13 thermal spas in the mountains

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Avec vue sur les cimes, les stations thermales de montagne bénéficient de nombreux atouts naturels pour décompresser le temps d'un séjour bien-être.
© Entre2poles - Avec vue sur les cimes, les stations thermales de montagne bénéficient de nombreux atouts naturels pour décompresser le temps d'un séjour bien-être.

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 6 February 2024, updated on 17 April 2024

Waters with a thousand virtues springing from the depths of the earth, air of exemplary purity, and an incredible diversity of activities around nature and heritage. There's nothing like a stay in a mountain spa to clear your mind and recharge your batteries to the rhythm of the elements in any season. Nestled in the hollow of the Auvergne volcanoes or the Vosges mountains, or nestled at the foot of the most prestigious peaks of the Alps and the Pyrenees, here are 13 top spas to get back into shape at the top!

Aix-les-Bains : the bluest

Balade en paddle sur le lac du Bourget, à Aix-les-Bains, dans les Alpes.
© Tristan Shu / Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes tourisme - Balade en paddle sur le lac du Bourget, à Aix-les-Bains, dans les Alpes.

In Aix-Les-Bains, also known as the Riviera of the Alps, taking the waters is also diving into the big blue! This Belle Epoque spa with its renowned thermal water for phlebology, rheumatology and ENT, is located on the shores of Lake Bourget, whose turquoise waters are among the warmest in France (up to 28° in summer!). To the virtues of the cures and fitness sessions organized by the two thermal establishments, balneotherapy centers and spas, we can add the benefits of activities around the lake, such as yoga paddle. And to add to the pleasures of water even more, you can take an electric bike (or not) on the Via Rhôna, a véloroute linking Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean. It is just a stone's throw away!

Staying in Aix-les-Bains in the Alps

Brides-Les-Bains : the lightest

A Brides-les-Bains, dans les Alpes, les restaurateurs proposent des menus diététiques pour garantir aux voyageurs une expérience saine et gourmande.
© OT Brides les Bains 3 Vallées - A Brides-les-Bains, dans les Alpes, les restaurateurs proposent des menus diététiques pour garantir aux voyageurs une expérience saine et gourmande.

If you come to Brides-Les-Bains to lighten up - its thermal waters are recommended for rheumatology but also for slimming cures, specialties of the resort - you leave stronger in energy! Small dietetic dishes - all the restaurants and caterers in this spa resort in the 3 Valleys (600m altitude) are committed to offering dedicated menus, easy going gym, Pilates, sophrology: well-being is a natural extension of health here. You can also enrich your stay by exploring the 3 Valleys domain: the village of Brides-Les-Bains is directly linked to Méribel by cable car. In summer, you can also explore the trails of the Vanoise National Park: will you be able to recognize chamois and ibex?

Stay in Brides-les-Bains at the foot of the 3 Valleys, in the Alps

Digne-Les-Bains : the most zen

Pause détente sur les hauteurs de Digne-les-Bains, dans les Alpes du Sud.
© Office de Tourisme Digne les Bains - Pause détente sur les hauteurs de Digne-les-Bains, dans les Alpes du Sud.

In the heart of the Unesco Geopark of Haute-Provence, at an altitude of 650 meters, its sunshine (about 300 days a year), its healthy air, free of pollution, and its waters with anti-infectious and analgesic qualities make Digne-Les-Bains a choice stopover for a stay of fitness in the Southern Alps. You can breathe in the scent of lavender - the city is the historical birthplace of lavender - between two treatments in the cure or wellness mode, with a very recent thermal spa taking care of the relaxation part. Aromatherapy, light therapy or aquagym, one should not miss the Tibetan modeling with the Kansu bowl before visiting the Alexandra David-Neel House, to which the treatment is dedicated. The first foreign woman to enter Lhasa in Tibet in 1923, she called her home Samten dzong, the house of meditation. Zen of course, in the image of the resort she had chosen at the end of her travels.

Staying in Digne-les-Bains in the Southern Alps

Bagnères-de-Luchon: the most Roman

Au départ de Luchon, dans les Pyrénées, plusieurs itinéraires de randonnée permettent d'accéder à des lacs de montagne dont le lac d'Oo.
© D. Viet / Grand Site de Midi-Pyrénées - Au départ de Luchon, dans les Pyrénées, plusieurs itinéraires de randonnée permettent d'accéder à des lacs de montagne dont le lac d'Oo.

The virtues of its waters, the most sulfurous in the Pyrenees, have been recognized for two millennia! Appreciated by the Romans who bequeathed to it an incredible natural hammam, the vaporarium and its 150 meters of underground galleries, Bagnères-de-Luchon became in the XIXth century an elegant spa resort prized for its rheumatology and respiratory treatments. Between two relaxation sessions, jet showers or hydromassage baths in the heart of the freshly renovated thermal baths and the thermoludic space (in the process of being enlarged), you can stroll with your nose to the wind in search of the many Belle Epoque facades. And you can go on the 250 kilometers of marked trails : hiking, caving or even climbing, the Luchonnais is an amphitheater of mountains, with 14 summits over 3000 meters !

Stay in Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees

Bagnères-de-Bigorre: the most breathtaking

Rien de tel qu'un séjour à Bagnères-de-Bigorre pour explorer le Pic du Midi et admirer la vue spectaculaire sur la chaîne des Pyrénées depuis le belvédère perché à 2877 mètres d'altitude.
© Tourmalet Pic du Midi - Rien de tel qu'un séjour à Bagnères-de-Bigorre pour explorer le Pic du Midi et admirer la vue spectaculaire sur la chaîne des Pyrénées depuis le belvédère perché à 2877 mètres d'altitude.

At the foot of the Pic du Midi, La Mongie, and the great mountain passes that thrill seasoned cyclists, here is a spa resort tailored for curists who love nature. Since 2015, the Grands Thermes establishment, which is Aquacert certified, has been implementing innovative solutions to limit its environmental impact (mud recycling, geothermal heating of buildings, etc.). This approach is in line with the core of this resort, which specializes in the treatment of stress, overwork and insomnia. Here, everything is designed to let go, from the treatments at the Thermal Baths and the Aquensis Thermal Spa, whose immense larch wood frame covers the relaxation pools, to the relaxing activities: strolls on the local market, where you can taste spit-roasted cake, Pyrenean tomme and Bigorre black pork, discovery of the town's heritage, mixing medieval, Renaissance or Art Deco influences, and hikes to meet the marmots that populate the mountain pastures Hunt the natural, it comes back at a gallop!

*The mythical Tourmalet pass will be the focus of the 2023 edition of the Tour de France and the Tour de France Women. *

Stay in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, in the Pyrenees

Saint-Lary Soulan: the most fun

A Saint-Lary, dans les Pyrénées, les activités sportives et ludiques ne manquent pas pour découvrir les attraits naturels lors d'une escapade bien-être.
© Altiservice / Saint-Lary tourisme - A Saint-Lary, dans les Pyrénées, les activités sportives et ludiques ne manquent pas pour découvrir les attraits naturels lors d'une escapade bien-être.

Thermalism can also be a family affair, as proven by three in the resort of Saint-Lary-Soulan! In addition to a classic spa center, specializing in rheumatology and ENT treatments, and a Zen wellness area dedicated to adults, the spa also has an integrated thermoludic center: "Sensoria Rio". Between bubble beds, massaging jets, whirlpools and geysers, children and parents love to swim in the canyons and splash around in the 32° spring water with a view of the Pyrenees, an ideal treatment to relieve tension! And when the little legs start to tingle, head for the mountains: from paragliding to fishing, via the adventure course with zip lines, monkey bridges, and via ferrata, family activities to fill up with energy!

Stay in Saint-Lary Soulan, in the Pyrenees

Amélie-Les-Bains : the softest

Balade dans les ruelles d'Amélie-les-Bains, en Occitanie.
© Marie-Elsa Niels / Chaine Thermale du Soleil - Balade dans les ruelles d'Amélie-les-Bains, en Occitanie.

Welcome to Amélie-Les-Bains for a gentle treatment: the resort is located in the Catalan region, one of the sunniest areas in France in all seasons! An ideal climate for oxygenating oneself in addition to a spa treatment: the region is full of places to explore. Starting with the Roman thermal baths, classified as a historical monument for their remains, where people benefit from a "first class service"! Old cobbled streets of the medieval villages of Palalda, Corsavy or Arles-sur-Tech, the cradle of Catalan weaving, the Museum of Modern Art in Céret, one of the most important in France houses works by Picasso, Matisse, Braque or Chagall, all of whom are regulars in the region. For those who are thirsty for wilderness, their desire for water will be satisfied by the many lakes of the region.

Stay in Amélie-Les-Bains, in the Pyrenees

Ax-Les-Thermes : the most chivalrous

Ax-les-Thermes, dans les Pyrénées Ariégeoises est le point de chute idéal pour explorer les châteaux du Pays cathare comme celui de Montségur.
© Yannick / Adobe Stock - Ax-les-Thermes, dans les Pyrénées Ariégeoises est le point de chute idéal pour explorer les châteaux du Pays cathare comme celui de Montségur.

More than sixty hot springs, and even very hot (72 to 77°) springs from the depths of the earth: in the heart of the Ariège, at an altitude of 700 m, Ax-Les-Thermes has been exploiting the properties of its beneficial water since the 13th century. At the gates of the Ax 3 Domaines ski resort, you can take advantage of treatments based on steam in therapeutic or relaxation mode: in a Roman thermal baths decor, Les Bains du Couloubret invite you to relax between frigidarium, caldarium, vaporarium and Irish-Roman water bath. A good introduction to the history of the region, from prehistoric caves like Niaux, one of the rare decorated caves open to the public, to the Cathar castles, like Montségur, emblem of the movement. In Foix, the chivalrous city with its fortress enclosed by ramparts, you can have a few deviations: azinat (cabbage stew), duck confit or mounjetado, the Ariège cassoulet!

Staying in Ax-les-Thermes in the Ariegean Pyrenees

Châtel-Guyon : the most volcanic

On s'essaye à la marche nordique sur les hauteurs de Châtel-Guyon, au coeur de la Chaîne des Puys, en Auvergne.
© Resort Aiga/D. Grudet - On s'essaye à la marche nordique sur les hauteurs de Châtel-Guyon, au coeur de la Chaîne des Puys, en Auvergne.

In Auvergne, at the foot of the Chaîne des Puys, the Limagne fault, listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Châtel-Guyon spa is committed to getting even the most tired bodies back into shape: its water, the richest in magnesium in Europe, is ideal for strengthening the immune system. Hence the recent creation of the Aïga Resort, a vast 1500m² spa and the first European center for research and training on intestinal microbiota. Between the thermal center, the Spa, and the restaurant combining gastronomy and nutrition, everything is designed to ensure a health as solid as the granite and basalt of the Auvergne volcanoesand to nourish the mind as well as the body. Admire the heritage of the spa, between Art Deco or 1900 buildings and vineyard houses, or hike on the trails in search of the most beautiful viewpoints on the Chaîne des Puys, what better way to combine good with beautiful?

Stay in Châtel-Guyon, in the Regional Natural Park of the Volcanoes of Auvergne

Vichy : the most patrimonial

Séjourner à Vichy, en Auvergne, est l'occasion de découvrir plusieurs chefs d'œuvre de style Art Nouveau comme l'opéra.
© N. Baetens/Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Tourisme - Séjourner à Vichy, en Auvergne, est l'occasion de découvrir plusieurs chefs d'œuvre de style Art Nouveau comme l'opéra.

Nine springs, four of which are for drinking water (including the famous sparkling Vichy Célestins), three thermal centers and a collection of green parks with rare species. Located in the Auvergne, the spa favorite of Emperor Napoleon III in the nineteenth century, selected as one of the preparation centers for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, accumulates superlatives. Classified since 2021 as a Unesco World Heritage Site, along with ten other major European water cities, people come here for its effective cures for digestive disorders, metabolic disorders and rheumatology, but also to enjoy a unique art of living. Remarkable architectural heritage, such as its Art Nouveau opera house or the large 1st class thermal establishment, with its astonishing neo-Moorish style. One would almost forget to explore the surrounding Bourbonnais mountains. With its 20 routes and 500 kilometers of marked bicycle paths, it is part of the largest mountain bike area in France (Destination Grand Air). Saddle up for a gentle ride, 100% natural!

Stay in Vichy, in Auvergne

Royat Chamalières : the most sparkling

A 10 kilomètres de Royat-Chamalières, on peut gravir le Puy-de-Dôme en empruntant un train électrique à crémaillère pour s'offrir une vue imprenable sur les volcans d'Auvergne.
© J. Damase/Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Tourisme - A 10 kilomètres de Royat-Chamalières, on peut gravir le Puy-de-Dôme en empruntant un train électrique à crémaillère pour s'offrir une vue imprenable sur les volcans d'Auvergne.

Only 3 kilometers from Clermont-Ferrand, this spa with a Belle Epoque atmosphere has something extra: with its highly mineralized volcanic waters rich in carbon dioxide, Royat-Chamalières offers carbotherapy treatments combining the benefits of water and gas, particularly indicated in cardiology and rheumatology. But you can also enjoy the infinitely relaxing virtues of the 30°C water from the Grottes Rouges spring in the Royatonic area. Hot and cold baths, counter-current swimming, hammam, bubble beds, playful showers: enough to get your strength back before a trip to the heart of the Auvergne volcanoes. Board an electric rack train to reach the summit of Puy de Dôme (1465m) for a breathtaking 360° view of the entire Chaîne des Puys or dive into the bowels of the Lemptégy volcano between chimneys and lava flows to discover all the secrets of vulcanology!

Stay in Royat-Chamalières, near Clermont-Ferrand, in Auvergne

La Bourboule: the purest

Les Grands Thermes de la Bourboule, dans le massif du Sancy, en Auvergne.
© Max-Coquard /Bestjobers - Les Grands Thermes de la Bourboule, dans le massif du Sancy, en Auvergne.

In La Bourboule there is water, of course, with anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious properties, excellent for strengthening the immune system, and also the air! At an altitude of 830 meters, the air of the spa is known for its purity and quality, with a very low presence of allergenic elements. It is an ideal setting for oxygenation, including for children, who can take part in fun workshops during their cures. As for adults, they can choose from the catalog of activities, yoga, tai chi, Nordic walking or hiking to give a second wind to their health, the Sancy massif is a vast playground for nature lovers!

Stay in La Bourboule, in the Sancy massif, in Auvergne

Luxeuil-Les-Bains : the pinkest

Les Thermes de Luxeuil-les-Bains, classé Monument historique, dans les Vosges.
© Itinera Magica / OT Luxeuil-les-Bains - Les Thermes de Luxeuil-les-Bains, classé Monument historique, dans les Vosges.

In the heart of the Southern Vosges, staying at Luxeuil-Les-Bains for a spa treatment means seeing life in pink: the thermal center, a beautiful 18th century building classified as a historical monument, is covered with sandstone with pink reflections, just like the city center! Renowned since Roman antiquity for their richness in minerals, tracing elements recommended in particular for phlebology and rheumatology, the waters, which are also available in a Spa version, can be used as a guide to pretty itineraries through this green region where rivers and ponds cover the coniferous and deciduous forests. On horseback, mountain bike, or on foot, you can explore the nearby Banney forest, and you can be enchanted by the wide open spaces, half-terrestrial, half-water of the Mille Etangs plateau, for a great bath in blue and green!

Stay in Luxeuil-les-Bains, in the Vosges

By Redazione France.fr

The magazine of the destination unravels an unexpected France that revisits tradition and cultivates creativity. A France far beyond what you can imagine…