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The discovery of a hot water spring at the beginning of the 20th century led to the opening of the first spa resort in Nancy.
In 1909, over a six-month period, more than two million visitors flocked to Nancy to discover the International Exhibition of the East of France. Held in Sainte-Marie park, at the heart of a thriving quarter, the pavilions showcased the region's industrial progress, its academic dynamism and its cultural vibrancy with the famous art movement of Nancy School.
The many attractions included an artesian bore-hole causing an 800-metre-deep hot water spring to gush out. The survey, the deepest in Europe at the time, provided 2,500 litres of clear hot water (35°C) per minute, from rain that fell around 30,000 years ago. This project was the work of Louis Lanternier, a renowned architect and city councillor, who dreamed of a large thermal spa resort in Nancy to further the city’s development.
After the Exhibition’s festivities, a stone rotunda decorated with mosaics was built on the site of the spring. An elegant fountain in the middle allowed the water to flow and its benefits continued to delight the people of Nancy. From July 1911, the French National Academy of Medicine gave permission to use Nancy Thermal water, in particular to treat rheumatism and gastrointestinal disorders.
The thermal spa resort opened in 1913. It had the world's largest mineral water swimming pool at the time. However, the Great War put a stop to Louis Lanternier’s ambitions. The French formal gardens, theatre, amusement park and luxury hotel that he had conceived never saw the light of day. People flocked to take the waters until the 1930s. After that time, the site was used solely for aquatic activities.
Greater Nancy drew on this history and heritage to build Nancy Thermal. The regional authority was fortunate to have the assistance of a state-of-the-art university hospital. Since 2007, Greater Nancy and Nancy Regional University Hospital, the fifth largest in France, have worked hand in hand to bring back balneotherapy to Nancy. A clinical study was decisive. A favourable opinion was issued by the French National Academy of Medicine to use the water for therapeutic purposes.