Built on the banks of the Allier and famous for its springs, as well as being a favourite retreat for Napoleon III and Madame de Sévigné, Vichy is today internationally renowned for its history, architecture and famous pastilles! Here are our recommendations for visiting the town:
The Vichy-Bellerive racecourse boasts a stunning location and holds over 40 races each season, from trot to gallop races, some of which take place at night. With its three race tracks, restaurant and bar, the racecourse invites serious racing enthusiasts as well as amateurs to enjoy a sociable event in this stunning location.
Located in the centre of Vichy, the distinctive architecture of the Opera house, as well as its high quality programme, make it the town's cultural hotspot. It is an Art Nouveau style gem which is unique in France, and the decoration boasts a harmonious blend of gold, ivory and yellow colours as well as beautiful floral motifs. If you are there in the audience, look up to see the huge cupola full of light, despite its lack of chandelier.
Like all self-respecting spa towns, Vichy has its own casino! With 125 slot machines, English roulette, two blackjack tables and a poker room, there are plenty of chances to win the jackpot before showing off at one of the town centre's grand hotels, and pampering yourself with spa treatments!
Just opposite the main entrance to the Casino is the music kiosk. This is where lovebirds go to steal a kiss underneath the columns: the ultimate romantic experience!
Shops and walks:
Another major advantage of spa towns like Vichy is that the shops are open seven days a week! It’s a fashion addict's dream...
For the very best shopping experience, check out the traditional and quirky precincts and arcades! What's more, the surrounding terrace cafés and bars are always lively.
Don't miss out on a stroll around the Napoleon III and Kennedy parks, as well as along the esplanade beside the Allier river (a 1.5 km walk from the Rotonde to the Célestins beach).
Architecture lovers or those with an insatiable thirst for knowledge will love the area around the Rue de Belgique and Boulevard de Russie that is home to various styles of houses (neo-Venetian, Flemish, Gothic and Classical). Nearby, stroll along Rue Alquié to see a series of houses in a British colonial style with their distinctive bow windows, that were home to the officers of the imperial guard. I love it!
The Célestins spring:
The Vichy Célestins is the most famous of the town's springs, and the only one to be bottled. It takes its name from a 15th century convent built on a rock, of which only a section of wall remains today. Enjoy a free tasting which is particularly welcome after a hard day's walking and shopping!
To prepare for your trip to Vichy, I recommend visiting the Vichy Tourist Office website.