After three days with a broken water heater in Pignans, I did what anyone would do: I went to a Roman Bath.

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Yes, the heater was fixed, and we finally had hot water, but after the stress of dealing with that situation — en francais, no less — plus having the comedown of having had a house full of people to just being me for a few days, I needed a change of scenery.

Healing Waters

I drove to Greoux-les-Bains. It’s just 1.5 hours northwest of Pignans, but it felt like 8 hours! Winding, twisting roads. And French drivers who couldn’t care less that they were frightening the little American girl in the big car by driving in the middle of the road at breakneck speeds.

But I digress. I chose a massage and pack of 4 services to rejuvenate my soul. Some were familiar — after all, I grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, home of thermal pleasures in days gone by — but others weren’t.

  • After my massage, I soaked in a tub with jets that moved up and down my body. Ten minutes of bliss.
  • Then I lay on a table while a sprayer pelted my back (in a good way).
  • I spent about 5 minutes in the hammam (sauna). I’ve never been a fan. But there were twinkly lights on the ceiling, and a pleasant mentholated taste in the air.
  • I floated around a heated pool while the guy who was there with his girlfriend leered at me.
  • Then came the icing on the cake: a weightless kaolin (clay) pool. I was as happy as, well, a pig in mud! I had to hold onto handles to try to sit. Then I gave up and floated on top of the mud. My skeezy young boyfriend was there. It was a bizarre sensation, floating in mud, letting it creep into every orifice (and yes, I found dried mud in my ears today).

All that, for $120. Not bad. Overall, it was a fantastic experience, even though it was a little stressful conducting everything in French. When I need to relax, my language faculties shut down…in any language! I slept hard after that.

Americans Should Take Note

The thermal spa wasn’t just for day-trippers. They are serious about their therapy programs. You can go there for 1-3 weeks of treatment for respiratory problems, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and more. I’d rather do that than some of the Western pharmaceutical treatments our doctors are so fond of.