I’m sitting in a car, watching fields of sunflowers whizz by in a glistening, golden hue, the sun shining firercely in the clear blue sky above. A few months before, I had received an invite to spend a weekend at Pignoulet, Gascony, for a Pilates retreat and I jumped at the chance. Three days, two nights to recharge and spend some time on myself was much needed.
As we pull up to the wrought iron gates, then slowly roll down towards our home for the next two nights, I gasp at how beautiful it is. Blue shutters adorn the elegant farmhouse and it feels almost like we have arrived at a little slice of heaven.
We are met by Suzy and James, the owners, who have lovingly restored Pignoulet and are instantly made to feel at home.
My room is stunning, with views out of the shuttered window, across fields of countryside. Excitedly I lean out the window taking it all in. I can see the pool down below in the garden, the water glistening in the sunlight catches my eye, trying to entice me down. But before I can sit in the sun we are treated to an amzazing spread of food for lunch. The food throughout our trip is fresh, locally sourced, healthy and delicious. Between us we cover the top 14 allergens and we are all catered for seamlessly, no one is left out or made to feel an inconvenience.
Sipping pink champagne by the pool, a book in my hand, I look up and laugh as one of the girls jumps in the pool to exclaims of ‘thats freezing!’ I stretch my toes out along the sun-bed, enjoying the feeling of warmth on my body. We haven’t got long before our first Pilates session and I’m looking forward to it. But right now I’m relishing the fact that I am able to relax around a pool, without worrying about any children. It’s stirring up some distant memories of hazy days, when all I had to worry about was which book to read next.
The setting for our Pilates sessions is in a a open sided barn, with tranquil views and fresh air. I instantly feel relaxed as I settle onto a mat. Suzy takes us through five Pilates sessions throughout our stay. During each one I feel like I learn a little more. I’ve done yoga for years, but only a little Pilates and I giggle as I breathe the wrong way for Pilates again, used to inhaling and exhaling in a different order.
‘That feels so good’ I whisper to the person next to me as we do a different stretch, they smile and nod in agreement. My body is enjoying waking up this way in the mornings before sitting down to breakfast and I vow to continue morning practise when I get home.
‘I was felling slightly nervous before coming on this trip’ I admit to my roomie the first evening. Before coming I only vaguely knew most of the ladies I would be sharing this experience with. However I find myself feeling the most at ease I have felt for a long time, unjudged and safe. We spend our lazy afternoons and evenings talking through so many different issues. Ones that have affected us in our past and problems currently in our lives. ‘It’s almost like a mini therapy break’ someone says on the last evening and we all laugh, a little lighter for sharing our worries. The weekend has turned into a retreat in so many different ways and I know I have made some friends for life.
During our stay we venture out to a picturesque local village for a French Market, browsing the stalls before sitting in a little cafe to drink coffee. Some of the girls go on a walk another day, but I chose to spend the time around the pool, absorbed in my book. There is no pressure to do, or to go, instead we have the chance to listen to ourselves and do what we want and need. Something we so often don’t get the chance to do.
A few weeks later and our weekend already feels like a distant dream. However I have come away with a new urge to make time for myself and I have been allowing myself to do what I need, when I need. Whether that has been going to bed earlier than normal, or making the time for some yoga when my body feels like it needs that stretch and relaxation. Suzy will also be pleased to hear that I have booked onto some local Pilates sessions and I can’t wait.
Apart from Pilates retreats at the beautiful Pignoulet you can also hire the whole house of 6 double bedrooms for special occasions, your own private retreat with a group of friends, or for a full weeks holiday. You also have the option of adding on for Susie and James to cook some special evening meals, or have your time fully catered. The options are so flexible and based around your wants and needs.
You can read more reviews at: