I walk a lot. I mean, A LOT. When I’m not giving walking tours, I’m walking around the city researching for them, or checking up on places for the guidebooks I write. And I walk my dogs at least three times a day. I wear out shoes in no time, and eventually the feet get worn out, too (even when I try to cut down on the stilettos after dark). So I’ve tested a lot of reflexology foot massage places in Paris.
Usually I go to one near me in Chinatown, called Dong Fang (update: this address is now closed). They have big lazy boy chairs so I can sit next to my friends and chat if I have company, and they always offer tea, but it’s not really fancy at all. They start here with a foot soak. If you’re wearing trousers, make sure they’re loose enough to roll up to the knees. The ladies who do the massage have hands of iron, and I’m sure they get a kick out of watching my hands grip the arms of the chair, but I refuse to cry. They usually chat among themselves, and I imagine they’re saying “my god, this woman has huge feet!”. My feet are a different shape after an hour, for just €32. This is where I go when I need a bit of “no pain, no gain” therapy.
Last weekend I tried a much prettier place, Xin-Sheng (12 rue Bichat, 10th). The price is the same, but it looks like you’ve walked into a Shanghai opium den (in a good way). The massage was on a bed (trousers off, but covered in a blanket), with an eye mask and peaceful music, and the massage was much softer, more like a massage than reflexology (although they still snap the toes, ouch!). I probably could have asked for more pressure, but I dozed off, no clenched fists. Both parlors finish with a neck and shoulder rub. Nice for when I just want to relax and feel good, but it’s best for when I don’t need to get the deep kinks out of my feet.
So, different salons for different moods. And always on the lookout for more, so send in your addresses if you’ve got good ones!