It’s exactly twelve days from now until my birthday. I’ve been looking for a spa or wellness treatment somewhere near the fashion capital of the world since I have to be in Milan the day after my birthday. Luckily, I’d been part of a project recently and it felt like my birthday came in earlier.
Few days ago, I found myself unpacking our suitcases from our weekend trip in Paris then packing again for an exciting project in Avène, Southwest of France (oh my gee, I tried to travel lightly but Mark stayed in Madrid first before joining me in Paris then we did a little bit of shopping so yes – suitcases!). I can’t reveal yet what it is but I’d like to share some of the oh-so-fab experiences I had.
My assigned travel partner for this project picked me up at 7:30am on Tuesday morning since it’s a 4-5hour drive from Nice. I had to wear smartish (at least on Day 1) yet comfortable outfit. I decided to stick with basic colours – white shirt with gold studs all-buttoned up, black stretched trousers and a light pink blazer (I just noticed that they are all from Zara except for the Hermes belt). I paired it up with the supercomfy colourful shoes I bought over the weekend (it’s only €25.99 from Zara – I think it’s a good buy, perfect for spring/summer); my gold Gucci bags (I brought two depending on the days’ demands) and Gucci sunglasses (which I haven’t worn in ages as I got used to wearing my Ray ban aviators); and a simple pearl earring. (Please excuse my braid, I wanted to curl my hair but had no time to do it so I thought of this quick fix).
For Wednesday, I just packed my Gap denim top and black leggings. I did a little research of what else could I do at Avène so I also brought my trainers just in case I get a chance to run or hike and a jersey blue dress as a stand-by. All of these (including my other personal things) were packed in 2 small bags placed at the trunk: one for clothes, toiletries, etc and my trainers at the Lotus F1 bag given my Marlon Stockinger’s dad few weeks ago. I had my handbags next to me with my sunglasses, Miu Miu purse (travel 101: always bring – cash, coins and cards), Ricola Bonbons (candies), Bath&Body Works hand sanitizer (from Helen); Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray (love to spray this on my face from time to time, sooooo refreshing); Clarins Hand Crème (I still swear this is the best hand cream I’ve tried in the past 10 years); refreshing towels from Air France (I always get upto 6 packets whenever I fly. I also have wet wipes somewhere in the trunk); an emergency lip pencil (in case I need a quick fix); and my iPhone5 (used in taking this photo). Just incase you’re wondering, I always put perfume in the bag that goes in the trunk since I don’t like spraying scents whilst the car – I get dizzy. I’m fine with my water spray.
We drove for hours through the motorway and took a national road until we reached the smaller towns in South West France. The roads became narrower but the view was just picturesque. I wasn’t able to take photos as I was getting dizzy through the zigzag roads, the more if I use my phone. I thought parang Baguio lang ang peg until we arrived at Avène – parang Sagada pala sa layo! The nearest airport to this small town with a population of only 250 is Montpelier (an hour drive). As soon as we arrived, it was all worth it… The place is just beautiful… fresh… calm… Nakakawala ng pagod.
We arrived at the hotel around 1pm and met Pierre Fabre’s PR Officer, Martine Butault (Pierre Fabre is the maker of Eau Thermale Avène and other demo-cosmetique products made from the nature’s goodness). Immediately she brought us to the restaurant and introduced us to some of the guests. We had 3-course delish French cuisine served with champagne, Domaine D’en Sègur in white and red (must-try house wine and I’m unsure if they are sold elsewhere) and the exclusive bottled Avène water (I think I drank 3L of water on each day, not available commercially). Happy to see the Philippine flag on the table (each table has a flag from where the guests originally came from).
After the superb lunch, a lot of Pierre Fabre skincare goodies welcomed me in my hotel room! The day before I left for Avène, I also received a package of the same goodies. So blessed. Thanks mucho!
Shortly, Martine toured us around the Station Thermale Avène’s vicinity surrounded by mountains with flowing rivers, a lake nearby, lush gardens and of course, the world-renowned Avène Hydrotherapy Center.
“The Avène Hydrotherapy Center is dedicated to dermatology and treatment of skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, scars and burns, post-cancer, ichthyosis, etc. …
Today it offers the most modern medical equipment associated with the world-renowned quality and efficiency of its thermal water. This insistence on quality was rewarded in 2010; the Avène Hydrotherapy Center was the first station dedicated to dermatology to obtain HACCP certification Cures.”
I had the privilege of having a private tour of Avène Hydrotherapy Center at 4pm, met the centre’s director and dermatologists as well as some patients who came all the way here for the water treatment. Apart from the famous icon of Avène (lion’s head where water comes out and people drink this water), these caught my attention –
These were done by the children undergoing the therapy sessions. So sweet, eh?
Oh, here’s the famous water station icon:
(I had to remove my blazer and roll up my sleeves as it was over 23 degrees inside!)
By 6pm, Martine took us to the best location of getting an aerial view of this town. We went through the small village up through the mountains and walked 10-mins further in the forest.
This was taken from my iPhone –
The Station Thermale Avène is 15min drive from this point. Dinner was served at 9pm (good thing I had time for freshening up) and I was sitting in a table with dermatologists who just arrived from Manila, Pierre Fabre’s officers from all over the world, other guests including one of the Miss Universe 2012 title holders.
My day ended very late – I had a project debriefing at 11ish til 12ish. It’s been a long but amazing day and nothing beats having a bubble bath using Elancyl Gel Douche Tonifiant (I know it’s a shower gel but it was great on baths too) and of course, the unique water of Avène.
Day 2. I woke up at 6:45am for a 7:30 meeting. Had my breakfast then we’re off to the lab where Avène products are being made -
It was a very exclusive tour, not available to the public – thanks to Martine. Oh by the way, here she is –
Apologies for the blurred shots (pasmado yung kumuha! lol). We had to wear those for sterilizing/hygiene reasons. And yes, I wish I could take home this giant Avène Thermal Spring Water! And there’s more -
There were few activities followed by lunch (I forgot to take picture of the dessert but I didn’t forget the wine). As you noticed, we always had 3-course meal with champagne, wine and overflowing water except for the buffet breakfast! Oh good luck to my weight loss challenge!
By 2pm, I had another treat from Pierre Fabre: free wellness treatment at Avène Hydrotherapy Center! (I have no skin problems, people with normal skin are also welcome to try their services using the unique water only found here).
Step 1 : I had to change into bathrobe, funny shower cap, slippersStep 2 : I forgot what exactly it is called but basically it’s sorta like a hydro-jet bath massage. It may look like a normal bathtub with jacuzzi effect but it was more than that – this 20-min therapy was soooooooo good and relaxing. I had an experience at Thalasso in Antibes last year, similar use of a hydro-jet bath, but the differences lie with the water being used and the amazing view!Step 3: I was taken to another area – it’s shower time! It’s not your ordinary shower – the cubicle has loads of shower that actually massages your whole body for 5 minutes followed by 5 minutes of shower spray - it’s like spraying Avène Thermal Spring Water all over your body!
Step 4: After the shower, I was taken to the relaxation room and just enjoy the serene music and view.
(See I told you, the shower cap’s funny!)
Wish I could do this everyday! The after feeling was so soothing, so close to nature, and so rejuvenating! I’ve taken a closer photo of my skin just after the treatment – no make-up, no edit, just Avène Hydrance Light (moisturiser).
(Credit to my juicing addiction as well – it makes my skin so soft and smooth).
Overall, it was such a fabulous treat! I’m excited to see the project results as well. Thanks to the people who invited me, to those I met at Avène and thank you Lord for all the blessings!
We drove back to Nice and I got home at around 9ish. Mark and I had an alfresco dining at Zone Pieton and I was just so happy to see him (I was just away for one night and we both missed each other a lot).
P.S. Thanks to the gift packs of wine made from Pierre Fabre’s vineyard too.
Til next time! Keep loving xx