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European Tradition of Med Spas: a Series #2

September 20th, 2011

On our list of stations thermales or hydrotherapeutic spas was a visit to  Les Thermes de St. Gervais  Les Bains, one of the oldest in the Chamonix-Mont Blanc region.   Since the discovery of the hot springs in 1806, the special mineral waters have been considered to be miraculous by many.

In 1815, Dr. Mattey reported on the effectiveness of these waters in the treatment of skin ailments, eczema and ulcers.   It is believed that the high concentration of mineral salts and trace elements help to heal and offer comfort to the most sensitive, irritated and intolerant skin.   Patients have been coming here ever since the doors opened near the banks of the Rhone.

On the day of our appointment, we met in the lobby of the clinic that was crowded with waiting patients.   We were greeted by Julie Jacquet for our facility tour.

Thermes de St. Gervais Les Bains is comprised of the historic medical clinic buildings, but now also includes a new wellness spa.   Julie showed us both contrasting sections and after we slipped on shoe-covers, we headed off to see some of the hydrotherapeutic treatments that shared a history of being performed there for over 200 years.

Next: More on Thermes de St. Gervais



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European Tradition of Med Spas

September 19th, 2011

European Tradition of Med Spas: a Series Introduction

There is a long history of participation in wellness retreats and spas in Europe.   Especially prominent are centers offering thermal baths, hydro-therapy and skin treatments.  While hiking in the Alps this summer, my wife, Lindsay and I decided to investigate some of these historical practices and explore what new trends might be developing.   Located within the Rhone-Alpes region, there are over a dozen stations thermales or thermal spas, most developed around the 17th Century.   Early on, the spa towns attracted the wealthy and later, they were followed by patients afflicted with a wide variety of ailments.  Today the hybrid model of medical/wellness spas drives a thriving business.

This special series will take a look at the current trends in Europe and what influences we might expect in the US.

Next:  Chamonix- Mont Blanc region


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