Last weekend I was treated* to a wonderfully relaxing Pilates retreat at Domaine du Pignoulet in the south of France. The retreat took place in a beautiful traditional French house with a swimming pool and was fully catered, with vegan food made especially for me.
Domaine du Pignoulet* is owned by British couple Susie and James Wetton, who moved to France permanently this year. It is available for private let or for retreats.
The Pilates retreat at Domaine du Pignoulet
Susie Wetton is a experienced British Pilates teacher. She moved to France recently and offers weekend-long Pilates retreats. We received four lessons over the course of the weekend and my favourites were the early morning sessions. Despite being reluctant to get out of my comfy bed, (I slept very well at Pignoulet due to the peace and quiet, the darkness and the fact that my kids weren't there to wake me up!) the beauty of the sunrise, the light and the sounds of the farm animals waking up was just perfect.
We were a mixed ability group - with some experienced Pilates students, some complete beginners and others (like me) somewhere in the middle. I thoroughly enjoyed the lessons. I've tried a few Pilates sessions over the years and I really liked Susie's style of teaching and found her relaxed and friendly while also totally on the ball (no Pilates-based pun intended) about correcting posture and adjusting poses for individual needs.
Susie provides mats for every participant, which had been cleaned prior to our arrival. We also experimented with Pilates balls during one of the classes. At the end of each class was a short relaxation session, with no pressure to move if you wanted to stay lying down.
The classes take place in the old stable - certainly the most beautiful place I've ever done an exercise class! See details of Pilates retreats in 2018 - 2019 dates will be added soon.
Food at Domaine du Pignoulet
I travelled to Domaine du Pignoulet with a group of free from bloggers. Every single person in the group had either an allergy or a dietary requirement (or a child who does so) including dairy, gluten peanut and soya allergies.
The catering at the Pilates retreat wasn't exclusively vegan but Susie and James went out of their way to make sure that there was plenty of delicious food for me, as well as gluten free options. Everyone agreed that it was wonderful to be catered for without having to ask awkward questions or go hungry. On the contrary there was always too much food! I particularly enjoyed this chilled pea and mint soup.
For breakfast there were always grilled vegetables on offer as well as plenty of bread, jams and compotes.
And for those who prefer a cold breakfast there was homemade muesli and granola aplenty with compotes, dried and fresh fruits and dairy free milk and yoghurt.
Domaine du Pignoulet is a private holiday cottage, often called a gite, with a private pool in the south of France. It's in the village of Ladeveze-Riviere in the Gers region. It has six bedrooms and can sleep 12-14 (two of the beds are pull out). There are four bathrooms - two en-suite and two shared.
I slept in a twin room at the back of the house and found it to be extremely comfortable. The windows are shuttered, making the room very dark, and the countryside is extremely peaceful. There were plenty of towels, cushions and pillows in the rooms and even fluffy white bath robes. Susie and James had thoughtfully left British power adaptors and mosquito repellent plug-ins in the bedrooms and there were bottles of suncream, shower gel and shampoo available too. Little touches like this make all the difference.
Our room was at the back of the house and had a lovely view over the fields. I think the view was at its best first thing in the morning.
Meals were served outside while we were there but there is a large table inside the kitchen as well which could be used if it was too cold to eat outside.
The house has a private swimming pool and we were blessed with glorious weather on both days meaning that we could make the most of the sun loungers and the pool.
Domaine du Pignoulet is available to rent as a private let, as well as for Pilates retreats. The house is also available for hire to private retreats - for example to yoga and Pilates teachers who want to bring their clients on a retreat or to other groups. Speak to Susie and James if you're interested in exploring this avenue.
What is there to do near Domaine du Pignoulet?
There are some beautiful walks in the surrounding countryside. Susie and James can help you with directions and there are maps in the living areas. We took a walk up to a crumbling old ruined church at the top of a hill, past sunflower fields and old archways.
From the top we could just see the distant Pyrenees - had the day been clearer we could have seen the snow capped peaks.
Most days there is a local market at one of the towns or villages in the area. We were lucky and our visit coincided with a large market and bric a brac sale at the local town of Beaumarches. I bought a clove of garlic and a pot of watermelon and pine nut jam (I kn0w) as souveniers. Sadly the airport security confiscated my jam but I'm enjoying the garlic!
The village of Ladeveze-Riveriere doesn't have any shops in it any more - sadly the village population is now too small to support them. However, there's a large-ish town called Plaisance nearby which has a supermarket, pharmacy, bakery and patisserie. For a larger supermarket, with a better choice of vegan goods, you can travel to Maubourguet.
Find out more about Domaine du Pignoulet.
I attended this pilates retreat in France with the following fabulous bloggers:
*Disclaimer: I was treated to a free weekend at Domaine du Pignoulet in return for this review. I paid for my flights and transfers but accommodation, food and Pilates lessons were complimentary. All opinions are honest and my own.