Plombières-les-Bains is a spa town an hour and a half from Mulhouse. Situated on hot springs it has been used a thermal bath resort town since the Roman ages. In France you can even get a prescription to go to Plombières as a mode of healing.
After getting Lebanese dinner in Mulhouse, we checked into our hotel quite late. The receptionist seemed quite keen to speak to us, being from far away and as we realized the next morning- the youngest people there by about thirty years. Over the night my foot was aching terribly from being put down from a lift in a bad way. I was very worried about it but turns out Plombières was the best possible place to be for it!
In the morning Allison called me up and told me to look outside my bedroom. There had been placed a robe and slippers. Putting them on we headed down to the breakfast. The hotel in the daylight was much like the movie Grand Budapest Hotel- a gorgeous building that you could tell had been glorious in its bygone heyday but had since fallen into a bit of decay from disuse. There were not a lot of people there but those who were all had on robes also and we enjoyed a French breakfast of baguettes, cheeses, jams, yogurts and lots of coffee.
We headed to the first spa where we had signed up for the degustation- 4 spa treatments for 40 euros. First we simply sat in a bath tub of warm water with jets but it was actually my favorite of the treatments, very relaxing. Next we went to a sauna where we were given sand timers but it was so hot we couldn’t make it all the way through. Allison and I were taken to a room where we were covered in gauze then hot mud was applied over it. When we were sufficiently muddied up we were wrapped in saran wrap and covered in a blanket. We were left as mummies to sweat it out for about a half hour and Allison and I were cracking up because the music they were playing was from Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings. Very epic music for the level of activity that we were undergoing- that is, none at all. Finally we were put in a tiny room and a person hosed us down fire-man style. My ‘fireman’ was a cute girl named Celine who traded with another employee in order to speak with me in English. She said her dream was to move to America and she was very enthusiastic about speaking in English though I think my French was better than her English (that is very rare!) Afterwards she brought me to her other co-workers to show off to them that she had spoken to me in English and when I left she said “Have a good day and a good week and Merry Christmas!”
The next spa was more self-service. It was built into the remains of the spa of Roman times- it was so cool walking through corridors that you could tell were ancient. There was a water fountain of questionable veracity but I also wasn’t going to test it out before a longish car ride.
The town was a bit decrepit, beautiful yet crumbly and rather deserted. We had a drink at a bar where a woman came through with a scale and a huge bag of mushrooms that were clearly freshly harvested. Within a few minutes she had sold out of her stock and Bruno went away with a kilo of huge champignons. We went to a perfumerie in what appeared to be an abandoned building. We had lunch by a lake in another small town and I finally tried out the famous Alsatian dish of flammekueche.
Finally we went to an apiculteur in the town of Munster that Bruno and Allison had been to before. This is a man who is passionate about honey but ambivalent about selling it so my friends had come prepared with tubs of Tupperware specifically to be able to bring this delicious honey back to London. The bee man filled 44 kilos of honey for them to take back with them- checked baggage, of course.