Aquitaine, land of water and wellness

Carte des centres de thalassothérapie et les stations thermales en Aquitaine

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Though it was Victor Hugo who wrote, “God created water…,” it is man who has discovered its virtues over the centuries. Referring to water in its very name, Aquitaine has known of the benefits of mineral salts and trace elements permeating much of the territory since Antiquity.

Two major advantages make this destination a land of well-being :

1. The composition of the soil, with thermal water sometimes exceptionally rich in peloid (therapeutic mud), makes les Landes the first thermal region in France and Dax the first spa resort by attendance numbers.

2. Its location on the edge of Atlantic Ocean has earned it its reputation as one of the jewels of thalassotherapy in France, along with Biarritz and the Basque coast. Remember that this seaside resort has been popular since the Belle Epoque, in the wake of Empress Eugénie.

In short, no question, to get back into shape, head for Aquitaine!

Let’s review the differences between hydrotherapy, thalassotherapy and Spa.

Hydrotherapy, uses the healing properties of hot springs.
The treatments are carried out under medical supervision. Today, we are encouraging the diversification of activities by developing well-being tourism and all spas have expanded their offer and also offer short stays in thermal Spas. We are heading for approval Hydrotherapy or thermo-fun.

Thalassotherapy uses the marine environment.
The treatments have a preventive or curative goal and take place under medical supervision. So they must be practiced by the sea.

The spas : Sanitas Per Aqua …  The spa is associated with beauty, wellness, and whirlpool baths for fitness sessions in water heated between 37° and 40° to pamper yourself and relax, for an hour or more, and not only in the city! It’s trendy !

Some background data

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Thermes d'Eugénie-les-Bains

©Thermes d’Eugénie-les-Bains

Aquitaine has 10 spa resorts :

Cambo-les-Bains (64), Casteljaloux (47), Dax (40, Eaux-Bonnes (64), Eaux-Chaudes (64), Eugénie-les-Bains (40), Préchacq-les-Bains (64), Saint-Paul-lès-Dax (40), Salies-de-Béarn (64), Saubusse-les-Bains (40).

The first region for spas in France, Aquitaine welcomed 91,898 spa guests in 2010. It is the fifth region by number of establishments  (Source:  National Council of Spa Operators).

Unique in France, all 10 spas in the region have created an  Aquitaine thermal cluster  in 2009 which is called AQUI O Thermes. This association brings together a variety of industries, including professionals in hydrotherapy, health and tourism (Source CCIR/Région Aquitaine – L’Aquitaine en chiffres – Portrait Economique – 2011).

In Aquitaine, one cannot speak of hydrotherapy without mentioning les Landes – indeed, with 72,490 spa guests treated in 2013, les Landes maintains its leading position among spa regions in France , see www.thermalisme-landes.fr. The resort in Dax represents 15% of the national hydrotherapy market  (Source CCI des Landes – 2006) and welcomes more than 60% of spa visitors to the region  (Source:  National Council of Spa Operators) .

In addition, this activity represents  8% of overnight stays  in the department of Les Landes (Source CCI -Thermalisme in Les Landes – an Economic and Health Opportunity – 2009) .

Therapeutic guidelines for all spas:
Rhumatologies, phlebology, gynecology, respiratory treatment. See details on the different resort websites – see the list at the end.

Thermal groups in the region :

  • “Thermale du Soleil” chain : A world leader, this chain includes three stations in Aquitaine, Cambo-les-Bains, Eugénie-les-Bains and Préchacq-les-Bains. It offers spa treatments, health mini-treatments, and fitness stays.
  • Eurothermes : a specialist in hydrotherapy, thermo fun and wellness, located in Aquitaine in Casteljaloux. Health spa and also well-being stays are focused on tranquility… for a moment of intense and long- lasting relaxation!
  • Valtival or the Compagnie Européenne des Bains, the second largest spa in France, is located in Eaux Bonnes en Béarn.
Massage cranien au centre thalasso Serge Blanco à Hendaye

©Thalasso Serge Blanco

Thalassotherapy: Aquitaine has eight thalassotherapy centres.

Anglet (64) Atlanthal complex; Arcachon (33) Thalazur; Biarritz (64) Thalassa Biarritz and Biarritz Thalmar spa, Euronat Grayan-Hospital (33), Hendaye (64) Thalasso Serge Blanco, Saint Jean de Luz (64) Thalazur and Loreamar Thalasso Spa. Not only was thalassotherapy born in France in the twentieth century , today France is the world leader for the offer and quality of its care.

In Aquitaine, thalassotherapy represents for winter and summer respectively 3.8% to 3.4% of travel  for all nationalities  (Source:  CRT Aquitaine – 2009) . The centres feature integrated accommodation, mostly luxury hotels or 4 * and 3* luxury hotels. But the supply is diversifying, with a range of services offered à la carte or on weekends, sometimes without accommodation.

Groups specialized in thalassotherapy :

  • Biarritz Thalasso Resort : The Biarritz Thalasso Resort includes two thalassotherapy complexes on the Athlantal to Anglet Basque Coast, and Thalmar Biarritz as well as four 3* and 4* hotels.
  • Thalazur has two centres in Aquitaine, one on the Basque coast in Saint-Jean-de-Luz and the other in Gironde Arcachon. Each destination has its treatment specialty.
  • Thalassa Sea & Spa of the Accord Hotels group: the Miramar luxury hotel is located in Biarritz.

Upcoming projects

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Centre thalasso Thalazur Hélianthal à Saint-Jean-de-Luz

Thalazur Hélianthal à Saint-Jean-de-Luz
©Cedric Pasquini

  • Thalassotherapy : Thalazur has just launched an extensive renovation program. The centre in Arcachon will re-open in April 2016. The group recently acquired the site of Saint-Jean-de-Luz up to Hélianthal, work is to follow.
  • Spa : opening of the Radisson Blu & Spa in Bordeaux early 2017. Consisting of 125 rooms and a spa area of 1500 m². This will include an ice tunnel, sauna and steam room.
  • Hydrotherapy: renovation of the Eaux-Bonnes thermal baths. The project of architect Luc Demolombe juxtaposes the historic thermal building from the Second Empire with a highly modern centre. A panoramic bubble crowned by a suspended swimming pool will offer views of the entire village.

The Offer and 2016 trends

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Parc des thermes de Cambo-les-Bains

Thermes de Cambo-les-Bains ©CDT64

      • Cambo-les-Bains quiets that ringing in the ears. Goodbye to those extraneous sounds that cause fatigue and everyday discomfort. The “tinnitus specific” treatment is an addition to a respiratory tract spa treatment covered by social security.
      • Thermal baths of Dax, a patient therapeutic education program called Fibr’eaux . Six workshops can be added to the traditional spa treatment to help spa-goers live better with their condition (osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and low back pain). The results provide long-lasting wellness and a fresh start to every day.
      • Eugenie thermal baths, intensive coaching. This new coaching experience is limited to 12 people maximum, guided by a sports trainer: abs, glutes, walking, stretching, etc. In all, 18 classes are scheduled for set dates to enhance group dynamics.
      • Saubusse, reinvigorate the senses. Intense tonic slimming treatments and rehabilitation sessions are offered. A fitness area welcomes those who love relaxation for various body care treatments.
      • “Anti-aging Treatment” package at the Hôtel du Palais. Two-day program of facials and body treatments, to regain vitality, firmness and tone. A personalized coaching session complete this offer.
      • Grand Hôtel Loreamar Spa de St-Jean de Luz

        Grand Hôtel Loreamar Spa
        ©M. LAURIN / CRTA

        Grand Hotel Loreamar, detox treatment. This treatment targets toxins – excess or careless eating, smoking … Based on detox menus and accompanied by massages, it aims to restore the flow of energy in the body.

      • Biarritz Sofitel Thalassa Sea & Spa “Luxourious Escape”. 16 luxury treatments over four days. Here everything is unique, with a program designed with the patient. The stay consists of 16 exclusive treatments in a unique setting.
      • Thalazur Arcachon, cryotherapy and excellence anti-aging treatment. Two new programs in 2016 to complete the range. Cryotherapy sessions are offered à la carte.
      • Thalassotherapy & Spa Serge Blanco, three offers. “Preventing insomnia” and avoid sleep disorders, the centre offers a range of seaside treatments complemented by relaxation, care, Shou Zu, hypnosis sessions, among others… The “Amplitude-physio treatment” helps with post-traumatic stress. As for “Surf Therapy”, devotees or fans of winter sports will be delighted with this treatment combining thalasso treatments and personalized coaching with a junior surf champion, Marion Bouzigues.

List and contact information of our resorts and wellness centers

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And to end up where we began with the full quote from Victor Hugo: “God created water, man created wine,” although we would add that Les Sources de Caudalie have since created vinotherapy. Started in Bordeaux, the concept has grown and now has several centres in France and abroad. Ah! The French “joie de vivre…”

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