The Imatrankoski Rapids has been a famous tourist sight since the 18th century. For example Catherine the Great, the Empress of All the Russias, visited Imatra in July 1772. In 1892 the railway came to Imatra, which immediately shortened the journey from St. Petersburg and increased the influx of tourists. There were originally two wooden hotels used by Russian aristocracy, but but they had been destroyed in fires in the beginning of the 20th century.
The Grand Hotel Cascade d'Imatra (Valtionhotelli in Finnish) was opened in 1903. The huge jugend style castel hotel was designed by Usko Nyström and it represents the romantic medieval knight castle style (like the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany).
After Finland's independence in 1917, the Russians found themselves barred from crossing the border and the remote location of the Imatrankoski Rapids near the Russian border no longer held any attraction to Finnish tourists. The 1920s saw the construction of the Imatrankoski power station; after that, the rapids were allowed to surge free only for special shows.
Valtionhotelli was renovated to the original outfit in 1987. Today it functions as a Spa Hotel owned by Restel Oy.
Reference: Imatra Municipality
Olargues is a good example of a French medieval town and rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It was occupied by the Romans, the Vandals and the Visigoths. At the end of the 11th century the Jaur valley came under the authority of the Château of the Viscount of Minerve. The following centuries saw a succession of wars and epidemics, and it was not until the 18th century that Olargues became re-established. This was due to the prosperity of local agriculture and artisanal industry.
The Pont du Diable, 'Devil's Bridge', is said to date back to 1202 and is reputed to be the scene of transactions between the people of Olargues and the devil. The old village is clustered around the belltower, which was formerly the main tower of the castle (Romanesque construction). The old shops have marble frontages and overhanging upper storeys. A museum of popular traditions and art is to be found in the stairs of the Commanderie.