I have to confess.
I fell asleep.
It’s not something I usually do during a massage because I prefer to savor them.
So my apologies to Jade, master of relaxation, at Spa Candille – and my most sincere thanks for a deeply relaxing hour. In my defense, she did mention that falling asleep is good for cellular regeneration – and I can certainly use a little of that!
A Peaceful Refuge
Spa Candille, nestled in Asian-inspired private gardens on the grounds of the 5-star Le Mas Candille hotel, is a haven of tranquility in the south of France. The Spa’s minimalist, Zen environment is home to an extensive menu of face and body treatments for both men and women. With each area of the spa, from the treatment rooms and sauna to the hydrotherapy pool, Jacuzzi and open-air workout center, shielded from the next by plantings of bamboo and agapanthuses, Spa Candille transports spa-goers into a cocoon of stillness.
Le Mas Candille - a hotel, restaurant, and spa on a quiet hillside in Mougins, France - is just 15 minutes from Cannes. (So if you’re headed to a business conference or the Cannes Film Festival, this is the perfect place to stay!) The Relais & Chateaux property is a private refuge from the bustle of southern France, and the only sounds you hear are birds chirping and wind rustling the leaves of the trees that shield the property from the outside world.
My Visit to Spa Candille
After driving across the South of France, days spent hiking, and squinting into the penetrating sun; I found the half-day of pampering and quiet relaxation in Spa Candille along with the Detox Lunch menu at Le Candille a special and not-to-be-missed experience.
On arriving at the secluded five-treatment room Spa Candille, the attentive receptionist quickly ushered me into the changing room. With just two changing stalls, the spa is private, and you’re likely not to see anyone at all until after your treatment. After changing into a cozy bathrobe, disposable underwear, and cushiony flip-flops and stowing my belongings in a chic wood locker, I was escorted to my softly lit, Japanese-inspired treatment room. Being partial to both Asian and French design, I began to sink into a state of tranquility.
Having decided on a 30-minute back, neck and shoulder massage and a 30-minute facial massage, my spa therapist, Jade, began our session with a personal consultation. We discussed allergies, skin problems and whether I had any health issues. (Continuous leaning over my laptop has created some particularly spectacular knots in my shoulders and neck.) We talked about the types of ESPA products she’d be using during my treatment – complete with a preference sniff test to ensure the products’ all-natural scents would not interfere with the goal of inner calm.
Jade designed my treatment specifically for my body’s needs. As I settled onto the heated treatment table, she adjusted the it to cradle my body. Her skilled hands went deep into the knots in my back and neck, releasing built-up tension and I do believe the release of muscle tightness significantly improved my posture.
The facial massage continued with more bodywork on my shoulders and neck in addition to the firm but gentle massage of my facial muscles. What I had not realized was that face muscles can be as tight and stiff as your back, shoulder or neck. My treatments blended into one seamless visit, creating complete relaxation - and yes - lulling me to sleep.
While everyone knows about the après ski traditions of cozy fires, hot tubs, and hot drinks, I think that perhaps we need to acknowledge a new tradition of ‘après spa.’ After enjoying the bodywork, I was invited (at my own pace) to slowly re-enter the world through the Relaxation Room. The minimal simplicity of the room’s Zen-like space provides spa-goers with comfortable seating as well as plenty of jasmine tea and water to re-hydrate your body and mind.Après Spa Treatment
The relaxation room overlooks the heated hydrotherapy pool with sunbeds where you can spend a blissful hour or two lying in the sun, reading or enjoying some solitary time. Also available in the spa’s Japanese-inspired compound is a Jacuzzi, an Asian sauna and the open air indoor/outdoor gym which showcases a panoramic view of Grasse across the valley.
Having extremely sensitive skin, I’m always concerned about the effect of a new product on my skin. I have to say that the ESPA products used for my treatments did everything they claimed – from producing that inner calm to soft, hydrated, dewy skin.
I had never heard of the ESPA line of products before my experience at Spa Candille. Being curious, I did a little research after my day spent in a cocoon of quiet relaxation. ESPA’s goal for all of us (men and women alike) is “to have naturally beautiful skin and a renewed sense of inner calm.” It’s a holistic attitude towards healthy skin.
ESPA is a line of British skincare and all natural products created from essential oils, plant extracts and marine actives. The formulations are designed by dermatologists, biochemists as well as aromatherapists, and work across all the layers of your skin to heal, hydrate and tone. The company’s policy of no synthetic fragrances or colors, no parabens, no sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium Laureth sulfate, no mineral oil, silicones or alcohol is appealing as it is still hard to find beauty products that truly work and yet are healthy for your whole body as well as your skin.
What impressed me even more about ESPA are their environmental initiatives. Let’s face it, it’s unfortunate, but the beauty industry is a huge contributor to the accumulation of trash in our environment. I really appreciated the deep thought and work behind how they package their products for rapid biodegradability and maximum recycling.
You’ll definitely want to visit the Spa’s boutique for ESPA products after your session to maintain the feeling of inner calm and beautiful skin at home. (Luckily, I found an ESPA spa in Philadelphia!)
A Michelin Star Detox
My half-day cocoon experience finished with a Detox Lunch at Le Candille. This lighter lunch was designed by a nutritionist and David Chauvac, the executive chef of the Michelin-starred restaurant, to provide a healthy, nutritionally-complete meal.
Now if you’re American, or accustomed to the idea that a Detox Lunch consists of three pieces of lettuce, a dry, rubbery slice of chicken breast and a glass of water, Le Candille’s lunch may come as a bit of a shock.
My meal began with a cucumber, pepper and lime aperitif which was surprisingly light, the flavors blending perfectly so that there was no overwhelming pepper or lime taste. The mise en bouche followed by the foie gras opener preceded a salad of mixed greens, artichokes, and oranges.
The main plate of moist roast quail filets accompanied by grilled zucchini with basil oil was light yet completely satisfying. To finish, dessert – yes, a detox lunch can have dessert – consisted of a fruit salad of seasonal bright ruby red figs, citrus fruits, and grapes with a poached meringue and lemon sorbet.
If You Go (And Why Wouldn’t You?)
You can cocoon yourself in peace and tranquility for a full day, a morning concluding with a Detox Lunch, or an afternoon of body treatments followed by Afternoon Tea on the Terrace. In fact, if you’re a local, you may want to consider any of the above options for a mini-break. I wish they were my local spa given the variety of treatment options available and in time frames from as short as 30 minutes to 120 blissful minutes.
If I hadn’t been headed to my lunch reservation, I would have happily spent the rest of the day soaking in the sun on a lounge chair next to the hydrotherapy pool reading a good book.
If you’re in the South of France for any reason, I would encourage you to book a Cocooning Day to pamper yourself.