Joie de Vivre!
An extraordinary Yoga Retreat with Stella Valente
Bordeaux, France — May 23-30, 2015
Note: This event was completely sold out.
Joie de Vivre is a French expression for the delight in being alive, a carefree enjoyment of life, an exultation of spirit.
A beautifully restored 17th Century chateau, brimming with the charm and nobility of its four hundred years of existence, was the venue for seven days of inspiring yoga, serenity, adventure, creativity in the French countryside near Bordeaux.
During their free time, the group enjoyed farm-to-table meals, a heated swimming pool, tennis courts, the local markets and cafes, the poetic gardens and ancient oaks surrounding a private lake, hiking and cycling. The area boasts many great markets, historic castles and gardens, the prehistoric caves of Lascaux, canoeing down the Dordogne River and world class wineries.
Click on any gallery image for full-size.
Extraordinary Yoga Retreat
I joined Stella’s Extraordinary Yoga retreat in South Western France in late May 2015. I did not know her at all before. I found her retreat through my Yoga Studio in New York, the same studio she is affiliated with in California. Although I didn’t have any idea about her yoga style, her practice and her personality, for the first time I spoke to her, she made me feel very comfortable. I realize it is a bit of risk factor to join this kind of retreat without knowing the teacher. I have been on and off the mat for almost 13 years and most recently I go to my studio 3 times a week. I have been taking different teachers of various styles of Yoga (Hatha, Iyenger, Flow, Vinyasa, Kripalu, etc.). She is one of the best teachers I have ever had. She is very energetic and at the same time, very alignment oriented. She talked to us about the precise muscle group (that I didn’t know I had) for certain poses. Her guided meditations were excellent! Going to regular studio classes, it is rare to get guided meditations. So, it was an excellent experience. She also had some fun yoga. All in all, she offered us many different things. It was not like doing the same routine, or same set of yoga everyday throughout the retreat. Everyday was different. AND she has a great sense of humor!! We were about 20 people and didn’t know each other before joining this retreat. But everyone seemed feeling at home and we had great time together thanks to Stella and her personality.
During the retreat, we had 2 sessions of Yoga, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. During daytime, we explored the area (Dordogne). We visited local market town, old fort, chateau, canoeing along the river, wine tasting, biking, or simply hiking. We even visited the laboratory of foie gras (local delicacy of Perigord) making. Those who wanted to take more leisurely time, simply stayed around the beautiful pool of the chateau, enjoyed reading and napping. Weather was perfect for the whole time. She was very considerate and reasonable in keeping total cost down. I am pretty certain we could have paid more with a different retreat of the same quality. She planned and arranged everything by herself without using travel agent. That is probably why the cost was so reasonable. The place we stayed was just wonderful.
All in all, I am SO glad I joined this retreat and I highly recommend Stella’s Yoga retreat for anyone who want to enjoy yoga and travel.
I cannot imagine a better yoga retreat, or for that matter a better WEEK than the one we just had at Stella’s Extraordinary Yoga Retreat. Thanks Stella, your preparation was impeccable; you took such good care of all of us. With your instruction, we came with the appropriate train tickets and data plan. The yoga classes, taught specifically for this group, were perfect and I found stamina I didn’t know I had. Surrounded by vineyards and wheat fields, the house has the bones of a very old estate but has been renovated into a comfortable, welcoming home. The bedrooms and living areas are spacious and luxurious. The food was unbelievable. Every meal was a well thought out, carefully prepared feast of local French cuisine, never heavy, always fresh and tasty. And the wine was amazing. Lisa and Jean Claude shared not only their home, but their wealth of knowledge of the area and their estate. When we went canoeing on the Dordogne, it was arranged through one of their acquaintances just like the bicycle tour in Bergerac and the horseback riding and the wine tasting. We received first hand, insightful stories of this gorgeous area. I would go back in a minute.
Enjoyable First Time
I spent an extraordinary week from 5/23/15 to 5/30/15 as part of StellaYoga’s Extraordinary Retreat in a Chateau in Southwest of France. Stella made our stay very smooth and pleasant from organization of classes to transportation and other activities.
I have been taking Stella’s yoga classes here in Los Angeles for a little over two years now and this is why I followed her to France for this retreat.
Stella chose a region that is famous for its gastronomy and I was not disappointed. It is also a region where one can find lots of very cute villages and markets and my favorite excursion was the market of Issigeac with all its colorful displays of fruits, vegetables and local products like foie gras. Besides, every meal at the Chateau was a gastronomical experience.
My memorable moment was when I fell into the river after an afternoon of canoeing which I was told always happens to someone in any group! Anyway, there was something to talk and laugh about!
Overall, this experience (the first for me) was so enjoyable I am planning to go to the next yoga retreat with Stella wherever she chooses to go.