Quite a story...
The waters of Bondonneau were well known to the Romans: excavations carried out throughout the 19th century revealed the remains - buildings, swimming pools, statues... – of a vast thermal complex dating back to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries. A magnificent silver plate handle is preserved today in the Louvre Museum.
Birth of the thermal establishment during the 2nd Empire
In 1855, in the wake of the hygienist movement encouraged by Napoleon III (it is then fashionable to go to the sea baths and relax), the construction of the thermal baths of Bondonneau is launched. It will be finalized three years later. In addition to the baths, the domain includes a hotel, a chapel and stables, soon complemented by a "palace of greenery" and a casino. The company then began to develop, despite several successive sales and repurchases.
The splendors of the Belle Epoque
It was between the early 1880s and 1914 that the domain knew its most brilliant period. People came from Montélimar, Lyon, Paris, and from all of France to enjoy the virtues of a “sulfhydro-iodized gaseous water, effective against tuberculosis, poverty, blood diseases, obesity, cancer and diabetes". A curative resort, admittedly, but featuring various festivities - balls, concerts, shows and of course gambling at the casino.
The end of the Golden Age
World War I abruptly ended this prosperity. Deserted by the clientele, the buildings were requisitioned and transformed into a military hospital. Vacated at the end of the conflict, they will never return to their primary vocation. They were nevertheless maintained by the owners until World War II, when another army – German this time – occupied the place. After the Liberation, the establishment was looted and then abandoned.
Restoration and renewal
In 2011, the thermal baths of Bondonneau were no more than a set of ruins invaded by vegetation when, seduced by the charm and the history of the place, we decided to acquire them and bring them to life again. Four years will be needed to clean up the jungle that the park had become, to clear and rebuild the buildings (except for the hotel, too degraded), to arrange the interiors and provide them with all the comfort.
The domain, resurrected, was finally ready to welcome its guests.