There are dozens of spas in France, ranging from upscale spa resort hotels to charming small spa villages that have relaxed visitors since the days of the Ancient Romans. Find out which spas, or "bains," are tops for your next ultra-relaxing vacation.
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Les Sources des Caudalie, Nr Bordeaux, French Atlantic Coast
This luxurious spa and four-star hotel near Bordeaux features a unique combination: spa treatments and wine. With its "vinotherapie" treatments, visitors can indulge in red wine baths, barrel baths, Merlot wraps, a crushed Cabernet scrub or a Sauvignon massage. Some are designed for anti-ageing, using grape seeds and the spa’s own hot water spring, mineral rich from water 540 metres below ground. There are 49 guest rooms and 20 treatment rooms, housed in a pretty wooden and stone low building. The resort also features two restaurants, a bar and a panoramic cigar lounge.
Les Sources des Caudalie
Chemin de Smith Haut Lafitte
Tel.: 00 33 (0)5 57 83 83 83
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Cheval Blanc, Courchevel 1850, Alps
This is a top luxury spa in the glorious surroundings of posh Courcheval 1850, one of the top skiing destinations in the Alps in east France. The spa is decorated in calming, pale colours and uses Guerlain products. They specialise in anti-ageing facials, and great massages to get you back into good shape after a day on the slopes and before a night in a club.
Le Jardin Alpin
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 79 00 50 50
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Domaine de Manville, Les-Baux-de-Provence, Provence
Les Baux is a chic, once fortified village on the Alpilles ridge just 15 kms north east of the Roman city of Arles. And nestled nearby this idyllic setting in the south of France is the 5-star Domaine de Manville. The former farming estate has been converted into a beautiful hotel with an indoor courtyard where a tinkling fountain brings a sense of peace. The spa is relatively low-key offering slimming treatments and firming treatments. You can swim in the indoor pool or work out in the gym. Then venture out to the spectacular Carrières de Lumières, a limestone quarry that houses an annually changing exhibition.
Domaine de Manville
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 90 54 40 20
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La Reserve Ramatuelle, Saint-Tropez, Côte d’Azur
Saint-Tropez is known for its glitz and glamour, so go there for that but stay at La Réserve Ramatuelle hotel to escape the excesses of the resort made famous by Brigitte Bardot. Just outside the centre of town with breath taking views over the Mediterranean, the spa looks out over the sea, has indoor and outdoor pools, steam and fitness room and 11 treatment rooms offering everything from anti-ageing and better-ageing treatments using Crème de la Mer products to figure shaping for that St Tropez look.
La Réserve Ramatuelle
Chemin de la Quessine
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 94 44 94 44
WebsiteContinue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Alet-les-Bains, Eastern Pyrenees
South of Limoux in the area known as the Pays de Couiza this is not an upscale resort but a small thermal town. It’s a pretty, rural Languedoc village high on charm and featuring medieval and Roman architecture. Situated about a half-hour from Carcassonne and in the heart of Cathar country, the village has a bakery, lovely 17th- and 18th-century houses and the delightful Hostellerie de l’Évêche, a hotel in the former bishop’s palace. The thermal spa itself features dips in the thermal spa waters, a sauna, hydro-massage bath and massages, all at rock-bottom prices.
If you're staying here, make sure you get to see one of the great sites of France, the Roman aqueduct of the Pont du Gard.
06 of 10
Argèles-Gazost, nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains a few minutes south of Lourdes, is an enchanting small spa village. Featuring a casino and a lovely downtown area, the town is surrounded by breathtaking views of the High Pyrenees. This is an ideal destination if you really want to earn those spa treatments through outdoor activities like hiking and skiing.
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Dax, Nouvelle Aquitaine
The village of Dax was France's first spa village, dating back to Gallo-Roman times with its hot fountain, the source of the NeHe which still flows at a little above 60° C. It's still one of France’s premier spas, particularly for the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis of all types. Treatment is based on warm mud packs. Almost 60,000 people dip in the village's ancient waters each year and you can book a special package through the Tourist Office. Situated in the expansive Landes forest, it is close to the Pyrenees and the Atlantic coast and is set inland in between Biarritz and Bordeaux and near Pau.
08 of 10
Aix-les-Bains, Savoie, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes
With several thermal spa resorts, France's second busiest spa town offers splendid views of Mont Blanc. Famous for the healing quality of the waters since the Romans, you'll find that the elegant buildings are from the late 1800s when the likes of Queen Victoria visited for their health. Indulge in the thermal spa waters, with treatments that target those who wish to quit smoking, lose weight or just plain relax. The Thermes Chevalley specialises in arthritis and rheumatology
But almost every treatment you can think of is available in any of the thermal spas here in Aix-les-Bains. There is also a golf course, aquarium and casino.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Evian-les-Bains, Haute-Savoie, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes
Think water and Evian is probably one of the first names that comes to mind. There's a good reason for that; this popular city on the shores of Lake Geneva attracts many for its curative waters, which have been bottled as drinking water for years. The thermal spas here offer several treatment packages, and the entrance fee for many of them is very reasonable (30 euros per person per day). Evian's shoreline is scenic, and the city is pretty.
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Vichy, Allier, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
About 30 miles south of Clermont Ferrand, Vichy was once famous for its strange sulphurous springs that were good for treating joint problems and digestive disorders, and it still attracts an elderly clientele to its Belle Epoque grand buildings. The central point is the Parc des Sources in the city centre with its Hall des Sources where you can try a cup of the not terribly nice water. The formal thermal baths, the Grand Établissement Thermal, show you what these grand places once looked like.