Two weeks ago I paid a visit to the beautiful hotel ‘Les Etangs de Corot’ just outside of Paris. Not to visit the hotel itself, but to try out a few treatments at the Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa as part of my toning and detox ‘kick-start’. As you may be aware by now, I’m quite a big believer in the value of products and treatments as part of a slimming/feel-good/beautifying schedule. Although I’m under no illusions that a cream can instantly slim you down, or that you’ll walk away from a massage with newly-toned legs, I do think that there are certain powerful ingredients that can help you to get moving with a new health regime, and that treatments can have a profound effect on your mental or emotional attitude towards changing your appearance.
You may be of a very different opinion, and that is totally fine; as a model who has to take her weight and appearance pretty seriously (hence the wine-drinking and general hilarity…) it makes sense for me to invest a little (or a lot) in my health and well-being. I still consider spas and spa-treatments to be the height of luxury, however, and don’t take the cost of such trips lightly – I’ve had many disappointments with ineffective beauty treatments that I could pretty much have performed at home, and so I’m very careful to do my research before booking in for any kind of beauty or body treatment.
The attitude towards spas (indeed, beauty in general) seems to be very different in France. Not so much of a luxury as a necessity, or, if not a necessity, simply a ‘given’. Beauty is an important part of a woman’s life in France, and they don’t seem to see the purchase of products as so much of a ‘guilty pleasure’ or an extravagance. I’ll be looking at this more closely very soon, but if you’ve ever visited France you’ll know that even in the most remote village, there will be a Pharmacie selling quite amazing skincare products. Even if the only other shop is a Tabac selling only cigarettes, there will be a Pharmacie. Brilliant.
Apparently, the women of Paris just ‘pop out’ to the Spa Caudalie to de-stress themselves on a Saturday, and to me, this is such a wonderful idea. Sitting with some pals with a glass of fine wine and being professionally beautified with products that are incredibly effective, not just pampering; what a lovely way to spend the day. Les Etangs de Corot can be reached from central (ish) Paris in well under an hour – late for my Eurostar, I managed to get from spa door to Gard du Nord in thirty-eight minutes, and that was a walk, a train, another train and a walk. If you don’t have a budget, or you’re giving yourself the full works, then you can take a taxi from the centre of Paris and be at the spa in less than an hour.
The spa at Les Etangs de Corot has been very stylishly designed; lots of ‘hints of nature’ (bamboo, gurgling fountains, natural stone) contrasted with very modern touches – a state of the art jacuzzi that is more like a small swimming pool, and sleek, dark treatment rooms. Each treatment room has views over the beautiful lake that Les Etangs de Corot is sat at the edge of, and the whole spa is serene and totally relaxing. On arrival, you are given a locker and a robe and a pair of special rubber sandals that massage your feet as you walk along. There’s a designated changing and shower room and your locker is secured with an electronic keypad.
The relaxation room has a number of comfortable loungers set against an upside-down forest of bamboo and a water feature and would have been the perfect place to catch a kip had I not jam-packed my afternoon with every treatment going! You could easily spend a day here using the facilities between treatments, reading books, sitting in the jacuzzi and generally chilling out. The aim of my visit, however, was to ‘jump-start’ my body into shedding a couple of pounds, which I had gained due to a hormonal imbalance. Otherwise known as ‘wine consumption’. Ironic that I was going to attempt to treat the symptoms of my excess wine consumption with wine, but hey-ho, I love a bit of irony.
I’m sure that you’re familiar with Caudalie products – Caudalie is fast becoming one of the most popular French skincare brands in the UK, and is actually best-selling in France. Caudalie produce face and body treatments ‘inspired by the vine’. They have discovered some pretty potent anti-ageing ingredients within parts of the grapevine and grape itself and the products that they pack these ingredients into show great results without being priced sky-high. I was therefore extremely optimistic about the treatments I had chosen; having utter confidence in the ingredients themselves, I was hoping that a trained therapist would be able to achieve instant, visible results.
I was right! The “Body of Your Dreams’ ritual pretty much lived up to its name. Although I didn’t come out with Gisele’s body, obviously (that would be weird), I did emerge from my four treatments feeling lighter, more toned, smoother, svelter and, most importantly, eager to really start my health-kick and get myself ultra-fit again. Here’s a little run-down of the treatments that I endured. (Joke!) I mean enjoyed.
1) The Barrel Bath. €60. I was seriously hoping that I was going to be actually put in a barrel for this, just for the novelty/comedy value, alas ’twas not to be. It was a far more luxurious and relaxing receptacle for bodies; a large, round, ‘plank-clad’ bath. Powerful water jets massaged my body (can I say at this point that I was wearing a bikini) whilst my lovely therapist gave me a head and face massage. Special grape extracts and oils were added to the bath, and I wallowed about for fifteen minutes whilst the therapist did her face massage (lovely) and brought me a Citronade (nice).
2) Out of the barrel and into the boiler jacket. Or ‘Merlot Wrap’ as it is called at Spa Caudalie. This treatment, costing €60, is a purifying and relaxing treatment. Clay and essential oils are applied to your skin before you are wrapped up in a layer of plastic and then a couple of other layers, including what looks and feels like a boiler jacket. Now even though I’m quite claustrophobic, I enjoyed this wrap immensely. I was toasty warm, but at the same time slimy and wet, and I can only imagine that this is the closest you can get to that ‘being back in the womb’ feeling that pyscho-babble people always harp on about. Apart from that, the clay helps to draw about impurities but also improves the skin’s texture. You could easily fall into a deep sleep cocooned in the wrap, so long as you haven’t got a problem with being completely helpless, wrapped up with your arms and legs pinned together. Just don’t roll from side to side, that would be my advice; it’s a long way from bed to floor.
3) The Crushed Cabernet Scrub (€80). This is the spa’s most popular scrub and it’s an ideal ‘starter’ body treatment, leaving skin toned and totally exfoliated. Perfect as part of a slimming treatment, it contains all of the oils from Caudalie’s Contouring Concentrate (available to purchase) which is a powerful treatment to shape up the silhouette and help banish cellulite. Grape-seed and brown sugar slough off dead skin cells and get your circulation going – it feels very invigorating! One of the great things about having spa treatments, in my opinion, is that they are so messy, but you don’t have to clean them up! You would never want to use this scrub at home, let me tell you. The treatment room looked like a monkeys’ tea party afterwards! Each treatment room, by the way, has a lovely warm shower so that you can rinse off in between treatments and change from one pair of delightful paper knickers into the next, clean pair.
4) My final treatment was a Caudalie Toning Massage (€100 for 50 mins, €145 for 80) which was hardcore. Perhaps I’m not used to massages, but…wow! This honestly felt as though I was in a really tough gym session. The therapist really got right down into every muscle so that it felt as though they were on fire! You know when you do squats at the gym, and you get that burning sensation in the muscle? It was like that, but more intense. The pain is momentary, of course, and once the massage stops there are no after-effects, but it’s pretty tough going on the table. I thought so at least! I could have opted for the Relaxing massage, but in the name of research, I took the Toning option. I felt incredibly light afterwards, and it was as though my muscles had been ‘woken up’ because I had an overpowering urge to go and run around!
My overall verdict on a shallow level is that this spa is gorgeous to look at, feels luxurious, feels exclusive and is totally serene and relaxing. On a ‘professional’ level, as someone who is rating services and the actual effects of the treatments I would say that Spa Caudalie is in a different league to spas that merely pamper. The ingredients used have been carefully thought out and tested, and the techniques that the therapists employ really use the ingredients to their best effects. If you’re trying to lose those last few pounds, or want to get yourself in gear for a change of lifestyle, then treatments like these could be very beneficial. If you’re just looking for 24 hours away in a gorgeous hotel to be pampered and preened, the Les Etangs de Corot can do that standing on its head!
As usual, I’ve made a video to accompany my (frankly outstanding) written description. Throughout said video, I describe my treatments wearing a fluffy robe, which I thought you’d all appreciate. I’ve also set my video to a soundtrack I can only describe to you as a ‘Marriage between Panpipe and Percussion’. Enjoy.
You can find out more about Caudalie treatments on their website here.