Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Lush Getaways to France part two

I hope you enjoyed my overview of the LUSH Getaways week in the French countryside, there's so much to say I've decided to break it down into several blog posts, so here is part two where I'm going to give you more information and links.

So, let's talk a bit about how to get there. The group who came to this week of French cuisine had flown from all over the world, mostly from the USA and myself from the UK. The cute little town of Brantome sits on the river and is postcard perfect with it's old buildings and isn't over-run with tourists and touristy shops, so you really can get a feel for true French life, it's slow pace of shopping for quality ingredients for meals is just one aspect of the French style.


some fun times and conversations were had under this porch of an evening.

Part of the reason it isn't spoilt is probably transport related as it's not right on top of an airport or main station. So for our little group we found that flying into Paris then catching the reliable and efficient train to Angouleme was the way to do it, with  LUSH transport picking us up from the station at Angouleme. If you fly in from the USA I would advise having a break in Paris to rest up and adjust to the time difference a few days before. You can catch the direct train from both Paris central and the airport at CDG.

While this region is not the easiest to reach on your own, with Lush providing transport it opens up the possibilities to investigate more interesting places, and unlike some 'escorted' trips, you don't feel herded around like a tourist sheep. This is important to note, because having done both types of holiday there are some really big differences here with LUSH. First it's personal, Kim and Johnelle are showing you what they love, what they have discovered and they invite you to share a slice of their life in this beautiful region.


Secondly, accommodation! I'm so bored with hotels, and having spent so much of my life making my home full of the things I love, I don't really want to spend a week in somewhere uninspiring and bland. When Kim discovered this mansion in her town, she managed to convince the owner to let us 'borrow' it for a few weeks, so in a nutshell, you can only stay there if you join with Lush, this isn't some homogenised version of a French Manor, it's the real deal.

The second you arrive at this stunning house you feel the stresses and strains of life wash away with your first cocktail in the garden. Hello, it's Apero time! There is a lovely welcome basket in your room with your Lush apron, snacks, soap and wine.


Brantome market

The itinerary for the week was planned to include flexible activities such as canoeing and yoga, with plenty of time to do your own thing. The manor is central to the town so it's easy to walk and mooch at your own pace and make your own discoveries, like the tea room with book shop and garden run by a lovely English gentleman. 

Our own personal yoga and massage guru Janet was on hand for classes and treatments every day which could be slotted in during the trips out to visit other towns and vineyards. This and cooking classes were held at the manor with your choice to join or do your own thing.



chopping techniques were covered as part of the classes

On Monday evening we headed to the town square of Bourdeilles for their regular knees up of live music and a bbq with the locals. The Cafe De La Halle is built up against the huge stone walls of the castle and we sat in it's presence while the full moon rose above us and the traditional music romanced us to the small hours. 




our beautiful garden at the manor

The following day we met local French chef (and accomplished painter) Christophe Dupuy, owner of the beautiful local hotel and restaurant 'Les Jardins  du Brantome' and he led our group, including Chefs Aby and Justin, around the market and shops before taking us to his kitchen for a demonstration in how to prepare our own starter with simple ingredients. We were able to explore his lovely herb garden, sniffing and touching our way through the greenery and flowers until we sat in the shade of the trees to be served several more courses for lunch. 




You may have seen my live feed in Instagram stories, as next day Justin showed us how to make the perfect omelette before we jumped in our Lush bus to explore some flea market shops and have a mooch around the prettiest town of Perigeux where I found a plant shop that had it's own bar, beer and plants, only in France !


Justin having a good rummage in the herb garden
The drive to the wine region gave us the chance to see the lovely countryside and before long we started to see more and more fields of grape vines, an indication that we were getting close to the vintners. First stop was the beautiful Chateaux which produces the wine Montbazillac, a quick look around, some lunch and then off to the second winery of Vignoble des Verdots. I can thoroughly recommend this small producer, particularly for their Merlot, it's a family business who make their wine with true love, and you can taste it in every glass, even their lowest price bottle is smooth as velvet and an exceptional price.


wine made with love and by hand when the moon is just right 

markets of produce and farm made ingredients


shutters and geraniums couldn't be more French

After this we headed to the town of Issigeac, one which I really want to go back to, a couple of hours from Brantome, oh my, it's so beautiful with some great shops. They were having an outdoor food festival in the evening so we stayed on and chose our own meal from one of the stalls which surrounded the square. French sausage, moules, grilled cheeses, and many more washed down with local beer or wine, although I opted for a Pernod, when in Rome! 


the back streets of Bourdeilles
Our week flew by, it was packed full of interesting things to do while managing to feel relaxed at the same time. A perfect retreat for couples and singles alike. One of my favourite things was to hear Abigail and Justin talk about how they had prepared our food. I've never met anyone who can speak about food so passionately as Abigail, she weaves her enthusiasm and draws you in to see how the sharing of food with good people is the spice of life. I didn't realise until I listened to our three chefs, that food could be so sexy. 

My favourite dishes, hard to choose, but I'm still dreaming of the risotto that disappeared far to quickly from my plate in a whirlwind of amazing courses. 

To sample the cooking of our chefs during the rest of the year you can find them here ; 

Christophe Dupuy - http://www.lesjardinsdebrantome.com/en/rooms/ for food and accommodation in Brantome. (Also check out his art exhibition).

Abigail Hitchcock - not far from Greenwich Village at https://www.camaje.com/visit/

Justin Wright will be working from a new venue soon, find him at The Almanac Beer Company in San Francisco.

Janet DeHart - Yoga and Bodywork http://www.dehartbodywork.com
San Francisco

To secure a place for next year hop over to https://www.lush-getaways.com

On my next post I will be looking at the Manor house interior as a template for creating the French look.



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