Thermal spas are a great way to spend a day. As a mom, they’re a wonderful, rejuvenating experience alone. They’re also really fun with kids! There are so many different styles and price points, how do you know which one to choose? The Landes region, South of Bordeaux, has multiple historical thermal spa towns. Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, was in love the with SW of France and many towns will report her visiting or even be named after her!
A few hotels in Bordeaux have spas, but if you’re willing to get out of town you’ll find Relais&Chateaux options as well as more therapeutic-style locations. This list is non-exhaustive and I’m happy to add locations not listed that you love!
I’d recommend you bring your own towel to the more therapeutic spas, but the luxury locations will supply you with bathrobes, flipflops and towels (some for an added fee). Men might be required to wear tight-fitting shorts (not board shorts). Be sure to read up on the individual regulations and hours in advance. Not all will allow young children and some are only for adults. Please keep in mind, many locations close at some point during January-March. If you are in the French healthcare system, you might be able to get doctors notes to go to a treatment center for arthritis or respiratory issues (amongst others).
Here are some of my favorite spas, and a few others for you to try! You cannot bring your camera in many spas so there are no photos inside, but check locations websites for more details and images!
Bordeaux Hotel Spas
The five-star Intercontinental Hotel in Bordeaux has an indoor heated pool and spa with services. Even if you’re not a guest at the hotel, you can purchase two hours in the spa with tea in their elegant salon for 50 EURO. If you want to eat lunch on site, there are multiple restaurant options including Michelin rated / https://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/bordeaux/bodha/hotel
Hotel Seze Spa is a charming four-star hotel with a spa which includes a hammam, jacuzzi, sensoral shower, and sauna. The hotel also has a restaurant on site. Treatments over 45 minutes give you free access to the spa, only for those 16 years of age or older / https://www.hotel-de-seze.com/63-spa/137-le-spa-de-seze.html
In the Saint Martin district you will find the Hotel Zoologie with it’s spa and treatments is a five-star hotel. The spa is small, with a jacuzzi, hammam and sauna (in addition to relaxation spaces). They have a lovely bar and restaurant on site (dinner only). However, this is a great area to explore and you’ll find other restaurants for lunch like Goupil. / https://www.hotelzoologie.com/fr/spa-bordeaux/ / 151 Cours de la Marne, 3800 Bordeaux / +33 (0)7 65 28 53 04
Therapeutic Spa Options
The more medically themed thermal spas might not be as esthetically pleasing, but in fact they’re often more relaxing and laid back.
Casteljaloux is about an hour from Bordeaux and offers a very affordable therapeutic spa with multiple treatments and lodging. There is an indoor and outdoor heated pool, hammams, saunas, hot tubs, and color therapy rooms. Children ages 5 and up are welcome, although they are not able to do certain parts of the spa for health and safety reasons. There are lifeguards on duty, changing rooms, lockers (bring a Euro coin), and parking is just outside for free. In town, there are nice restaurant options like L’Aromatique with very afforable lunch menu (book in advance). Open daily. Adults and children are under 20 EURO each for two hours of spa use. / http://www.bains-casteljaloux.com/ / 4 rue des Thermes, 47700 Casteljaloux / +33 (0)5 53 20 59 00
Many thermal towns will have more therapeutic spas outside of the spas associated with hotels or kids parks, like this one in Jonzac which is in Charante Maratime / https://www.chainethermale.fr/jonzac/ with it’s separate heated water park for kids https://www.lesantillesdejonzac.com/ / Parc du Val de Seugne, 17500 Jonzac / +33 (0)6 10 38 39 99
Pyrenees Ski Town Spas
Many French ski towns in the SW of France have thermal spas, this is where the most fun we’ve had with our kids!
Gourette is a very family friendly ski resort with a nearby spa town called Eaux Bonnes. When we drove past I was in love with this historic village on the turn in the Pyrenees mountains. There are multiple heated pools, one specifically for children, hammam, grottos, jacuzzi. *currently under construction for refubishment* The https://www.gourette.com/decouvrir/station-thermale-eaux-bonnes/ and https://www.valvital.fr/ / Avenue Castellane, 64440 Eaux Bonnes / +33 (0)5 59 05 33 08
Check out the Rio thermal spa in the Hotel Mercure Sensoria in Saint Lary Soulan. It has an indoor and outdoor pool, grotto design, and spa treatments. A family pass is 45 EURO and they allow small children (check age requirements). My favorite restaurant in town is Le Bathazar which has incredible meats and shared plates at great prices even at dinner (book in advance). / 65170 Saint Lary Soulan / +33 (0)5 62 40 71 71
Luxury Spas in the Landes
Eugenie-Les-Bains, a thermal spa town named after Empress Eugene (wife of Napoleon III), hosts a stunning Relais&Chateaux ‘Les Pres d’Eugenie’. This is a five star hotel with three restaurants, one with Michelin stars, this is an incredible luxury experience! You’re also in the Landes region, a nature lovers paradise with hiking trails and small beach towns to visit if you want to make a trip out of this. It’s my dream to go, so if you make it…let me know! / https://lespresdeugenie.com/ / 40329 Eugenie-Les-Bains / +33 (0)5 58 05 06 07
The well known Landes spa town of Dax has a spa for everyone, from more institutional style locations to the very affordable Hotel Splendid. The Art Deco Splendid Hotel spa hosts an indoor thermal pool, salt pool, hammam, and onsite restaurant. The town also bosts a nice ‘Les Halles’ or covered food market to eat in. It’s all very affordable and a great value. https://www.splendid-hotel-spa.com/spa-dax/ / 2 Cours Verdun, 40100 Dax / +33 (0)5 58 35 20 10
In the Gers department (nextdoor to Landes) you will find Barbotan-les-Thermes https://www.chainethermale.fr/barbotan-les-thermes
Fine wine and a luxury spa await you at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. There are many good reasons to visit Pessac-Leognan, one red and one white, but this spa/hotel is the perfect base. Caudelie cosmetics are found all over France, made from the lies from winemaking, and are the key products in this spa. There is a stunning indoor pool, long list of beauty therapies and multiple restaurants on site for any budget. https://fr.caudalie.com/les-sources-de-caudalie
For More Information on Spas
Look for towns with ‘Les Bains’ in the name, these typically mean there is a thermal water there (or historically was). If the name includes ‘des Thermes‘ it’s a thermal spa town. Fun fact, by regulation, casinos can only be in spa towns or beach towns.
Thalasso therapy is a chain water spa group you can find all over France, as well as Chaine Thermale.