Frantiskovy Lazne - a typical spa town
Located in the famous West Bohemian "spa town triangle" Frantiskovy Lazne is the smallest and least upscale of the three spa towns, both Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne are much larger and considerably more glitzy (and definitely more expensive). As Frantiskovy Lazne is the closest to the Saxon border I decided to visit this one from Bad Elster, where I stayed for a few days in spring 2009.
Elevation is 442 m (roughly 1,500 ft.), the town is set in a flat basin surrounded by mid-range mountains which makes for a friendly, wide open scenery (unlike in the other two spa towns which are located in valleys in more mountaineous areas). Population is about 5,000 thus Frantiskovy Lazne has a quiet small-town ambience.
While the springs were known from the 12th century on, Frantiskovy Lazne was founded by Hapsburg Emperor Franz II only in 1793. Until then the mineral water was known as "Eger water" with "Eger being the German name for the Czech town Cheb nowadays, located only 5 km southeast.
The buildings in the spa town district are well restored, the parks and gardens there are beautiful and well maintained. Not so in the surrounding districts of town - it is quite run down, dirty and locals seem to be quite poor. The difference is amazing.
The 24 cold mineral springs (temps between 10 and 12.5 C) are used for medical baths and for drinking. From the 18th century on the water was bottled and shipped all over the Hapsburg Empire. There is still a mineral water plant in Frantiskovy Lazne that employs a number of locals and ships their bottles all over Europe.