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By Ariadna Bakhmatova
Forget four-to-a-room hippy retreats or ashrams without furniture–if you like your yoga with a glamorous French touch, then Kaliyoga is the perfect holiday for you. This spring, they are holding their sessions in Le Grand Banc, Provence, where the exercise is just as gentle and relaxing as the surrounding hillside.
Spacious, rustic accommodation is provided in a once-abandoned 400-acre property, which was rescued and renovated by an eccentric English inventor and philanthropist Jeremy Fry, a scion of the Fry chocolate dynasty and a close friend of Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon’s, in the 1960’s. He intended Le Grand Banc to be a community where intellectuals could work far from the distractions of urban life, and indeed it is the perfect setting for deep relaxation: scented by lavender fields and fig orchards, Le Grand Banc is totally secluded from the outside world and offers spectacular views over vast skies and bosomy hills. Movie lovers will recognise the surrounding countryside where scenes from ‘Jean de Florette’ and ‘Manon des Sources’ were shot.
Walk down the nearby cobbled streets, and you’ll be tracing the footsteps of myriad famous artists and writers who made this magical place their holiday. Bohemian Francophiles, painters, writers, fashionistas Jasper Conran and Mario Testino, plus actor John Malkovich are among a few of the celebrities who have fallen for the hamlet’s charms over the years.
They weren’t likely taking yoga classes when they visited, but guests at Le Grand Banc today can opt for weekly programmes that include two yoga classes per day with Tashidawa, the on-site instructor, and four guided walks through the hills and gorges (from where the finest French lavender is harvested and distilled). Morning yoga classes are more active, while evening classes are more calming. Breakfast, lunch and suppers are included, all based in the regional Provenà§ale style of cuisine.
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