Vichy is a famous spa town, its springs and its Art Deco style make it one of the prettiest French towns.
Historical and refined, the districts of Vichy follow one another and are not alike. The spa district with its centuries-old springs and its metal hall reminiscent of the world of Wes Anderson, the row of English-style houses in rue Alquié, rue de Belgique with baroque facades, the Napoleon III chalets of colonial inspiration, the bandstand reminiscent of the concerts given on summer afternoons, not to mention its Art Nouveau-style casino theater (the Vichy architecture gives the town an assumed bourgeois side). A clever mix between natural space with its parks (Napoléon III and Kennedy) with romantic influences from the English wave and the banks of the Allier where it is good to bask in the sun, meet for golden hour or even go jogging. Here are some places not to miss :
Le Centre des Congrès
A nugget of the architectural heritage of Vichy, the Palais des Congrès-Opéra is a must in the Vichy destination. Previously made up of the former Grand Casino, the latter only obtained its current title in 1995. It is also an Opera modernized by the famous Jean Guilhem de Castelbajac. Visiting Vichy without passing through this original building is simply unimaginable. Directed by Charles Badger in 1865, this casino-theatre was created at the request of Napoleon III. At that time, it combined a theatre, pleasure lounges and ballrooms. It owes its current notoriety above all to the architect Charles Lecœur who took charge of the expansion of the building around the year 1900. Following this reconstruction, a new Art Nouveau theater was created with 1,486 seats.
La Source des Celestines
Place of natural emergence of Vichy waters which are also the most famous of this region, the Source des Celestines is the only one to be bottled. It takes its name from a convent of monks dating from the 15th century which bears the same name. The latter was built on the rock, but today only a section of the wall remains. The pavilion of the source is magnificent being neo-Louis XVI style. The water springs magically from the faults of an aragonite rock and the tasting is free.
Le Grand Etablissement Thermal
Built between 1899 and 1903, this former 1st class thermal establishment, enlarged in the 1930s, surprises with its neo-Moorish style. The wing of the building overlooking the Boulevard des Etats-Unis now constitutes the Center thermal des Dômes. A stone’s throw away, the Callou thermal baths also host traditional cures.
Napoleon III Chalets
These Swiss or English colonial style chalets, built in 1863 and 1864 at the request of Napoleon III, welcomed the Emperor and his imperial suite during his stays in Vichy. In the immediate vicinity, rue Alquié, the series of English-style houses and their characteristic bow windows, housed the officers of the Imperial Guard.
Saint Blaise Church
It was built in 1714 on the former chapel of the Dukes of Bourbon dating from the 12th century. Its black virgin is venerated in Vichy for a long tradition for its miracles. The new Art Deco-style Notre-Dame-des-Malades church was built between 1925 and 1933. Inside, light marble, lapis lazuli and onyx dominate and contrast with the austerity of the exterior.
Le Kiosque et le Fer à Cheval
This kiosk was built by the architect Charles Lecœur in 1902. Emile Robert made the thistles and the wrought iron musical staves of the balustrades. It hosts free outdoor concerts from May to September. The seven music kiosks in Vichy at the beginning of the century testified to the importance of music in “the Queen of spa towns”. A “horseshoe” shopping arcade surrounds the kiosk and extends the covered gallery around the source of the Hospital.