Rejuvenate body and mind in thermal spas, see Roman ruins and admire stunning cathedrals in this city of curative waters.
Nestled between the forests of Landes and the vineyards of Chalosse is the spa city of Dax. Its thermal waters were once enjoyed by the Romans and today, they attract visitors from all over the world. Pampering and relaxation may well be the biggest draws, but Dax also captivates with its old churches and Roman ruins.
Breathe in the steam of the warm waters of Fontaine Chaude, which was also in use as a bath during Roman times. The water is a constant 147 F (64 C) and was said to benefit people with rheumatic conditions. Elsewhere, there are numerous spa resorts dotted around Dax offering a range of treatments.
After you have soothed your body, go on a sightseeing tour of the city. Visit the old town to see the remains of the Gallo-Roman ramparts from the 4th century. Inside the Crypte Archéologique, study the ruins of a 2nd century basilica. Go to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame Ste-Marie, which was built on the site of a 13th-century Gothic cathedral. See part of the original building, the Portal of the Apostles, in the north transept. Stop by Saint-Vincent-de-Xaintes. The church’s white marble altar is also a sarcophagus containing the remains of the saint.
Nearby is the Andalusian-style bullring, built in the early 20th century. In addition to bullfights, the venue also hosts concerts and fiestas.
Dax is served by three main airports. The closest is Biarritz-Parme at 37 miles (60 kilometers) away, while the closest major airport is in Bordeaux, 90 miles (145 kilometers) away. Alternatively, make the 4.5-hour train journey from Paris. Get around by public transport or rental car.
When you relax in thermal waters and enjoy mud treatments, you'll discover why Dax has been one of France's most popular spa destinations for centuries.