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Visiting Thermal Baths in Alsace

by Sue
(Freehold NJ USA)

We will be visiting Alsace and Lorraine in July-August (as far east as Metz, Nancy and Itterswiller, as far south as Remiremont and Rouvres en Xaintois) and would love a dip in a natural thermal bath some afternoon, but without checking in to an expensive spa-hotel.


How do we do this and how do we inquire (I can speak French fairly well, German badly and no Alsatian)? Can we just show up in Contrexeville or Vittel or Plombiere-les-Bains, for example, look for signs and jump in a public pool?

Is there a fee? Is there a time limit? Do we need reservations? Do we need bathing caps?

Are the baths indoors or outdoors, co-ed or single sex, group or individual, bathing suit or nude? (not that I want to bathe nude with strangers but I wouldn't put it past the French!) Are they for swimming or just soaking?

Merci

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Thermal Baths
by: Suzele

Hi Sue,

I can't comment on the thermal baths in Lorraine from personal experience, but most likely they are set up like Alsace.

Most of them are municipal baths, so open to the public (not inside a hotel complex). There is a fee to enter the general thermal baths area.

The baths usually look a lot like swimming pools until you get in them and realize the water is natural mineral water and normally warmer than swimming pool water

Some pools are warmer than others, to give you a choice of environments. Some are outdoors and some indoors.

In the general public pool areas, clothes are required, although they may have rules about what kinds of clothes you can wear in the pools because they are natural mineral baths and not chlorinated swimming pools.

For example some complexes don't allow swimming shorts, only speedo type swimwear for men. For women, bikinis or one piece swimsuits are fine.

There are usually spa areas (saunas, steam rooms, jacuzzis, very hot or cold bassin). You have to pay an extra fee to enter them. Here clothing may be optional or not allowed. It varies from establishment to establishment.

And there are often some spa services like massage, special baths, wraps, scrubs, etc (for a fee of course). From personal experience, I've found that you have to reserve in advance for these services.

Of course there's no law preventing a hotel from building a thermal baths complex, but of course, they usually cost more.

Keep in mind anyone can build a bath house anywhere with pools, saunas, steam rooms etc. Only areas where there are natural mineral springs will have therapeutic thermal bath complexes.

Hope it helps,
Suzele

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