On the Road: Summer 2013 – Vichy, France

11 Aug

When making our summer plans, I told my husband I wanted at least part of it to be just the two of us relaxing somewhere nice enjoying each other’s company. I started to call it our babymoon although my husband, the non-conformist that he is, didn’t like that Americanism. In any case, after many recommendations from friends and family on where to go, some place preferably in a slightly cooler temperature than Lyon for my sake, my husband picked Vichy, and I have to say it has become my favorite place in France thus far.

Only about an hour and a half drive from Lyon (easily accessible by train as the station is in the heart of Vichy), it is a small town (about 80,194 population) known for its spas, thermal baths, mineral water, opera, and once was the second capital of France during World War II (read more about the history here). Americans may know it best when referred to in spas – when my husband said Vichy, I said oh, as in the Vichy shower I once had at a spa – he looked at me squarely and said, yeah, sure. Or, if you are a woman you may know the beauty products from the region.

I was excited to check out a region of France I had actually heard of before and let me tell you it didn’t disappoint. It is one of the most romantic places I’ve been with lots of beautiful parks, interesting architecture, and the mere fact that it’s so tiny adds to its charm. We stayed at La Demeure d’Hortense in what’s called a Chambres d’Hôtes, which is basically a private house where they rent out a few of the rooms. La Demeure d’Hortense is located in the heart of Vichy and is a beautiful 19th century townhouse. They only have five rooms for rent which makes the service personalized – you really feel like you are a guest in someone’s house. Madame Gauthier and her husband welcomed us into their home with a thorough overview of Vichy over a few drinks (non-alcoholic for my sake) and some biscuits in the living room. They recommended places for us to visit and restaurants for us to indulge in for the 48-hours we were there. I can say each recommendation was perfect! (I’ve outlined each restaurant recommendation here and places to visit here)

(click on photos to enlarge)

La Demeure D'Hortense

{Entrance to La Demeure d’Hortense}

La Demeure D'Hortense

{Our room: each room is themed and our’s was Morocco}

La Demeure D'Hortense

{Bathroom: toilet to the right and a big walk-in shower to the left}

La Demeure D'Hortense

{Interesting lighting and artwork fill the room}

La Demeure D'Hortense

{The most comfortable bed with a Moroccan piece of art hanging above}

La Demeure D'Hortense

{Staircase leading to our room}

La Demeure D'Hortense

{Entrance to the garden where complimentary breakfast is served every day}

La Demeure D'Hortense

{Our breakfast spread: fresh croissants and bread; yogurt; strawberries; and various confiture – all bio and from local producers except for the fresh ground Ethiopian coffee}

La Demeure D'Hortense

{The best blueberry confiture I’ve ever had!}

La Demeure D'Hortense

{Fresh strawberries}

La Demeure D'Hortense

{Another view of the garden}

After we settled into our hotel we toured around the city and visited Les Halles de Sources, which is located in the center of the city and features the six different water sources around Vichy, which you can sample. 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.

Les Halles des Sources

{Les Halles des Sources}

Les Halles des Sources

{The water tap from the Celestins source}

Source de Celestins

{The entrance to where the actual Celestins source is located}

La Source

{The Grande Grille source of water at 102 degrees F in Les Halles des Sources: the water is actually bubbling up from the ground}

We also took a stroll down Boulevard des Etats-Unis (United States Boulevard) to view the chalets that Napoleon III had built under his reign from 1860-1870.


{Boulevard des Etats-Unis}

Les Chalets

{Chalet des Roses}


{Chalet Eugenie}

Les Chalets

{Chalet Marie-Louise}

The next day we took a walk along the river front and stopped at a bar called Tahiti Beach to spend the day in the sun relaxing.

Tahiti Plage

{Me, enjoying a refreshing juice smoothie}

Tahiti Plage

{Him, waiting for a glass of wine}

We also took in some of the architecture, and visited an exposition about La Belle Epoque à Vichy (1901-1914).

La Casino

{The Opera which once was also housed a grand casino and ballroom}

La Casino

{The Opera}

We ended the day with a lovely dinner at the Brasserie du Casino, where the service and the cuisine were impeccable. The dinner was amazing, but the dessert was one of the best ones I’ve ever had and consisted of marinated cherries in a crispy mille feuille with lemon ice cream and a strawberry sauce. It was the perfect level of sweetness, which pretty much describes the trip!

Brasserie du Casino

{Celebrating the arrival of baby girl!}

Next stop: Saint Remy de Provence & Belgentier

Previous stop: La Planche



2 Responses to “On the Road: Summer 2013 – Vichy, France”


  1. On the Road: Summer 2013 – The South of France | Pardon My French - August 22, 2013

    […] Last stop: Vichy […]

  2. On the Road: Summer 2013 – La Planche, France | Pardon My French - September 22, 2013

    […] Next stop: Vichy […]

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