French Property Location Guide: Vichy

French Property Location Guide: Vichy

Famed for its therapeutic springs and now a Unesco World Heritage Site, it’s no surprise Vichy is rising up the ranks of property hotspots, says Frederika Bosman…

The elegant town of Vichy, a Unesco World Heritage site, was recently named ‘Queen of the spa towns’. Famous for the healing and therapeutic properties of its springs since Gallo-Roman times, it was also a great favourite of Napoleon III.

Its splendid architecture reflects its rich history, ranging from Second Empire style (Napoleon III), with the opera house dating from 1865, the Allier Park and the imperial chalets; to the Belle Epoque, with the Hall of the Springs from 1902, the covered metal gallery of the Park of the Springs, the Dômes spa centre. the Pavilion of the Célestins, villas and palaces, and also Art Deco, with the Valery Larbaud cultural centre and the new church of St-Blaise built in 1931. The latter, decorated with beautiful modern stained- glass windows, adjoins the old church of St-Blaise, which contains the greatly venerated statue of Our Lady of the Sick, a miraculous black virgin dating from the 14th century.



The town is located in the heart of France, in the Auvergne- Rhône-Alpes region, and is within easy reach of Paris (less than three hours by train) as well as by car via the A71 and A89 motorways or by plane via Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne airport (less than one hour away) or Lyon-St Exupéry airport (just over two hours).

As a result of both the central location and the multitude of recent renovations, the town has become attractive to both the French seeking to flee the cities and move to smaller towns since the pandemic (notably people from Paris and Lyon), as well as an international clientele.

There’s a wide variety of activities available locally, such as horse racing, water sports on the Allier lake and of course, the spa facilities. These offer both medical cures and wellness options such as Turkish baths, saunas, beauty treatments and massages.


As a result of an old Napoleonic law, whereby casinos and shops opening on Sundays are only allowed in spa towns, Vichy also has a large casino and Sunday shopping, which makes it a lively place to while away a Sunday, whether to shop or to simply enjoy a drink and people watch in one of the multitude of bars and cafes in the town.

Buildings lining the banks of the Allier river have been completely renovated recently and there’s now an exciting range of restaurants on the water’s edge, backed by extensive lush green parks Initially created by Napoleon.

The town also offers many cultural activities, with a full calendar at the opera house, many festivals, such as the Carnaval du Lac and Napoleon III festival, an extensive Christmas market, and the Festival du Galop at the hippodrome (one of the largest of its kind in France).


From Vichy you can easily take excursions into the surrounding countryside, and a 15-minute drive brings you to the Montagne Bourbonnaise, a low mountain range (maximum 1,287m), with many rivers and lakes, rolling green countryside and stunning open views. There are numerous authentic villages to explore, such as Châtel Montagne, an artist village with a rich history and a magnificent 12th-century church, and le Mayet-de- Montagne, a typical Auvergnat mountain village with plenty of shops and restaurants.

The area even has a small ski resort at La Loge des Gardes, which offers a full range of winter and summer activities. For nature and outdoor enthusiasts there are lots of possibilities for hiking, cycling, canoeing and horse riding, including a foot and cycle path along the Allier river. For a great day out, cycle along this path to the pretty village of Billy with its medieval castle and return by canoe.

To the north of Vichy, you will find the vibrant wine town of St-Pourgain-sur-Soule, which has a large Saturday market, a wine festival and a large brocante in the summer. St-Pourçain’s wines are becoming steadily better known and the numerous vineyards in the village will be happy to let you sample them.

To the southwest of Vichy, you can visit the Chaine des Puys, an extinct volcanic range and Unesco World Heritage Site; a panoramic train takes you to the top of the Puy de Dôme with stunning views over the surrounding area, while for thrill seekers there are opportunities for paragliding.



It’s worth visiting the nearby Vulcania theme park to get a deeper understanding of the geological history of the area, as well as being able to experience a range of exciting attractions, including an excellent simulator that shows what would happen if the volcanoes ever reawoke.

A little further afield is the Combrailles and Sancy region; the former is accessible via the village of Ebreuil from which you can explore the Gorges de la Sioule where there’s swimming and canoeing.

The Massif du Sancy, with the Puy du Sancy (1,886m), is about an hour from Vichy with good sid resorts in Super- Besse and Le Mont-Dore. The nearby lively spa town of La Bourboule is a great place to stop off at, with its long boulevard with shops, bars and restaurants, annual jazz festival and weekly markets.

For cheese fans, there’s the Route des Fromages AOP d’Auvergne, which enables you to taste the local cheeses in different villages, as well as explore the area.

The area is ideally suited for active nature lovers seeking space and outdoor activities in a stunning and very varied landscape. It has a typical inland climate with four distinct seasons and long hot summers followed by warm early autumn months when you can admire the changing colours of the leaves. Winter can be cold but is generally sunny and temperatures can be anywhere between 5 Cand 10°C with days quite often at 15°C or more. Spring generally starts early with the first blossoms appearing in March.


The local property market has been particularly buoyant over the past few years, with prices in Vichy rising quickly since it achieved its Unesco status, increasing to more than €2,000 per square metre in places. Prices in the surrounding countryside are lower and range from €1,200/ m to €1,500/m at the time of writing.

You can buy a good-sized renovated house for as little as €150,000 in the countryside, rising to several million for a remodelled château. The tourism market is developing rapidly so there are lots of opportunities for buyers who are looking to open hotels campsites and restaurants.

Frederika Bosman is the owner of Auvergne Properties.

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