Travel diary: Vichy, France

vichy travel guide review

vichy travel guide review bridge

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vichy travel guide review park palace

vichy travel guide review flower shop

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vichy travel guide review houses

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vichy travel guide review vichy thermal spa dermal institute

vichy travel guide review vichy thermal spa dermal institute

During one of my last trips to Paris, I took a weekend away from the city and ventured to Vichy.

While the small town of approximately 26,000 people has a controversial history centred around World War II and the Nazis, it is perhaps best known for its therapeutic thermal waters.

And, yes, it's also where the skincare brand Vichy originated.

During my two and a half days in Vichy (that's really all I felt I needed, as it truly is a quiet place), I ate, spa'd and explored.

Here are a few highlights I discovered.

How to get here: 

From Paris, I took the train from Gare de Bercy to Vichy, which took nearly four hours and cost around $30 Canadian. The trains were clean and comfortable, and it was easy to plan.

Where to stay: 

I stayed at the Vichy Celestins Spa Hotel while in town. The centrally located accommodations are clean and upscale (if a tad dated, design-wise). It was a walkable distance from the train station, so getting there was a breeze.

My room was spacious and very well appointed, and the hotel's amenities (including the rooftop indoor-outdoor pool and gardens) were fabulous. Bikes are also on offer to guests free of charge to cycle along the river and explore the town. I took advantage, and if you're ever in town, I'd recommend you do to. By bike was a great way to get outside and see Vichy.

Where to spa:

One of the best parts about staying at the Vichy hotel is it gives you access to the spa and the Vichy Spa Institute, where you can have a whole host of services added to your stay (with additional charges). I wandered in and out of the spa and steam rooms, luxuriating in the warmth and calming properties of the thermal waters. Then, I booked in for a soothing facial, which was hands-down, one of the most relaxing experiences ever!

Where to eat:

This is where I fell a bit flat in Vichy. I couldn't dine at the hotel restaurant, which was billed as a gastronomic delight, because it required reservations and was seemingly always booked up. However, I did order in room service during my stay and was pleased with the food. On one occasion, I wandered to a neighbourhood pizza shop called Scarlett to dine solo, and after several attempts in my halting, broken French, I enjoyed a decent pie and glass of wine.

Where to shop:

I skipped shopping in Vichy completely, preferring instead to partake in the thermal waters and hop onto the aforementioned bike to explore. I found the shops were either too touristy, too mainstream, or were simply always closed. Not a true loss in my opinion though, as Vichy's charm is in its small streets and pretty buildings, as well as its waterways and spas. And I was more than content to focus on those.