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Arty, Snobby, Sexy…French culture can be described in many ways, but what with an abundance of patisserie, foie gras, red wine and macarons, ‘healthy’ is not usually one of them.
The Mandarin Oriental in Paris has set out to change that with their Relax and Revive Package, which features healthy dining and three indulgent spa treatments, all within beautifully designed settings.
To start the day off right, star chef Thierry Marx has teamed up with nutritionist Lilian Israel to create the Delight Breakfast. Consisting of fruit juices, whole grain bread and pancakes, tofu, salmon and cottage cheese, the meal comes with instructions about which order the foods should be eaten to best benefit from the nutritional properties of the food. None of it was hot, and it seemed rather a shame that Marx’s talents were nowhere evident in the mainly raw breakfast. It certainly was healthy, but there was far too much food for the first meal of the day, for me at least.
The Mandarin Oriental’s spa, with its faux brushed metallic walls, butterfly wall projections and calming lighting provides a wonderful environment for their Asian flavoured body treatments. When I arrived for my Signature Spa Therapy, I was warmly greeted by two staff members, one whom replaced my shoes with slippers while the other fetched me a rose infusion tea. After I filled out a short questionnaire about my health and habits, it was determined that I was a Chinese earth sign with fairly balanced chi (the Chinese term for life energy), and my treatment was tailored to these traits. Laura, my masseuse, directed me to my own therapy suite, complete with private hammam. After changing into a plush robe, I entered the steam room and scrubbed myself down with a delicious smelling green tea and bamboo scrub, rinsed off, then had my feet washed in rose water and massaged before my full body massage began. Laura’s tiny size belied the strength in her hands–her technique was firm and deep, exactly what I requested. After a blissful hour of being rubbed down with aromatherapy oils tailored for an earth sign, I was given more rose tea and a lemongrass coconut jellied cake to gently ease me back to the real world.
I know I should have been feeling relaxed and Zen-like, living in the moment and appreciating all the blessings I’ve been given, but frankly, I couldn’t help but feel sad that a quarter of this amazing weekend package had already passed. Ah well, better to remember the rose infusion-filled glass is still half full…
For more information, please go to mandarinoriental.com/paris