The 1923 discovery
In August 1923, an engineer Louis Le Marié, in search of petroleum, came across water containing sulphur at 25°C (77°F) in the Abatilles area.
70,000 litres (18,500 US gallons) of spring water gushed out per hour shooting to a height of 8 metres (26 feet), making this spring one of the top ten in France. Le Marié had the water analysed, revealing its amazing qualities: low mineral content, zero nitrates and naturally warm.
The pressure it gushed out at made it possible to drive the water directly to the bottling plant, while keeping its natural properties intact. Le Marie was of Breton origin and named his spring Sainte-Anne after the patron saint of Brittany.
The French Academy of Medicine formally certified the water on 30th June 1925 followed by the State on 10th July 1925, whereupon the Abatilles Spa Company was formed.
The spa from 1928 to 1970
The spa facility was built in 1928 and was extremely popular until 1939.
At its height, the spa was visited by patrons from all over the world, who came to enjoy the benefits of treatments devised around the therapeutic properties of Abatilles water. The kiosk, where visitors could taste the water, which still exists today, was always full.
The 2nd World War left the facility run down and in a very sorry condition. It was launched anew in the 1950’s and thrived until finally giving up in the face of competition. In 1969, Vittel Group took over the business. The spa was closed in 1970, when Vittel preferred to focus on production and enlarged the bottling department.
Industrialisation from 1970 to today
Vittel Group initially sought to diversify production by introducing new beverages such as sparkling water and sodas, but then re-focussed on the sole production of still mineral water from 1979. In 1991, Société des Eaux d’Arcachon was sold by Nestlé Waters to Roger Padois an Arcachon resident and his associate Olivier Bertrand, who kept it until December 2012.
In 2013, the company was acquired by a pair of buyers. One was a wine grower and merchant from Bordeaux, Jean Merlaut, owner of Château Gruaud Larose in Saint-Julien-Beychevelle in Medoc, an 1855 second classed growth and of Château Malagar that houses the Mauriac cultural centre. The other was Hervé Maudet, appointed Spring General Manager, who had also founded MVins a wine and spirits merchants working specifically with restaurants.
The new owners first directed their attention to the production equipment and personnel, investing at the beginning of 2014 in a new French bottling line capable of increasing capacity from 12,000 to 18,000 bottles per hour. The new line generates less noise, has easier access for maintenance purposes and offers a number of advantages for the teams working on it.