When you’re in Paris, whether for fashion week or for fun, you probably won’t leave without spotting the Eiffel Tower or eating a macaron, but there’s a new must-do activity garnering attention: visiting a hammam. Yes, the traditional steam bath you expect to find in Istanbul is finally making its way west. In Paris, however, hammams are a surprising mix of old and new, young and old, making them the cool new place to relax with your girlfriends.
The ‘old’ part might surprise you. This isn’t a luxury spa: your phone, the latest novel, and your clothes will be left outside while you indulge in the communal treatments. (You can wear a bikini, but after a trip to a hot steam room you might change your mind; the intensity of the heat forces you to completely decompress and disconnect.)
After the steam room, you’ll be cleansed and exfoliated with savon noir, a nourishing black soap that leaves limbs silky-smooth pre-massage. Afterward, you’re encouraged to stick around and absorb the cultural experience. Many hammams, like the Mosquée de Paris, are steeped in history and contain intricate mosaics—a combination you’ll be hard pressed to find stateside.