Promoting therapeutic massage in France?

My new wife, a certified, 20-year massage professional from America, has recently joined me here in the Paris region. The French are wary of most "new-agey" sounding stuff, and are miles behind the US in understanding & respecting massage as a serious health discipline. We have a studio set up for her, and she's anxious to build an English-speaking clientèle. Any thoughts about how to reach out to the ex-pat crowd?

Cecile - thanks for your thoughts & sharing your experience! Will share all this with Andria.

Hi Jeb, I'm a massage therapist and reflexologist in Hossegor(40) and one of the main thing to do first as a massage therapist in France is: don't say that you are doing therapeutic massage. Only the kines are allowed to say they do therapeutic massage. Your wife needs to keep positive though as we (ex-pats) do not massage like French people do. Anglo-saxon training is different, more anatomical, using deeper techniques...while massage therapists that have been trained in France use a much lighter touch, and this will make the difference for her. There are a lot of ex-pats around me and I'm in lucky to work in partnership with the nicest hotel in Hossegor, so i get a bit of buisness through them, but most of my non hotels clients are ex-pats, for the simple reason that word of mouth is working slowly but surely and that i am the only Massage Therapist doing Deep Tissue massage here and that they are (as a rule)more used to getting massages. Still, I do massage some french people that are totally receptive to my treatments, have discovered something new, and are recomending me to their friends. Word of mouth, Flyers in a couple of health shop, maybe patnership with a pilates or yoga center and she should be picking up clients in no time. Good Luck.

Thanks Jeb. My understanding of this area is vague - I stick to websites & gîtes. But I'll pass on the info and get my wife on here as I'm sure she'll find all your thoughts more than useful.

Every country has it's tools for it's own healing. It takes adjusting, than you find out the tools are very similar and may be are just called differently. People are curious and like to try new things, just staying around and enjoying what you do and what you are brings you clients one by one. Internet is a great way to link you with those that are searching. Word of mouth makes wonders. A workshop given here and there wakes up curiosity and interest. Miles behind? Just different mind set. Stay courageous and resourceful and - personal. (reiki works, past life regression therapy works, life between life regression works - and 6 yrs ago my husband was saying - you are completely crazy you want to do this here in this basque village! and yep I did and I do!- and it's amazing) Lots of luck flying your way! xx

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Contact Louise, a good friend of mine. She worked in Paris for many years but is now down in Antibes doing the same thing. I am sure she can give you some help as she managed to make a living at it for several years although to be fair she only just managed but she is doing better in Antibes and Monaco.

Danny - The French system is indeed quite a jungle. "Massage de bien-être" is a new status here. The "kiné" is a well-established medical function, part of the socialized medicine system and prescribed by doctors for patients recovering from surgery, etc. Extensive training is required. Beyond the legal statutes is the French perception of massage, and that is all over the place. We'll keep posting as we make progress. Good luck to you too!

Thanks for your comments, gents.

Simon - Can well imagine the challenge is even tougher for Reiki. How have you managed to attract clients?

Nigel - Even in Paris, with (I suspect) France's highest density of ex-pats, reaching them is a challenge. The FUSAC magazine massage section includes sexual massage and listing within means fighting off weirdos. The reach of the bulletin boards at both the American church & Library is over-rated and quite anonymous too...

Starting to believe that word of mouth may still be the best method.

My wife's a massage therapist (itec qualified uk, and soon to be qualified sport's massage therapist) with a thriving business and loads of experience. She's currently trawling through the French system and finding it pretty hard to see where she fits in (modellage, massage de bien-etre then the jump to kiné which seems to incorporate massage) before we move back to France. Any thoughts would be most welcome.

Good luck to you and your wife Jeb.

we are Reiki Masters and find the same

Hi. I know this thread is quite old. But I’ve recently relocated to Ardeche, and am also wading through the different possibilities of how I could work. I am curious to hear how your wife made out?

Hi Jeb,
Nice to read you and congratulations to your wife. I am a registered dietitian from New York who has moved to Paris recently to live with my fiancé. I am in the process of collaborating with some health and massage experts to serve English speaking clientele as well. I have some advice and possible collaboration ideas for your wife and I. Feel free to contact me if she is still looking for help :slight_smile:

Hi @Christine_Voss,

I am just wondering if you got some response. My partner and I are planning to move to Normandy; so I am looking at career change; and massage therapist is what I am concidering. About to start the certification courses (itec) in the UK (we plan to move in 2 years) and wondering how did people convert this education into complient in the country. (Dont speak enough French to do the course directly in France)

Hi Veronika:
I didn’t hear back from anyone, but here’s what I’ve learned since:

  • there is no equivalent to a massage therapy diploma here in france, i sent my qualifications to the enic-naric and they confirmed this

  • that being said, there is a growing interest in “massage bien-etre” which is a totally unregulated profession. You could have any level if education, from anywhere. It would be more about how you market yourself. I’ve gathered that in an area with more british expats you could more easily set up and attract clients, than an area I’m living in where no one really knows what massage therapy is.

If you’re on facebook join “ladies in business in france” and “lift- ladies in france together”. Theres some good advice on those forums, you can search “massage” for others’ questions as well on there.

Hope all this helps!

Many thanks @Christine_Voss, indeed it is a great help!