Experience Nature & Culture

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS & ACTIVITIES

So what to do between yoga classes?

We have tried to make Santosha as comfortable as possible, so you are quite welcome just to stay in our tranquil environment. The terraces and garden are at you disposal.

Or…

There are many interesting things to see and do around us. Here are just a few of them which may be added as an optional extra to your retreat.

We are constantly finding more new and interesting things to do.

Around Santosha

GET A MASSAGE WITH GILLIAN

Gillian was a Licensed Massage Therapist in the state of Louisiana, and she offers Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue, or Aromatherapy Massage.  She has a diploma in Aromatherapy from the International Institute of Health and Holistic Therapies in the UK (1999), and is Reiki Level II. Please inquire when you arrive.

SUNSET PICNIC

If it’s a clear evening, a 8 min walk behind Santosha takes you to a high point where there is almost a 360 degree view. A wonderful place to enjoy your evening meal and watch the sunset,  hopefully with a pink sky.

Included in your retreat price.

LOCAL WALKING TRAILS

Something to do on while you are not practicing yoga. There are many walking trails around the village that take you through the vineyards, broom and sunflowers. Neil is happy to guide you. Up to 10km.

Optional and included in the retreat price.

HERB WALKS AND HERBAL MEDICINE WORKSHOPS

Love nature? Where better to learn about the medicinal virtues of nature than the idyllic south of France in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains.

Niclole had a Bsc (honours) in Herbal Medicine, and has put together a choice of programmes just for us. From 90min to 6.5 hrs and starting from 15€. Minimum amount of persons required. Please inquire when you arrive.

Visit Thyme Breaks for more info.

Cultural Activites

ESPERAZA SUNDAY MARKET

The most colourful market in the area by far. Local produce such as cheese, honey, bread, and a farmers market, with interesting stalls selling everything from incense and clothes from India, to crystals and musical instruments from all over the world. There are usually 2 or 3 different musicians, and quite often street performers. 

RENNES LES CHATEAU

The village that can be seen from our roof terrace. Built on an ancient site of a major Visigoth population centre, the village is famous for the strange wealth and behaviour of the Priest Berenger Sauniere.

20 minutes away and maybe combined with the trip to Esperaza Market.

>Read more on Wikipedia
>About the Priest
>Mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau
>Read more on The Guardian

CATHAR CASTLES

The remains of these castles can be seen all over the Aude, all of which are worth a visit. Our favourites Queirbus, Peyrepertuse, Puilaurens, Puivert and Montsegur. Small entrance fee. Puilaurens is the closest to us, also La Cite.

The Cathars, were an early Gnostic Christian sect, who ate no animal products (except fish), were non – violent, and very yogic like.  Their fascinating history involves persecution as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church, and a crusade against them.  The only crusade against other Chritsians, the Cathars were massacred and wiped out by the end of the 14th cent.
>Read more about the Cathar Castles

RENNES LES BAINS

These thermal springs have been in use for over 2000 years for therapeutic healing. There are areas where the hot springs go direct into the river where you can enjoy the therapeutic waters. There is also a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and a Hammam (steam room) fed directly from the waters (entry charge). 26 minute drive, and can be combined with Mt Bugarach.

Read more about Rennes Les Bains

LA CITE

Close to the more modern City of Carcassonne, La Cite is the largest of the Cathar Castles and also the largest medieval walled city in Europe. It has been extensively restored in the mid 1800’s and is now a big tourist attraction. Full of history, with its’s large Roman bridge over the river Aude, it’s tiny narrow streets, filled with restaurants and little shops, and beautiful stained glass windows within the 12th century Gothic Basilica of St Nazaire. There are also jousting tournaments during the summer months. 45 mins drive away.
>Read more about La Cite

THE CAVES AT NIAUX

Some of the best prehistoric cave paintings, around 13,500 year old. It is one of the few cave that still allow visitors to enter to view the paintings. This has been one of the most popular excursions among our yoga retreat participants. Only one tour in English per day, so must be booked in advance. 15 euros entrance fee. Approximately 1hr 45min by car.
Read more about the Caves at Niaux

CARCASSONNE MUSIC FESTIVAL

One of the largest festivals in France takes place from mid July to the beginning of August. There are around 120 performances of  popular music (French and International) and classical music, dance, theatre and opera.  Most performances take place in the auditorium within the walls of La Cite., and more than 2/3 are free. 45 mins away. Tickets must be booked in advance.
>Read more about the festival

WINE TASTING

We are surrounded by vineyards, and many of them have their own outlets where you can taste wine and sometimes get a tour of the vines themselves. Between 10 and 30 mins away.

Outdoor Adventure Activities

THE GREEN LABYRINTH

Natural pathways through a maze of limestone features that are straight out of a fairytale. This site was also a meeting place for pre-historic tribes. This magical day out is 40 mins away. Unfortunately our beautiful area of France has been ravaged by an infestation of Box Wood moths, who have severely damaged the Labyrinth in the past two years.  Boxwoods are very slow growing hardwood trees that give the Labyrinth is magical feel by encouraging the growth of green moss on the stones beneath them.  Many Boxwood trees are believed to be over 1,000 years old, although I don’t know if any of these existed in the Labyrinth.  However, we did visit the Labyrinth in the spring of 2019, and there were signs of recover showing on the branches.  We hope that the moths have moved on and will allow regeneration.  It is still worth a visit.

RIVER AND OTHER SPORTS

Within easy reach (by car) there is rafting, canyoning, hydrospeed, kayaking, archery and Accrobranche .

Bwtween 20 mins and 1hr 30 mins away. Must be booked in advance.
> Visit http://www.laforgedequillan.fr/

PIC DU BUGARACH

Regarded by many as a sacred mountain, Bugurach can also been seen from our roof terrace. Known as the Upside Down mountain, it is unique in that the newer sedimentary rocks are at the bottom, and the older rocks are on top. There are many legends and mysteries surrounding this mountains as beneath it is a vast network of caverns. It is a 1hr drive and a 2hr climb to the amazing view from the top.

Cathar Castles that can be seen from the top of Pic du Bugarach
>Map of Bugarach
>Read about Bugarach on Wikipedia
>Read more about Bugarach

RIVER SWIMMING

River swimming the Gorges de Galamus.  Can be combined with the visit to the Gorges and the Hermitage.

THE ROMAN BRIDGE

A beautiful short hike brings you to this unusual bridge across a steep crevasse. The original 2,000year old roman bridge was destroyed in a catastrophic flash flood in 1992, but it was rebuilt by skilled artisans and masons who still practice the original skills.  Today it is beautiful and stronger than ever. 

THE GORGES DU GALAMUS

Walk or drive though the steep gorges, and climb down to see the Hermitage built into the rocks. River swimming is good here too. Ranked #2 of 126 Attractions in Pyrenees Orientales by Trip Advisor. It is possible to go Canyoning right into the depths of the gorge, but must be booked in advance (approx 50 euros). It is 1hr 15 mins away.

>Gorges de Galamus website
>See TripAdvisor reviews