Vichy water is a type of spring water which traditionally comes from the famous spa town of Vichy, France. Since the brand name is well recognized and associated with positive health benefits, some companies treat their mineral water to resemble Vichy water so that it can carry the Vichy label. In addition to being a popular beverage, Vichy water is also called for in some recipes, and in the spa town of Vichy itself, people can bathe in the famous water. The name was also borrowed for the Vichy Springs Resort, a famous spa in Northern California.
Vichy is in central France, on the banks of the River Allier. Since at least 50 BCE, people have been bathing in the waters of Vichy and touting their health effects. The Romans built formal baths at Vichy which were enjoyed for centuries before being rebuilt in the 1700s. The springs which feed Vichy carry a high amount of dissolved minerals, and they create a distinctive naturally effervescent bubbling water.
Many people drank Vichy water historically for stomach complaints, since sparkling water can help to settle restless stomachs. The dissolved minerals in the water may also assist with an assortment of health problems including issues with the intestinal tract. The tradition of bathing in the water stems from the idea that bathing in warm, mineralized water is good for the skin and the body in general. The tradition of traveling to springs for relaxation and health was known as “taking the cure.”
Producers in Vichy bottle and sell the water around the world, along with other products which are meant to capitalize on the spa brand. The town is also famous for its spas and health facilities, and the popular Vichy shower is also named for Vichy. True Vichy spring water can get quite expensive, since it is a prized item; many people settle for lesser brands of water which are treated so that they mimic the properties of Vichy water.
Alkaline salts such as sodium bicarbonate are a primary ingredient in Vichy water, along with calcium and magnesium carbonates. Visitors to Vichy may note that the water is sometimes slightly odorous, with substances like sulfur naturally bubbling up with the water. The water also has a distinct taste, due to the dissolved minerals. Consumers can also purchase tablets or lozenges made from Vichy water, which are intended to encapsulate the believed health benefits of the water in a convenient package.