Bagnères-de-Luchon, also referred to as just Luchon, is a commune and spa town in the Haute-Garonne department in the Occitania region of south-western France (Pyrenees).

Many famous visitors came to Luchon, attracted by the popularity of the thermal waters which was launched by the Empress Eugenie or by the beginnings of “Pyreneism” by Count Russell-Killough. Lamartine, José-Maria de Heredia (who also lived in Marignac, a village near Luchon where he was inspired by the Pic du Gar for his collection of poems Les Trophées), Prince Napoleon III, the Prince Imperial, Edmond Rostand, Gustave Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant, Octave Mirbeau, and Stephen Liégeard. Moulay Mohammed (the future Mohammed V of Morocco), Alfonso XIII of Spain, Sacha Guitry, Francis Carco, and François Mauriac were some of the more illustrious guests.

The arrival of the railway in 1873 and the construction of the casino in 1880 further developed the popularity of the town where upscale and cosmopolitan tourists came until the Roaring Twenties.

The opening of the mountain hotel of Superbagnères (finished work in 1922), then connected by a rack railway and today by gondola, completed the spa town with a winter sports resort.

Thermal springs

Bagnères-de-Luchon is celebrated for its thermal springs. There are 48 springs which vary in composition but are chiefly impregnated with sodium sulphate, and range in temperature from 17 °C to 65 °C. The discovery of numerous Roman remains attests to the antiquity of the baths which are identified with the Onesiorum Thermae of Strabo.

Their revival in modern times dates from the latter half of the 18th century, and was due to Antoine Mégret d’Étigny, intendant of Auch.

There is a more modern entrance to the baths next to the older buildings. The bathing experience consists of repeated spells within a hot sulphurous atmosphere in caves that run approximately 100 metres inside the Superbagnères mountain in a cool swimming pool within the entrance building. It was these sulphur springs that led to a twinning of the settlement with Harrogate in 1952.

Main SPA centers: Thermes-Luchon

Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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Bagnères-de-Luchon is celebrated as a fashionable resort. Of the promenades, the finest and most frequented are the Allées d’Étigny, an avenue planted with lime-trees, at the southern extremity of which is the Thermes, or hot baths.

The road is lined with bars and restaurants.

The commune has a number of buildings and sites that are registered as historical monuments:

  • The Villa Pyrène at 13 Allée des Bains (19th century)
  • The Villa Luisa at Boulevard Charles-Tron (1884)
  • The Villa Edouard at 2 Boulevard Edmond-Rostand (1864)
  • The Château Lafont at Allées d’Etigny (18th century) houses the Pays de Luchon museum
  • The Chalets Spont at 56 Allées d’Etigny (19th century)

  • The Charles Tron Residence at 1 Avenue Galliéni (1854)
  • The Villa Santa Maria at 14 Boulevard Henri-de-Gorsse (1840)
  • The Chambert Thermal Baths at Cours de Quinconces (1854).

The Baths contain two items that are registered as historical objects:

  • A Sarcophagus (Gallo-Roman)
  • An Altar and Sarcophagus (Gallo-Roman)

The Casino (1878) was built in brick-stone in a conventional classical historicist style and expanded in 1929 with the addition of Art Deco decor on the front facade. The Casino Park is designed around a serpentine body of water with an artificial cave.

Other sites of interest

  • The Arboretum de Jouéou
  • The Léon-Elissalde Aeronautical Museum at the Aerodrome.

The commune has several religious buildings and structures that are registered as historical monuments:

The Chapel of Saint Etienne Portal at Quartier de Barcugnas (12th century). The Chapel contains a Statuette of the Virgin and child (14th century) which is registered as an historical object.

The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (1847) is a Romanesque Revival building built on the site of the old Romanesque church. The murals are by Romain Cazes. The Church contains two items that are registered as historical objects.

Main information

Area: 59 sq. km

Population: 2227

Languages: French

Currency: euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

GPS coordinates: 42°47′30″N 0°35′41″E

How to get to?

From Paris: 8 hr 30 min (834 km) via A20

From Toulouse: 2 hr 10 min (160 km) via A64

From Andorra: 3 hr 31 min (192 km) via Eix Pirinenc/N-260

From Madrid: 7 hr 29 min (612 km) via A-2

From Monaco: 7 hr 33 min (718 km) via A8

From Moscow: 38 hr (3,591 km) via E30/M1

From Belgrade: 21 hr 34 min (2,040 km) via E70

From Istanbul: 31 hr (2,973 km) via E70

From Bern: 9 hr 56 min (977 km) via A9

All ski resorts of the Pyrenees

See here Pyrenees travel guide

See here France travel guide

See here Spain travel guide

Read more: The cities of the Pyrenees and around with Andrew Morato ...