An afternoon at The Thermal Spa in Montbrun Les Bains

Sometimes it takes me a while to get round to doing something and this week I finally decided I would go and try out the Spa at Montbrun Les Bains. I say finally as our lovely neighbour had mentioned it to me 3 years ago, just after we bought the house, saying it was a really nice way to pass an afternoon. So after 3 years of prevarication I got my act into gear, packed my swimming cossie, a book and a pair of flip flops and headed across to the town.

Pretty Montbrun Les Bains in The Drome

The Valvital Spa is set on a quiet road on the edge of Montbrun Les Bains, a pretty town just in the Drôme, a few miles from Sault on the way to the Vallée du Toulourenc. It is fed from a local source where the water, filled with natural minerals, leaves the ground at a temperature of 12 degrees (it is further heated for use in the Spa, whereas at other Spas such as Bath the water is cooled) and specialises in Rheumatology treatments, although the minerals in the water are also understood to help prevent allergies and improve the immune system.

Having had a quick look at the website I noticed that the pools, hammam & hot tubs were open to the general public from 2.30pm, with the mornings reserved for people having treatments there.

With that in mind, I thought I’d make the most of the day by doing one of my favourite bike rides first via Mont Ventoux and The Gorges de La Nesque

That way I would have a full day and really feel I’d earned my afternoon of relaxation.

It was a beautiful day for the ride, with bright blue skies….

Blue skies approaching Chalet Reynard

Beautiful views….

Looking back to Mont Ventoux from Flassan

And the inevitable satisfaction of getting back to the viewpoint at the top of the Gorges, with the stunning view back to Mont Ventoux and the start of the ride….

Looking back down The Gorge

After a lunch sat on the wall of The Promenade, overlooking the now fully harvested lavender fields, I hopped in the car and drove across to Montbrun.

Post lavender harvest vies from Sault

The Spa, on the Ferassières road, was fully renovated in 2006 and is situated in a very stylish wooden building, with incredible curved panoramic windows from the swimming pool, Happily it was easy to find (well signed) and had lots of parking around it too, when I arrived a few minutes before opening time.

Valvital Spa Montbrun

I can imagine that in the height of summer that it could be busy, but in the last week of August there was just a handful of us waiting to go in and pay our 19e fee for access to the facilities for the afternoon.

On arrival you are handed a towel & a bathrobe, before changing & going through into the Spa area, which is set across 3 floors. Clean flip flops are needed, but these can be bought there if needed.

The quiet réception area

On the main level is a large swimming pool, (32-33 degrees) with an infinity edge that allows you to stand or float and just look at the incredible view of Mont Ventoux from the huge curved windows. All along the front edge are powerful, pummelling jets that were just perfect to ease my tight muscles after the last couple of weeks of cycling. To be honest I could have happily spent all afternoon just shifting my position against these, it was so lovely.

I finally dragged myself out though and headed up the stairs, passing the sauna and going to the sun terrace and up again to the hot-tubs, which didn’t disappoint. There are just 2, each seating 6, but the views are incredible, with the dramatic northern flank of Mont Ventoux towering above the village, which sits on a rocky promontory just in front of the Spa, again just stunningly beautiful. By now I was certainly starting to feel the benefit of the therapeutic mineral waters, happy to be looking at Ventoux from this angle rather than turning my legs in the pedal up.

The rear view of Ventoux from above Montbrun, but the same angle as the view from the outdoor hot tubs

After a while laid on a lounger, reading my book in the afternoon sun and possibly dozing off once or twice, I headed back in and down past the pool to the Hammam, with its large North-African inspired steam room, lying in one of the tiled alcoves, feeling very relaxed and very warm, using the water from the central reservoir to cool down from time to time.

Then back to the pool, which was still quiet, with ample space for me to take a spot with a view again, allowing the jets of water to do their work.

4 hours after walking in, I dragged myself away and drove home, relaxed, refreshed with a simple sense of well-being after a perfect day.

Heading back

After having taken 3 years to actually get there, I’m already wondering how quickly I can get back across. It was the perfect way to extend the day after riding in the morning and after 2 weeks of cycling, it eased off all the tightness that had built up in my muscles and I certainly slept really well that night…. at 19e, very good value.

It goes without saying that I’m already planning rides that would give me the excuse to head back across and hopefully introduce Andy to it too (although the swimwear dress-code for men is quite tight… No swimshorts), but I have the feeling that it won’t be too long before I’m back, especially as it stays open until mid November.

More information about the Spa can be found here which gives information, not only on opening times etc, but also on the range of treatments that can be booked, as well as extended stays for ‘cures’.

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