards, a cosmopolitan ‘Little Paris’ of grand bath complexes, pump rooms connected by covered promenades, casino and theatre, hotels and villas. The success of Vichy resumed after difficult times in the Second World War, and bottled water – ‘reine des villes d’eaux’ - continued to be exported in large quantities, worldwide. This further provides the basis for trademark cosmetics and skin care products of the Vichy Laboratories, the leading skincare brand in European continental pharmacies.
Historic Urban Landscape of the ‘Great Spa’
The spatial plan of the nominated property can be divided into:
- The spa district, geometric and formally laid out, sitting harmoniously with a bend of the River Allier and containing the principal springs and great thermal bath establishments, the drinking hall, promenades and parks, colonnades and pavilions, together with structures for leisure and pleasure (including the elegant casino and theatre).
- The surrounding spa resort of hotels, villas and shops.
- The series of parks along the River Allier, the principal promenades along both banks (and the Allier ‘Lake’ itself included as a recreational facility).