I look forward to visiting France in May and exploring the Dordogne region from our Chateau de Bardouly yoga retreat. Chateau de Bardouly is a meticulously maintained 17th century manor house located between Bordeaux and Toulouse in the Dordogne Purple region of southwest France.
Chateau de Bardouly- France’s Best Kept Secret
France’s best kept secret, the Dordogne Purple region, is renowned for it’s gastronomy and wine. In addition to enough fine wine and food to delight any oenofile or foodie the region bursts with local heritage sites. You will find vineyards, fields of flowers, orchards, fortified “bastide” towns and medieval castles. The region is easily accessed via train or plane from Paris, London, or Nice.
Historical Luxury Chateau Draws Guests Seeking Charm and Authenticity
Back to Chateau de Bardouly… this 400 year old chateau draws visitors seeking a luxury experience that brims with charm and authenticity. Past visitors have included John D. Rockefeller and Charles de Gaulle amongst other illustrious guests. Visitors return annually to enjoy the meticulously kept chateau and grounds.
An Estate You’ll Swoon For
This Perigordian chateau has 9 unique en suite bedrooms that blend modern amenities with beautiful antiques (swoon) and luxurious fabrics. The property has multiple spaces to dine and lounge including formal and informal dining spaces, living rooms and terraces. The paneled formal dining room was installed by the same artisan that did the state rooms at Versailles!
Stay at Chateau de Bardouly for a Yoga Retreat
Two yoga spaces are available for yoga retreat guests… one outdoor platform and a cozy indoor room for cooler days. The chateau has every yoga prop you could desire! But if you’re staying at the chateau you won’t be practicing yoga the whole day and there is plenty to keep you occupied.
Grounds For Exploration and Play
The chateau grounds are ripe for exploration with nearly 100 acres of land that includes forested hills, a nearby lake within walking distance, orchards of plums, cherries, apples, pears and walnuts, a heated pool and tennis court. The spacious lawn is perfect for a little friendly competition. The chateau has badminton, croquet, boules, football or cricket equipment available.
Time and Space to Relax and Unwind
Or spend an afternoon relaxing with a good book and a glass of wine in the chateau’s exquisite rock garden complete with it’s own water fountain or relax on the lime tree shaded terrace; a perfect place to swap stories with a new friend over tea. Or if you’re a sun worshipper like me grab a poolside lounge chair and soak up the afternoon rays.
Looking for a spring getaway? Join Toni and Acevedo and I in France this May for a life changing yoga retreat built on the foundation of self love.
It’s mid-winter here and I am at my dining room table writing, enjoying the last few moments of golden sunlight, listening to a French cafe inspired playlist and sipping a delightful white wine from Bergerac, a small township in the Dordogne valley. I sat down to plan our May yoga retreat in France, but instead I sit and daydream of long lunches with new yoga friends, sipping rosé, soaking in the sun and basking in the post yoga glow during our next yoga retreat. Attending a yoga retreat in France? You should plan an extra day (or two) to explore the local vineyards and countryside.
For our retreat attendees we always give them an afternoon off to do as they please. If they’re like me and Toni they will head out into the countryside, camera in hand and explore local vineyards, lakes and orchards. There are so many vineyards and châteaux nearby it’s hard not to explore. May and June are the best months to explore southwest France because the temperature is comfortable, not too hot and not too cold. In the late spring the days are longer and if it rains it won’t rain all day. The countryside is in full bloom. The orchards, lilac and wisteria are lovely this time of year.
Beynac on the Dordogne River.
The Dordogne’s culinary heritage, vast fields, lazy river, and picturesque villages carved into limestone cliffs captivate. In the spring the hills are vibrant and green and the markets overflow with fresh seasonal produce like white asparagus and strawberries. The Dordogne region, Bergerac included, boasts delicious wines to suit most palates. Travelers will find plenty of interesting wine gems in the Bergerac area.
Issigeac Sunday market.
Bergerac alone has 13 different appellations. The area’s soil has excellent drainage provided by the Dordogne river that meanders through the region and excellent growing conditions. The region mostly produces hearty red wines made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot blended with local varietals (they produce malbec too!). These tannic reds are perfect paired with the cuisine “du terroir” like foie gras, local pates, charcuterie, confit and red meats. They could also work well with a hearty vegetarian pasta or roasted vegetable dish.
The Bergerac region also produces some excellent drier white wines (with big fruit) and roses perfect for a relaxing afternoon or al fresco dinner. Château Monbazillac produces a sweet white, simply known as Monbazillac that is surprisingly good and perfect for dessert. Château Monbazillac makes a nice day trip from Château de Bardouly. You can take a peek around Château Monbazillac and it’s grounds, enjoy a wine tasting and winery tour. Château Monbazillac is symbolic of the Bergerac region. The Château has stood proudly since the end of the 16th century when the quality of its wines was well known far beyond the borders of Aquitaine. The château is exudes both renaissance and medieval architecture and just a few kilometers from Bergerac.
For the wine geeks, I mean oenophiles, here is a list of Bergerac appellations:
Bergerac AOC: dry white wines, rosé wines and red wines. These are wines that can be enjoyed young (from two years old).
Côtes de Bergerac AOC: mellow, soft red wines (reach their prime after several years’ storage in the wine cellar)
Montravel AOC: dry white wines and red wines.
Haut-Montravel AOC: sweet white wines.
Côtes de Montravel AOC: sweet white wines.
Monbazillac AOC: white dessert wines (storable for a long time)
Pécharmant AOC: red wines. These are wines suitable for medium-term storage.
Rosette AOC: sweet white wines. This appellation, which is the smallest within the wine-growing area, produces little-known wines that are medium-sweet to sweet.
Saussignac AOC: white dessert wines (store medium to long-term)
Wine and Yoga Retreat in Southwest France
During our yoga retreat in France in May 2017 a local wine curator will join us at Château de Bardouly for an evening wine tasting event. We will enjoy the best Bergerac wines and learn about the history of the Dordogne wine culture and local vineyards.
Have you considered attending a yoga retreat… perhaps a luxury yoga retreat in a château??? They’re not all for hard core yogis… some retreat leaders like Toni and I like to “keep it real”. We provide an opportunity to enjoy a luxurious week away from all the daily commitments with a bit of yoga and meditation thrown in… and yes wine, friendship, and sunshine.
Chateau De Bardouly our home during our yoga retreat in southwest France.
Discover the truth about attending a yoga retreat as we put these common yoga retreat myths to rest. There seems to be a lot of myth about attending yoga retreats and a lot of fuss in the yoga community about being a perfect yogi with the perfect body and the green juices, the incredible Instagram account and the fancy leggings, but yoga retreats are for real people like you and me with all of our lovely imperfections and uniqueness. So lets be real for a sec and get to the bottom of these myths that keep us stuck in a mindset of fear and uncertainty.
Myth 1: You have to be a rockstar yogi to attend a yoga retreat.
Nope. Absolutely not. You don’t have to be a rockstar headstanding yogi to attend a yoga retreat or know the difference between your warrior poses. You don’t need to know Sanskrit or have your own yoga mat. The only thing you need to attend a yoga retreat is a sincere desire to learn, expand, and improve your wellbeing. That’s it! And honestly you’ll be just fine if you’re not there yet and would like to attend a yoga retreat to go on a fancy vacation or support a friend or partner.
Myth 2: I have to be a vegetarian/vegan/(insert special diet here) to fit in on a retreat.
You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to attend a yoga retreat. From my experience most people that attend yoga retreats are not vegetarian. Many retreats will offer a protein option in addition to the regular (typically vegetarian) menu during a couple of the evening meals or sometimes eggs with breakfast. Not sure if you can survive a week on mostly veggies, fruits and grains? You can! Retreat centers have their menus dialed in. You’ll be surprised by the variety and deliciousness of the food offered… from raw lasagna to homemade rustic breads with marmalade, creative farm fresh salads and soups, to local delicacies like seafood stew, stuffed eggplant or that famous french cheese.
People who do have special diet restrictions are typically easily accommodated on yoga retreats as long as the retreat leader knows in advance and is able to give the retreat center notice. So don’t worry about what you’ll eat… it will be nourishing and divine. I always joke that I may be the only person that can attend/teach a yoga retreat and gain weight. The food is that good!
Say what?!?! Lady (or dude) you can attend a retreat solo. In fact, I recommend it. You will be embraced by a group of likeminded people and will form amazing friendships with people from all over the world. You may just find a lifelong retreat partner that you meet up with once or twice a year and attend yoga retreats together… I’ve seen it happen in real life! You will share stories. You will laugh until your tummy and cheeks hurt and you have happy tears pouring down your face. So attend that retreat solo. Invest in you… and if a friend does want to join in on the fun AWESOME. You’ll have an old friend to share the experience with.
Want a roommate? Talk to the retreat leader. The best retreat leaders will do there best to help you find a roomie.
Myth 4: Don’t go on a yoga retreat unless you know the yoga instructor.
Well, lets go ahead and say goodbye to this idea. There are so many phenomenal yoga instructors out there and you can’t possibly know them all. With the invention of the internet and cell phones it’s completely possible to connect with an instructor before attending a yoga retreat. Check out their social media accounts… Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest etc. and see if their message vibes with you. Get them on the phone, exchange emails or better yet Skype or FaceTime them. Instructors that are invested in their students will happily chat with you about yoga, philosophy, retreats, food, life, etc. Retreat leaders are there to support you along the way.
New friends all brought together by a connection with one instructor.
Myth 5: The cost of attending isn’t worth it. I can practice with my favorite teacher at home.
Whether you need to rest your weary body, find your inner power, discover self love… retreats have a way of bringing about awesome transformation and healing. You’ll get out of a yoga retreat exactly what you put into it.
You say, “but I can practice with them at home”. Yes, you can and you should. On retreat your yoga instructor has the leisure of time… longer classes (and seeing you everyday day) means they can weave in more philosophy, anatomy, and stories about growth, perseverance, love, etc. They can share workshops and knowledge that they just can’t squeeze into a regular group class. Your teacher might have a few extra tricks up their sleeve that they only pull out at yoga retreats, think dharma codes, breathwork, reiki, and shamanic journeys.
Yes, it’s true yoga retreats cost money, sometimes a lot of money. Instructors leading retreats have done hundreds of ours of prep and self study along with thousands of hours of teaching and learning so they can create an incredible experience for YOU. They are experts in their field and they put a LOT of thought into the nuances of a yoga retreat, the location, the classes, etc.
If you’re struggling to find the financial means or are hesitating about attending a retreat talk to the retreat leader. They will be able to answer your questions and occasionally there are scholarships or work-trade options available.
Wheel pose with a little assist.
Myth 6: There is a lot of yoga during yoga retreats.
Well, this is true. There is a ton of yoga during yoga retreats. Your yoga classes will also likely include more meditation, pranayama, and/or anatomy than they do at home. The classes are usually geared toward a certain theme, idea, or concept that is revisited throughout the week.
Here’s a little insider’s secret: you don’t have to do all of the yoga. If you’re tired sleep in. If you need an evening/afternoon alone to watch the sunset and enjoy a glass of wine DO IT. We understand that this is your vacation and want you to find your perfect balance of doing and being.
That yoga isn’t always intense. There is plenty of time to rest and restore with restorative yoga, yoga nidra and breathwork.
So relax, unwind, let go of the masks, the pretenses and preconceived ideas about attending yoga retreats and enjoy your week away from the hustle and bustle of daily life while focusing on you. You’re worth it!
Planning a Nicaragua beach trip? How do you choose where to go? Here I have put together my favorite beaches in Nicaragua. It was fairly tough to narrow the list down, but it will do for now. I’ve been traveling regularly to Nicaragua since 2009. I remember my first trip so clearly… how fascinating everything was, how friendly everyone was, and how beautiful the countryside and beaches were.
While I was putting together this article my external harddrive died(?) and while I can see the images on my harddrive I am not able to upload to WordPress…. sad day. It might be time to get a new external. In lieu of posting my own pics I scoured the web looking for images that capture each of the beaches most authentically. I know that there are many other beautiful beaches in Nicaragua, so don’t shoot me for only including these five. 😉
Top 5 Beaches in Nicaragua
1. Corn Islands for that deserted island feel.
The Corn Islands boast some of Nicaragua’s most idyllic beaches: white sand, turquiose water and palm trees galore. The hardest part about visiting these pristine Nicaraguan beaches is the transportation. You must fly into Managua and then book a separate flight to Big Corn Island on La Costeña. If you have more time than money you could go overland and by boat to Bluefields and then jump on a local boat out to the islands (I will emphasize more time than money)… this option will take a bit of pre-planning. To get to the best beaches you will then take a panga over to little corn… be prepared to get wet! The channel between Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island can get pretty rough.
Pristine beach on Little Corn Island.
Where to Stay on Little Corn Island: Lux: YemayaMid-Range: Little Corn B&B Budget: Any of the beach shacks on the east side
2. Playa Remanso for that chilled out surfer vibe.
Playa Remanso is located about 15 minutes south of San Juan del Sur Nicaragua. The beach is surrounded by two rocky headlands and boasts a peaky beach break. The lineup at Remanso isn’t nearly as stacked as it is at the more popular beaches. It’s a great place to learn how to surf. Surfers in the know head here for its chilled out vibe and shady beach bars that serve up ice cold Toñas, passion fruit mojitos, grilled fish and yummy tacos.
Where to eat at Playa Remanso: You have two options on the beach: Beach Shack #1 (on the left looking out to sea. It has decent grilled fih and snacks and ice cold beer) or Beach Shack #2 ( on the right looking out to sea. It has good tacos & passion fruit mojitos)
Playa Maderas is about 25 minutes north of San Juan del Sur Nicaragua. It is probably the most crowded beach in Nicaragua (don’t worry there is still plenty of space) and for good reason. The surfing is spot on, there are locals that can provide lessons, a funky little beach bar/resto right on the sand and loads of dare I say sexy travelers. Sexy young surfers and yogis seem to flock to Maderas to strut their stuff… and I suppose why not? Tan bodies, sun bleached hair, chiseled abs and yoga bums. Needless to say the people watching is pretty epic, the surf can be really great, and the atmosphere is fun and lively.
4. Redonda Bay for a family friendly private beach.
Aqua Wellness is the sole resort on Redonda Bay. Aqua Wellness and Redonda Bay are situated on a private cove just south of Playa Gigante. This eco-lux resort is stunning, no lie… infinity pools, spacious decks, and a white sand beach. Cool down and refresh with a delicious fresh juice at their beach bar, enjoy lunch at their beautiful full service restaurant or a yoga class overlooking the bay. This is the place to go if you want to get away from it all. There may also be snorkeling here in the bay. I didn’t go snorkeling while we were there, but we did see a handful of snorkelers swimming around.
Where to Practice Yoga at Redonda Bay: Aqua Wellness Resort
5. Playa El Coco for a local, low key vibe.
Playa El Coco is another of Nicaragua’s pristine beaches. Coco is one of the southern most beaches on Nicaragua’s southwest coast and is about 45 minutes to an hour from San Juan del Sur down a bumpy dirt road, but it’s totally worth it. This place is chill. I mean super chill. There is a nearby turtle sanctuary and Paso Pasifico has an office here that can help arrange outings to the turtle hatchery or to the mangroves. Coco has just a handful of restaurants and sweet little places to stay. This is rural Nicaragua, so expect the power to go out occasionally, slow internet, and also happily a slower pace of life. I’m sure this little gem will grow up quickly.
Where to Stay at Playa El Coco:La Veranera is the best deal in Playa El Coco and it’s right on the beach. If you will be heading down to Coco with a group of friends you might like to rent a villa via Airbnb although I think most of the villas are a bit overpriced for what you get.
Where to Eat at Playa El Coco: Food options are limited, but there is one quiant option right on the beach serving up fresh fish, typico, and western dishes.
Where to Practice Yoga at Playa El Coco: You will likely solo practice here, so throw your mat down on the deck and enjoy the view as you flow. The teachers from Zen Yoga are also available to come down for a private class. Inquire at Zen Yoga in San Juan del Sur for current rates.
Who doesn’t love baby sea turtles? Photo by Paso Pasifico
Well yogis that’s my round up for the best beaches in Nicaragua. Do you have a favorite beach in Nicaragua that should be added to the list? Shoot me a message! I’m happy to add it. Happy travels.
If you want to visit Nicaragua, but don’t want to do any of the planning (trust me, I totally understand) join one of our yoga retreats. You can participate in as much or as little yoga as you would like and we always include some amazing additional activities. Here are the links to our Nicaragua Yoga Retreats: Yoga in the Clouds 2017 or Yoga and Surf Retreat 2017.