Seawater therapies

Visit France for its Seawater Therapies.

Thalassotherapy, the therapeutic use of seawater and marine plants for health and well-being, was born and developed on the beautiful Breton coast.

In the late 19th century Dr Louis Bagot confirmed the benefits of thalassotherapy by using it successfully in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism.


If you are interested in seawater therapies there are now 13 Thalassotherapy centres in Brittany, offering world-class service and treatments. Most are attached to hotels and are close to cultural tourist attractions and activities.

Strictly speaking Thalassotherapy should be practised on a privileged coastal site under medical supervision and should involve the combined use of all the beneficial aspects of the sea environment: climate, fresh sea water, various types of mud, seaweed, sand and other substances derived from the sea – with a view to prevention or cure.

Benefits of seawater therapies.

Brittany’s mild, yet invigorating marine climate is excellent for restoring fitness. The region – which was independent from France until 1532 – also has fine sandy beaches, varied seaweeds and medicinal muds.

A traditional Breton thalasso programme lasts one or two weeks and involves healthy exercise such as swimming, walking or cycling. There are now excellent short break packages on offer. Apart from rheumatism and arthritis, thalassotherapy is recommended for:

Restoring fitness

Rehabilitation after illness or operations


Giving up smoking

Relaxation and stress treatment

Post-natal care and other health needs.

Getting your kit off.

The French have a more relaxed attitude to nudity than the British and Americans. This is partly why traditional Breton thalassotherapy centres are developing their ‘spa’ facilities to appeal to foreigners. In the spa, beauty and luxury treatments take precedence over traditional ‘cures’ and visitors can depend on the discreet use of towels to protect their modesty. There are also candles, scented oils and music.

Benodet in South Finistere.

Relais Thalasso Benodet, near Quimper, is a family-owned traditional thalassotherapy centre and offers a selection of 6-day health, wellness and beauty packages. Some visitors come for the day, or just to use the pool.

Quimper was once the ancient capital of La Cournaille – the name given to the region by the ancient Celts who fled there from Cornwall. Its main attractions are the cathedral, mouth-watering markets and the workshops, shop and museum of the famous H B Henriot pottery. At the picturesque artists’ village of Pont Aven tourists can follow in the footsteps of Gauguin.


Castel Thalasso is a luxury spa in a spectacular cliff top situation on the little island of Belle-Isle, 45 minutes by ferry  from Quiberon. Park of Relais and Chateaux Hotel Castel Clara, the centre offers many treatments unique to Belle-Isle as well as superb facilities and pools.

Artist Claude Monet found inspiration in Belle-Isle’s wild beauty in the 1880’s and in 1894 celebrity actress, Sarah Bernhardt bought a Napoleonic fortress there as a holiday home.

Carnac in Morbihan.

Carnac Thalasso and Spa Resort on the salt marshes of Brittany’s Morbihan region offers traditional thalassotherapy and spa and beauty treatments. The resort has a fitness centre and day spa. For gourmet slimmers, the adjacent Novitel hotel has an inspired chef whose calorie-counted Menu Dietetique is seriously tempting.

Carnac is famous for its spectacular alignments of over 3000 Neolithic standing stones.

Wilma Paterson

Travel writer and author

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