Shortly after I met Kathryn Ireland, she said to me in her wonderful British accent, “Darling! You must come to La Castellane! It’s heaven!” She did not need to convince me, the one who suffers wanderlust, to make the visit. Who in their right mind passes up the opportunity to visit heaven on earth? Little did I know that the trip would be so entrancing.
La Castellane has long been available to friends and family, but most recently Kathryn partnered with fellow Francophile Nikki Maxwell, Proprietor of Picnics in Provence. As the name suggests, Provence has been the main focus of Nikki's exclusive guided tours and gastronomic explorations. That was until she met Kathryn and traveled to the Tarn et Garonne region of France.
Convinced that Kathryn’s lovingly restored home was the perfect backdrop for an eight-day getaway, an itinerary was planned. Why limit picnics to only one beautiful region of the country?
Thanks to Nikki's passion and enthusiasm, every day we were offered a unique chance to explore the countryside. No two days were the same. Picnics, yes. Pampering, absolutely. Each morning I awoke to the sounds of crowing roosters (no alarm clock), streams of sunlight, a glorious breakfast and friendly faces. And at the end of the day my bed was turned down with little gifts.
True to Nikki's motto "Unspoilt France off the Beaten Track", staying at Kathryn’s and traveling with Nikki provided a rare opportunity to relax, recharge and drink lots of local wine. Thank you Kathryn and Nikki. It was a wonderful week.
If you wish to experience heaven for yourself, circle these dates:
11th to 18th May
7th to 14th June
17th to 24th June
20th to 27th July
1st to 8th September
A lake side picnic at the home of chef Daniel de la Falaise was just one highlight of the trip. Sitting by the lake I felt as if I were a million miles from nowhere.
Happy chef. Happy guest. The seafood extravaganza was one of my favorite meals. Pure pleasure.
Sadly, I don't think they were sold as pets.
The most beautiful onions ever. I love the shades of purple.
Best not to worry about a low carb diet.
A few of these made their way back to the house. We roasted them whole.
Fruit was literally falling from the trees. So simple and so pretty.
Robert and Bernard Plageoles are perhaps the most renowned producers in Gaillac. The family is committed to using Gaillac's obscure varietals and producing high quality organic wines.
Not only is Gaillac an historic wine region, it is regarded as one of the oldest wine producing areas in France.
Darwin the vineyard dog. He followed us everywhere. We were told that he loves to lick wine from the taps. Sounds like a good life.
A snapshot of daily life
Beautiful flowers at market
A happy and eager little dog.
Who doesn't love an outdoor bed in warm weather?
I adore the way Kathryn's pillows just pop.
Lunch at Le Clos Sainte Cécile in Albi.
The poire William made by Laurent Cazottes is quite extraordinary in its taste and purity. One of the best in France.
Beautiful blues and greens of Kathryn's home.
Nothing beats an afternoon swim and a good book.