For a smallish city of approximately fifty thousand inhabitants, Dieppe is quite lucky to enjoy the perk of Les Bains Spa, a centre thalassothérapique (meaning spa).
Located on the seafront in the same spot where the Moresque casino used to stand, Les Bains Spa sports a 50m long, exterior, lap pool filled with sea water and heated for year round use, and 3 indoor pools of different sizes, depths and shapes. They are filled with sea water as well, and for a reason.
This spa belongs to the “Vert Marine” chain: a group of spas promoting the wellness factor of seawater bathing.
This is nothing new.
In Dieppe in the 1840’s, the Duchesse de Berry made sea bathing a popular habit amongst the very chic nobility who would venture up to Dieppe by train from Paris to take the waters. This activity consisted mostly of dipping one’s pretty much fully clothed body into the cold water and splashing about for a few minutes before retreating into a portable wooden hut to change in street clothing. The rest of the day would be devoted to socializing, eating, drinking and feeling happy the cold water part was over until the next day.
Today, the water is warm and soothing treatments are on offer to make the rest of the day about being pampered.
For the ambitious - a full gym and organized classes are available.
Water aerobics, step aerobics, “lia” or aerobic dance, body sculpting, stretching, Pilates and circuit training classes are available daily.
A full sauna, steam room and balneotherapy room fills with relaxing customers who’ve done a class or two and who are steaming their muscles back into pre workout relaxation.
The magical area of Les Bains Spa is located in a quiet space behind the gym and steam rooms.
I signed up for a massage and facial, and when I was ushered into this Zen zone, the noise of people working out on sophisticated machines and children playing in the pool was instantly muted.
A team of attractive, white-uniformed young women, oozing calm welcome the lucky spa clients, invite them to enter a candle lit, perfumed room with tinkling, whispering music and to lie down on a warm terry cloth covered table. As soon as their warm hands hit your skin the ahhhh factor kicks in and it’s off to heaven for the space of an hour or so depending on which treatment one has chosen.
I picked the sea holistic relaxation, and it was. Relaxing and holistic, that is.
Of course, Marion-of-the-magic-hands had a lot to do with that. I’ve was amazed at the strength in the hands of this young lady, who must weigh about 110 lbs soaking wet. However, the dexterity of her hands was enough to win over my stress and smother it into a thing of the recent past.
We started with an inhalation of a stress reducing aroma-therapy perfume. Three deep breaths open the nasal passages and oxygenate the body to better receive and accept the treatment to come.
The rest of the products used in the sea holistic program are of secret elaboration, their exact composition unknown to the user. I was informed that all the products are 100% natural and are comprised of elements occurring naturally and plants which live in the sea.
Lots of algae based stuff, and warmed mud products mixed with green stuff. These goops which are applied to the body and face smell surprisingly good. You’d think algae would smell like fermenting pond scum. Luckily, we were both wrong. It’s a bit elemental and earthy, yet fresh and salty like... well, like the sea, I guess.
So, a heavenly hour later, I too emerged: pink and refreshed, and most especially wanting to return to Les Bains Spa the very next day, which of course, I did not.
But it’s awfully nice to know that I can…