France: Auvergne, Vichy

Vichy is located in the historic region of Bourbonnais, specifically in the Allier department of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Visitors have come to Vichy town to enjoy the benefits of its reputed thermal waters since the end of the 16th Century.   It was home to the central government of Vichy France during WWII, between 1940 and 1944, but is originally a spa and resort town. It may be prudent to note that “Vichyste” is a term often met with some disapproval, as it has earned this connotation due to its connection to the late Vichy regime in the WWII.

The history of the name the town’s residents is referred to as, Vichyssois, is quite wealthy. The inhabitants of Vichy were formerly called les Vichois until the 18th century, deriving from Vichèi, the city’s Occitan name. In a separate case, the writer Valery Larbaud has called the residents Vicaldiens instead. This was taken from Ancient Roman Latin name, aquae calidae, which translates to “hot waters.”

Up until the mid-19th century, much of the architecture of Vichy relied on Celestine stone and wood siding. However, this changed once the modern spa emerged in 1861. At this point, construction experienced an immense transformation and introduced high-rise buildings and new styles. From these changes, Vichy has become a diverse city where visitors can encounter a diverse range of designs.
 Important to point out that between 1852 and 1870, France regime change. The second empire brings Allier one of its most prosperous periods, especially in Vichy. The town was then frequented by
Napoleon III, and his court was completely transformed, Vichy was the
place in Europe to see and be seen –  Vichy was a ‘station à la mode’,
visited by many high profile celebrities. New urban forms followed in
early 20th Century with  Art Nouveau and Art Deco and all “neo” –
neo-Byzantine, neo-Gothic – mark their Vichy footprint.  It was inspired
by Orientalism in building the magnificent Byzantine dome of the “great
spa” built in 1903.

Vichy architecture is very diverse with architectural heritage of a mixture of Byzantine, Moorish, Venetian, neo-Gothic, English and art deco influences.

 Allier river and its banks an English park of 13 hectares was created.  On the banks of the river, you will find wine producers and farmers like  the AOC wines of Saint-PourçainCharroux mustard  and cheese makers like St Nectarine are just some of the ‘ambassador’ products to sample and savouring their local products.

Spas and Wellness centres are located in Vichy. In the centre is The Palais des Sources in Vichy. Where people come to drink the thermal waters said to help with wellness and healing powders.  It is a historical monument since 1994, the Parc des Sources Vichy is part of the history of the city. During the Belle Epoque, its paths surveyed by spa guests in a hurry in the morning, welcome confidences and gossip under its shade in the heat of the afternoon.

Opera House

Eating in style in Vichy

Maison Decoret (1* Michelin star)

Martine and Jacques
Decoret place at 15 rue du Parc in Vichy,  is a combination of hotel
with five rooms and an elegant restaurant with 35 seats. Overlooking the
Parc des Sources, the building is within walking distance to the
beautiful Art Nouveau opera Vichy and the Allier river.

The old
brick structure built under Napoleon III has been transformed by
architect Jean-Michel Brouillat, who created an advanced glass green
roof offering a modern and airy environment in perfect syntony with the
carefully crafted food by chef Jacques Decoret.

That was the highlight of my gastronomy experience is Vichy.  
 We stared with Lemon, thyme, camomile and mint water   – it was quiote a hot day. I just loved this way of presenting the water. 

Aperitif:   Pork scratch (that looked like popcorn cluster) and silky onion mousse and Vichy fraise – strawberry and champagne

Mackerel – coco volute- a nice light thickened stock that went down really well with the salty mackerel

Corn foam, corn, popcorn powder, blackberries, candied yellow( quail egg yolk) – a surprising corn-galore dish with a quail yolk in the centre, pretty and tasty

Wine of choice : Chardonnay Tressile and Pinot Gris,  2012 vintage  round and clean finish, good acidity, smoky, medium finish

Sea bream avocado citrus vinaigrette, orange purée on the side. Another light dish that has great on a hot day – love the orange

Strawberries dessert  -beautifully presented and very delicious

Chef Jacques

La Table d’Antoine 

This restaurant menu offers fresh
seasonal products; its dishes are based on the chefs’ travels, with
daring mixtures and unusual flavours. The portions were very generous,
and my dessert was the highlight!

La Table d’Antoine enjoys the title of Master Restaurateur, quality label awarded by the French government.

Liqueur de framboise to make Kir Royal

Nibbles and Kir Royal

amuse bouche: Pumpkin soup

Goats cheese Vacherin (meringue shell filled with whipped goats cheese) with green harissa  served with rocket and balsamic reduction  – that was full of flavours and textures – very creative.

Pork Belly lemongrass,  pea puree and vegetables- amazingly juicy meat!
Local wines from nearby Saint-Pourçain
tart aux fraise deconstructed strawbwrry tart, banana compote, et glacé coco- another great dessert in Vichy

Auvergne Cheeses on the  trolley at La Table d’Antoine

La Table d’Antoine (
8 rue Burnol
03200 Vichy France
Tel: 04 70 98 99 71
+33 47 09 89 971

Vichy Horse Race evening  

A fun night at the races at Vichy Hippodrome is a must.  I had a look at the scenes, drinks and dinner while beating and watching the races. 

How to get to Vichy

Paris – Clermont Ferrand – Vichy  (just under 3 hours)

Bus:  FlixBus

Private Transportation in Auvergne  by AZIMUT Transport 

I stayed in the Hotel de Grignan 

Disclosure:  I was hosted by ATOUT France UK PR and  Auvergne Tourisme  on this trip.  All views are my own. 



  1. November 6, 2016 / 6:02 pm

    Wow! Looks like an incredible trip, the food looks stunning too!

  2. Rachel Simpson
    November 6, 2016 / 6:42 pm

    Beautiful photo's, looks like a gorgeous place! The food looks amazing too! xo

  3. November 6, 2016 / 7:48 pm

    We are going to France in January so this is perfect information for us! Bookmarked!

  4. November 6, 2016 / 7:59 pm

    I went to Vichy many years ago on a spa break, when I think Club Med had a spa centre there. I don't remember food any way that fabulous! A good excuse to go back methinks!

  5. Gary Berry
    November 6, 2016 / 10:34 pm

    ALL of the food looks so good! I do love a good Michelin meal. Vichy sounds like a gorgeous place to spend a weekend too. Gary x

  6. November 16, 2016 / 11:28 am

    Vichy's been on my list of places to visit for years! Unfortunately buying and renovating an old house and operating it as a vacation rental in the South West has pretty much centred our holiday time in that region but we still have a long list of places in France to visit, including here. The food looks amazing!