As I closed my eyes and soaked up the sunshine, someone placed a glass of chilled rose wine in my hand. I thought perhaps I was daydreaming, transported off to my pre-baby days when quietly relaxing in warm climates was a more common occurrence.
Slowly taking in my surroundings, I glanced around at the clear sparkling pool, fig trees and bright blue sky, without a child in sight. This was my reality for three days when I was invited to visit Domaine Du Pignoulet, a restored French farmhouse and pilates retreat in Gascony.
It is a stunning setting with that elusive X factor that seeps into your soul from the moment you drive through the wrought iron gates. It’s history, elegance and rustic charm combine to make you feel a million miles away.
We all need some ‘me time’ and a chance to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life to reboot. Life as a mum can be relentless and the other ladies I travelled with – some of my favourite free from bloggers – know all about it. Between us we deal with allergies, celiac disease, asthma, autism, diabetes and additional needs.
But this weekend wasn’t about our families or our lives back home. It was about us. It was a chance to switch off, forget about worrying about others and let the hosts, Susie and James, take care of us.
They catered to our every need with beautifully fresh, free from food, cooking seamlessly for everyone’s dietary requirements. Nobody was made to feel like an inconvenience and as they cooked almost everything from scratch, they were able to monitor ingredients closely. They were also keen to learn more about allergies and create new dishes in their famhouse kitchen.
As I didn’t have the children with me, I was free to indulge in everything – I’m fairly certain I ate my body weight in bread, pate and cheese! This was balanced with healthy platters, vegan cakes and overflowing salads and at the heart of our retreat, the daily pilates lessons.
The setting, in a a open sided barn, added to the tranquility and sense of release we experienced. In the morning, we watched the sun rise as we stretched and prepared for the day, while in the evening we worked our bodies before sitting down to a delicious dinner.
The weekend coincided with the year anniversary of Mr C being diagnosed with cancer. I knew those emotions would surface at some point and it was lovely to have a safe space, amongst trusted friends, to let the tears flow. Yet, for the most part, my head was much less busy than it usually is. I was able to read and relax without intrusive thoughts or my mind racing at 100mph.
Two weeks later, I am still feeling the positive after effects of the weekend away. I feel rejuvenated, uplifted and able to focus better on the needs of myself and my family. Everybody needs some ‘me time’ and if you are not lucky enough to get it in the south of France it is important to build it into your everyday life. That’s my focus now I am home.
Pignoulet offer a range of options for weekend pilates retreats but it is also possible to hire the whole house of 6 double bedrooms for special occasions, your own hosted reatreta, or for a full week during the high season. You can even choose for Susie and James to offer full board, providing healthy safe food for you and your family. It was a pleasure to experience Pignoulet and I highly recommend a visit.
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Disclosure: I was invited to stay at Pignoulet free of charge in return for my honest opinions. I provided my own flights and transfers. All thoughts are my own.