Okay then Rebecca what competition did you win to go on such an awesome Pilates Retreat?  Nope, not a competition, this is more of a case of me, on a mission, to reunite myself with my Pilates teacher and good friend Susie and her husband James. She thought she could get rid of me but no, and this time I was bringing nine free from bloggers with me!

That opening may sound a bit stalker-ish. The truth be told that along with my Monday night class I felt as though I’d been through the mill with Susie, the move to France was not an easy one and as her Domaine du Pignoulet and Pilates Retreat dreams became a reality we felt part of it too. I’ve followed Susie’s blog with baited breath as the studio and redecoration has taken place and now, FINALLY, I was going to see it with my own eyes.

What a sight to behold.

But more about that in a moment.

I’d mentioned to Susie about my gaggle of free from blogger friends (they’re more than just friends, they’re family to me) and how we could all do with a Pilates Retreat and that’s when the cogs started to turn. Susie and James would treat us to a three day, two night retreat and all we had to do was find the plane fare and care hire. This exercise was designed to teach my blogging family a thing or two about the benefits of Pilates and in return we were going to educate Susie and James on how to cater for a bunch of ‘uncaterables’. Off to check if that’s a word in the Oxford English Dictionary … bear with.

No, it’s definitely a new word. I’m claiming dibs on it now, uncaterable belongs to me!

I don’t think we’d intended on testing Susie and James’ culinary skills quite as dramatically as we did but I’m thrilled to say that they both exceeded all our expectations when it came to eating as all their research had been done before hand and at no point did anyone feel that awkwardness we all feel from time-to-time when out to eat, nor did anyone feel concerned about the food placed in front of us. Between us we covered all 14 allergens, plus Coeliac Disease, veganism and intolerance’s. BINGO!

Pignoulet; Pilates Retreat

photo courtesy of Le Coin de Mel

Now to set the scene. Imagine turning a corner and seeing a long gravel drive behind heavy iron gates with stone lions guarding the entrance. The sky was a perfect sapphire blue and Susie, James and Dotty the Jack Russell stood with open arms to greet us.

Entrance to Domaine du Pignoulet; Pilates Retreat, South France

One all the cuddles and hugs were out of the way, we were taken on a guided tour of the grand farmhouse that has been in James’ family since 2000. What struck me immediately was the fact that the photos on the website just didn’t do it justice, don’t get me wrong the photos are lovely but there are little quirky elements that escape photographs or get lost in the ‘main’ features, and I’m all about the quirky bits. Huge shutters, romantically creaky staircases, ornate hinges and locks. I could still be looking around the house a week later and notice something new.

Every room was as beautiful as the last and when it came to sharing across the six bedrooms, and as a bit of fun, we all popped our names into a hat which was a lovely way to do it. Once we’d settled and freshened up we reconvened around the outside dining table for lunch following our long journey.