Under normal circumstances, many of us would choose to visit a beautiful place like Provence to enjoy some rest and rejuvenation in order to improve our Health & Wellbeing. In the midst of today’s Coronavirus pandemic, health concerns are an order of magnitude more serious. Whilst travel plans for the immediate future have been put on hold, it’s important that we stay positive and look forward to the coming months when hopefully the Coronavirus epidemic will be behind us. Perhaps one positive to come out of this crisis will be that people take more time to look after what is really important… their health. And there is no reason why health and travel have to be separated.
Even prior to the Coronavirus outbreak authentic and wholesome experiences were replacing traditional holiday getaways. ABTA reported that more people than ever are seeking new ways to alleviate stress, reduce illness and boost wellbeing. We’re even acknowledging men’s mental health. Women are striving to be strong, not skinny. Now nourishing, not starving. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that more and more are taking advantage of the wellness preferences across Provence. From healthy hikes to serene spas and wholesome cafes, the global wellness market is now worth more than double general tourism. Best of all, France is far more accessible than heading to the Himalayas to douse ourselves in holy potions.
Provence sees health, not as a trend, but something that is passed down through generations and this is sure to continue in the future. Yet even traditional, elegant and understated Aix sees transformation stirring. Social media has energized the town. For instance, you can now easily find a yoga instructor, through Instagram. Guests of Provence often seek experiences to rejuvenate, heal and gain self-confidence; as well as wanting to totally disconnect from the hectic pace of life at home and work. Often with a digital detox.
Eating according to the seasons is obligatory in Provence as everything comes from either the garden or the market. The French always treat their meals as sit-down affairs. You will never see anyone eating on the run. Yet in contrast to the purist discipline of wellness, the Provence way is all about moderation rather than abstaining. The French are firm believers that less is more.
So, when the world returns to some semblance of normality, we hope you are able to find the time to take an extremely well deserved holiday and one that fully refreshes both your body and mind. Hope is incredibly important in times like these and to help give you something to daydream about I’ve listed just a few wellness activities you could choose to enjoy in the future here in Provence. But of course, these activities are not limited to Provence and perhaps will give you some ideas on ways you can look after yourself even during these testing times.
Hiking in Provence
Trekking up the positive Provençal trails is the preferred alternative to standard gym workouts. The combination of physical exercise and mental relaxation is exhilarating.
Take a picnic or simply just meander to smell the wonderful wild herbs. Marching up the limestone mountain ridge of Montagne Sainte-Victoire from the hamlet Saint Antonin is a popular trail. As if you needed any more persuasion, this mountain was a source of inspiration for both Paul Cezanne and Pablo Picasso.
We’re all being advised to limit our contact with others, but in most countries there has been a recognition that some exercise is important. Well, a walk around your local park might not quite be like hiking in the Calanques but none-the-less it offers a welcome change of scenery, some fresh air and hopefully a burst of sunlight.
Juice bars are increasingly squeezing up against the traditional pavement cafés. Juice Lab on Rue Nazareth, Aix-en-Provence are known to discontinue certain blends if they cannot serve them perfectly fresh.
They have post-workout wake-up juices, and their avocado toast is a firm favourite for a quick bite. In typical Provencal style, they alter their menu according to which fruit and vegetables are available. At the moment, fresh fruit and veg may be in short supply or perhaps you have stockpiled some that are now looking a bit past their best… well juicing or blending them is the ideal way of using these up. It’s a delicious way to enjoy fruit and vegetables whilst also giving you a great hit of vitamins.
Rosé at sunset
It is criminal to visit Provence without savouring their distinctly world class wine. And it tastes best being sipped at sunset and al fresco.
Casual, light and easy is the manner in which it is served, together with how it should be enjoyed. But why wait until you get to Provence? If possible, keep a couple of bottles of Rosé in the fridge to enjoy at home. Even without the sunset, Rosé can make you feel like you’re on holiday regardless!
Baths are the best remedy to relax and detox as they create a moment to slow down our hectic routines. Infuse your bath with muscle relaxing salts from the Camargue region or bath oils with sweet soothing orange blossom. The French will often then immerse into icy waters in antique tin tubs. Incredibly anti-inflammatory, and definitely relaxing!
And at times like these why skimp… put the hot water on and run yourself a deep luxurious bath to enjoy at home.
Local spas house aestheticians who blend local essential and plant-based oils. These ingredients will be freshly mixed and immersed into your skin through calming facials that are like no other. Here are a few suggestions for you to try:
27, Rue Mazarine
This is a city spa, so there are no landscaped gardens or outside pools. Utterly divine, it retains a heavenly cosy atmosphere as it’s entirely underground. Centrally located in Aix, it has a beautiful pool and several massage rooms, as well as a sauna. Furthermore, it’s one of the few places in the region that you’ll find key make up brands (such as Laura Mercier). It’s where the ladies that lunch congregate before lunch. The ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle.
The Thermes Sextius in the centre of Aix en Provence is built on the site of the old Roman Baths. It enjoys its own unique water source down to 80 metres in depth which is naturally kept at 33°C. Now a major hydrotherapy centre, it is established as a celebrated place to unwind on holiday. A blissful place to submerge in the baths or float away during a massage.
Les Lodges Health Spa
Les Lodges is a relatively new spa to the area having been built in the last few years. Found situated on the beautiful winding road that runs under the Sainte Victoire mountain, in between Aix en Provence and the charming village of Le Tholonet. It has one indoor and one outdoor pool, and a series of treatment rooms. The atmosphere is cool, calm and completely marvellous.
And whilst a trip to the Spa is off the cards at the moment, a pampering session at home always lifts the spirits. Now is the time to use the lotions and potions that get given as gifts that many of us store carefully away but never have time to use!
Previously, those seeking ‘well-being’ were people with a lot of free time. However, today most wellness consumers are decision-makers, with very limited time. Time has become much more valuable than money. Happiness is essentially the secret ingredient to health and wellness. Nowadays, as the majority of holidaymakers value their mental and physical health more, they invest more in holidays that work with their bodies and minds, rather than against them. As opposed to ‘escaping’ life, today’s tourists are looking for a beautiful environment with delicious nourishing food, healthy activities and sparkling sea views to increase their happiness.
I’m sure we all yearn for a return to times where we can freely travel and this epidemic is a distant memory. Until then, do take the best possible care of yourself.