I arrived in Paris at 11 a.m. on a beautiful fall morning. Enjoy the day and rest up, said my hosts. So I set off to check out a few arrondissements (stores are closed on Sundays – bad for me, good for my credit cards).
I strolled my way through old, established neighbourhoods and landed on a bench in the Jardin des Tuileries, looking up at the breathtaking glass pyramid, added in 1988, that now guards the entrance to the Louvre. Sadly lacking the energy to venture inside, I started back slowly, stopping at a sidewalk café, where I ordered a fresh herb omelette with a glass of Chardonnay and watched the fashionable Parisians parading by. The last thing I remember is falling into bed in my small but elegant room at the Bedford Hotel.
A three-hour train ride through the French countryside brought me to Vichy, known since the 17th century for its world-renowned thermal springwater with curative and dermatological properties. A result of rainwater flowing through rocks in an underground journey of many kilometres, these waters originate from five separate springs, and boast minerals proven to have a calming, buffering effect on the skin. As well, they reinforce the skin's defence system, which helps prevent wrinkles.
Touring the delightful town, with its mix of belle epoque and art nouveau architecture, it’s very easy to imagine Napoleon III "taking the cure," as he is reported to have done in 1860. In those days, the waters were known more for their ability to cure ailments such as arthritis, and diseases of the gallbladder and liver. While still used in medical treatments, the waters also provide beauty benefits. That's what I'm here for!
I presented my flip-flopped, terry-cloth-robed self at the Vichy Laboratoires L'Institut, adjacent to my hotel. After a tour, a technician analyzed my skin with the help of a state-of-the-art Dermo-Analyzer, developed by scientists at L'Oréal (Vichy’s parent company).
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A skin sensor read my skin's moisture level, then my photo was transferred to a computer model that determined my skin's age level by measuring lines, wrinkles and sagging. I was pleased when my skin’s apparent age came back as twelve-and-a-half years younger than my actual age. Then came a calming bath, massage and face treatment featuring Vichy products customized for my skin. The final treatment was the best part: two masseuses giving me a full-body rub down, with water from the Lucas spring (the only spring that Vichy Laboratoires uses) raining down on me from thermal jets. My day ended with a dip in the hot springwater pool. I left the place feeling better than I could ever remember.
Today I visited the Vichy Laboratoires research centre, in Chevilly-LaRue, near Paris, where I was introduced to LiftActiv CxP, Vichy's latest anti-wrinkle firming face-care cream, based on two breakthrough technologies. Vichy scientists have combined vitamin C, which stimulates skin cells' vital function and can help reduce skin damage caused by free radicals, with peptide 2, an essential protein for all tissues, to help reduce wrinkles and improve skin texture. Vichy is also using the continuous release of active ingredients so they can be more effective. That gives skin a tauter look, as if it's been lifted. Armed with my own LiftActiv CxP, I went home ultrahydrated, ultrapampered and ultra-excited about a better-looking me!
Editor's note: Injectables and surgery aren't the answer for everyone who wants younger-looking skin. A good day and night moisturizer can be just the ticket. I've been using LiftActiv CxP for two months now; my skin looks tauter, my wrinkles look smoothed out, and I’m getting lots of compliments!
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This story was originally titled "La Belle France" in the January 2009 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!
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