Illustration by Genevieve Pizzale Image by: Vichy Les Célestins Spa Hotel
If you’re a spa hound or maybe just looking for a bucket-list experience on your travels to France, a night stay at the Vichy Les Célestins Spa Hotel or a visit to its world famous spa is a must. Very few cities in the world hold the title of spa city but Vichy is one of them. In fact, it’s considered the very first spa resort in Europe after Napoleon III declared the Vichy water springs to be a public interest in 1861.
Located in the beautiful Auvergne region, it’s easily reachable by train from Paris and even closer to Lyon. I was brought to Vichy while on assignment to cover a Vichy Laboratories launch set to come out this summer (June 14) called Minéral 89. The lightweight—but extremely hydrating—moisturizer is comprised of hyaluronic acid and 89% Vichy waters, giving it the highest concentration of Vichy waters in the brands extensive product range.
A shot of the Chaîne des Puys, this dormant volcano is where the Vichy mineralized water comes from.
These waters come from a nearby dormant volcano, which have traveled for millenniums through 380 million year old rocks and up to 4,000 meter deep. Along the way the water has picked up a blend of minerals that make it unique to any other mineralized water in the world. “Your skin feels very soft after soaking in the Vichy baths,” says Annic Lefol-Malosse, Vichy Institute and Spa director. “The minerals coat your body evenly and help reinforce your skin’s barrier.” Lefol-Malosse also points out it’s healing for other health ailments, such as rheumatism. This was first discovered in 1677 by the Marquise de Sévigne, who was an avid writer, she noticed that the pains in her hands and wrists were dulled after a dip in the Vichy waters.
My visit to the Vichy Les Célestins Spa started with a 45 minute soak in their giant pool brimming with Vichy thermal water, which is naturally warm at around 34°C. It really is the perfect temperature, it’s comfortable but not warm enough that it can strip away your skin’s precious moisture. If you’re just looking for access to the thermal waters, hammam and saunas this will cost $45 for a day pass. However, if you are planning on experiencing a treatment Lefol-Malosse recommends soaking in the baths first, “the warmth of the baths helps to open your skin’s pores.”
The spa’s signature treatment is the iconic Vichy thermal shower four hand massage (65 min $290). In a nutshell it uses hydromassage (with Vichy thermal water, of course!), followed by a phyto-mineral mud wrap and ends with another shower and four handed massage. However I opted for the newest service on the spa’s menu, the Minéral 89 treatment (25min, $123) created for the brand’s latest launch—this price also includes a 15 minutes skin diagnostic before the treatment.
The radiance inducing facial starts with an anti-pollution cleanse, followed by skin re-balancing with multi-masking session. My esthetician used a combo of the Quench Mineral Mask and the Double Glow Peel Mask. While the masks bestowed my skin with moisture and brightness she gave me a relaxation chest massage which put me on the a train to sleepy town. What helped ease me back to consciousness was a generous amount of pure Vichy water spritzed on my face and décolletage. The facial namsake product was applied with a “re-plumping massage” and followed with a five minute regenerating massage, that consisted of nimble and quick strokes.
At first I thought a 25 minute facial might not do much for my skin, plus it probably wouldn’t feel very relaxing (a one hour ($200) version is also available) but I’m happy to report my scepticism was squashed. Despite the quick time frame my skin was left brighter, more hydrated and down right glowy. I felt like the experience was far longer than the allotted 25 minutes—thanks to my esthetician's skilled hands and massage techniques. I know this historic spa city is filled with spas, and I didn't have time to visit them all, but from my experience the Vichy Les Célestins Spa lives up to it's lofty reputation.