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PYRENEAN BATHS-BAGNERES DE LUCHON-BAGNERES DE
BIGORRE-VALE OF ARGELES-BAREGES-ST. SAUVEUR
The road from Toulouse to the mineral springs of the Pyrenees passes through a beautiful and cultivated country, interspersed with villages and hamlets. At St. Gaudens (eighteen hours from Toulouse) two roads diverge. By following the eastern one, a valley is entered, which becomes narrower and less cultivated in advancing, and, after a four hours' drive, the traveller finds himself at Bagneres de Luchon, which is situate immediately "sotto i gran monti Pirenei," in a valley of the brightest verdure, watered by the Pique and other streams, and above which the Maladetta, the highest mountain of the range, raises its snow-capped peak. The town contains a population of two thousand inhabitants, and is built in the form of a triangle: each apex terminating in an avenue of trees. The lime avenue leads to the bath establishment, which (like other French baths, is under the superintendence of government) lies at the foot of a hill, whence the water issues, and passes immediately into the baths.
The springs are hot and strongly sulphurous, and are among the most efficacious in the diseases for which this class of mineral
waters is indicated. Their temperature varies from 26 to 52 degrees R.
The environs of Bagneres de Luchon are highly romantic, and contain many interesting points, to which agreeable excursions may be made.' The lakes of Oo and Seculejo are among the spots most frequently visited; and the lover of solitude, who delights to
“Slowly traee the forest's shady scene,
may find ample scope for the indulgence of his taste; but, notwithstanding its scenic beauties, and the efficacy of its waters, Bagneres would not be an attractive summer residence to most English visiters, unless fond of seclusion, as the French, when aux eaux,
associate very little with those whom they have not previously known. There are no public réunions; the accommodations in most of the French baths are very inferior to those of the German. Each family is served with dinners from a traiteur's: there are few tables d'hôte, and those only at the larger baths, for the accommodation of travellers. With the exception of two or three places, living is not dear at the Pyrenean baths; persons, for instance, may be boarded and lodged during the season at Bagneres de Luchon or Bagneres de Bigorre for five or six francs a-day. Both England and Germany are, however, deficient in hot sulphur springs; and in cases where they are indicated, there are none in Europe (Aix la Chapelle perhaps excepted) which are so efficacious as those of the western Pyrenees; but as I have more especially referred to their medical properties in another work, I need not again enter into their consideration in this place.
A path, or mule-track, leads across the mountain by Arreau to Bagneres de Bigorre, through some of the finest scenery of the Pyrenees; the road passes round by Montrejeau, and ascends the valley of the Adour, in which this town lies, being sometimes called BagneresAdour. The country between Montrejeau and Bagneres is a succession of ascents and descents, and the scenery is beautiful and diversified.
The town looks well from the hills. The white and yellow painted houses, with their slated roofs; the bright verdure of the valley; the deeper hue of the pine forests on the acclivities of the mountains, the summits of which are imbedded in perpetual snow-form a series of beautiful and striking contrasts; while the clear waters of the Adour and other streams diffusing fertility around,
Beyond the town the picturesque valley of Campanthe beauties of which, however, have been rather exaggerated by writers and poets-extends to the foot of the Tourmalet, on the opposite side of which are Bareges and the Vale of Luz.
Bagneres de Bigorre lies near the foot of the Pic du Midi, and is the largest and most frequented of the Pyrenean watering-places; a great proportion of the visiters remaining more for pleasure than for health. The number of English is at times not inconsiderable from Pau or other places in the south of France, or Italy. Many persons likewise pass some time at Bagneres, after having taken a course of one or other of the springs in this part of the country. It stands seventeen hundred feet above the level of the sea; is encircled on all sides but the north by green hills and pine-covered mountains, and is consequently one of the coolest summer residences in the Pyrenees. The resident population amounts to eight or ten thousand, and the resources for amusement are greater than at the other baths. Bagneres was a great place of resort in the time of the Romans, by whom it was termed Vicus aquensis. There are numerous well-shaded walks and roads in the immediate environs; those which are most frequented are the Allées Bourbon, the garden Theas, and the valley of Campan. This part of the Pyrenees produces some beautiful kinds of variegated marble, and near the town is a marbrière, where it is worked into tables, statues, and other articles of gout, which are exported. This marble is, however, much softer than that of Italy, and does not bear exposure to the
The bathing establishments are numerous; the principal one, belonging to government, termed the Thermes de Marie Therese, is an elegant structure of white stone, the interior of the bathing cabinets being composed of different coloured marbles. The baths are thirty-six in number, and are exceedingly convenient, each having a dressing-room attached to it; over the door is inscribed the name of the spring from which it is supplied. Those of La Reine (which is the hottest) and the Dauphin, are most used. There is likewise every requisite apparatus for douche and vapour baths. As the water is too hot to be used at its natural temperature, it collects into large reservoirs at the back of the establishment, where it is cooled.
Frascati’s is another bathing establishment, and also a lodging-house, which contains the public rooms for balls, billiards, and the newspapers. A single person may board and lodge here for about six francs a-day. Other lodging and bathing-houses are supplied by particular springs, as the Pinac, Lannes, Petit Prieur, Sante, &c.
All these springs are saline, and in their composition are not unlike those of Baden-Baden, or Bath, though they contain much less saline substance. Their temperature ranges from 27 to 35 degrees R. There is at Bagneres an hospital for the military and poor persons, to whose cases the springs are considered applicable.
On ascending the valley, by a road bordered with poplar trees, for about a mile and a half, you arrive at another bathing establishment in a secluded spot, at the foot of a steep hill, whence arise the springs from which it takes its name- -Salut. There are here ten baths, into which the water keeps constantly flowing from a marble mouth ; so that the baths are taken at the natural temperature, and they are in great request from five in the morning till three in the afternoon. As there are no apartments for lodging in the building, the bathers must come each time from the town on foot, in a carriage or chaise à porteur. This is among the least mineralized of the springs, the solid substance being scarcely more than a grain or two to a pint of