So much to reflect on and be grateful for after my idyllic retreat at Romancing the Ordinary draws to a close. This is my second time at this beautiful place and with Helen and Les and I am so delighted I got to return with my precious family who came all the way from America to join me and my husband Richard. It has been as before, an unforgettable experience or should I say a series of memorable experiences as we have done so much. From mooching around cute Grasse (the perfume capital of the world) and buying a “few” heavenly perfumes to spending time at the Abbaye de Lerins (a beautiful island off Cannes inhabited and managed by a community of monks) to having a very personalised experience at the wonderful family owned vineyard Val D’Iris during grape harvesting time. Strolling through the medieval cobbled streets of Seillans one of France’s prettiest villages and then finishing off our day with an amazing meal at the delightful quirky restaurant “Resto des Arts” located in Mougins - an artist’s paradise. Thanks to the gems that are Helen and Les, we take with us so many treasured memories. I refuse to be sad at leaving or parting and will only say a heartfelt thank you to Helen and Les and au Revoir in true French style as we shall definitely meet again. Love always Shruti
This is my second time at this beautiful place
ALAN TYRRELL (Orlando - Florida)
Les and Helen, thank you so much for your kindness and wonderful hospitality. I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to come back and experience this again. You both made my first visit to France extraordinary! I consider you family now - thanks so very much.
An extraordinary experience
HEIDI HASLER & MUM JAN
This was my second retreat with you and what can I say? “Another amazing visit”. Les doing an awesome job guiding us to the most fabulous and interesting places and experiences. Helen making sure that every last moment was special and fun. Food and drinks to die for! Yet another doggy friend Billy who joined the retreat with whom we enjoyed beautiful walks, and new experiences such as paddle boarding with him on the board on the stunningly beautiful Lake St Cassien. I will be back again with more people that “need” to experience Romancing the Ordinary. Heidi brought her lovely mum Jan with her on this retreat and this is what she said ... Thank you, Helen, and Les for a great retreat - I was not sure what to expect. The food and experiences have all been very interesting and different. The lake and paddle boarding are something I would probably never had attempted otherwise - but I did it! The location is so quiet and relaxing and sharing time with my daughter Heidi in such a lovely place was special. Thank you - not forgetting Billy the dog who was also on holiday with us.
Another amazing visit
MR & MRS AZAR (Paris)
We want to thank you for being so gracious and opening up your BEAUTIFUL home to us. We consider ourselves very lucky to have met you and had such a great time in Grasse. This holiday will stay forever in our hearts and minds thanks to your generosity and simplicity.
This holiday will stay forever in our hearts and minds
Helen and Les are amazing hosts, attentive to every detail and even better cooks! This experience has been a once in a lifetime experience and something that I will recommend to friends and family alike. The days have been filled with lovely experiences in a beautiful part of the world. My wife and I will definitely be back (if they will have us!!). Thanks for everything.
A once in a lifetime experience
SHREYA TRIVEDI (Orlando - Florida)
The days we spent with Helen and Les were absolutely fantastic. The experiences we had and beautiful memories they created for us were so unique and will last us a lifetime. Helen and Les treated us as family and we were pampered and spoilt the entire time. It’s difficult to explain how much our souls needed this, and we feel blessed and lucky to have found this special place where we could have this opportunity. Thank you for everything Helen and Les. With lots of love and hugs
Beautiful memories that are so unique
HOLLY & SUZANNE (Australia)
It is with a pang of sadness that we leave you both today - you have become such treasured souls to myself and mum in such a very short period.
Thank you both so much for listening when needed and sharing the most extraordinary level of care and attention to make our stay memorable. It is like leaving a safe, warm, beautiful and rather a heavenly oasis.
Mum and I really really look forward to seeing you both again.
The most extraordinary level of care and attention to detail
Not once did I feel like a paying guest - but like a friend come to stay Dear Helen and Les - my holiday with you were just wonderful. So great to relax and to be able to have only Ann and me as guests for the week was a bonus as we were thoroughly pampered. The villa and its close location to the coast and other lovely places that we experienced, was great as it meant that all journeys were short enabling us to make the most of each and every day. But much, much more than this was the part of yourselves that you put into the retreat. Your passion for sharing all that is great about France; fresh, beautifully presented food and the thoughtful touches in our rooms ... candles, handmade chocolate, yoga mat, backpack and water bottle. Not once did I feel like a paying guest, but like a friend come to stay. Keep on doing what you are doing - don’t get too big otherwise, you could lose this “magic. Many, many thanks for a fabulous time! Bon continuation! Gross Bisous.
Not once did I feel like a paying guest
Mindful meadows with huge pom poms of dandelion seeds. My own beautiful room with Provençal cotton covers and beautifully scented candle welcoming me on arrival. Fresh ingredients from the local market and sunshine on my skin. Meditating, sharing, laughing and singing. River walks and interesting talks. Suntan and piano man. Warm night by soft pool light, with music to evoke memories of loved ones who have left us. Noticing our needs, rosary beads. Visiting Gourdon ... “it’s not fog, it’s low cloud!” Rose gardens and snoozes in deck chairs. Fresh homemade rose lemonade. Sound baths and lots of laughs. Sharing and caring. Cooking .... everything so romantic looking. Red poppies and lavender rose water and herbal teas. Patisseries and gramophone. Walking along Cap D’Antibes alone. Waterfalls and moss-covered trees. Swimming in the river until my fingers freeze. Cuisine magnifique at every meal. Yoga and meditation on the lawn. Walks in the garden and working inspired. Dragonfly, dragonfly - I love you my beautiful dragonfly. All my love and gratitude forever.
All my love and gratitude forever
NICOLA BEHRMAN (USA)
Helen and Les - thank you, thank you for this beautiful retreat - you went above and beyond in every way taking care of us and creating the space and foundation for this very precious time of rebalancing and remembering.
There are so many things to say thank for, but I will simply say this ......
“This was an absolute moment in time, the honouring of chapters ending and new beautiful ones beginning, this remarkable and nourishing week has absolutely punctuated this transition and is gliding the birds back into the world rested, rejuvenated and filled with confidence and faith. Thank you both for your love, your unbelievably delicious daily offerings - I have never tasted oatmeal that felt like it was sent straight from the heavens before! How did you make it? And thank you for your open, giving and generous hearts - I will remember this gorgeous retreat for years to come.”
A bientot!!! With gratitude galore
I will remember this gorgeous retreat for years to come
HEIDI HASLER & KEV REYNOLDS
What a wonderful place! So relaxing, peaceful, tranquil, friendly and perfect - wished I’d booked us in for longer but just means that we will have to come back again - so much to do!! Fantastic food and amazing presentation. Love you guys to death
Fantastic food and amazing presentation
JO, PETE & ROB SMALLBONES
From the moment we arrived, your warm hospitality and infinite attention to detail set the scene for a wonderful, memorable retreat experience. Nothing was too much trouble and we will always be grateful to you both for helping us out by inviting our son Rob to join us for dinner and a good night’s kip. Our beautiful scenic walk to Gourdon where we enjoyed a delicious picnic whilst listening to the vintage gramophone player, is one of many precious moments captured firmly in our hearts. I particularly enjoyed the stunning and peaceful surroundings and space for meditation and we both loved the flavoursome and healthy food which left us feeling totally revitalised. We are still smiling at the fond memories of our meal and uncontrollable giggles whilst strolling around Mougins. Laughter and fun are good for the soul and we are grateful to you both for providing such a safe space to just let go and be us. Our love and gratitude for all the hard work you put into making our retreat special. Thank you, Helen, and Les for a truly exquisite, rejuvenating and everlasting experience. Our only regret is that we had to leave! However, we shall be back as we can honestly say we have found a very unique and happy place.
A truly exquisite, rejuvenating and everlasting experience
And this short but sweet message is from one of our lovely guests Clair who came on one of our 2018 retreats and returned to join us for a second retreat 2019. Thank you for a fabulous time and a great last day as well as lunch. You were both wonderful as ever.
You were both wonderful as ever.
Romancing the Ordinary .... what a tranquil, peaceful and beautiful place, run by a lovely welcoming couple Helen and Les. If you want a sense of calm and healthy eating all fresh produce made by Helen and Les and to experience new things like Tai Chi Qigong, sound baths, forest walks or just sit back and read, then this is the place for you. Would definitely go back ... I’ve never experienced anything like it before and also made wonderful new friends. Thank you Helen and Les for a fantastic few days, the whole experience will be one that I will never forget. You both went out of your way to make me feel welcome and the food was exceptional. Really hope to see you both again soon.
I’ve never experienced anything like it before
Helen and Les, you have worked so hard to provide one of the most memorable experiences I will always cherish. The food was excellent and the hospitality from you both was outstanding. It makes you appreciate things in life that we forget about at home in our daily lives. It has made me feel refreshed and relaxed in mind and body. I can’t thank you enough and will definitely be back.
One of the most memorable experiences I will always cherish
Les and Helen... where to start. When my friend Jill mentioned a few days in the sun post following our attendance at the property show MIPIM in Cannes, I pictured chilling by a pool, sunshine, reading and chatting idly with my friends and maybe a glass or two of something light. The reality is that I have had an experience that even I struggle to put into words. Les and Helen greet you as long lost friends from the moment you step into their home which really does feel like a true home from home, not a holiday villa, not a hotel, but a comfortable a well-loved home where the desire to relax washes over you upon entering and never leaves you. The attention to detail is adorable, particularly the discovery of a hot water bottle in my bed on the first night. My stand our moments are many but have to be ... The picnic - never will I look at a picnic the same, from the amazing food, the gorgeous weather, the perfect setting and the dancing to the gramophone. The sound-bath with Sylvain which I approached with some trepidation having absolutely no idea what to expect but became truly engrossed in the sounds and emotions, not to mention the feeling of closeness and well being with fellow participants and just life. The yoga, an activity I have never sought to experiment with before, but Faye made my first time so informative and entertaining and didn’t mock my dodgy attempts - too much! The food is truly epic. I cannot believe a diet Leas and Helen claim to be so healthy, can taste so amazing. Every mouthful a taste sensation and seriously pushing me to think about meals and mealtimes and just how important they are to wellbeing. Lastly and not least, Les and Helen are a sheer delight, they treat you as guests in their home, pushing all boundaries in terms of hospitality and consideration, from ensuring you have everything and anything you need, to interesting honest conversations, gentle teasing and the feeling that you have developed a genuine, enduring friendship. Will I be back? Oh yes! Will I recommend to others? 100 percent! Just don’t ever change - with love and lasting memories
The food is truly epic - every mouthful a taste sensation
Your welcome, your warmth, your hospitality, your food, your friendship, never ceases to amaze me. You have made my stay so enjoyable from the picnic and remembering to take my dad’s sheet music was so thoughtful - to the activities - Sylvain and Faye - both wonderful kind people who care for others being and which is at the centre of their music and yoga. I will continue to recommend Romancing the Ordinary to people whom I feel will enjoy the experiences that you provide - Romancing the Ordinary - my strapline would be “Run by Extraordinary People”.
Romancing the Ordinary - run by extraordinary people
I read somewhere that “It’s the friends we meet along the way that help us appreciate the journey”. After spending these precious few days with you both and the other girls in your beautiful home, and after meeting Sylvain and Faye, this rings so true to me. I will always cherish the memories you created for us with your loving hospitality and gentle spirits that have had a truly restorative effect on me over the past few days. Thank you seems too banal a term to express how grateful I am, but I hope you both know how appreciative I feel. You did so much to care for and nurture us - it’s made our little idyll perfect. I fear that I would have to write a mini book to go through each element I felt was special but from the excellent fresh cuisine at each meal to my special lavender infused tonic drink, to all the little touches you do “Romancing the Ordinary” is one of the most unique and wonderful experiences you can have. The session with Sylvain - a quote from one of my favourite spiritual poets Rumi springs to mind where he said: “the wound is the place where the light enters you”. Such was the power of his incredible music and the feedback session afterwards - I felt cleansed and free. Also, thank you for organising the yoga with Faye - she made us all feel energised and relaxed. Our trip to Gourdon was an experience that allowed me to step back in time almost and who can ever forget that picnic in the sun under a stunning blossom tree with a table laid so perfectly and complete with a gramophone?? You are both special and I hope you know that what you do here is “Extraordinary’. Thank you again - we very much look forward to seeing you again. In the meantime, I shall try to practice Romancing the Ordinary in little ways every day through reliving our time here. As they say here “Au Revoir” Love and best wishes always - Shruti Trivedi
Romancing the Ordinary is one of the most unique and wonderful experiences run by Extraordinary people
From the very first moment of arrival, the Romancing the Ordinary Retreat weekend felt like something really special. Collection from the airport was excellent and with two other Retreat guests already in the car, everyone began chatting away like old friends. After what seemed a short journey, we arrived at the simply stunning villa where Helen’s warm welcome made us feel instantly relaxed and very much ‘at home’. Helen and Les had prepared a superb lunch for us; we were all so lucky to be able to sit outside in the sunshine together drinking Helen’s fabulous Violet infused Gin & Tonics to help us settle into our surroundings. What a lovely beginning to our Retreat weekend! Our weekend was simply sensational throughout with a wonderful series of sensory events brilliantly designed by our hosts Helen & Les; we all thoroughly enjoyed delights such as Tai Chi in the park with Markus; some fabulous walks in magnificent surroundings; the spectacular Lemon Festival at Menton (which was simply stunning!); a fabulous shiatsu massage; and a superb Sound Bath delivered by Sylvan – I can genuinely say that this is a life changing experience and is absolutely not to be missed! Not to mention all having some fun on our party night with the gramophone with some giggles whilst sharing prosecco! Helen and Les have created a marvellous Retreat venue that inspires total relaxation from the very first moment. The villa is beautiful, warm and welcoming with some stunning features that fit so perfectly with rest, relaxation and peaceful existence. The food is simply divine and is a sensory experience on its own where everything is sourced locally and freshly prepared, beautifully presented and always inspires true enjoyment of every single mouthful. Helen and Les’s attention to detail and warm, caring approach to everyone is a true delight and is absolutely second to none; fluffy robes and socks and snuggly throws are provided too to make you feel truly pampered and spoilt throughout the whole weekend. Heartfelt thanks go to Helen and Les for being such fabulous hosts; to Markus and Sylvain for helping us, all see new ways to understand our inner selves better. Last but not least to an amazing group of ladies for a wonderful weekend where we all laughed together; shared some of our deepest thoughts, and quite simply had a truly fabulous time together. I didn’t want to leave, and I absolutely can’t wait to return. A Retreat weekend with a difference where warmth and love have an instant impact on your wellbeing - a very, very highly recommended experience!
A truly sensational journey of relaxation and revival
EUNICE GENOVEVA & CHRISTIAN VATRAN (Baden Baden Germany 2018)
How do you know when you have had the ultimate travel experience? In my opinion, it’s when it has changed you. When you have learned something new about yourself or life; when you value a moment in time or experience above material things when you have learned to look beyond your own culture and way of life; when you have formed new relationships. And that is exactly what Helen and Les specialise in. They offer far more than just the quintessential Provence holiday. If you visit a vineyard, it’s not just about buying wine - you touch the grapes and taste the wine and laugh with those around you. Helen and Les transform each and every French Riviera activity into a meaningful and memorable experience. In a way they are alchemists. My husband and I rented their lovely villa for a two-week family vacation on the French Riviera in September 2018. Even though we booked on a non-hosted basis, we had the privilege of meeting and spending some time with Helen and Les. It became clear to us from the very beginning that they have set on a mission not only to provide their guests with impeccable accommodation but to transform regular vacations into meaningful travel, even when it means going the extra mile. Throughout our stay, Helen and Les showered us with acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. We would ask for the phone number of a pizza delivery service, and they would call and order in French for us. We would ask for a restaurant recommendation and they not only called to reserve a table but also drove us there and picked us up later so that we could enjoy some wine. They even dog-sat our dogs so that we could have a full evening in Antibes. They provided us with fresh figs and the best Gin and Tonics we have ever had. As our two weeks went by, we increasingly realised what an atlas of diverse beauty this region is, and how much more the villa’s location was enabling us to discover. The fact that it’s tucked into the hills, just 15 km from Cannes and yet away from coastal traffic, gave us a head start when driving to other destinations in the region. Whether you want to see one of Europe’s most spectacular canyons (Gorge du Verdon, hike in the Alps, lay on the beach whilst drinking a glass of chilled Rose wine, make your own perfume in the world's capital of perfume, visit and dine infamously glamorous beachside resorts or museum hop to see world-renowned art, the villa is the perfect base for day trips to anywhere on the French Riviera and beyond. The only challenge for us was leaving the comfort of the villa, because the one you get accustomed to being in a peaceful oasis, surrounded by a perfectly manicured Mediterranean garden, you tend to want to just hang out around the private pool and never leave.
How do you know when you have had the ultimate travel experience?
Many thanks for a lovely stay. We’ve had some great times together and especially with mum and my brother. Memories for the future. Wishing you all the very best in your venture and life together. Helen Thank you so much, Helen and Les, for a delightful getaway from the day to day routine of home. Your hard work and dedication to providing us with a superb experience have been inspirational. No detail overlooked and no chance missed to providing us with experience to treasure. Long may Romancing the Ordinary thrive and prosper. When can we come again? Thank you for a far from the ordinary experience. Alan This holiday was so different – every day a surprise. Very relaxing, great food, great experience, great memories. Thanks, Robert Dear Helen and Les. Thank you for this past week with you. It is such a happy home and so welcoming. There has been so much that I have seen and done this week that I never expected I’d have the chance to do “especially at my age”. Good luck, happiness to you both. Love from Helen W. Romancing the ordinary has been a breath of fresh air for me. I so enjoyed my time here and feel very refreshed to take on the trials ahead. Hosts Helen and Les worked so hard and I so appreciated all the extra special touches given to everyday events and yummy food. Thank you love Julia.
I so appreciated all the extra special touches
KAREN AND NEIL HODGSON
The villa and location are magical, and a very warm welcome awaited us on arrival. The beginning of the week was busy with experiences such as the cave visit, picnics, waterfalls, beautiful scenery, hilltop villages …. all excellent. By the middle of the week, things slowed down and we were able to relax around the pool. The “Sound Bath” experience was certainly something different, but I found the discussion afterwards very intense and perhaps too thought-provoking for me whilst on holiday. All the meals were beautifully prepared with fresh and local ingredients and I enjoyed the “taste experiences”. I would have liked more variety of cheeses and sliced meats. The lovely afternoon tea would have benefited from the addition of fruit scones and cream – just my preference. The evenings were great, and everyone enjoyed each other’s company …. Wonderful times! Thanks, Helen and Les for all your hard work and bon ami (Karen and Neil) With regards to the pre-holiday information provided by us to Karen and Neil they had this to say “We have never had this level of help and advice for a trip before, thank you so much” We are grateful to Karen and Neil for their honest and helpful feedback and comments which we have taken on board and will fully address at our future retreats (Helen and Les - September 2018).
The villa and location are magical
DEBS AND DALE LUI
You have both worked tirelessly to ensure that every one of us this week has had the time and space to escape, relax and take stock of the most important things in life …. health, love and those people close to us. Thank you so much … we will definitely be back! Lots of love Debs and Dale.
We will definitely be back
What a truly wonderful time I had. The art of relaxing is hard in this busy world but it seems to come easy in the environment and company of Helen and Les who are the most kind and caring couple you could wish to meet. Fun and laughter were also present in addition to experiencing the five senses along with making new friends who I’m sure I will meet again. Thank you, Helen and Les, for a brilliant week. Love Always …… Ann. PS The food was delicious!
What a truly wonderful time I had...
And this short but sweet message is from one of our lovely guests Clair who came on one of our 2018 retreats and returned to join us for a second retreat 2019. Thank you for a fabulous time and a great last day as well as lunch. You were both wonderful as ever.
A wonderful thought-provoking journey
A beautiful week spent with beautiful people A wonderful week … starting each day with bird song and the scents of wild herbs and lavender. Personal meditation and yoga in the special Moment in Time circle Endless blue skies behind silvery olive leaves Meadows of wildflowers Walking in “Sylvain’s forest” after eating our picnic in silence Stalactites dripping on my head Lots and lots of hugs, laughter and conversation The intensity of scents in the perfumery The singing of pebbles as the waves lapped the beach Always the feeling of the ground under bare feet Rose wine on the deck of the boat under the sun’s warm rays Charming, quirky villages perched precariously on cliffs The healing sounds of a gong bath taking me to bliss Delicious food shared with friends A million sensory experiences to remember Merci beaucoup pour cette marveilleuse experience
A million sensory experiences to remember
Thank you for a wonderful, thought-provoking journey – moments of Romancing the Ordinary that will never be forgotten. Already missing the “man in the forest” Sylvain the experience of which will remain with me forever and will inspire me to an even greater positive mindset and love with my heart. Thank You, Les and Helen Clair, A beautiful week spent with beautiful people. Thank you, Helen and Les, for your generous hospitality and for sharing your home with us. From the moment we arrived, it felt like home! After a week of Romancing the Ordinary our senses from the cascading waterfalls and pebble beach to the sounds and smells of the forest. It has been a truly memorable experience and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. With love and every success in Romancing the Ordinary. Alison
A beautiful week spent with beautiful people
After spending the week in this little paradise in such a beautiful region of France, my senses have come alive with a cacophony of scents, sights and flavours I have experienced here. It has been a delight to share this with Jenni, Clair and Alison along with Les and Helen whose attention to detail, culinary skills and gentle spirits have helped make this a unique experience. Fran