Bagnoles-de-1'Orne is a spa town that sits in the heart of a 4,000 hectare tract of woodlands known as the Andaines Forest. According to legend, Bagnoles developed as a town thanks to an old dog by the name of “Rapide”. Abandoned by the Lord of Tessé, “Rapide” jumped into a spring and came out a frisky colt. His master also bathed in the spring and regained his youthful vigor. This story spread all over the country and attracted thousands of sick people to Bagnoles looking to the town’s springs for a cure to their ills.
Nowadays, the town’s radioactive mineral waters are used to treat blood circulation disorders, advanced fractures, and endocrinal problems. About 20,000 visitors come each year and are delighted not only with the curative waters but also with the old-fashioned atmosphere and setting of the spa town. The ruffled waters of the lake give a sparkling reflection of the casino. People promenade along the Allee du Dante towards the pump rooms where they receive their treatments, or otherwise head for the park on nice walks. Some venture as far as Tessee-la-Madeleine, where the mineral springs are found and where an old castle has been converted into Bagnoles’ Town Hall. On the edge of the park, there is a promontory dubbed Dog’s Rock (Roc au Chien) where giant redwoods have been planted. According to legend, there was a dog years ago who devoured young girls of marriageable age who dared to venture to the spot.
Legend also has it that Bagnoles-de-l’Orne is the place of the Arthurian legends. The town’s countryside is supposed to have been the playground of Sir Lancelot. And the village today offers cultural events throughout the year, featuring visits to supposed Arthurian sites. Those who are not interested in wallowing in folklore, however, are probably better entertained by the music concerts, horse races, golf tournaments, and gambling and entertainment fun offered at the town’s two casinos.
Admiring the old architecture of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne can be an activity in itself. The town is home to some well-preserved 19th century architecture. Bagnoles’ Belle Époque Quarter, for example, is full of 19th century French upper-class villas with polychrome façades. The Villa Le Castel, built around 1900, and the Printania are both examples of opulent constructions. There are also country cottages and lavish hotels that give the town a very elitist and prestigious feel to it.
Bagnoles-de-l’Orne has a heritage-listed building too, the Saint Jean-Baptiste Church, which is an interesting example of Art Deco architecture designed by the famous Auguste Bluysen. This church blends well with the many other Art Deco buildings found around town; many of them built in the 1920s and 1930s when Bagnoles-de-l’Orne flourished during a period when health spas were especially popular and fashionable.
“Bagnoles de l’Orne.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagnoles-de-l%27Orne>
Gaudez, René, Hervé Champollion, and Angela Moyon. Tour of Normandy. Rennes: Éditions Ouest-France, 1996. ISBN: 2737317185.
 Gaudez, 59