A charming stone villa nestled into a hamlet just near the famous Abbaye de Thoronet is the pleasant surprise that awaits those seaking a relaxing, healthy getaway. The Silk Farm Retreat is run by Shona Arthur who is an experienced and talented chef particularly where plant-based cuisine is concerned. She is also a yoga teacher, the perfect combination to host week long retreats in this most beautiful part of the world, La Provence.
I was immediately smitten by Shona’s charm. She was beautiful, welcoming, and chatty but not at all overwhelming. She spoke about her parents who had bought the house that she spent many happy childood memories in during Summer vacations. Her love of nature, yoga, and healthy cooking were obviously passions that dictate her daily life. I felt like I was breathing better just standing next to her.
But I wasn’t prepared for the seriously tasty aperos that were immediately served with luscious Mirabeau La Follie sparking rosé. Falafels made with chickpeas and sautéed sweet potato, polenta with guacamole, and an absolutely amazing vegan pizza made with “nozzarella” – to mimick mozzarella but made from cashew nuts, with fresh organic garden basil and roquette. Actually, it tasted better than the real cheese. This would have been enough as the entire meal but we went on to dine in a romantically lit covered pool house (next to the very pretty swimming pool) with Mirabeau’s Pure Rosé wine that accompanied a Thai salad (hints of spicy ginger with mint, basil, red peppers, slices of bamboo shoots and red cabbage) then a main of olive oil-infused chickpea cake with sautéed vegetables and fresh herbs. I have had a few vegan meals in my life but by golly, this was the best I have ever dined on, hands down!!
Shona talked about the many celebrities she has cooked for in the South of France. From extremely fussy vegans to meat eaters, she can cater for anyone’s needs but prefers the plant based diet 80 per cent of the time. She didn’t need to convince me. If every bite of a vegan meal tasted like this, I’d convert myself.
But back to what’s on offer: Shona hosts one week retreats for people looking to relax, retune, rewind, and rejuvenate over the clean air, walks through grape vines, swims in the local river Argens, yoga at the villa and be fully pampered with locally sourced plant based meals that are truly delicious, I can guarantee this and would recommend The Silk Farm Retreat as the perfect place to getaway from work related stress that too often creeps into our daily lives. A warm and attentive host, fantastic wine, fabulous food, and dreamy Provençal landscapes…you can’t get a better combination than that.
I raise a glass to Shona and her team and wish them the very best of success in this new adventure, they deserve it!
As a footnote: Le Thoronet is just a 20 mins’ drive from Cotignac!
For more information and availability, click on https://www.thesilkfarmretreat.com/