“I love Paris in the Springtime…” Who doesn’t? But after weeks of cocooning indoors, eating rich comfort foods and lounging around during the long, cold, winter months, Spring is the best time to get back into shape. And while Paris may be the world capital of steak frites and sitting around in cafes, it’s also becoming a center of health and well-being. From gyms to yoga centers to healthy eateries to spas, Paris offers several spots to blow off steam or relax in a steam room. Here is my guide to staying light in the city of lights.
This young and sporty sports club in the appropriately young and sporty 2nd arrondissement of Paris feels like a NY gym transplanted in France. Watch all of the action below from a treadmill, bike or elliptical machine on the 3rd floor , lift weights, box or use the high-tech machines in the vast open space on the second floor, try out the cycling on the first floor, relax in the lounge or enjoy a bite in the restaurant on the ground floor, or opt for a soothing swim or hammam break on the lower level. Take advantage of the collective classes like Cassandra's amazingly wonderfully incredible power yoga classes on Sundays and Mondays, pilates, spinning, cardio funky, TRX or body thai courses or sign up for one of Klay’s personal trainers like the fabulous Adèle Van Damme who will whip you into springtime shape.
Klay is the younger, more affordable sister of the sleek Ken Club in the 16th arrondissement, which also offers luxury exercise for an elite right bank crowd.
Guerilla Yoga – an Ohm away from Home
Marc Holzman’s no-frills yoga-for-everyone guerilla yoga movement has arrived in Paris for a self-described “100% organic, free-range, studio-free yoga.” Every Saturday, Holzman and/or fellow Anusara teacher Anne Vandevalle roll out their yoga mats for their open-to-anyone two-hour classes held at the American Church in Paris or at Blanca Li’s Studio Calentito. The classes are conducted in English and always filled with an upbeat crew of downward dog-loving expats and Parisians alike. Escape the city’s chaos and pigeons for your own zen version of pigeon pose. The suggested donation is 20 euros and worth every centime. Enlist in guerilla yoga and fight for your right to zen.
Spring Detox at Beyoga
Marc and Anne are also among the team of fabulous yoga teachers at the recently-opened Beyoga. Beyoga offers a range of classes spanning several yoga disciplines and levels and taught in both English and French. Break a sweat and have fun with Carol’s vibrant Sunday Jivamukhti class, find balance with ying yang yoga, reach new heights with acro yoga or try out the brand new soul yoga class. Not sure how to pick among all of the choices? You can pay 35 euros for 10 days of unlimited yoga classes to find your favorite. If you missed Anne Vandevalle’s spring “Detox” workshop this month, have no fear – “detox” is on the yoga menu all month for a cleansing of mind and body all spring.
The Gentle Gourmet
The City of Lights is also the City of Light Dining thanks to vegan paradise The Gentle Gourmet. Open since July 2009 just minutes from the Champs-Elysées, the Gentle Gourmet offers a haven for Vegans and Vegan-friendly visitors in the Capital. You can stay for days at the B&B or just pop in for a cooking class, dinner or brunch. Now, on Saturdays and Wednesdays, the Gentle Gourmet is offering a “Spring Renaissance” cooking class which they describe as “trendy vegan French cuisine that helps you renew yourself too!” The low-fat, low-sugar meals will feature carefully chosen high-quality and both aesthetically and palate-pleasing fare that mix nutrients with visual delight. And why not enjoy some watercress against a backdrop of water lilies? Color your springtime with a trip to Giverny with the Gentle Gourmet team who will give you their own vegan interpretation of one of Monet’s fondest meals served at a B&B at his famed gardens.
Anne Fontaine Spa
She may be known for her white buttoned-down shirts, but Anne Fontaine has also made a splash with her spa. The Franco-Brazilian Fontaine brings a “Parisian chic meets Brazilian natural” concept to the downstairs haven on the rue Saint Honoré. All of the body and facial treatments at the spa are superb, and make sure to enjoy their sauna and Jacuzzi while you wait. From Daniele’s magical hands for the best massage of your life to Soraya’s facial treatments that will leave your skin feeling smooth for spring, Anne Fontaine offers something for everyone. Don’t miss their brand new “Spring Veil” facial designed to get your skin ready for the sun complete with an exfoliating white marble powder scrub, deep cleansing massage with essential oils and an oxygenating mask. Or opt for their special seasonal “White Mist” formula with exfoliating scrub and massage under their faux rainy sky that will make you feel like you’re in the Brazilian rainforest in the center of Paris.
After a wheatgrass shot, a plate of sprouts, grains and veggies, a juice and some fresh pollen and spirulina to go at Pousse-Pousse, you’ll be ready to brave the hilly streets of Montmartre where Lawrence Aboucaya’s tiny gem of a café sits behind the Notre Dame de Lorette church. Not only can you sit and enjoy a well-balanced lunch, but Pousse-Pousse also has juicers, dehydrators, seaweed, seeds for sprouting, propolis and other dietary supplements rarely found in the French capital. Enjoy a vegan-friendly plate complete with a gluten-free tart, a sprout salad, a bean caviar and a creative salad, a smooth vegetable soup and Aboucaya’s famous raw chocolate cake before you inhale oxygen from their Jacquier Air Bowl. And don’t miss Aboucaya’s cooking classes where you can learn how to detox out of the comfort of your own “petite maison.”
While your visit to Paris will likely only provide beautiful, happy memories, memory can sometimes have a negative impact on our well-being. Enter… Samten, master of Tibetan medecine. Samten specializes in digitopuncture, a form of acupuncture without the needles that heals the body without chemicals or medecines – just a simple “qi” healing pressure that rebalances the body’s vital energy. The guru, who has studied with the Dalai Lama, offers analytic therapy sessions and relaxation techniques according to Tibetan meditation, and really works with combining the physical with the emotional to rid you of your inner demons and get you ready for a new spring season. Samten will open a new office in the coming months, so stay tuned, but you can already check out his info at : http://www.lesperlesdutibet.fr/
There’s a reason this left bank spot is synonymous with a movement focused on pleasure. Kristin Scott Thomas, Isabelle Carre and other rive gauche-dwelling Gallic stars and chic locals flock to this little gem on the rue des Mezières, just next to Saint Sulpice. Hédonie offers hard-to-find local and organic fare carefully handpicked by Hédonie’s team. The staff are always friendly and well-informed and the clean and classy interior is perfect for the très chic 6th arrondissement. Pick up your own "panier" filled with the week's freshest produce from local farms or opt for more exotic products from across the globe like spirulina or "fifi" bananas for your own at-home detox.
Bio Moi means “organic me” and the organic me absolutely LOVES this shop in le Marais. Despite the limited space, they seem to have EVERYTHING (Why is it that Naturalia is five times the size yet I can never find ANYTHING?). They select the best products and I can always find what I’m looking for (though seem to always leave with what I’m looking for…plus 7-10 other items that catch my eye on the way out). The friendly staff make the shopping experience a pleasure and they even seem to have answers for all of my thousands of inquiries (“How do you say “arrowroot powder” in French?” Or “How does a goji berry taste exactly?”) So join Moi at Bio Moi, Toi ?
Babsie Steger: Personal Coaching
This woman-of-all-trades is an ex-dancer, well-known actress and former restaurant owner who has now gone back to her Austrian roots to publish a Viennese pastry cookbook, with recipes featuring wholesome, healthy ingredients. Babsie Steger, health and wellness counselor and dietician, is now offering her personal coaching prowess for Parisians and visitors to the Capital. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain energy, find your zen or deal with the link between your emotions and your health, Babsie adjusts her coaching techniques to each individual client. Her intuition will startle you during the first session as she analyzes your needs, then meets with you regularly and gives you health tips, lifestyle advice and recipe ideas to have you feeling good inside and out. Plus, don't miss her new book "Strudel, Kouglof et Cie" featuring delectable, authentic Viennese pastry recipes with a secret (they're healthy!)
Paris in the Springtime is the perfect time put on your walking shoes and move. Some of the greatest detox in the city is, in fact, FREE! Go for a run in the Luxembourg Gardens, stroll along the Seine or passionately embrace your lover on the Pont Neuf (it burns more calories than most exercise!) Clear your minds, and enjoy Paris “when it drizzles and when it sizzles…”