Midway through my five magical weeks in Provence with my family, I needed a break. Don’t laugh, but traveling is hard. There’s the culture shock. And speaking French, which we all can, but it’s still pretty taxing. Then I traveled to Italy with my mother and her friend. So, by then, I was tapped out.

We were staying in the teeny town of Pignans, located in the Var. It was nice, but a little too sleepy. I needed something more.

So I took an overnight trip on my own. My parameters were that my destination had to be an hour and a half or less from home by car, and it had to have some sort of relaxation component.

When in Rome (Er, Greoux)

I started my search looking for spas, but what I found was so much more. Once I saw that Greoux-les-Bains was known for its therapeutic Roman baths, I was sold. I booked at hotel (Lou Paradou, if you’re curious, and yes, I highly recommend it), and I was off.

The 1.5 hours was a bit misleading. The last half of the trip was winding around hairpin curves. To make it worse, I was driving a larger-than-normal car (for Europe, anyway), and the French drivers careened around corners into the middle of the road, making me fear for my life. By the time I got to the Roman baths, I was in dire need of a massage.

Wash Away the Stress

Not surprisingly, I’d never been to a Roman bath before (not that many in the US. Not that many Romans, for that matter), so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I purchased a package of four services for about $120, and let each one be a surprise.

I booked an additional 45 minute massage. Standard. What you’d expect. Then I was directed to a room with a tub with jets, which moved up and down my body for 10 minutes. I was impressed to see the tub automatically drain and refill for the next guest when the time went off.

After that, I lay on a table while a shower head rained down warm water and moved up and down my body. I could just feel the tension melting away at that point.

I spent a few minutes in the hammam (sauna for us Americans). I’m not a big fan of saunas, and could have stayed in longer, but I was eager for the rest of my treatments. Next, I spent some time in a heated pool. I took this opportunity to stretch my muscles (well-worn after traipsing around Europe).

Then came the most memorable experience: a weightless kaolin (clay) pool! I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s pretty much impossible to sit in the clay, so you float on top. Like a happy little pig. I slowly backstroked through the glob and just blissed out. I was glad I’d bought a shower cap, but the mud still made it into my ears. It was days before I got it all out.

One Happy Camper

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After my spa bliss, I ate dinner in my room and went to bed early. The next day, I enjoyed the large market in town and did some shopping.

I came back to Pignans refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready for more.