Wednesday, 30 March 2016

A Canopy Under the Stars

It's not everday that one turns 21. It happens once, to be exact. However, the frequency of this occasion has zero relationship with the precious memories that are created, which are to be closely guarded forever. 

I am lucky to say that last weekend, to celebrate my 21st birthday I was whisked away on a surprise trip around the beautiful South of France. Our end destination was a secret, unknown to me as we drove along along dramatic mountain roads winding their way through the forested Cévennes, traversing small medieval hamlets full of dairies, vineyards and wine producers. Charming stone walls, old neglected farmhouses simply begging to be snapped up and transformed into 'chambre d'hôtes', fields of twisted vines slowly ripening for the wine harvest and organic vegetable farms pepper this part of the French countryside. Going deeper into the rural and sunblushed Provençal Gard, we reached the place where we were staying the night: Natura Lodges, Barjac. 

Camping has undergone a chic revolution; gone are the days of oh-so heavy canvas tents lugged around in oversized rucksacks, getting wet as soon as the heavens open and waking up freezing in the middle of the night then getting lost in the great outdoors on your way to an icy, spider-infested outdoor toilet. Instead, we are ushering in the era of glamping: the perfect way to appreciate nature, tucked inside a cosy new-age tent, benefitting from a digital detox and the tranquil countryside around you. 

Our glamping experience at Natura Lodges was exactly this, but with a little central-Asian flavour. Yurt Urga' was where we spent the night, a Mongolian tent tucked away in the French countryside for total time-out and rejuvenation. The smiling peaceful owners explained to us that they had imported an authentic Mongolian Yurt and constructed it here in France.  Inside the yurt, it was a little haven of calm, with swirling nomadic patterns covering the latticed interior built in a restful, circular shape and brightly coloured, gypsy-caravan doors marked the entrance. Surprisingly, the yurts are so well insulated and a little triangular log burner kept us toasty warm, as did the abundance of traditional blankets stored a beautiful authentic Mongolian cabinet. Night time brought with it perfect quiet and star-gazing from our terrace, glass of Pinot noir in hand, of course. 

The whole place is dedicated to well-being and relaxation; there's a swimming pool, wooden cabanas, a Finnish-style sauna (ultra-relaxing!) and a bright airy day room with a terrace for eating breakfast and reading, decorated with Eastern textiles and bohemian details. Breakfast was so worth waking up for! Fresh, organic coffee, juice, French bread and an array of spreads, such as locally produced honey and sweet crème de marron awaited us. Upon exploring the land a little bit, we discovered an old plane from the 60s where guests can actually sleep! Seriously retro. Oh and in addition, the whole place is completely Eco-friendly, a proud holder of 'La Clef Verte.' 

Original, luxurious and decidedly cool, it was an unforgettable experience full of great conversation, exploration, special moments and undoubtedly the best welcome to official adult-hood! 

I hope you all had a Happy Easter, full of chocolate and Spring promise! 



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