Mountain Therapy: Bagnères de Luchon

A cure for the winter blahs!

Do you feel tired and worn out this time of year?  Are you wondering how you will get everything done before the holidays? Do you eagerly anticipate Christmas or does it lurk in the distance like a dark cloud of impending doom.

With the approach of a long cold winter and the holidays only a few weeks away a little weekend escape to the Pyrenees is all the therapy you need.  I shouldn’t be too dramatic as this is the south of France, not Siberia.  It doesn’t get that cold but the mornings are chilly and the outdoor furniture is covered for the season.

The heating is on and the air is dry, your nose starts to twitch and soon enough you have yourself a ‘seasonal cold’.

Pack yourself a little bag and head for the mountains for a ‘cure’.  You won’t regret it.

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Bagnères de Luchon, or just Luchon as it is known, is 1h40 minutes from Toulouse.  It is an easy drive, just over 5 euros in tolls if you take the motorway and free on the national road if you can spare another ten minutes.

About 45 minutes before your arrival in the valley of Luchon there are no more traffic lights.  Your shoulders begin to drop as the scenery around you starts to change.  The gentle sloping hills become snow covered peaks, there are fewer cars, more bicycles and now, just now there are autumn leaves of dazzling colours from brilliant yellow to deep dark red.

There are thermal baths in Luchon, and have been since the Antiquity. The name Luchon is a deformation of Ilixon, (god or goddess of waters).   The first baths were built during the Roman period, but were forgotten after the fall of the Roman Empire by all but the local ‘Luchonnais’.

During the 18th century, the Baron Etigny worked hard for the development of Luchon. The main street, les Allées d’Etigny, known as the Champs Elysées des Pyrénées was named after him. The baths were soon reachable from other towns by road, a casino was built and the notoriety of Luchon took off. A visit from the nephew of Cardinal Richelieu brought fame to the little town in the far south of Haute Garonne a few kilometres from Spain.

In 1857 the thermal Chambert building was inaugurated at the site of the ancient Roman baths. In 1929 the sulfide radio Vaporarium was opened.  It is unique in Europe, a natural hammam with 1200 meters of tunnels dug into the rock.

You can indulge in a three week cure here; they specialize in respiratory and rheumatism cures. There are also other cures on offer such as ‘quit smoking’ cures and lower back/fibromyalgia cures. There is also a fitness centre and a beauty treatment centre.

What they call bien-être, or wellness cures are available for short term visits; weekend spa getaways are what most of us need.

A visit to the Vaporarium is 15.00 euros or 16.50 depending on the season. You wander around the caves where the temperature is around 34° and alternate with cold showers and relaxing in the giant pool that looks out onto the park.  A seriously zen experience, leaving your muscles relaxed after a long hike in the mountains, or a long bike ride.

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The valley is often very sunny and you can still play tennis outside during the day in November.

Whichever sport you indulge in you can reward yourself with a day cure at the spa.

Visit www.thermes-luchon.fr  for more information.

There are many ways to spend your days here depending on the season.  That is why I will keep on writing about Luchon, as each season comes to life and share information relevant to the time of year.

Some of the hiking at this time of year requires special equipment but there are also plenty of hikes open. You can check with the Tourism Office located on the allées d’Etigny for up to date information.

The town itself sits at just over 600 metres; above the town is Superbagnères the ski station. Superbagnères was the first station created in the Pyrenees and the second in France after Chamonix.

Originally the town was connected to the resort by a funicular railway before the road was built and now there is a gondola so you can get to the station in 8 minutes.

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Some of us need therapy to deal with the long wait for ski season!

Where to stay?  There are many hotels in Luchon from 1* to 4**** and an array of apartments to rent.

I have a special offer to my readers: a flat in the very centre of Luchon with easy access to shops, the cinema, hikes, the thermal baths and many restaurants. Chez Jax is located next door to the Office of Tourism.

Contact me at mybeautifuloccitanie@gmail.com for details and your ten percent discount as a follower of this site.

Your flat in the heart of the Pyrenees ‘Chez Jax’

You deserve a mountain break and a thermal cure.  Contact me to rent ‘Chez Jax’ for a weekend or over the Christmas Holidays, or any other time you feel the call of the mountains.

I hope you have enjoyed this post on Luchon.  Follow me to keep up with my travels in beautiful Occitanie.

a bientôt Christina…………..

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