Les Passeroses

»Yoga with a side of indulgent relaxation – Très chic «


This boutique retreat is the loving creation of former chefs who turned their back on the fast-paced Manchester restaurant industry in favor of a sun-warmed lifestyle in the South of France. What they have created is a purpose-built venue for luxurious Yoga holidays with a rustic farmhouse feel, right down to the converted barn that now serves as the Yoga shala.

  • What we love
  • The delicious vegetarian food, often themed by country each day
  • Isolated rural location, yet handy to five airports and major connecting roads
  • The former barn converted into a light and airy shala
  • The luminous quality of the air in this part of France
  • So popular that guest teachers have booked all spots for a year in advance
  • What to know
  • Retreat numbers fill quickly, so best to book well in advance
  • Les Passeroses is generally open from early-May to late-October
  • Massage and other therapies are available at an extra cost
  • All retreats include the cost of accommodation, meals, and Yoga
  • Why go
  • Dedicated Yoga retreat
  • Lovely natural setting
  • Warm and welcoming hosts

Retaining the rustic feel is not to say there are no luxuries at Les Passeroses: The beautifully restored and renovated bedrooms are almost all ensuite now, and the fixtures and fittings are worthy of any jaded traveler's attention. Passeroses is the French word for Hollyhock, and these pretty little flowers are abundant visitors in the fragrant southern French summer. Picture-postcard rolling hills play backdrop to the pool, while the stone from which the main house is built maintains a steady temperature inside.

The bedrooms are almost always twin-share, although some private rooms are available. The room-sharing is significant as many of the retreat guests are solo travelers, and although the idea of bunking in with a stranger may not be appealing at first, there are very few complaints and very many new friendships. Sheets are a high thread-count, furnishings are individually chosen (and beautiful) and the ensuite bathrooms are fitted out with the extra touches that make Les Passeroses’ guest-book fill up with repeat visitors.

The visiting teachers are often from the UK, so English-speaking is in rich supply - not always the case in rural France. Retreats are held from May to October and many teachers return each year, often with the same group of loyal students who have fallen in love with the relaxed atmosphere of these Yoga holidays. Some retreats have a specific focus, like the week-long Yoga and Ayurveda with Jane Craggs (a long-time friend of owners Alex and Adrian and indirectly responsible for their successful career shift into the world of retreat-ownership). Craggs is a regular teacher at Les Passeroses and takes care of the Ayurvedic part of this particular retreat’s healing while her colleague Louise Tanner leads the Yoga. Proving that the Yogic world is a small one, Tanner was a student of AG and Indra Mohan, the excellent Yogis who currently head up the Yoga and Ayurveda center, SVASTHA, in India. Predominantly taught in the classical Hatha style, some retreats branch out into more dynamic versions of traditional Yoga, although all are adaptable depending on skill level. There is even the occasional Iyengar-style retreat, a lovely departure from the more standard fare of other venues.

The shala is a pretty-yet-functional space: The floor is oak, which gives a lovely solidity to practice without sacrificing the warmth and flexibility that makes wood such a nice substance on which to lay a Yoga mat. The ceiling is tented in billowing parachute fabric, which is aesthetically pleasing and adds a touch of whimsy.

The food is, unsurprisingly, a treat. The daily vegetarian menu is inspired by a different country each time and you never know if you will be greeted by the smells of food cooked from recipes from Morocco, Italy, or France. Many meals are taken outdoors, under a large canopy in a dedicated dining area. Reminiscent of the large family meals seen in the movies, these are relaxed and fun affairs. Although very Yogic in spirit, Les Passeroses is in France after all, so meals are served with wine for those who like to add a little decadence to their detox.

The idea behind Les Passeroses is to create an environment that encourages complete relaxation and rejuvenation. And it seems that idea is working well. Retreats are booked out well in advance, and between Yoga sessions there is a great deal of time spent doing very little. Encouraged by hosts and teachers, afternoon naps are common, as is lounging by the pool with a book in hand, or wandering for miles over rolling hills without encountering a single other soul. All this under the continuous pulse of a French sun.

About the area: Nonac

Nonac is a tiny commune in the Charente department of South-West France. With a population of less than 400, this is a quintessentially sleepy French village. The Charente department is, incidentally, home to the city of Cognac, from which the famous brandy comes. The climate of this area is known for warmth, thanks to its southern positioning. Mild in winter and warm in summer, it is saved from the cloying high humidity of other French departments by cooling sea breezes. The further inland you travel, of course, the less this effect can be felt, and Nonac can have some occasionally stifling days. Temperatures range from -10 degrees C to 34 C (14 - 93F). While this may understandably seem extreme, the minimum temperatures arrive in the depths of the snowy inland winters, while the higher temperatures are part of the lazy heights of summer.

Image credit: Les Passeroses

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