Drainage Lymphatique

Or, at least, that’s what the kinky French call it:

WHAT A GOOD SPANKING WON’T DO
Lavender ice cream only just made up for the bottom-pummelling that is a Cannes spa’s speciality

It was last weekend, as I lay naked and wincing while my bottom was being slapped rather hard by a French therapist, that I began to wonder if I was losing my grip on reality.

It had sounded like such a good idea at the time: not the bottom-slapping, which was a bit of a surprise, but the quick, pre-birthday trip to a new Givenchy spa in Cannes.

I’d been lured there by a friend, Ann, a spa aficionado who claims that the reason French women stay so thin and chic and elegant, despite eating large lunches and three-course dinners most days, is their regular bouts of detoxifying massage therapy.

“That’s why they never have to go to the gym,” she said. “French women don’t sweat, they simply glide about on Chanel high heels, possibly with a small dog in tow, but nothing more onerous than that. Don’t you see?”

And who was I to argue? Croissants, chocolate and no gym: it sounded fab. So off we went to the Hotel Martinez, an Art Deco palace owned by the Taittinger champagne dynasty – where all the stars stay during the Cannes Film Festival.

The food was indeed wonderful – and the spa was, well, where do I begin? The French are far stricter than the English when it comes to health and beauty therapy. Contrary to Ann’s accolades, “no pain, no gain” seems to be the philosophy, combined with a firm emphasis on drainage lymphatique, which sounds like a French plumbing company but is, in fact, their principle tenet of body detoxification/ mortification.

Hence the slapping – not just on the bottom, but around the thighs and stomach; though before the actual smacking commenced, I had to lie on a waterbed, jiggled by jets from beneath (quite nice, actually), followed by the initial lymphatic drainage massage. This was less fierce than the full-blown slapping (more of a sort of pummelling), but vital, according to my Givenchy information brochure, because it “provokes cellular regeneration throughout the body and helps to eliminate toxins, while acting favourably against cellulite, various edemata and the feeling of heaviness in the legs”.

Call me a skeptic, but I think it’s just a fancy excuse to run a kinkster spa. Why not just open up a Russian banya and start flailing away with the birches while you are at it?

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