Thursday, 25 March 2010

Thermal Spas in the Languedoc Roussillon

Water is the life force of the Languedoc Roussillon with a large range of rivers emptying into the Gulf du Lyon and the Mediterranean. Waterfalls, lakes, river gorges and rapids have encouraged tourism in water sports and the coast and the Canal du Midi lend themselves to boating holidays.

Hydrotherapy centres have grown up around ancient spa towns and hot springs. Many of the spa waters are rich in rock salt, magnesium, sulphurous sodic water and are rich in thermal plankton and are used to remedy a multitude of disorders and I was surprised at the number of thermal springs there are in the mountains – there is an impressive list of them here. Tectonic activity under the Pyrenees causes subterranean water to be heated and many of these ancient thermal springs have been used for millennia.

Bathing in and drinking spa water has been practised since Roman times and was rediscovered in the 19th century under the Second Empire, being popularized by the last Empress of the French – the Empress Eugenie. Eugénie gave her patronage to the thermal waters of Las Aygos de Saint Loubouer and the settlement that grew around the springs was named after her.

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