Restore and Reform, Burgundy, France
Medically-accredited rehabilitation programmes at a traditional French manor house
Best for: Anyone wanting to deal with back pain, who is recovering from surgery, who wants to recondition safely, or simply wants to enhance their physical capabilities.
Not for: Those who are not prepared to help themselves by doing prescribed exercise or have effectively ‘given up’ on getting any better.
Restore and Reform runs individual physiotherapy-led rehabilitation programmes for people recovering from illness or surgery or those who simply want to address long-term pain issues or get back on their feet after pregnancy or cancer treatment. In France, you can enjoy them at La Maison du Chateau, a lovely large traditional French manor house in rural Burgundy set in its own parkland close to the main wine vineyards with a good-sized swimming pool, attractive gardens, a new hard tennis court and a river at the bottom of the garden in which you can swim.
This is a very comfortable, peaceful spot in which to rehabilitate with an excellent R & R programme and fantastic meals that are freshly cooked each day by a gifted French chef.
The weather is usually lovely in France in both June and September, though we experienced a European heatwave on our June visit and felt the lack of air conditioning!
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Restore and Reform was founded by physiotherapist Michelle Lewis and her former patient Lucy Nifontova, and is the solution Lucy sought, but couldn’t find, in the weeks following complex spinal surgery. The idea lies in intensive therapy every day for either a week or a long weekend which fast-tracks recovery. They liaise closely with surgeons in every field who are rightly keen for their patients to take effective time out to focus on their recovery.
On the programme you have 3-4 hours of classes and therapy a day including individualised physiotherapy consultations with Michelle, Reformer Pilates sessions with Lucy and massages with Ellen. Then there are physio-led Restore classes with Michelle with a maximum of 6 in each class concentrating on Pilates exercises beneficial for your condition, a Stretch class every morning with Ellen, and a couple of Release classes with Michelle in which you learn how to massage your sore bits yourself using a hard foam roller or a small Pilates ball.
Between sessions swim in the pool, sunbathe, read, walk by the nearby Burgundian canal or just relax in the garden. The river at the bottom of the garden is also suitable for swimming in and there is a small rowing boat for the use of guests. Ellen is an experienced beauty therapist as well as soft tissue practitioner and will do facials, reflexology and other beauty therapies on request.
If you have a car there are many expeditions to be made – beautiful chateaux, abbeys and fortified towns in abundance, as well as the legendary vineyards. The team organise two voluntary wine tastings at additional cost over the course of the week – one at the house and one in the great Chablis vineyards and wineries. The wines of Burgundy, of course, are world-famous and you will be expertly and enthusiastically led through them by Brendan, an English wine expert who has lived and worked in the region for many years. There will be opportunities to buy the wine you have tasted. It’s a wonderful experience and highly recommended.
Bedrooms are traditional quite spacious tastefully decorated rooms with long windows, floorboards, old furniture and comfortable beds with good linen. All of them have plenty of space for hanging clothes and chests of drawers. Most of them have white linen curtains and there are always shutters to block the light. All the rooms look out onto the delightful gardens with distant farmland. Bathrooms, many of them ensuite, are similar but with good showers (great water pressure in France) bathtubs and all mod cons. Along the upstairs corridors are gorgeous oval windows framing lovely views.
There is no need to bring dressing gowns as these are provided. Obviously bring gym/pilates clothes including pilates socks in case of the odd splinter on the rustic wooden floors. Bring any prescription medicine as the team cannot prescribe. Soap is provided but you will need your own shampoo, conditioner and shower gels. All of the rooms can be configured as double or twin so state your preference before you arrive. Bring a warm jumper for the evening.
When to Go
R & R use the space out of high season, when the climate should be most agreeable for exercise – not too hot and not too cold.
You eat either in the dining room which has cool old stone flagstones – ideal in summer – and seats 12 comfortably around a central oval table, or in a shaded spot in the lovely garden. Food is indulgent and freshly prepared by Delphine, who successfully combines authentic French cooking with local high-quality produce showcasing the best the region has to offer. She will also cater for vegetarians and vegans. It’s all divine and this isn’t a place to detox.
For breakfast you help yourself to cereal, yoghurt, fruit, fresh croissants and bread, juice and tea or coffee. For lunch Delphine lays out a table of different salads, cold meats, French cheeses and something freshly cooked like a quiche, onion tart, roast chicken or tartiflette (a heavenly Alpine dish made with potatoes, Reblochon cheese, lardons and onions).
Dinner consists of a starter such as Fresh white asparagus with hollandaise sauce, a main course such as Chicken in a creamy tarragon sauce with potatoes and beans or Honeyed duck breast served with a celeriac puree, a selection of local cheeses followed by puddings such as Hot chocolate soufflé with a fondant centre or Crepes with a sweet butter sauce infused with lemon juice. Brendan the wine expert stocks the fridge with wine and guests can buy it as they need it using an honesty box.
Restore and Reform are members of Work for Good and donate money to charities furthering research into back pain and scoliosis. The wonderful staff here are all local, and the food is locally sourced and seasonal. There is no plastic at the house – people use one water bottle throughout the week and drink tap water. All wine consumed is local and organic. All waste at the house is reused or recycled.
La Maison Du Chateau 14 Impasse Cambourcet 89390 Cry France
Airport: Dijon and Paris
Transfer time: 30 minutes from Dijon, 1 hr from Paris