For all the senses that France excites, the most pleasurable for me arrives with the unexpected. Discovering vegetarian feasts that would challenge the haute cuisine practitioners, yoga practice and geodesic domes (which harvest greenhouses and solar energy), I experienced that pure expression nearly 30 years ago in France and know it continues to exist today.
If you want to take a group to a breathtakingly simple, comfortable and genuine country retreat, where a Zen-like spirit creates an atmosphere of peace, beauty and exploration, then consider Le Moulin de Vaux two hours west of Paris in Chateau-du-Loir between Le Mans and Tours. My friends have preserved this unique environment because they believe in the quality of the, frankly, alternative opportunity that today would still fit in California, from Big Sur to Marin County. What more beautiful and accepting a location for a serene, rustic and introspective getaway, with an emphasis on community? The French culture, despite the hoopla, appreciates and supports quality experiences in all forms. Here in the Loire Valley countryside, the passion is quieter -- but the goal is the same -- wine, food, art, and health.