It's been a long time since we felt so well looked after. So Thalasso, truly Saint-Malo!
We have been so tired this winter and were really desperately looking forward to our little holiday at Le Grand Hôtel des Thermes in Saint-Malo. I had never visited Brittany before and was so excited to see the sea and enjoy this wonderful hotel with it's Thalasso treatments.
Elio has been quite unsettled recently so we decided to leave him with Jean's parents for this trip. Saint-Malo is quite a long way from our home in Vaud so we broke the journey with a night at Jean's family in Burgundy to drop off Elio. With Elio happily installed, we set off early on Monday morning for the 5 hour drive to the North of France. The journey was well worth the trip and we were immediately impressed when we arrived at the hotel which is literally on the beach!
We had been given two interconnecting rooms which equated to a huge space with twin beds in one room for Jude and Alba and a lovely double with sea view « Croisière Grand Large » for Jean and I. We unpacked and went off to explore the beach. The Thermes Marins de Saint-Malo offers several accommodation options according to your preferences and your budget, a charming 2-star hotel, a luxury five star hotel and residences.
We arrived on a wonderfully blustery day, and the low tide meant that we had a huge expanse of beach to roam around on. The children loved looking for shells and we really enjoyed being buffeted around by the wind. We walked quite a long way and came back feeling invigorated (if a bit wet and windswept:-)). We stopped at the hotel bar for a hot chocolate before going back to our room to get tidied up for dinner.
We were staying at the hotel on a full board basis and there are two restaurants to choose from. For dinner, we were eating in the impressive La Verrière with its living wall at the entrance and high ceilings.
We could pick from two menus, one traditional and one healthy menu. I really liked the healthy menu which gave you information about how many calories were in each dish and it felt really nice to have someone else preparing healthy, balanced meals for me for a change. Jean stuck mostly to the traditional menu and the children had a great choice of options too including fish and meat…no chips, no burgers and no nuggets hurrah! They also have a baby menu and purée options which would have been really useful if we had Elio with us. Jude and Alba picked steak the first night with a sautée potatoes and they both ate everything followed by some ice cream!
The sea air and the travelling made us all sleepy so we opted to eat quite early before getting an early night.
The following morning, after a quick breakfast with wonderful sea view, Jean and I were beginning our first thalassotherapy sessions. Our first stop was the kids club where we were leaving Jude and Alba for the morning. We were impressed by how many staff members there were and were reassured that the children would be in very capable hands. Alba immediately took off her shoes and skipped off without a backward glance.
Jeans itinerary for treatments was waiting for us in our room when we arrived whereas before my treatments were confirmed, I had the option to meet with a doctor to discuss any adaptations they might need to make following my breast cancer and surgery last year. This check up is available to anyone who would like it and I think its a good idea. We didn’t make many adjustments to the schedule and we were soon ready to go! The thalassotherapy area is a 5000m² space for this sea water spa with 80 rooms for individual hydrotherapy and physiotherapy treatments, and 16 cabins for the spa.
We started with a massage with affusions which involved lying on a table with warm jets of water flowing over us, while we were massaged using oil. It was a wonderful way to kick things off. Next up was the jet bath which I really loved and found invigorating and relaxing at the same time. During the course of our stay, we also had some group classes which I found great fun and the first one focussed on exercises with lumbar jets, before we had our last treatment which was a marine drainage which was a massage using a jet of water. We came out of the spa floating on a cloud and ready to be reunited with the children in time for lunch.
We had lunch at the Cap Horn restaurant overlooking the beach and we had a really wonderful meal. The food and service here is excellent and it gave us all the chance to exchange news on our mornings. The children enjoyed the kids club and Alba was happy because there were lots of babies there (she loves babies), and they went for a walk outside when the tide was high and they both loved the waves splashing over the path. If you go to this restaurant, you must try their desserts, Jean and I took the Crêpe soufflée au Grand Marnier, which was flambeed before our eyes, and the kouign-amann which is a local speciality and completely delicious.
After lunch we decided to walk into the town of Saint-Malo so that the children could use their spending money kindly given to them by Jean's grandfather before we left. It's not far from the hotel and we took the route along the beach for most of the way before heading into town. The town is very charming with lots of little streets full of cafes, restaurants and boutiques. The children had no trouble spending their money as we found a lovely toy shop. We also picked up some things to take home including some local biscuits we thought Elio might like, and gifts for Jean's family.
We took a leisurely stroll back to the hotel and rested in the room before getting organised for dinner. After a big lunch, I wasn’t too hungry at dinner time so I was really grateful for the lighter menu which was perfect for a healthy meal. We eat carefully at home so it's nice to be able to eat in a restaurant which caters for everyones tastes.
We slept like logs and woke up bright and early the next morning to begin the day. Our plan was to visit the Mont Saint-Michel which is about 30 minutes drive from the hotel. We calculated we would have time to make the visit and still get back in time for another nice lunch at Cap Horn before our afternoon treatments.
We parked the car and got on the free bus to take us to the Mont Saint Michel and were soon on the path heading towards it. It's such an impressive landmark, it's definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. We took a horse carriage back to the car which the children loved. Back at the hotel and another nice lunch later, we dropped the children off at the kids club and headed back to the spa.
The programme for the afternoon began with a seaweed wrap, which I really enjoyed and found really relaxing. Next up was another group class working on the neck area which was fun, followed by “affusions dynamiques” which was a series of jets of warm water cross-crossing over the body as you lie on a table (this was another of my favourites). To finish we had the under the sea shower during which we were lying in baths of warm water while a therapist massaged us with a jet. I liked this a it really targeted specific areas and the therapist was very nice.
As well as the Thalassotherapy area, the hotel also has a spa which is where we were heading for the last therapy of the day. Most of the treatments had been individual but for this last one, Jean and I were together which was nice. The hotel had organised for me to have a facial while Jean had a full body massage. I have to say that I am not very good at relaxing. In moments of peace, my mind drifts to my to-do list or searches for things to worry about, but even I found that I completely disconnected during this wonderful treatment. The products used where those produced by the hotel and everything smelled so delicious, I felt really pampered. Jean was full of praise for his massage and I was really happy to receive a list of the products used during my facial treatment so that I could get some to take home.
The children were happy to see us when we collected them and we had just enough time for a quick shower before heading down to dinner. The children did a good job of tasting lots of different things on the menu and Jude decided his favourite was the steak while Alba really loved the salmon and chicken. Jean tried the steak from the traditional menu while I picked from the healthy menu again and it was all delicious.
Jude had said that he would love to take a walk by the sea at night while we were there and we decided this would be a good moment so we grabbed our boots and jackets and headed outside. There is something magical about the sea at night and the children were so excited to be outside after dark, we went down to the beach and watched as the waves crept closer. Alba was really tired so we didn’t stay too long and soon enough, we were all in bed feeling slightly sad that it was already our last night but excited to be reunited with Elio.
On our last morning, we were due to have some more therapies but it would have meant an early start in time to have breakfast and a bit of a rush to get ready and packed to check out at lunchtime so we decided to cancel those and spend the morning with the children. We had a nice start to the day and enjoyed breakfast before a last walk on the beach. It was raining and windy so we didn’t stay too long before heading back up to our room to start packing. I stopped at the hotel boutique to get some of the lovely skin care products they had used during my facial so I had everything I needed for my new skin care regime.
While I started packing, Jean and Jude went to the Aquatonic and enjoyed the warm seawater labyrinth with 194 underwater jets. It's lovely and warm and Jude adored it! There is also a sauna and hammam in that area so its a nice spot to relax between treatments. The Aquatonic is open to children over the age of 6 so Alba couldn't go, but there is another pool which younger guests can use.
We left the hotel feeling recharged, rejuvenated and relaxed which was all we had dreamt of for this trip. The hotel is fantastic and the extent of their facilities is truly impressive, but equally important is the very high quality of their staff who were all friendly and helpful. We once might have felt nervous about visiting this kind of place with children but we immediately saw that it is a very family friendly place with the emphasis on enabling parents to enjoy the treatments knowing their children are well looked after. This is an enormous advantage for tired parents like us.
The Thermes Marins de Saint Malo offer weekends or short stays, and Thalasso packages for health, slimming, well-being, Spa…there is everything you need once on site !
Les Thermes Marins de Saint-Malo
Grande Plage du Sillon – 35400 Saint-Malo
Tel. 00 33 2 99 40 75 00
Have a look at their Instagram!