Sanctuary in the Southern French Alps: How Bien Etre is redefining wellness

True wellbeing means much more than how often we work out and making sure we eat our five-a-day. It involves a complex system of multiple, interconnected dimensions such as building a meaningful career, how our friends and family influence our decisions and even our sex lives.

When adequately balanced, they can lead to a superior quality of life. It’s only when one of them is neglected for an extended length of time that bad things start to happen and, as they all overlap and affect each other, can have a detrimental effect on our overall health.  

Bien Etre Retreats is a growing community of wellness activists challenging the misunderstood concept of health and wellbeing. Its retreat programme has been designed around the above proven concept and is at the centre of everything it does.

Lower back pain, workplace stress, social anxiety and diabetes are all becoming part of many people’s everyday lives. In 2015, it was reported that over 95% of the world’s population is living with health problems, a bit too much for Bien Etre’s liking.

Bien Etre is on a mission to educate the world on the wellness space and its many dimensions, inspiring people to form mental shifts towards healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.

By installing life-long changes and giving people the necessary skills to shape their dream lifestyle, Bien Etre believes that every person should experience the best version of themselves and reach their full potential.

Its retreats in the Southern Alps are led by Toby Maguire, a well-known health and wellness consultant and stress management expert with more than 20 years’ experience working in the healing arts.

With a Master’s in Wellness and having lived in South East Asia for 13 years, Toby became a Qi Gong and Tai Chi teacher, studied meditation and Chinese medicine and has been a resident practitioner in some of the world’s most reputable health and wellness resorts, including Sha Wellness, Six Senses, Aman resorts and Mandarin Oriental. He also holds a Master’s degree in Wellness.

But it doesn’t end there. Toby has studied hypnotherapy, acupuncture and nutrition and has worked with Hollywood actors, the Saudi royal family, Olympic and Paralympic gold medalists, premier league football players and members of the England rugby team.

He has been featured in Forbes Magazine, the Sunday Times and the Huffington Post for his work on managing stress and corporate wellness retreats.

Bien Etre has searched far and wide to find the best possible people to host its retreats and offer their support and expertise. Its incredibly talented team of wellness experts hail from all corners of the world and are specialists in their individual fields.

They include Nutrition Therapist Oonagh English, Life Coach and Bien Etre Partner Kathy Richardson, who is an international dance artist and yoga instructor, and top London chef Pedro Lula.

The programme focuses on the eight dimensions of wellness: Social, physical, emotional, financial, occupational, spiritual, intellectual and environmental health.

It combines a wide range of outdoor activities, such as wild swimming, paddle boarding and hiking, with mindfulness and movement, encompassing yoga, meditation, dance flow, tai chi and qi gong, while complementary treatments include massage and acupuncture.

It’s ethos is simple: Focussing on surface-level elements is just not enough to make long-term changes to your health and well-being. A bit of yoga, healthy food and a couple of massages are great but can only get you so far. The Bien Etre difference is understanding the reasons behind your lifestyle choices and taking a holistic view of your wellbeing, drawing on the eight wellness dimensions.

The Southern French Alps is known as one of the world’s healthiest environments, with The Telegraph rating is as one of the best places for ‘all-inclusive wellness’. Bien Etre retreats are situated in the centre of this nature heaven known as the Vallouise Valley, a popular location amongst French tourists. With the purest mountain water, air quality and 300 days of sunshine a year, this area of outstanding natural beauty has it all.

Guests are hosted in Bien Etre’s stunning 4-star chalet which has a sauna and outdoor jacuzzi. With unspoilt, breath-taking mountain views from every angle, it’s the perfect place to get away from everything – and everyone

All Bien Etre activities are held in the great outdoors. You can expect walking to glaciers and waterfalls with sensational panoramic views, paddle boarding and wild swimming in refreshing mountain lakes and simply enjoying the wonders of the natural world. It offers something for everyone to try, regardless of your fitness level.

Deep relaxation is a vital part of Bien Etre’s retreats and takes place in a spectacular mountain spa centre, which features everything from a hammam and underwater musical grotto, to sea salt pools and Frigidariums, perfect for toning, boosting circulation and flushing out built-up toxins.

You’ll also get to choose between a complimentary massage or acupuncture session and can engage in some fantastic natural beauty workshops.

Bien Etre’s menu – developed by its own nutritional therapist, Oonagh English – is designed around the Mediterranean diet – claimed to be one of the healthiest diets in the world and the secret to longevity and good health in Mediterranean countries.

The meals are built around plant-based foods and incorporate loads organic vegetables, olive oil, provincial herbs, sea food, beans and whole grains with moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and eggs (all locally sourced where possible).

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Guests also receive a complimentary consultation with Oonagh, who will take a holistic view of your lifestyle and provide personalised nutrition advice.

Get a taste of multi-dimensional wellness and take your first step towards your optimum lifestyle of pure intention and purpose by following Bien Etre on Instagram: @bienetreretreats 

About lyndahamiltonparker 429 Articles
Lynda Hamilton Parker is a Scottish PR expert and independent publisher

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