The healing touch
Being a tourist in Paris is hard work - moving here is even harder. Pounding the pavement to look for an apartment, wondering if your new job will work out, missing the family back home, getting used to a new routine, new sights, new people, new food - it all amounts to lots of stress, both physical and mental. Wouldnt a massage sound really good right about now?
Those familiar with massage therapy know that not only does a massage by a qualified therapist feel wonderful, but it also provides the following benefits:
chronic tension and pain in muscles
Increases flexibility to the joints
Reduces mental and physical fatigue
Helps recovery from physical or emotional trauma
In sum, a good massage can help support you through rough times
" I am so happy I found you, its impossible to get a good massage in Paris! This is a common reaction from many new clients. The problem is that only two kinds of massage are recognised in France: the beauty massage and the physical therapists massage. The first is given by beauticians in some of the many beauty salons in town and either concentrates on particular parts of the body: the face, neck and upper back for relaxation (usually provided during a facial); or it is the massage minceur that claims to slim you down and get rid of cellulite (it doesnt work). The second is provided by a kinesiotherapist or physical therapist, and focuses on treating a particular problem area. Both are beneficial and may be just what the doctor ordered.
But the person who wants a full-body hour-long massage has to search out those therapists trained elsewhere - and thats not easy. You can search the want ads in local publications, but separating the sexual massage ads from the ad by a qualified masseur can be intimidating and embarrassing. In fact, many serious therapists dont advertise because they get too many offensive calls (see article on flip-side). The best way is - as usual - by word of mouth: ask friends, talk to folks at the gym, call up some of the anglophones who offer yoga, meditation or exercise classes. And dont hesitate to ask for credentials - a professional will want to boast!
They are generally an hour in length. Clients are usually asked to remove as much clothing as one is comfortable with and rest on a padded massage table. To respect personal privacy and provide adequate warmth, the client is covered or draped with a sheet or towel so that only the part of the body being worked on is exposed at any given time.
Whether or not you would expect to talk during a session depends on you. Some clients need to talk. Some need silence. Massage therapists will try to accommodate what the client needs. However, sometimes talking detracts from entering a state of relaxation or experiencing the physical or nonverbal dimensions of the massage. In any case, feel comfortable giving feedback about your needs and what you like or do not like during the session. Good communication enhances the massage session.
The massage therapist will likely use a high quality oil or lotion, but if you have an allergic response you should let the massage therapist know. Some massage therapists offer to play music during a session, others may feel it is distracting. It is best not to have eaten just before a session. Your massage therapist can answer many other questions you may have.
Jester, massage therapist
trained at the Santa Monica School of Massage
Swedish massage Accupressure Reflexology
Featured in "Les meilleurs massages de Paris" (Parigramme), available in Paris bookshops
See also: RISKY BUSINESS: Getting France the Message on Massage