BijouFest* (The Chateau du Bijou Summer Festival of Life, Healthy Living and General Awesomeness) is a season of all-inclusive, retreat-holidays (with a focus on the holiday element) at the Chateau du Bijou in the South of France. The principal aim of the festival is to allow guests to enjoy some self-improvement in conjunction with relaxation, pampering and fun.
BijouFest runs every summer and offers a wide variety of activities, disciplines and relaxation techniques. Each week features one or more headline Guru(s) who will design and lead a unique timetable of classes, workshops and activities specific to their areas of expertise**.
As well as these classes and workshops, BijouFest offers a range of extra-curricular activities/offerings. For full details on all these please refer to “The Chateau” and “The Festival” pages on this website**.
We at BijouFest strongly believe in life balance - improving our physical health and wellbeing is just as important as nourishing the soul; at BijouFest we aim to offer a holistic balance.
Can't spare a week? Join us for a short break or long weekend - just contact us to discuss.
No places available? Contact us and we may able to squeeze you in!
*BijouFest is a trading name of Prowess Ltd (Company Number 02783810) which is a member of The Prowess Partnership whose other partners personally own the Chateau du Bijou.
**The activities and timetables shown on the individual pages for each week and generally are guides only.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school”. There is a plethora of research to support the benefits of keeping the mind active to encourage happiness and long life.
Subject to demand there will be opportunities to broaden your horizons, discover new interests and hobbies, and learn new skills including:
- Farm to Fork – Charles - owner and head chef of local organic restaurant La Cantine will spend a morning imparting his knowledge of local organic produce and cookery skills. You will select fresh produce from the ground and work together to create a great lunch. A fantastic experience with a larger than life character
- Wine tasting and appreciation – Olivier and Florence Leriche, our local “bio-dynamic” wine producers will hold a talk (and tasting) before dinner one evening covering their wide range of excellent bio-dynamic wines
Also on offer will be a variety of complementary (and complimentary!) fitness classes/activities. Classes will generally place in the morning and will include various physical disciplines – spin, aqua, Bijou body blast, barre as well as local walks or jogs and a weekly early morning trek to the top of Mont Bijou.
Exercise facilities on offer at the Chateau to use at your own leisure include:
- swimming pool tennis volleyball badminton boules croquet
- mini-gym road-bikes spin bikes table-tennis table-football
As well as these on-site facilities, you can try out some other extra-curricular activities while you're here. We would urge you to book for these activities at the same time as booking your main BijouFest stay. More information can be found in the Curriculum section of the site.
- Kayaking – test your kayaking skills and take in the beautiful views of the Drome or Ardeche - we usually kayak on the Isere as being the most peaceful and relaxing experience and away from the main tourist areas.
- Horse riding – whatever your ability or experience with riding we have affiliated with the local riding school in Chomerac, giving you an opportunity to learn the ropes or enjoy a hack in the surrounding valley
- Golf – A beautiful 18-hole golf course (and club hire) available for use when pre-arranged. Whether it’s for you or your “plus one” let us know if you are interested and we’ll arrange a round for you.
As important as exercise, of course, is nutrition and this is our 'statement' on food:
There have been numerous studies all over the World regarding nutrition and the benefits of having a well balanced, nutritious diet and lifestyle. Whilst the specific findings vary from country to country and year to year, it is fair to say that without exception ‘eating well’ by incorporating a balanced and nutrient rich diet improves your physical and mental health and wellbeing, add regular exercise into the mix and you will see an array of benefits in all areas of your personal health, happiness and wellbeing.
The Ardeche is quite simply the leading light amongst the French gastronomic movement returning to healthy, local, organic, seasonal eating. The very nature of the agriculture, landscape and climate means the Ardeche enjoys a terrain and a ripening season that allows it to produce the freshest, healthiest and most delicious ingredients from April to late October.
Known for being a staunchly ‘Biologique' enclave (the French term for organic) nestled alongside the Rhone Valley – the fruit basket of France – independent producers abound and there is a wonderful variety of fruits, berries, tomatoes, and vegetables. Goat bells can be heard clanging up on ‘Mont Bijou’ as they are herded to new pastures before their milk is expertly turned into the local style goats' cheese and curd and smoked trout from the Ardeche gorge is abundant in local shops and restaurants.
...and it is all right on our doorstep!
To complement the range of holistic, healthy activities we offer, we design our menus with your wellbeing in mind and, of course, we make sure it's delicious too. Somewhat uniquely our menus are offered in the opposite pattern to most establishments - dishes are "Vegetarian with, optionally, a meat or fish side"
We avoid simple carbohydrates (refined sugars, white flour and pasta) and promote a balance of protein, fibre and fructose combined with the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals in our own, and local, fresh fruit, along with complex carbs in moderation, or not, depending upon the week’s activities you decide to undertake. We also believe in the age-old adage “in all things, moderation” and like to make sure there are a few treats available – but we know they’re tough to avoid so make sure they’re never positioned to tantalise. Vegetarians are not the after thought our meals are designed to cater primarily for the vegetarian, yet we will always offer a meat or fish side dish for those who would like to these as part of their daily diet. Bread is offered in limited quantities and often gluten free. All our cakes are gluten free. All our wine is organically produced and carries the highest 'bio' accreditation.
All of the above, we firmly believe, enhances your Bijoufest experience, allowing you to engage in anything and everything happening during your week or two with us and still go home feeling refreshed and energised. The grounds of the Chateau themselves produce damsons, plums (two varieties), apples, pears, apricots, almonds, olives, grapes, various herbs and an abundance of figs, and we’re hoping 2016 will see our first crop of lemons. Ingredients from the gardens feature regularly and everything else we serve, with only very few exceptions, comes from within a few miles. The Ardeche is France’s little Garden of Eden, what more could we want?
At BijouFest we believe that nourishing the soul is as important as looking after our physical wellbeing. To complement our physical and mindful activities we offer Soulful services to enhance your BijouFest holiday.
- A gentle afternoon kayaking on the Isere river in La Drome
- Sauna and steam room facilities available to all of our guests, all of the time
- In our bespoke treatment rooms (pre-booking required) we will have a local masseuse offering a range of treatments to pamper you
- Shopping - Enjoy a trip to the cultural town of Avignon (subject to demand). A great afternoon whether just soaking up the history or indulging in a little retail therapy
- Al Fresco Movie Night - Sit back with a drink or two to watch a favourite film on a big screen and under the stars
BijouFest consists of a selection of weeks focused on and specializing in the teaching and enjoyment of a variety of healthy and educational disciplines within the beautiful and relaxing surroundings of the Chateau du Bijou.
Guests attending each of these weeks will also benefit from a broad range of complementary activities, facilities and offerings that will provide the ability to tailor your week at the Chateau to your precise tastes and preferences. On no week will guests be required to take part in all (or any!) group activities and there will be more than enough other options available to keep everyone just the right amount of busy.
Some of these elements are included, some are available at an extra cost.