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Brides-les-Bains, France

Charming old spa town below Méribel in France’s Three Valleys.

The old spa town of Brides-les-Bains was ‘the Olympic Village’ and thus home to the athletes participating in the 1992 Winter Olympics. Its ‘real small town’ feel contrasts with the internationally better known resorts up the mountain which include arguably France’s choicest resort Courchevel, Europe’s highest major resort Val Thorens and Europe’s ugliest resort – Les Menuires. It also offers better value for accommodations than the altitude resorts and is quieter in the evenings, although it is the main administrative and shopping centre Valley.

The resort’s status as a spa town dates back to the last century and continues to be a second string to its tourism bow, with the emphasis today on health and weight loss. The thermal resort at Thermes d’Orsi employs specialists and professionals including doctors, masseurs, dieticians and psychologists who can work out special weight loss and fitness programs, often involving a pleasurable dip in the 36 Celsius thermal pool at Salins, a hydro massage and a visit to the mud bath.