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.
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) .
Springs & Spas
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.
Earliest known use