Paris Picks : Spas

With the summer calm long gone, temperatures dropping and the bustle in Paris ever prevalent, it’s important to take time to relax your mind and indulge your body. Both as a visitor and a local, walking around the city all day will leave you inspired, albeit exhausted. I thought I’d share my favorite Parisian addresses (not connected to hotels) for relaxation from head to toe, foot massage included. Take note of these stellar Paris spas!

Free Persephone feels like stepping into Springtime, regardless of the season. This fragrance day spa features luxurious manicures and pedicures using all organic products, including Priti NYC polishes and all natural lavender scrubs. Scented with the owner’s own perfumes and a menu including tea and aromatherapy massages, you’ll leave beautified and relaxed, floating into the neighboring rive gauche.

Free Persephone // 66 boulevard Raspail 75006 // +33 (0)1 42 22 13 04 //

The first salon dedicated to the beauty of the face, body and hair, Carita was established over 50 years ago by two sisters. This ‘Maison de Beauté’ in the heart of Paris’s fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, is an address well respected by the beauty elite. Following a rehydrating and lifting facial treatment, your skin will feel recharged with vitality. Simply put, you’ll leave the spa glowing!

Carita // 11 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75001 // +33 (0)1 44 94 11 11

How better to spend an afternoon than in a steamy hammam followed by a body mask of volcanic clay and an organic argan oil massage? Step into this luxurious Moroccan setting in the rive droite, or their first location in Boulogne, and find your bliss. Les Cent Ciels will leave you counting the stars while nourishing your skin and soothing your mind.

Les Cent Ciels // 7 rue de Nemours 75011 // +33 (0)1 55 28 95 75

Your sense of touch will be heightened with a visit to Le Spa Dans le Noir, in the heart of Paris. What makes this sensory experience so special is the fact that you’re being treated in complete darkness (with an option for light), by a sight-impaired or blind massage therapist. Complete relaxation is the priority and the result, regardless of the massage you choose.

Le Spa Dans Le Noir // 65 rue Montmartre 75002 // +33 (0)1 83 95 46 77

Stepping through the portal of Ban Sabaï, you’re automatically transported to Thailand. Whether you choose a foot, hand, head or full body massage with all natural oils, your senses will accompany you on this journey to the Far East. This is the first Parisian address dedicated to traditional Thai massage, with several locations, some specializing in foot massage.

Ban Sabaï // 9 rue Saint Antoine 75004 // 46 rue de la Pompe 75016 // +33 (0)1 45 00 99 99

You can read more about these and other Paris spas in my latest feature in LUXOS Magazine (available in Paris) and find my top five hotel spas in Bonjour Paris. Happy pampering!

art of the hammam

On my recent trip to Istanbul, my friend and I decided to indulge in the Turkish bath culture, the hammam. In the tradition of physical and spiritual purification, the body is cleansed and purified from toxins, blood circulation increases and the immune system is stimulated. I had tried a few hammams in my day, but this one, the Ayasofya built in 1556, was special.IMG_6259Historically, hammams were social centers where special occasions were often celebrated.

IMG_6238Most hammams had spiritual components, and in many cases, washing was an essential part of worship. Through religious influence, hammams became a part of everyday life.

IMG_6240The sicaklik (also known as the hararet, caldarium or hot room) is a large marble-tiled room with a Göbek tasi (marble slab called a belly or navel stone). Here the soaping takes place.

IMG_6244I lay on the heated surface post scrubbing, and experienced my first bubble massage.

IMG_6254We had the hammam to ourselves, and I could have spent hours dreaming beneath the ancient starry ceiling, intoxicated by the warmth of the marble and the heavenly massage.

IMG_6255Alas, it was time to go as I was abruptly woken from the dream. Next stop, Grand Bazaar.

urban escape

I am a great fan of weekend escapes, a tranquil setting in which to unwind and simply lose track of time. Though not always possible or so easy to get away. Luckily, I discovered such a place in the heart of Paris, what I can accurately describe as an urban escape, L’échappée.

Behind this door exists a hidden universe of wellness, for mind, body and soul.

First stop, the spa. Upon entering the hammam, the cold, wintry world outside ceased to exist. The dipping pool invited me in to it’s tepid waters and there I remained for countless time, the Paris sky high above, my thoughts floating far beyond it. Experiencing the full spa treatment, I was next summoned to an adjoining room for le gommage, the ritual of cleansing and exfoliating the skin. I was left feeling lighter and rehydrated. Perfect time to escape into the steam room. The next step is my favorite of all, le massage. I chose the Californian technique for utmost relaxation. In a word, bliss. Where am I again? I left this urban paradise hours later in a state of zen and floated home.

Above the spa sits the restaurant. Both industrial chic and intimate, feeling very much comme à la maison. I’ve had the occasion of lunching here several times but it is the weekend brunch that most satisfies my palate. A decadent and plentiful spread of sweet and savory. The best Paris brunch I have discovered to date, and as a New York brunch aficionado that says a lot!

I am already looking forward to my next visit to the spa, the restaurant, or perhaps both, should I need a proper escape. Anyone care to join me?