I'm a big fan of all things sea-weedy and algae based. If you remember, I even tried to create my own DIY seaweed spa on a quiet patch of Brighton beach last year! This year finds me in France, so in complete contrast to my low-fi experience, I was invited to check out Paris's Villa Thalgo, a swanky subterranean spa around the corner from the Champs Elysee.
Thalgo products, like many French brands, are firmly focussed on results: in this case, firming, smoothing and soothing skin, reducing cellulite (the French are obsessed with cellulite!) and anti-ageing. You can read some more about Thalgo's products when the Spies tested them, but what are the treatments like? Well... as relaxing as a day at the seaside!
Villa Thalgo was spacious, with a welcoming reception packed with Thalgo goodies, including their organic Terre et Mer range. When I arrived in the morning, the small mineral pool was full of Parisian ladies solemnly working out to aqua-aerobics. The changing rooms are large and well-equipped with hairdryers, fluffy robes, towels and slippers. I arrived early so had time to slip into the sizzlingly-hot steam room and soak up some of the mineral-enriched steam. After twenty minutes, I crept out, feeling deliciously snoozy and went for a lie-down in the relaxation room with a cup of herb tea. Low-lit with comfy loungers and jellyfish art (again with the jellyfish!) I was nodding off when my therapist arrived.
First up was a classic Thalgo treatment, the three-algae wrap. There's no getting around it, algae does not smell good; there's a whiff of the mackerel about it and no, that is not the spa-smell I'd usually go for, but at least it was warm. As my therapist cheerfully slathered my back in noxious-smelling goo, I reflected that it could be worse. I lay back and squidged against the wrap as my therapist deftly coated the rest of my body in algae, and, as it's France, that meant breasts, too! Fully-covered, I was then tucked into the wrap, covered in a heated blanket and left to "cook" for twenty minutes while I received a heavenly head massage. Once my time was up, I hopped into the shower in the room and was hosed down until I was algae-free. I left with skin that felt noticeably firmer. Impressive.
As I'd admired the organic Terre et Mer products on the way in, I opted to try a facial using them. This was a real high point, and has raised the bar for me when it comes to facials. For a start, the treatment began with a back massage. I love it when this happens in a facial: you completely relax. (You also feel like you're having two treatments instead of one!)
Then, for almost an hour, my therapist pampered my skin with a seemingly-endless range of lotions, potions and masks, each smelling more delicious than the last. Created with natural plants, herbs, and of course, algae, from the Mediterranean, the range includes orange blossom, crushed almonds, olives, sunflowers. Terre et Mer claim to not just be about nourishing and moisturising, and I agree; in typical French-style, these products deliver impressive results, too. A double-cleanse, a gentle scrub, a very creamy facial massage, warm oil drizzled on my skin for another massage, and a soothing mask. While the mask "set", she treated me to another head massage. At this point, I may have dozed off... When I awoke, the mask was peeled off, and the treatment ended with a final layer of moisturiser.
I floated to the relaxation rooms, feeling seriously chilled out -- rare for me, whenever I have a treatment, my mind is usually buzzing with thoughts of how to describe it, worries I'll forget what happened, but this time - total switch off! I had lunch with a girlfriend afterwards who commented on how good my skin looked. I had a definite dewy glow and those faint lines around my eyes were smoothed away. (Alas, only till the next day!) My skin looked noticeably better all week.
You don't have to travel to Paris to try Thalgo treatments, (but oh - it's so worth it if you do!). The Eden Hall Spa works with the Terre et Mer range too.