|Advertising the waters ca.1905|
Living where we do we have a bit of a drive to get to a supermarket. Having said that, we do have a good choice. We can choose between shopping in Loches: SuperU or LeClerc; La Roche-Posay: SuperU and Yesures sur Creuse: Intermarché; they are all about equi-distant. Mostly we tend to go to La Roche-Posay for smaller weekly shops and Loches for a seriously big shop as we prefer the SuperU or LeClerc stores.
You may be wondering what this has to do with taking the waters. Well, La Roche-Posay, just over the border in dept 86, the Vienne, is an internationally renowned centre for the treatment of skin afflictions such as eczema and psoriasis. The town's spring is high in Selenium which is good for treating skin afflictions. Happily it also tastes nice. Often when we have done our shopping at the supermarket, we drop into the town for the Tuesday market and fill our empty plastic bottles at the public source.
|Niall and Ida, my aunt 'taking' the water|
La Roche-Posay has been a thermal center since the last century, although legend has it that at the end of the 14th century, Bertrand Du Guesclin, discovered the La Roche-Posay springs on his way home from Spanish campaigns. He was High Constable during the reign of Charles V. According to the story, he stopped at the spring to quench his thirst. His horse, which suffered from eczema, plunged into the water and came out cured. If only modern day eczema could be cured as rapidly!
|info plaque on water's qualities|
In 1617, the therapeutic reputation of La Roche-Posay thermal spring water was already such that Pierre Milon, doctor to Henry IV and Louis XIII, came to the town to conduct analyses. Almost 200 years later, in 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte, on his return from Egypt, had a thermal hospital built to treat his soldiers' skin diseases. Then in 1897, the site was officially recognised by the French Academy of Medicine. In 1905, the first Thermal Centre, in the more modern sense of the word, was opened and by 1913, the French Academy of Medicine had officially declared La Roche-Posay a spa town.
The architecture of some of the hotels clearly shows that from the late 19th century, with the arrival of the railway, the town enjoyed quite a degree of popularity. During the 1930's, a number of well known French artistic and intellectual figures came to take the waters: André Gide, Jean Cocteau, Jean Marais and Sacha Guitry.
|Porte de Bourbon, gate into the medieval quarter|
The town itself is much older and the fortified medieval section, built on an escarpment above the river Creuse, still boasts a donjon, the remains of ramparts, one of its gates with machiolations and a church from 1099 whose Romanesque bell tower is original. Sadly all the ancient stained glass was shattered during World War II.
For such a small town La Roche Posay, punches above its weight. Amongst other things it also boasts a horse race track, an 18 hole golf course and a casino.
All in all a nice place to do our weekly shop...and grab a glass of water!