June 24 2010
It was thanks to a French beauty editor friend that I first discovered La Bulle Kenzo (“the Kenzo bubble”), a futuristic beauty spa hidden above the Kenzo store on Rue du Pont Neuf in Paris and accessed by a glass elevator. I instantly fell in love with this secret beauty space, not least because it stocks the entire Kenzoki skincare collection – a quirky and very below-radar range of beauty products, much loved by beauty world insiders, thanks to its simple chic packaging and lack of extravagant claims. The Face Delight Intense Nourishing Serum (€60), for example, doesn’t even mention the word “anti-aging”; but most of the products have been developed by the same LVMH laboratories that make high-end beauty creams for Christian Dior and Guerlain among others.
But, as I discovered on a recent visit to Paris, the real reason to visit La Bulle – apart from to pick up a jar of its bestselling Barefeet Fantasy foot massage balm (€28.50) – is the menu of quirky soins tactiles, or “tactile treatments”. I had the convoluted-sounding Variations Tactiles Et Climatiques Sur Peau Du Corps Et Visage (€110 for one hour), which was actually a sublime face and body massage, carried out in the more zen-like of the two Kenzo bulles (the second bubble has gold mosaic walls and a glitter ball.)
Featuring “multiple textures, fevers and frissons a gogo”, it included warm oil dripped onto the back, followed by a deluge of an unidentified substance that turned out to be rice (trust me: it works). At one point, a feather duster was also brushed over my back – all part of the super-tactile treatment that claims to leave you feeling “tipsy, exhilarated” and (rather charmingly) “patched up”.
Of the many types of massage I’ve had over the years – aromatherapy, ayurvedic, deep tissue, Balinese and Thai barefoot yoga massage among them – this was easily one of the most memorable and original. And while it didn’t quite leave me feeling tipsy, afterwards I made the short walk across the Seine to the Left Bank in my own happy bubble, and so relaxed that I gave scarcely a thought to my credit card balance as I raided the boutiques of St Germain.