The thought of having three nourishing homemade meals a day prepared for me for a whole weekend was enough to get me on the Eurostar to Chateau de la Vigne, the fabulous nutritional therapist May Simpkin’s home away from home where she hosts Optimum Living Retreats with friend and fellow foodie, Colette Heneghan. Well I can truly say this retreat offers so much more than I could have dreamed of.
Despite a little rain, my four days with my mum, May, Colette, Jamie (the yoga instructor), 8 fellow wellness enthusiasts and Merlot, the gorgeous retreat labrador was perfect. I just wish I could go every weekend to this dreamy escape in the Loire Valley.
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Retreat Low Down
What: Optimum Living Retreats
Where: Chateau de la Vigne – Loire Valley – France
Duration: 4 days
Targets: Anyone from yogis, foodies to healthy living newbies.
Highlight: Cycle through vast french countryside and vineyards, yoga by the pool saluting the beaming sun, making new friends and chatting over local wine and delicious nutritious meals. (Couldn’t pick one highlight!)
After a 5 hour relaxing train journey from London, my mum and I were greeted at the beautiful chateau by Colette and May who had prepared beetroot brownies and green smoothies for their guests. There was no yoga on our first evening as all the guests were arriving at different times and tired from our journeys were just grateful for a good meal. We were not let down. After listening to our hosts introduction and approach to health/nutrition and wellness, I knew this weekend was going to be right up my street. We tucked into the best tuscan bean soup, turkey and berry sorbet whilst getting to know each other. We finished the evening with a restful sleep strategies talk and I went to bed resisting the urge to check social media and fell asleep peacefully anticipating what tomorrow would bring.
Every morning kicks off with an hour invigorating vinyasa flow yoga session, my favourite style, taught by the fabulous Jamie Blowers. The group was very mixed in ability but Jamie tailors the class for everyone. He focused on alignment and technique but also continued to challenge us and pushed us to comfortable limits with his incredible tactile cues.
You have the option of having a personal nutritional consultation during free time and I booked one in with Colette as I was interested in her naturopathy and herbalist background. Even the healthiest people need some guidance sometimes and with Colette’s recommendations, support and knowledge, I feel confident we can work together to continue my journey to optimum health. Colette and May offer 121 nutritional consultations via Skype for their retreat clients post the weekend to support them going forwards which I think is wonderful.
My favourite part of the second day was our evening reflection where the group gathered in the library with tea and candles and discussed dream boards and life.
Hooray the sun was shining and we enjoyed a blissful cycle through the vineyards which I could have spent the whole day doing. We then had yoga by the pool with the sun beaming down on our faces and after yoga we all couldn’t resist a little sunbathing session. It was then time to enjoy our last evening together.
Optimum Living Retreats is all about balance and encouraging their guests to follow the 80/20 rule to sustain a healthy lifestyle forever. So being in one of the best wine regions, the local sommelier, Thierry, took us through a wine appreciation workshop. We had enjoyed a glass of wine every evening on the retreat that Thierry had chosen to complement our main course.
Jamie took us through the most dynamic yoga class of the weekend which lasted an hour and 10 minutes. Another great thing about the retreat is that they are chilled and flexible with the schedule. It was lovely as there was no rush! We were in “Loire Mode”! We all got to practice handstands in partners and Jamie commented on how we had all progressed throughout the weekend. Jamie is a superb teacher, who taught me, a regular yogi, some new tricks and tips that have literally changed my practice. 5 classes in 3 days is quite something even for me. I was so proud of my mum, who doesn’t normally enjoy exercise and finds yoga quite challenging but was going for those handstands on the last morning.
I’m so in love with Chateau de la Vigne, the Loire Valley and Optimum Living Retreats and am even thinking about booking my next Eurostar for their September one. If you want to improve your knowledge on real nutrition, get honest answers about health, get your yoga technique perfected and enjoy some fresh French country air and wine 😉 then book on this wonderful weekend. I would go alone, with my mum, my boyfriend, friends, family- it’s honestly suitable for anyone.
Above all I needed to slow down and escape London for a while and this is exactly what Optimum Living Retreats is all about. To do yoga without worrying about what to eat for dinner or what time the train home is, to eat without rushing, to breathe and appreciate nature. I came home feeling refreshed and excited, armed with tools to live the healthiest happiest life I can.
Now if this sounds right up your street, May and Colette have offered anyone who books on and mentions Lottie Murphy, an extra free massage during their stay! I’m jealous already.
There’s a couple spaces left for the weekend 22nd-25th May. Colette and May would love to welcome you on their next retreat over the bank holiday weekend and you too could enjoy all of the above and much more! Only £495pp for this life-changing experience. You can book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to mention MEEEE to get your extra free massage!
Love, Lottie x