I’ve recently come back from a yoga retreat in Umbria, Northern Italy. I love getting away from everything and giving my attention to my body and spirit. In fact, I think the world would be a much better place if it was obligatory for everyone to do a retreat every year (practicalities and cost aside). So here’s a mini summary of my experience in an attempt to get more people seizing the opportunity to retreat from their daily lives and get their OM on.
On a gusty Sunday in January we took a long and ambling walk along one of the most stunning stretches of the Côte d’Azur – the national park that runs from Cap Lardier to Plage de Gigaro. Here are some pictures to try and capture just how beautiful it is here. Tip: If you visit out of season you’ll get the place almost to yourself!
We’re now starting to understand why the locals in our village look at us with some concern when we tell them we are here for the whole year and are not just sun seekers on a jolly holiday. It gets pretty quiet here in January. The plane trees, which give such an iconic look to the whole village, are raising up their bare branches, as if they’re asking themselves where the sun has gone. Most of the restaurants have closed their doors for the season. And the villagers have retreated behind their shutters seemingly to hibernate for the winter. I’m sort of doing the same, staying in most evenings, watching old episodes of Twin Peaks and soaking up some bleak vibes. So, yes, it appears that even in sunny south of France you can catch the winter blues.
I’ll admit it, I was dubious about spending Christmas in Paris. Although I love the city I’ve become accustomed to Christmas at home with my family, roast turkey and all the trimmings. So the thought of wandering the sleepy streets of Paris looking for a bite to eat on Christmas day was not so appealing. Happily, and to my surprise, I found the city was buzzing and full of festive cheer. Despite the horrific events of November it held its head up high and shined more brightly than I’d ever seen it. Here are a few things to know in case you feel like escaping to the City of Light next Noël:
It started when Jim saw these pictures from the French film Claire’s Knee on Tumblr. The film is set on and around a beautiful lake and he made it his mission to find out where it was and go there. We discovered that the name of the lake is Lac D’Annecy, or Lake Annecy, and it is to the east of France, right next to Switzerland: a perfectly located stop-over on our road trip from the UK to Provence.
So we headed for the town of Annecy and, arriving at sunset, we weren’t disappointed:
My good friend Shenel took it upon herself to escape the high-flying city life, and chose Valencia as her home, where she’s now learning Spanish and indulging in more creative pursuits. Here is her ‘life less ordinary’.
Since moving to Provence, the Plan de la Tour market has become a weekly ritual. It isn’t the biggest market in the area and while it is busy and bustling in the middle of summer, it can feel a little ghostly out of season. But it is an important part of village life, with everyone stocking up on their provisions for the week from local vendors and producers.
The olives here are prepared and sold by a lady who my Grandma remembers running the same stand over twenty years ago. And they truly are the best olives I’ve tried, (particularly the garlic flavoured green ones).