Our New Year’s Eve geocaching trip took us into Allier in the Auvergne, and specifically to Thizon, near St Victor. I’ve mentioned before how much we enjoy discovering local geology and history through geocaching. Yesterday was no exception and we were fascinated to happen across the remnants of what was once a bustling mineral water bottling enterprise.

It doesn’t look up to much now.

Monsieur Cajat, a pharmacist from Montluçon, was the chap who saw a way of making money from this iron rich, naturally carbonated spring water. He set up the Tison-Villars water company and presumably had the bottling plant built. (Thizon has been spelt variously as Thizon, Thison and Tison over the years.)

The water bubbles out at an unchanging temperature of 11 degrees C. It’s meant to be generally healthy for you and stimulating to the appetite and digestion. We filled a bottle up to bring back home with us. It doesn’t taste that bad actually, and the fizziness is rather nice!

Caiti and Rors inspect the spring

I haven’t been able to find out when M Cajat’s business closed down. A book was written about it in 1900 entitled Notice. Tison-Villars. Des Eaux minérales en général et de l’eau minérale de Tison en particulier. Néris-les-bains but that’s as far as my research takes me for now.

The Auvergne is full of abandoned springs. Take a look at this blog post (in French but mainly photos) about them.  Seems a missed opportunity, given how thriving the mineral water business is these days. Any entrepreneurs out there looking for something to do?

We’re excited about finding out a lot more of France’s well hidden secrets in our 2013 geocaching exploits. Watch this space!