The perfect holiday is all about balance…
Not only are activity holidays great fun, but it goes without saying that they are also good for your health and fitness. What they can lack however, is that essence of balance – that chance for you to truly relax at the end of a day out in the mountains. For the ultimate, true holiday experience this year, why not choose one of Europes’ famed Spa town destinations where our Exodus holidays offers you the best of both worlds: activity and relaxation.
Ax les Thermes is a historic spa town nestled in the French Pyrenees. As early as 1290, its mineral springs were being used to positive health effect by rehabilitating soldiers who had been wounded in the Crusades. Until earlier this year, the spa treatments at Ax les Thermes were on a purely medical basis with the sulphurous waters being used to treat a number of respiratory and rheumatological complaints. However, in January 2009, the newly restored Spa centre of Les Bains du Couloubret opened its doors to the public, offering a fabulous selection of relaxation and therapy options.
Open all year round, till 8pm or 9pm depending on the day of the week, this beautiful centre provides the perfect opportunity for some pampering and relaxation. It boasts all the usual spa facilities, when you first walk into the spa you are greeted by the welcome sight of the stylishly designed Bassin Romain with its towering coloumns, tropical rain, water jets and jacuzzis. With water between 33 and 38 degrees in temperature, it is a perfect place to wallow and rest yourself after your day of cross country skiing or hiking. Around the edge of these impressive baths are further rooms inspired by traditional Roman treatments: the Frididarium (a cold pool), the Caldarium (a warm ceramic room for relaxation with heated walls and floors) , and the Vaporarium which uses Ax’s natural thermal waters. In the l’Espace nordique, the dry heat of their Sauna is complemented by the cold showers on offer outside.
The Espace d’Oriental introduces you to the Hammam, a treatment originating in Turkey where the warm humidity (about 40%) cleanses your pores and clears your lungs. Also not to be missed are the two warm water baths outside where you can gaze up at the surrounding mountains, particularly stunning in winter time when they are snow covered. Once again the baths host water jets and a circular pool with a moving current.
For a pass giving you a wondrous two hours of wallowing, bathing and lounging, it is 15Eros. A range of massages are also available if you book in advance – prices advertised at the spa or on www.bains-couloubret.com
We use Ax les Thermes and a comfortable riverside hotel as the base for the following holidays:
Cross Country Skiing in the Eastern Pyrenees (Trip code: CXX) : With 120kms of well groomed tracks running through beautiful mountain panoramas, this flexible week of cross-country skiing makes it suitable for both beginners and experienced skiers alike.
Walking in the Pyrenees (Trip code: TEP) : Run at multiple grades, this center-based walking trip is the perfect choice for those wanting to explore the mountain lakes, ridges and peaks of this tranquil and relatively unknown corner of France.
Classic Cols of the Tour de France (Trip code: MWF) : This point to point road biking holiday starts in the valley of Ax and takes in many of the infamous cols known to us from the Tour de France. With a manageable basic route, but optional extras, this fully supported holiday is suitable for any cycling enthusiast.
This article was written by James Thompson, who is based in Ax les Thermes and leads our trips in the Pyrenees