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Things to Know About Vichy - The Notably Historic Town in France

Things to Know About Vichy France
Vichy is a historic French town. It was the capital of Vichy France during WW2. We explore the various facets of this beautiful town.
Vacayholics Staff
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2017
Worth It
The brand 'Vichy Cosmetics' is named after the town itself. This brand is owned by L'Oréal. Local hot springs are the only water source used in the formulation of the products under this banner.
Vichy is famous as the 'Queen of Spa Towns'. The spas owe their fame to the warm mineral springs. The mineral springs are warm because of the Auvergne volcanic mass in Massif Central. The spas and resorts are a major tourist attraction. The warm baths here are useful in hydrotherapy treatments, osteopathy, physiotherapy, and skin care sessions. The therapeutic value of the thermal springs was first discovered in the Roman Era. The town flourished riding on this fame. Napoleon III found relief from his rheumatism here.
This place was known as les Vichois up to the 18th century. Hence, its inhabitants are known as Vichyssois. The occitan name of this place is Vichei. Occitan is a romantic language. A romantic language is a language with Latin or Romanic roots.

There is also the 'Parc Omnisports' that provides sports training for national basketball, rugby, soccer, and fencing.
Location and Access
Vichy is in central France. It is located in the Allier department of the Auvergne region. This town in on the banks of the Allier river. Historically, the town was located in the Province of Bourbonnais. It was a feudal city in the Medieval Era.
The first train station was built here in 1860. It takes 3 hours to reach here from Paris, by rail. The Vichy - Charmeil airport is located at Charmeil, just over 3 miles from Vichy. There is a larger airport, Clermont - Ferrand Auvergne Airport, located around 56 miles away at Clermont - Ferrand.
Climate
Vichy is located at around 800 feet above sea level, and despite being an inland town, it experiences humid continental climatic conditions, with an absence of the dry season. Yet, the rainfall here is moderate. The presence of Massif Central and the Alps in the vicinity cause the weather to exhibit mountain climate characteristics. The best time to visit is from April to October. The population of this town is around 25,000.
Cuisine
Paupiettes of Trout with Braised Onion on Vichy Carrots
Paupiettes of Trout with Braised Onion on Vichy Carrots
Vichy has exceptional culinary heritage. The local cuisine is inventive and delicate. Grilled sardines and grilled skewered duck are famous here, along with the Vichy carrots and mint pestilles. It also boasts of the presence of Michelin rated chef Jacques Decoret and his Maison Decoret. The mineral-rich water from the springs enhance the taste of the food. The food can also be paired with French wines. There is also an array of Napoleon III-styled tea shops to satisfy the hunger pangs.
Architecture
Art Deco Architecture and Maison de Vichy
One can find Byzantine, Moorish, Venetian, Neo-Gothic, and English influence in the architecture here. The structures are constructed in one of the four prominent architectural eras: Napoleon III, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and contemporary.
The Opéra de Vichy is an Art Nouveau creation, and is one of the listed monuments in France. This venue has been built in Italian style, and was inaugurated in 1902. During the winter, it hosts theater, dance, visual, and lyrical art forms. In summer, it gets to witness classical music, concerts, operas, and ballets. Art Deco is an influential visual arts design form. It has rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation. Rectilinear designs are more prevalent in this architectural style.
Vichy France Map During WW2
Map of Vichy France
Map of Vichy France
During the Second World War, the French government had fled from Paris to Bordeaux in the spring of 1940. After the armistice in June, the Germans had occupied the northern part of France, including Paris. The south-east corner was under Italian occupation, which included Nice, Menton, Grenoble, besides other towns.
Under such circumstances, Vichy was made the provisional capital of France, as it was located in the free zone and in the center of the country. It was equipped with modern infrastructure and communication systems. It also had the presence of a large number of hotels that were big enough to accommodate over 30,000 civil servants who had migrated there.
The third French Republic was abandoned in July 1940, at the Opéra de Vichy, and a new government was formed. This government was known as the Vichy government, with Hotel du Parc as its headquarters. The ideologies of this government were very similar to that of Nazi Germany. It was, as a matter of fact, in collaboration with the German power in north France. People have tried to forget about this era since the end of the Second World War.
Decline and Revival
The town was at the peak of its fame since it had received an imperial stamp of approval from Napoleon III in 1861, to the time Europe had geared up for a war for the second time, in 1939. What followed was one of the darkest eras in Vichy's history. The locals felt that they were under an invasion by the French government. The situation further deteriorated during the Algerian War of Independence that raged from 1954 to 1962. The number of hotels that had once led to the formation of the infamous government had since gone down from 250 to 30. Since the Algerian War, there have been many steps taken for the revival of this town. This includes restoration of the opera, thermal baths, and other architectural heritage.
The Auvergne region has many Romanesque buildings. It has some of the most beautiful villages in France. There are around 250 religious structures that were erected between the 11th and 13th century. The Notre Dame du Port at Clermont - Ferrand has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.