The thermal baths of Le Mont-Dore, in Auvergne near the Puy de Sancy, are an architectural marvel, partly classified as a Historic Monument. A must-see!
Volcanic activity in the Massif du Sancy resulted in the emergence of hot mineral springs. Rich in silica, these springs emerging at 36 to 44°C had curative properties. The thermal spa was born, almost!
From the Gallo-Roman era to the early 19th century, the spa business was somewhat rudimentary. In 1817, architect Louis-Charles François Ledru went to work on building a proper thermal bath complex. The establishment was built on the very spot of some Gallo-Roman bath remains. Ledru also reorganised the spa resort of Le Mont-Dore and was the first to propose a real urban planning project.
In a succession of stages, led by Emile Camut in the 1890s and by Ernest Pinot in the 1930s, work was carried out to accommodate the hydrotherapy boom and the increasing number of spa customers.
Numerous personalities came to “take the waters of Le Mont-Dore”, including the likes of Marcel Proust, Balzac and George Sand who was quoted by “Voyages en Auvergne” as saying:
“God, it’s beautiful, the Mont-Dore baths building! How come we hardly even know it’s there? It’s a true monument. Such grandeur, such starkness, such ancient and majestic simplicity! Passing through the dark porticoes, strolling beneath these silent arches, it really felt as if I were entering the baths built in Caesar’s day at this very same location .”
Behind the austere lava-stone façade, the rich interior decoration is sensational. Colourful paintings, mosaics and frescoes dating in some cases from the 19th century, metallic Gustave Eiffel-style framework, vast halls with painted ceilings, domes, marble features, Romanesque remains, sculptures and more.
In 1989, the 2 beautiful main staircases and several other items were classified as Historical Monuments.
The Mont-Dore baths offer a blend of comfort and warmth that make you feel like a 19th-century aristocrat enjoying a little 21st-century pampering.
The Thermes du Mont-Dore spa complex can be visited on a guided tour! From the entrance hall, the guide will take you to see the immense hall of the “pas perdus”, the monolithic Vosges sandstone columns, the magnificent painted arches and the monumental, richly decorated staircases with openwork stone balustrades. Discover this architectural treasure in the company of Dame Charlotte!
Did you know...?
Charlotte, Joséphine and Oscar propose a completely crazy guided tour of the Mont-Dore spa heritage. The Virées du Sancy summer and winter guides, who are also actors, take you on a theatrical adventure that really plunges you into Belle-Epoque Mont-Dore. Follow a day in the life of a colourful character taking the waters!