It seemed like a good idea at the time.

After a month travelling around Europe and devouring every pizza, pasta, risotto, schnitzel and crème caramel I came across, and all washed down with copious amounts of wine, I was in need of some serious help to fight the flab. (That or I just had to buy some elasticised pants.)

Which is why, on an icy day in Paris, I found myself standing outside a grand building on one of the city's most exclusive boulevards, steeling myself for an appointment with a woman who is able to perform miracles.

She can massage away fat.


For everybody #everybody #need #martinedericheville #remodelage #handmadeinparis

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For 20 years, Martine de Richeville's name has been a closely guarded secret among the Paris fashion set. Forget the gym or juicing for days on end, her unique process, called "remodelage", is said to essentially melt away unwanted lumps and bumps, her ministrations helping to keep Paris' upper echelons and celebrities in sample-size shape.

During her career in the fat-busting game, she has helped thousands of Parisian women, including Sofia Coppola and Vanessa Paradis, do the unthinkable: to stay svelte while permanently surrounded by pastries and calorific temptation.

But the other thing that Madame de Richeville's technique is known for is just how painful it is. Remodelage involves a proprietary method (it has been patented) whereby she kneads, pummels, and at times, basically squeezes your fat. This is not for the faint-hearted.

Inside, I am ushered into an elegant waiting room where I am served coffee on a delicate silver tray while I flick through magazines, just one of several women here to submit themselves to 45 minutes of discomfort in the name of fitting into our favourite jeans.

I am lucky enough to have gotten an appointment with Madame de Richeville herself, a booking that is harder to snag than this season's latest Balenciaga tote bag. Such is her practice, Madame de Richeville has two bustling clinics in the city that offer one service, and one service only — remodelage.

Training Day #mother&son #familymatters

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Finally, an assistant escorts me into (another) impossibly chic room, the centrepiece of which is a fairly standard beauty therapist's table. I'm told to strip off and to don a teeny, weeny paper G-string, whose purpose is to offer me a modicum of modesty. (It really, really doesn't.)

I lie there, trying to feel dignified and to forget I am basically naked when Madame de Richeville sweeps in. She is unequivocally the most elegant and quintessentially Parisian woman I have ever met. We are introduced and I do my utmost not to think about the fact that all my fat is on white, doughy display, while she is wearing an elegant black dress that looks like it is minutes off the runway.

But, if remodelage will magically transform me into a similarly soignée woman, I am SOLD.

After a polite conversation that tests my rusty French, it's time to get down to business. She daubs massage oil onto her hands and without further ado, gets to work on my stomach, kneading my muffin top. I stare at the ceiling and make inane conversation to try to forget how uncomfortable a physical sensation it is and how embarrassed I feel having all my cellulite on display.

At first, having my fat pulled and squeezed feels very strange but not entirely unpleasant and there is a rhythmical quality to remodelage.

As she works, kneading and pulling my spare tyre over and over again, she explains the theory behind the technique. A trained psychologist, masseuse and acupuncturist, she devised remodelage, which works similarly to lymphatic drainage, as a means of ridding the body of stubborn, old fat deposits — essentially resculpting your silhouette. She also argues there is a psychological connection between our flab and our emotions and that when our bodies hold onto fat, it reflects an underlying emotional issue.

After what feels like an age, she moves on to my thighs and I find I am starting to get used to her pull/knead/pinch method, though it is far from comfortable. Next, she has me twist like an oiled blubbery seal onto my side to work on my legs. I notice she has started to dial up the pressure and things begin to verge on the genuinely painful.

On we go. Calves and bingo wings are next before she moves onto my back fat. (God, I didn't even know I had back fat.) Madame de Richeville's hands move like a practised pianist, meticulously, excruciatingly making me regret every croissant I've eaten recently.

As the massage goes on, I start to get used to the constant thrum of pain (though occasionally have to suppress the urge to yelp). Helping make things slightly less awkward is the fact that Madame de Richeville is absolutely lovely, warmly explaining things to me and patiently trying to understand my halting French. After being in her company I understand why people pay a lot of money (the price starts at $239 per session) to have her minister to them.

Suite royale #Ritzparis #martinedericheville #handmadeinparis #finallyopen

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By the end of the 45-minute session, my body feels quite tender. However, I also feel amazing. Lighter. Tingly. And not just physically. I am curiously energetic, a feeling that lasts for several hours after our appointment. There is unquestionably a rejuvenating quality to remodelage.

While I am only able to squeeze one session in during my time in Paris, most clients undergo remodelage once a week for 10 weeks. However some of Madame de Richeville's devotees are so committed, they have been seeing her for decades. And I would be too if she ever decided to open an Australian outpost. (She also has associated salons in Geneva, Brussels, Madrid, New York and London that have specially trained technicians.)

In fact, as I step back onto the street, the snow now having carpeted the city, I realise I feel incredible. As I pass a patisserie window filled with eclairs, the strangest thing happens: I keep walking. She really is a miracle worker.