Heat has many benefits. It helps to loosen up muscles and ease tensions, improve blood circulation, prevent injuries and pain and soften the skin. It also relaxes the mind, as the heat causes the body to release endorphins, or ‘feel-good hormones.’ People have used it for thousands of years to stay in shape and increase their energy levels, and also as a beauty treatment. In the Middle East, the moist heat of hammams is used, while in northern Europe, and specifically Scandinavia, saunas - cabins warmed with dry heat - are the method of choice. Both of these practices are widely available in Paris.
Hammams in Paris
This Middle-Eastern ritual in a eucalyptus steam bath makes your skin softer and lifts your mood. Decorated with mosaics and sunny colours and feeling like a complete escape, Paris’s hammams provide a rejuvenating and revitalizing experience, pushing detoxification, relaxation and wellness to the maximum.
With a decor of mosaics, candles and gentle music, the hammam in its purest tradition is associated with serenity away from the buzz of everyday life. They often have a tea room or restaurant where mint tea, pastries and oriental specialities are served. As for treatments, the steam bath has a swimming pool or small pool, and sometimes an ultra relaxing hot stone massage. When choosing your treatments, there’s nothing like the classics: exfoliation with soft soap, massage and argan oil treatment, rhassoul wrap, hair removal with honey, pedicures, manicures, etc. Mixed, open to men and women alternately, or exclusively for women, traditional hammams present a wide choice of prices, with something for all budgets. Many offer original packages for ‘girls only’ days out, birthdays, hen parties, and so on.
You can find hammams in ‘classic’ spas, but some places specialize in Middle-Eastern-style treatments. These include some very chic establishments such as O’Kari in the 2nd arrondissement, La Sultane de Saba near the Champs-Élysées, Charme d’Orient, Les Cent Ciels, Hammam Pacha and Les Bains du Marais.
For a more traditional hammam where it’s all about conviviality and wellbeing, there’s nowhere quite like the Grande Mosquée de Paris. Don’t leave after your hammam without sitting at a table in the inner courtyard with a tea to take a bit of time out in an oasis just a stone’s throw from the jardin des Plantes. You can find the same warm and down-to-earth vibes at the Hammam Medina Center.
Saunas in Paris
As for saunas, they can mostly be found in the big Parisian spas. This practice from northern Europe has genuine benefits and can be alternated with cold baths or showers. It helps to strengthen the immune, respiratory and circulatory systems while also flushing out toxins and relaxing the muscles. For a chic sauna session, head over to the beautiful boutique Belleyme du Marais, which has an infrared sauna cabin, as does the flagship spa of brand Oh My Cream on rue Montmartre. You can also become acquainted with naturopathy at Le Centre Tout Naturellement, with its lovely sauna and very comprehensive treatments, or visit Hôtel Madame Rêve to take advantage of its extra-large sauna and personalized massages.