France, Occitanie, Reviews, Vegan Travel

Revive & Restore – an Intimate Yoga Retreat in France

Revive and restore yoga retreat in france

Four days in a charming country house with all meals prepared and obligatory down-time? Sign me up! Add in a healthy dose of yoga and walks through the rustic French countryside and you’ve just described my perfect holiday. Enter Revive & Restore with Will Wheeler at Little French Retreat – this little gem of a yoga retreat ticked all the right boxes.

Booking my first yoga retreat, I felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Would I be the only one who didn’t know my balasana from my bakasana? Who would I be sharing a room with? What do you DO all day at a retreat?

Yoga and health retreats have grown in popularity in recent years, making them more accessible and affordable. No longer do you have to travel to far-flung shores to practice your pranayama. Dedicated retreats are popping up all over Europe and the UK – perfect for the busy professional in need of rebalancing.

The Little French Retreat

“Little French Retreat caters to those looking for a highly personal, yet off the beaten track, experience.” – Tamsin Chubb, Little French Retreat Founder

Tamsin is the heart and soul behind the Little French Retreat. Having moved from the UK to this bucolic corner of Gascony in 2013, she has lovingly transformed her country home into a place of comforting tranquillity.

Little French Retreat

Tamsin not only plays host to visiting yoga teachers and their guests, she is also a qualified yoga instructor herself. She organises and runs a series of her own yoga retreats throughout the year – covering everything from Yoga & Vegetarian Cooking to Yoga & Writing.

Little French Retreat - Yoga Retreat France

Her welcoming and easy-going nature make her the perfect host, ensuring you feel at home the minute you walk through the front door.

– The Setting –

The retreat is set in the ramparts of a historic castle site, tucked away in a rural corner of Gascony. Wooded valleys give way to golden fields and the landscape is a rich tapestry that changes with the seasons.

Montesquieu, Little French Retreat

Located midway between Bordeaux and Toulouse, it’s convenient to access, with trains running regularly to nearby Agen.

– The House –

The house is light and airy, yet also has a warm, cosy and homely feel. Its cocooning nature cleverly disguises its deceptively large size.

Little French Retreat France

The yoga studio is in the heart of the home – where the 3 levels meet. Whitewashed floors, stone walls and high beams contribute to the inviting feel and make it a lovely place to practice yoga.

yoga retreat france, little french retreat

There are three double bedrooms that can accommodate up to six guests. Each room is decorated simply and is spacious enough not to feel awkward when sharing with a stranger. Though, in such an intimate setting, no one stays a stranger for long. I spent evenings curled up on cushy couches in the lounge, chatting with, and getting to know my fellow retreat guests.

Downstairs you’ll find the kitchen and dining room which open up onto a vine-covered terrace. Almost every window in the house offers remarkable treescapes.

Rooms at the little french retreat

Little French Retreat, Cosy yoga retreat in France

yoga retreat France. Healthy holiday retreat

The Yoga with Will Wheeler

Will is a UK based yoga teacher with a natural ability to make you feel at ease. Having originally trained in Morocco with Yogahaven, he has since furthered his practice in both Bali and India. You’ll usually find him teaching yoga in London, or taking various yoga retreats throughout the UK and Europe.

Will Wheeler Yoga, Yoga retreat france

The small retreat size meant Will could tailor each yoga session to the guests’ abilities and experience, ensuring everyone got the maximum benefit from their class. I’ve dabbled with yoga on and off throughout my adult years, but I’d never felt confident in the more – bendy – poses. Will’s hands-on approach and gentle teaching method meant I was able to learn the proper way to get into and out of poses. It’s amazing what a difference a simple alignment could make! He even had me trying out the poster child of yoga poses – a supported head stand.

Yoga retreat france. Little French Retreat

My fellow retreat guests and I met for yoga twice a day. We’d roll out of bed in the morning for a 90min vinyasa flow session. Then in the early evening, we’d converge for a 90min restorative yoga session. We finished each practice with meditation to fully relax into our breathing.

The Food

An expert at rustling up warming, hearty meals; Tamsin is an inventive, imaginative cook. Meal times were eagerly anticipated by all, and the seductive smells wafting from the kitchen had us salivating through our sarvangasana.

Food at the little french yoga & health retreat

“Everything is cooked from scratch, using only natural, unprocessed foods where quality, intention and balance are influential aspects to everything that happens in the kitchen.” – Tamsin

Tamsin sources organic produce from local farmers to create her wholesome, seasonal meals. She prepares scrumptious vegetarian food while following the principles of Ayurvedic cooking. Every meal feels incredibly balanced and I enjoyed experiencing (sometimes surprising) new flavour combinations. I left feeling nourished, with renewed interest in cooking and eating healthily.

Vegetarian food at the little french yoga & health retreat

Note: Tamsin happily caters to dietary requirements or intolerances. Most meals could be easily adapted to vegan, but where they couldn’t, she rustled me up something just as amazing!

The Walking

The countryside surrounding the Little French Retreat is bewitching in its beauty. Meandering through country lanes, it’s easy to feel tranquil surrounded by sunflower fields and vines heavily laden with deep purple grapes.

Grapevines France. Walking at the little french retreat

Tamsin (accompanied by Lucien the dog) led the group on daily meditation walks. We were left to clear our heads and get lost in the hypnotic rhythm of our synchronised stroll. As we wandered through fields and forest lanes, each corner or clearing offered an alternative rural vista.

Tamsin walking. Health & Yoga Retreat France

The Recreation

The main chunk of our daily ‘free time’ was sandwiched between lunch and our evening yoga session. Some guests fell into a satisfied siesta, while others lost themselves in a book. A few lucky guests experienced holistic healing at the hands of Henrietta – a visiting practitioner from Denmark.

Little French Retreat, health retreat France

It took me about a day and a half to really unwind into the dedicated downtime. I’m sure I’m not alone in seeing free-time as ‘doing’ time normally. My stay at the Little French Retreat was the first time in a very long time that I could quieten the never-ending to-do list in my head.

relaxing at the little french retreat

To let go of the incessant pull to be doing something, and retire to requiescence, well, that was a gift in itself.

The Excursions

On the third day of the retreat, we headed to nearby Nérac to soak up the bustling market atmosphere. Nérac is a small medieval town built on the banks of the river Baïse, and it was a charming place to spend a morning.

Nerac, France. Yoga & health retreat.

After feasting on pastries and downing strong coffee, we headed along to the Parc de la Garenne to practice yoga in a 16th-century pavilion. The pavilion overlooks the river and was once used as a changing room for ladies who wanted to go swimming in the river.

The Animals

Lucien the dog and Suri the cat are the furry yogis who make the retreat feel even more like a home away from home. Both rescued pets, they bring a soothing and slightly loopy (in Lucien’s case) presence to the retreat, without ever being under your feet.

Dog & cat at yoga retreat france.

The Cost

£525 included four nights accommodation at Little French Retreat in a shared room. Twice daily yoga sessions with Will Wheeler. Guided meditation walks. An excursion to Nérac. Three delicious meals a day, plus drinks (Tamsin makes the most amazing chai tea!) and snacks. The only thing I paid extra for was my healing treatment with Henrietta.

yoga retreat france. Little French Retreat

The Verdict

The Revive & Restore retreat with Will Wheeler at Little French Retreat was the perfect antidote to my overactive mind. I left feeling refreshed, energised and recharged. Plus, my husband said I looked 5 years younger when I got home. I’m happy with that as a return on investment! I’ve definitely caught the ‘retreat bug’ and can’t wait to start planning my next healthy getaway – maybe I’ll see you there?

If you’re interested in finding out about the next retreats on offer with Tamsin or Will; pop over to Little French Retreat or Will Wheeler Yoga, and let them know I sent you!

You Might Also Like

Previous Story
Next Story

36 Comment

  1. Reply
    Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie
    October 8, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Wow, Little French Retreat looks so simple, yet perfect for a head-clearing retreat. I do yoga in mostly in my living room, but it’s so nice to have an instructor every once in a while make adjustments on your poses and flow. I love the setting, too. The treescapes and vineyards look beautiful.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 5:51 pm

      I wish I had the discipline to do yoga at home Jackie!

  2. Reply
    Georgia
    October 8, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Wow! What a stunning setting to take some down time. The whole place looks so homely and cosy. Also, that food is making my mouth water just looking at it! This is definitely something I would consider doing, thanks for sharing the details and your beautiful photos!

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 5:52 pm

      You’re welcome Georgia! The food was so good – I wish I could eat like that all the time 🙂

  3. Reply
    Tamara
    October 8, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    That place looks so cute! And as for the whole 5 years younger thing… sign me up! 🙂

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Haha indeed! Sadly the effect wore off not long after I got home :-/ Need to keep up with the yoga and clean eating…

  4. Reply
    Jennifer
    October 8, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    I’m not really in to yoga, but I’d go just for the location and the food! I just moved to France a few months ago and I love discovering little out of the way places like this.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 5:55 pm

      It really was a little gem. And they cater to all levels – so even if you haven’t done yoga before, I’m sure you’d enjoy it!

  5. Reply
    Tamsin
    October 8, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Thank you Nadine for such a warm review. I love the photos – even the furry yogi’s get a mention! See you again, Love Tamsin, Lucien & Suri x

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      You are so welcome Tamsin! I loved my retreat experience 🙂

  6. Reply
    Nancy
    October 9, 2016 at 4:11 am

    I often wonder about yoga retreats and appreciate your insight – thank you! A yoga retreat in a charming farmhouse in France sounds perfect. And the furry yogis and excursions make the retreat even more appealing.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      Yeah, I’d always been curious too! It was such a lovely setting to relax…

  7. Reply
    Indrani
    October 9, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    The place seems ideal from health point of view, may be something like medical tourism. I liked the routine you mentioned. Only the cost at the end brings you back to reality. 🙂

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      I actually thought it was really good value for what was offered 🙂

  8. Reply
    Leah
    October 9, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I’m not a yogi, but a place like this might have me inclined to become one. I love that part of France and the food looks fantastic. You can’t beat the walks in the vines either. It would be a great getaway from Paris.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      Absolutely Leah! You can’t not be relaxed in such a setting 🙂

  9. Reply
    Fiona
    October 9, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Even I would enjoy a Yoga break like this one! Idyllic

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      I think everyone could benefit from a little retreat like this. So relaxing!

  10. Reply
    Gemma
    October 9, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    This looks incredible. I’ve always thought of Costa Rica as being the place for yoga retreats but it’s exciting to see something more close to home. Loving the rustic vibes and the dogs of course!

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 6:00 pm

      I would absolutely love to go to a yoga retreat in Costa Rica – but this was a much more affordable option for now! 😉

  11. Reply
    Anita
    October 10, 2016 at 12:22 am

    Fantastic write-up! I’ve always wondered what a yoga retreat would involve – nice to know they’re not to hard core lol. Sounds like a fab break from reality.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      Thanks Anita! Yeah, I’ll admit I was a little nervous about the level of fitness required – but they cater to all levels.. And plenty of time to relax 🙂

  12. Reply
    Jenn and Ed Coleman
    October 10, 2016 at 2:54 am

    Seems like an idyllic was to spend a week. The price is certainly reasonable and I would imagine that the down time and focused meditation slows your mind enough to let the country air come in. I could imagine going to a place like this every month or so could do wonders for your soul. We should actually take the down time and not fill the afternoons with catching up on.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Absolutely – such a relaxing thing to do 🙂 It’s hard to slow down when there’s always so much to do at home/work isn’t it!

  13. Reply
    Carla
    October 10, 2016 at 8:41 am

    A perfect retreat! And in France, no less! A perfect hashtag for this is #icanlivehere

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      I could totally live here!!

  14. Reply
    Laura
    October 10, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    The food looks so healthy and delicious. I wish I had someone to cook like that for me everyday! I love that this place is set in an old castle area. It’s unique and fun.

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Thanks Laura. Oh wouldn’t that be bliss to have someone cook healthy, delicious meals for your every day!

  15. Reply
    Kristine Li
    October 29, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Such a lovely yoga retreat! I’m sure the retreat did wonders for your mind, heart and soul! And the food looks really healthy! I’m going for my first yoga retreat next week, in Bali though =D

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      Oh that’s awesome Kristine! How did your retreat in Bali go?

  16. Reply
    Jess Munday
    November 7, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    This place looks amazing. I’ve never been to a yoga retreat but its definitely on my list of things to do!

    Jess | Enjoy the Adventure

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      It was on my list for years too. Now I wish I’d done it sooner! 😉

  17. Reply
    Emma
    November 12, 2016 at 10:42 am

    I’ve only just started to tap into the good vibes of yoga (I can’t believe I hadn’t practiced earlier!) I love how you’ve extended the post into the location beyond the class – It really feels like a peaceful (and rather romantic) location in France to restore those feelings of wellness!

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 15, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Thanks so much Emma. I’m glad you’ve discovered yoga – I believe it’s good for everyone!

  18. Reply
    Deimante Baurinaite
    November 28, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    This sounds so lovely! I’ve always wanted to do a Yoga retreat and this sounds lovely, although I would prefer to have my own room I think!
    Deimante x

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      November 28, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      It was very lovely! You can have your own room if you prefer – you just have to pay a little extra 🙂

Leave a Reply