Bagnères-de-Luchon

Water and great site of Midi-Pyrenees

The water produced by a spring is unique, the fruit of a land and its geological history. The hyperthermal waters of Luchon are the most sulfurated of the Pyrenees. Flowing deeply some 5,000 metres beneath the earth, they are free from the pollution on the surface and are watched carefully by local authorities. Since 1991, the spa exploits two deep wells producing waters at temperatures of 74 and 65 degrees. They are transferred to the spa at nearly the same temperature to avoid any contamination. Mud produced by the spring is also used for its balming and calming effects.
The Bagnères-de-Luchon spa is known for treating respiratory problems and rheumatism. And the properties of its waters have been known since antiquity as Luchon draws its name from Lixion, the Romand godess of water. Bagneres de Luchon is now the most popular spa in the Midi-Pyrennes region and its main attraction remains the Vaporarium, a huge natural hammam.

Great site of Midi-Pyrenees

Bagneres de Luchon was named a great site of the Midi-Pyrenees in 2011. It is one of the most characteristic towns of the massif as it is surrounded by 13 of the most famous mountains in the area, including Aneto, the highest point in the Pyrenees at 3,404 metres.  But the beauty not only stands up in the mountains, it also lies in the small narrow valleys like Larboust, Oueil or Lys or in lakes such as Oo, the second most visited site in the Pyrenees after Gavarnie.

51 previous stages
Population: 2,700
Haute-Garonne department

Specialities : water, specialities from the Pyrenees.
Economy : hydrotherapy, tourism.
Celebrities : Edmond Rostand, Guy and Roger Lapebie (cyclists), Britt and Ingrid Lafforgue (skiers), Lys Gauty (singer).
Events : flower festival, festival of audiovisual creation.

Timeline

  • Roman period

    A legionnaire from the Pompey army discovered the virtues of Luchon’s water. In 25 BC, Emperor Tiberius Claudius developed the baths, which were deemed the best in the world after Naples.
  • Middle Ages

    A border town, remote from the world’s quarrels, Luchon lived on a local form of Christianity that never ruled out good food or womanising.
  • 1200

    Knights Templar established a house in Luchon to host pilgrims on this alternative St James Way.
  • 1759

    The intendent of Gascony, Baron Antoine Megret d’Etigny reorganised Luchon and developed the spa.
  • 1763

    The Duke of Richelieu came to Luchon to take waters. He returned a year after with most of the Royal Court. The Luchon Thermal Baths were on their way to success.
  • 1854

    Empress Eugenie launched the trend for hydrotherapy. The jet set of the time rushed to Luchon.
  • 1880

    Building of the casino.
  • 1911

    The Super-Bagneres ski resort is created.
51 previous stages
Population: 2,700
Haute-Garonne department

Specialities : water, specialities from the Pyrenees.
Economy : hydrotherapy, tourism.
Celebrities : Edmond Rostand, Guy and Roger Lapebie (cyclists), Britt and Ingrid Lafforgue (skiers), Lys Gauty (singer).
Events : flower festival, festival of audiovisual creation.

Bagneres-de-Luchon and cycling

In 1910, Luchon entered the race’s history books, by hosting the start and then the finish of the two first high mountain stages of the Tour de France, with two victories for Octave Lapize, the future winner that year. In this context, the town is more than worthy of its nickname of the Queen of the Pyrenees. One hundred years later, a similar programme was created for the Tour’s riders. Thomas Voeckler won in Bagnères-de-Luchon, wearing the French Champion’s jersey. Before him Federico Bahamontes, Raymond Poulidor, Eddy Merckx and Luis Ocaña had also been successful on the Allées d’Etigny.
To hold the yellow jersey in Bagneres de Luchon often meant winning in Paris, but it was not always the case. In 1983, Frenchman Pascal Simon was convinced he had seen the worst after a great performance in the Pyrenees "queen stage". "I made a big step towards victory," he said. The next day, he crashed near Lannemesan and broke his collarbone. The next five days were a nightmare for Simon, who went on to preserve the yellow jersey but was finally called it quits on the road to l’Alpe d’Huez. He had missed the chance of a lifetime and had to be content with 7th place in 1984.

51 previous stages
Population: 2,700
Haute-Garonne department

Specialities : water, specialities from the Pyrenees.
Economy : hydrotherapy, tourism.
Celebrities : Edmond Rostand, Guy and Roger Lapebie (cyclists), Britt and Ingrid Lafforgue (skiers), Lys Gauty (singer).
Events : flower festival, festival of audiovisual creation.

What to see

Allees d’Etigny

Luchon’s main avenue is exceptional by its long line of remarkable buildings reflecting diverse inspirations: 18th century neo-classicism, neo-gothic, Victorian style, Swiss or Russian chalets, Art-Deco houses can all be found here side by side. The huge Vaporarium, typical of the 1960s, is among the most surprising features of the alleys.

Luchon Country Museum


The Museum of Luchon Country has been set since 1926 in the small castle built in 1772 by Baron Marc-François-Bertrand de Lassus-Nestier just outside the Allees d’Etigny. The aim of the collection was to gather riches spread all over the remote valleys of the region and preserve the mountain traditions. Several local societies offered their own collections ancient objects and tools to enrich the museum. Drawings and posters evoke the resources of the Comminges province while another collection deals with the local wildlife. A small amount of paintings are also on display.

Air Museum

The exhibition recounts the history of aircraft from 1934 to this day and is also a tribute to the pilots who died to liberate France. Most of the objects shown were taken from the wrecks of planes which crashed in the Pyrenees.  A small part of the collection is devoted to pst war aeronautics and several engines are on display, as well as aparachutes and uniforms.

51 previous stages
Population: 2,700
Haute-Garonne department

Specialities : water, specialities from the Pyrenees.
Economy : hydrotherapy, tourism.
Celebrities : Edmond Rostand, Guy and Roger Lapebie (cyclists), Britt and Ingrid Lafforgue (skiers), Lys Gauty (singer).
Events : flower festival, festival of audiovisual creation.

Pyreneism

Pyreneism was launched in the late 19th century by Pyrenees enthusiasts, who saw it as the local equivalent of alpinism. Their idea was not only to climb, explore and conquer new summits but also to celebrate the romanticism of their mountains. The word Pyreneist first appeared in 1898 in the writings of Henri Beraldi at the times when celebrities of arts and literature like Lamartine, Heredia or Maupassant flocked in Luchon and other spas in the Pyrenees. Beradli spent a lot of time in Luchon and was a seasoned trekker who said he had climbed up the Port de Venasque several times. His masterpiece, 100 years in the Pyrenees, comprising seven volumes, collected all the texts written about the Pyrenees up to his time. Before Beraldi, others like Ramond de Carbonnieres were probably pyreneists even if they did not use the word. Closer to Bagneres de Bigorre than to Luchon, Ramond was the first to reach the top of the Mont Perdu and named several Pyrenean summits. His most famous emulators were Emilien Frossard, Charles Packe or Henry Russell, who also inaugurated several mountains. Octave Lapize, the first to reach the top of the Tourmalet on a bike in 1911 was a pyreneist of sorts.

51 previous stages
Population: 2,700
Haute-Garonne department

Specialities : water, specialities from the Pyrenees.
Economy : hydrotherapy, tourism.
Celebrities : Edmond Rostand, Guy and Roger Lapebie (cyclists), Britt and Ingrid Lafforgue (skiers), Lys Gauty (singer).
Events : flower festival, festival of audiovisual creation.

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