Sometimes you just need to buy a ticket to France to stay in a château.
Let me rewind.
If my high school self could see me now, she wouldn’t believe she was in a place in her life where she had incredible friends doing incredible things, and the ability to plan a trip to France to stay in a castle for a week. (She would also be quite surprised that she somehow got stuck in Thailand and now speak Thai instead of being fluent en français – years of French in high school and college have not been used recently…)
France was my first international journey when I was 17. My parents surprised me with a trip for graduation and I spent a week with my mom wandering around Paris LOVING it. I took French in school and had always been drawn to the country and culture for some reason that I couldn’t explain (probably like 99% of other young American girls). It sounds cliche, but I adore Paris. I’ve been to the city several times, all for different reasons and with different people, and each time I get the same tingle down the back of my spine and anxious excitement in my stomach when I step out of the airport or train station upon arriving. I lived in London for about five months and never felt that zing.
I thought that when I initially came to Thailand, I’d be in Southeast Asia for 8-10 months then make my way toward Europe. I researched intensive language study programs in Paris and Marseille – after I was finished with Asia, I would finally spend some time living in France!
Clearly that didn’t pan out. But my fascination and attraction to the country hasn’t faded. When I found out my good friends Tim and Laura from Sullivan and Sullivan (basically any decent photo of me on this site was shot by them…) were planning an incredible – and somewhat unbelievable – retreat in Provence this October (read about it all here) my mind started churning on how I could get there.
This isn’t your typical group tour or retreat. While they’re yoga teachers, it’s not a yoga retreat. Though they’re also photographers (I know, show-offs…), it’s not a photography retreat.
It’s a living and traveling well retreat.
An opportunity to step out of your normal life and dive deep into another place, culture and way of living. A chance to soak up how people live in other places and see what bits and pieces speak to your soul that you can then take home with you and work into your daily life.
Plus Tim and Laura are two of the most kind, interesting and entertaining people you’ll ever meet – a week anywhere with them, much less a French château, is going to be good.
Taken from the title of the book by Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, Moveable Feast Retreats sets the pace that Hemingway daydreamed about. No rushed tours of unfamiliar cities in huge groups planned down to the second…but also no more backpacking along the fringes of a culture. You can spend a ton of money on a big package tour or you can pinch pennies backpacking but, really, neither style of travel takes you to the heart of a place.
I backpacked part of Southeast Asia on pennies when I first moved to Thailand, and while I had a memorable time, looking back I wasn’t really making the most of it or taking full advantage of what that time of traveling allowed me. I cut corners trying to save money and passed up on potentially incredible, once in a lifetime experiences because I was too cheap to put the money down.
I’m over that. While I still usually travel independently, forgoing big tours, I’m more willing to invest in experiences that I know I will regret if I miss…especially when those experiences come with good people, good food and good ideas.
Which is why I bought the ticket to France and will be spending a week in October sleeping in a Provence château, spending my mornings with a yoga practice before going out to slowly explore my surroundings, relishing in the warm autumn sun rather than the blazing Thai heat, and sitting down every evening to a lovingly prepared meal among new and old friends while sharing what little details add importance and color to our lives.
You should come too.
Check out all the holiday details at Moveable Feast Retreats (click on “Upcoming”) and get your booking in soon – if you register by midnight PST on May 15 you’ll receive $200 off the retreat price. That’s $200 that can go toward more champagne and croissants…!
Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
New places are always calling my name...
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