With the rain pouring and a heavy mist hanging over the surrounding half snow-covered rock walls, umbrella in hand, I head to Le Havre, at BALNEA, to meet two massage therapists willing to reveal the secrets of their passion for their art.
Le Havre is a magnificent building where beautiful stone walls lead our eyes way up to massive wood beams, spanning across the mezzanine ceiling. Their imposing height creates the illusion that the rustic segments above our heads all converge to one same vanishing point. The grandiose mezzanine welcomes us in from the other end of the hallway, like a surprise slowly revealing itself. At its heart, a warm wood fire is burning, deep-set windows are all around and bright macramé installations hang stylishly above the middle of the room. People come to Le Havre to receive massage treatments. The pavilion, once the head office of a summer camp, seems to have kept its childlike spirit, its waypoint soul. It still has a treehouse feel to it. Today, Le Havre is a true haven devoted to quiet relaxation. The place really comes alive behind every door, where traditional and exclusive massages are given with the most attentive care.
Jimmy and Isabelle, both trained massage therapists, guide me through their universe to help me grasp its fundaments; because, indeed, their universe is very real! Here, they don’t just give a typical massage, they offer expert and personalized treatments by targeting the precise needs of each person they care for. They start by establishing a first contact, and then with great discretion, they question their client to learn more about their needs and sensitivities. By doing so, therapists able to adapt the care they will dispense so that each client can experience a deep, truly immersive moment of relaxation. Both Jimmy and Isabelle, attest that all BALNEA’s massage therapists have their own approach, their own specialty. Some use prompts such as heated stones or bamboo sticks, others use essential oils with as many properties as they have aromas. Isabelle had me smell her two favourite ones: Spruce, and a balm she’s especially fond of, made with red thyme, eucalyptus, pepper mint, marjoram and tea tree essential oils. This divine blend, with antiviral properties they say, entices me as I feel like I’m floating on an organic, camphor cloud, invigorating and yet appeasing at the same time.
At BALNEA therapists have a lot of latitude; Here they can be very creative in their manoeuvers and each has therefore developed their own personal touch. This humanistic approach is inherent to their vision of what a massage and contact with another being should be. So much so that this proximity impacts their relationship with each other as well; At BALNEA, the massage therapists don’t consider one another as work colleagues, but rather, they see themselves working as a team. Especially here at Le Havre, where massages are offered to couples. Therapists must work together and each learns from the other. This approach of sharing has paid off: Jimmy was just about to present a workshop to some of his teammates, a gift BALNEA offers its massage therapist, to those who would like to expand their learning. It’s a way for each therapist to transmit their knowledge and, for those who attend, to enhance their own expertise.
With their secret superpower of being able to detect painful areas in our bodies, muscle spasms, and discomforts, BALNEA’s massage therapists are truly interested in everything human. They take to heart each person more than treatment conventions. Their great sensitivity is a true gift enabling them to go far beyond a superficial analysis. As Jimmy puts it, each individual comes here with their own story lodged inside their body; it’s the massage therapist’s job to decode this information. “Personally, I love when a client comes here in a highly stressed state because a massage is a great tool that can bring them back to what’s essential. I want to know what I can do for this person in a concrete way today.”
I didn’t need to hear any more! My massage is set for later in the day. I can’t wait to surrender my entire being as each one of my limbs will unwind under the skillful and caring touch of a BALNEA signature massage.
Please note that our opening hours vary during holidays and high season periods.