Located in Bourbonnais, on the banks of the river Allier, the waters of Vichy have been in use since Antiquity. Experiencing success from the 16th to the 18th century, they lead to the development, from the creation of the first park by Napoleon I and during the Second French Empire, of a thermal town that would serve as a model in terms of its urban organisation, based on the street plan radiating from the station towards the baths and parks, along with its prestigious architecture.

Napoleon III accelerate its development as a destination of pleasure and leisure with the addition of the theatre and casino. Finally in 1903 the ensemble designed by Charles Lecoeur and Lucien Woog, containing the oriental baths, the splendid Art Nouveau opera house, pump rooms and gallerie arcades connecting to the grand hotels brought together all the diverse thermal and social functions of a great spa town.

Vichy is renown for its palaces and villa districts, and the outlying sporting facilities such as the Hippodrome and the golf course on the opposite bank of the Allier. An eclectic architectural style was developed here through the construction of the baths, theatres, hotels and above all villas of all styles. The ‘queen of spa towns’ (‘reine des villes d’eaux’) – a slogan born in the 1900s – is still a world-famous place dominated by thermal and tourist activities.