Guide to France’s Natural Thermal Springs
Most of France’s natural hot springs are located in the more temperate South. The views from some of these hot springs can be incredible, especially due to their seat in the Pyrenees mountains. However, hot springs in France are better known as ‘thermes’ or ‘bains,’ which can be important to keep in mind while you’re searching for mineral baths.
Let’s take a look at which bains are located in nature and which are fed into spas or resorts.
Rustic French Hot Springs
The Vaucluse Spring is a series of pools that bubble up from a network of caves. The water and caves can be accessed via a walking path, though there are times when, if rainfall is sparse, the spring doesn’t reach the surface. The color of effervescent water can vary from emerald green to sapphire blue. The green comes from vegetation that grows beneath the surface of the water.
North of Vaucluse Spring is Sources des Saladis, a rural hot spring with nearby camping spots. Drinking from the hot spring is encouraged but swimming is not. Some brave visitors have stretched the rules and waded in the shallows. Reviewers have said that the hot spring remains both hidden and protected, making it a quiet spot to visit and camp.
In Pyrénées National Park, visitors will find hot spring pools scattered throughout the expansive protected lands. You can explore the springs and stay in the park, either by renting designated lodges or tent camping. This is a spot that caters to hikers, bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
The Roman Baths of Dorres have been in place for thousands of years (hence the name). The water is sulfurous and the view is spectacular. There are a few smaller pools and, if you’re willing to hike downhill a bit, one larger bathing area. Visitors have warned that silver jewelry should not be worn in the baths. The chemical makeup of the water turns shiny jewelry into a dull brown.
French Hot Springs Spas
Located on the southern tip of France you’ll find Bains de Llo, a collection of several jetted pools fed with mineral water. You can bathe indoors or outdoors and enjoy steamy saunas on-site. Guests tend to appreciate the location in the middle of the mountains, saying that the entire atmosphere is relaxing and therapeutic.
At Les Thermes De Saint-Gervais you’ll be let in on an age-old secret- the hot springs. Shepards once took advantage of the springs, taking sheep to graze there during summer and winter alike. The grass was always available since the hot springs kept the greenery from freezing.
People started visiting for the sole purpose of ‘taking the waters in 1807 and haven’t stopped yet. Experience the spa for a curative soak, as well as post-covid and post-cancer treatments.
Other French Spas with Mineral Baths:
- Bains de saint thomas
- Les Bains du Couloubret
- Balnéa Spa
- Complexe thermal et thermoludique de Chaudes-Aigues
- Les Grands Bains du Monêtier
- Complexe Sourcéo
- Valvital – Thermes Lédonia Lons-le-Saunier
If you do, you’ll be joining tons of other tourists. After all, France is the most common overseas vacation destination. However, it’s easy to travel off the beaten path, especially if you’re specifically seeking a hot springs experience. This is particularly true if you’re headed toward the south of the country, into the Pyrenees mountains; it’s far from the French capital of Paris and from crowds of fellow travelers.
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