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Vinotherapie in France.
Vinotherapie in France.
Catriona takes a spa with a difference.
Catriona samples some of the local wine.


Thursday, January 10, 2002
Visit a health farm that offers wellbeing, weight loss, good looks and a glass of wine.

Bordeaux, capital of the Aquitaine region of France, is the world's largest wine-growing area. Seven hundred thousand people live there; 215,000 of those choosing to live in the city centre. It has a diverse culture, helped along by large communities of Spanish, Portuguese and North Africans. They produce 500 million bottles each year, which is more than half of the entire country's wine output.

Bordeaux has been France's capital three times over its long history, always when it was under threat of defeat. The first time was during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, again at the beginning of WWI in 1914, and most recently for two weeks in 1940, just before the Vichy Government was proclaimed.

Those of us who enjoy a glass or two of wine, purely because it is good for us, will probably be very interested to know that the French have made a discovery. Polyphenol, which is found in grapes, reputedly has anti-ageing and slimming properties, and the clever people of Bordeaux have opened the world's first wine spa — Vinotherapie.

Les Sources de Caudalie has pampered many people with vinotherapie including some of the rich and famous. Isabelle Adjani, Italian supermodel Carla Bruni and Madonna would have all been faced with the difficult choice of what treatment to have: the crushed cabernet scrub, a mixture of grape seeds, honey and essential oils, to rid them of any dead skin cells? Maybe the relaxing and revitalising sauvignon grapes and organic essential oils would be the way to go. Or for soft, moisturised skin, possibly a pulp friction, full body massage. (Available only during harvest time).

There are many other dry body treatments available such as shiatsu, cranial massage, foot reflexology, depilation, manicures and pedicures. They can also spoil you with facial treatments and hairdressing, and there is a range of Polyphenol products suited just for male skin.

A wine bath is taken in an oak barrel of bubbling local water containing fresh extracts from all parts of the grape plant. A hot application of wine yeast, Bordeaux honey and essential oils improves blood circulation and is claimed to shift cellulite. A clarifying merlot wrap contains bentonite clay and essential oils.

Les Sources de Caudalíe is set among vines and woods, right in the heart of the best vineyards in the Graves. There are 49 rooms and suites, a swimming pool, gym, three-hole golf course and two restaurants offering a variety of cuisines and ambience. You will also be given the opportunity to taste some of the region's finest wines in the French Paradox bar.

Les Sources de Caudalie is owned by the prominent Cathiard family. Daniel and Florence Cathiard purchased the Château Smith Haut Lafitte in 1990 for $61 million. In the 18th century it belonged to a Scottish trader — hence the word "Smith" tucked in amongst the French!

Daniel and Florence run the wine and accommodation side of the business and their daughter, Mathilde, launched the beauty and health products, using the pips left over from her father's wine production.

Each room is individual in style: the Bastide Des Grands Crus rooms pay homage to everyone — from coopers to collectors — who shares a passion for wine. La Maison De Lièvre is between the lake and kitchen garden. It has antique furniture, white beams and all modern conveniences.

The Indian Trading Post has the atmosphere of an enduring love story linking Bordeaux, England and Asia. Grange at Bateau celebrates the world of water, so important to the Aquitaine region. Cabane Tchanquée, built on piles on Bird Island and with its own pontoon, is perfect for nature lovers.

Tours of other châteaux — Graves, Médoc, Pomerol, Saint-Emilion, Sauternes — can be arranged, as can a cooking course with Franck Salein or a wine tasting course with Stephanie Button. You may also like to experience one of Aquatint's 35 golf courses.


Bordeaux, in the south-west of France.


A two-day spa package at Les Sources de Caudalie starts at around $930 per person, twin-share. Accommodation, meals and four treatments are included in the package.
Qantas flies three times a week to Paris with connections to Bordeaux. Return economy airfares start at $2069 from the east coast, Adelaide and Perth.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Maison de la France
French Government Tourist Office
Ph: (02) 9231 5244
Fax: (02) 9221 8682
Le Sources de Caudalie
Chermin de Smith Haut-Lafitte,
33650 Bordeaux-Martillic, France
Ph: (0011) 33 557 83 8282 (spa)
Ph: (0011) 33 557 83 8383 (hotel)
Fax: (0011) 33 557 83 8384
For a safe and healthy journey, talk to the travel doctor: 1300 658 844 or visit

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