Relaxation and rejuvenation at the Thermes de Luz-Saint-Sauveur

Luz-Saint-Sauveur
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Relaxation and rejuve ...
Do you dream of a day to laze and bask in the hot water to recharge your batteries in the middle of winter ? If thermal cures were formerly reserved for curists suffering from certain pathologies, many thermal spas today also welcome a public in search of rest and well-being. In the heart of the Pyrenees, we discover the historic resort of Luz-Saint-Sauveur, beautifully integrated into the majestic backdrop of the Pays de Toy mountains. On the program : relaxation in the balneotherapy area, thermal massage bath, body treatments, massage… here, everything is dedicated to relaxation and zen. A real "Made in The Pyrenees" fitness !

The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur

The village of Luz-Saint-Sauveur in the Valley 


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The Valley and the village of Luz-Saint-Sauveur  

At the heart of the Luz-Saint-Sauveur Valley, the village perched at an altitude of 750m is the gateway to the Pyrenees National Park, the last stop before reaching three of the great Pyrenean sites, the cirques de Gavarnie, d'Estaubé and Troumousse (via Gèdre). No need to say the reputation of this valley which shaped the soul of Pyreneanism. The exceptional beauty of the setting, its breathtaking panoramas have made it a point of convergence for all nature and mountain lovers for centuries. Long referred to simply as Luz ("light" in Latin), the small town has multiplied its charming assets. The spectacular spectacle of nature is obviously a major asset. Heritage side, the village is also full of historical curiosities to discover: the remains of the Château Sainte Marie, dating from the tenth century, perched at the top of a rocky outcrop, the Templar church with crenellated walls and looking like a fortress built in the 12th and 13th centuries, the old wash houses in the small streets of the historic quarter, the Imperial Chapel and the Solférino chapel. Luz comprises two very distinct districts : that of the city center concentrates the commercial activity while that of the thermal baths stretches out lengthwise on a promontory overlooking the river and the village.  


The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur

The colorful village near the thermal baths

The Baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur : the golden age of hydrotherapy

And yes ! Like Luchon, Bagnères-de-Bigorre or Argelès-Gazost, Luz-Saint-Sauveur can be proud of having thermal waters rich in rare gases, mineral salts and sulfur which spring naturally from the bowels of the Earth at a temperature of 33 degrees. This precious spring, drawn at a depth of 30m, has been exploited for its therapeutic benefits since the 16th century in thermal baths.


The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur

The unique chemical formula of Luz thermal water  

In the 19th century, while hydrotherapy was at the heart of scientific and medical concerns, the thermal spas of the Valleys of the Gaves were frequented by the upper middle class for spa stays. In July 1859, Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie went to Luz-Saint-Sauveur for a 23-day spa treatment. They both fall in love with the village and the Pyrenees. The story goes that this stay was so beneficial to the Empress that Napoleon III ordered the start of a vast construction program, in thanks.


The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur   The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur


This is how the majestic building of neoclassical architecture “L'Établissement des Bains” was born. The Napoleon III Bridge is erected above the Gave de Gavarnie to connect the two banks and allow the Empress Eugenie to come "take the water". He also undertook the construction of the railway from Lourdes to Pierrefitte-Nestalas and the renovation of many religious buildings, including the Solférino chapel.  

Anchored in tradition and local culture since this great epic of hydrotherapy, the Établissement des Bains, today LUZEA, welcomes several thousand spa guests every year who come to enjoy the benefits of its waters, which are reputed to be very effective in treating circulatory problemsvenous and lymphaticinsufficiencies , respiratory and ENT disorders.The healing action of Luz water and its decongestant properties are proven. The chemical composition (loaded in particular with trace elements and mineral salts) of this sulfur-containing water also relieves certain gynecological ailments such as endometriosis. This empirical practice, which is based on the healing properties of spring water, is today a medicine in its own right: thermal medicine.

The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur
Meeting with Laure Léal, Executive Officer of LUZEA to understand the benefits of water on the lymphatic system. 


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A haven of peace dedicated to body care, relaxation and serenity

Fortunately, the thermal baths are no longer reserved for the wealthy elite as in the 19th century! If every year nearly 2000 spa visitors benefit from medical cures approved by Social Security, the LUZEA center, enriched with a balneotherapy area, also welcomes 23000 visitors without particular pathologies for a relaxing break. Between friends, we take a break of sweetness with beneficial effects on the whole organism !

The original establishment that we discover today has not undergone any major modification since the time of Napoleon III. Completely renovated in 1995, it bears witness to the architecture of the spa towns of the turn of the century : marble of different colors, a large entrance hall, a small arched gallery, columned porticoes, large glass roofs that diffuse natural light. A real journey through time !


The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur   The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur

The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur


Without further ado, we explore the vast balneotherapy area which reveals several pools, a swimming pool with jets and swan necks, jacuzzis, a sauna, an oriental stone hammam and a heated marble lounge. Ah how pleasant this feeling of weightlessness in thermal water is… these jets of all kinds relieve pain and tension. This soothing setting with a breathtaking view of the misty valley provides an ultimate moment of relaxation !

The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur   The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur

In the fitness program we are testing today, the walking lane is part of a treatment suite specially dedicated to drainage and blood stimulation. We reach the lower level of the establishment for a 10-minute walk in the swimming pool. In motion, the air bubbles drain the legs, stimulate the arch of the foot and venous return.

The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur   The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur

We then opt for the specialty of thermal baths : Hydromassage in an individual cabin. The 20-minute session (count 16 €) alternates aerobics and underwater jets to stimulate venous activity. Sweet moments to enjoy this water with soothing, healing and regenerating properties of the skin and mucous membranes that I highly recommend !

The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur   The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur

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Another essential treatment at the LUZEA center is the hydrojet massage on a water bed (count 20€ for 30 minutes). Lying on a water mattress hugging the whole body, heated jets of water of different pressures massage the necks to the calves. Depending on whether we are treating back pain or wanting a moment of relaxation, the program allows you to choose the power of the water jets, the heat, the area of the body to be massaged, as well as the type of massage.

The thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur

A whole range of treatments are produced by a team of versatile and experienced masseuses and beauticians: massages, scrubs, massages, facials… It's up to you to choose your formula according to your desires !  

The benefits of balneotherapy practiced at the thermal baths of Luz-Saint-Sauveur offer a well-deserved break to escape the stress and tensions generated by the daily grind ! Take care of your body in an idyllic setting and pamper yourself during your next stay in the Pyrenees.  


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Photos and articles prepared by Lesley Williamson


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