Les Joly Dames

I have just returned home from a women’s walking and yoga weekend, in the French Alps, feeling incredibly refreshed and nourished.

Losing friends to a des-res Alpine village brings with it a mixture of emotions: the fact that you can’t get together for a coffee and a natter is compensated wildly by the fact that you can get together for a ski and a natter, any time all winter; and in summer a walk up a hill followed by lunch in Chamonix in sparkling sunshine, goes a long way to make up for any woes you might feel.

This seriously happened to me, when my dear friend and colleague, Mairi MacDonald, moved from Helensburgh, a small town just west of Glasgow to a village near Megeve in the French Alps.My first thoughts were ‘how dare you move somewhere so gorgeous without me?’ To which she countered ‘well you can visit.’ Hmmm I thought, ‘what an effort, I am far too stuck in my ways to manage any visits… navigating that Easyjet website is NOT easy…’Well, three visits later and more than half a dozen return visits from Mairi, we are still friends and I am becoming quite a dab hand at booking flights and buses and generally getting to know this incredible part of the world.Mairi has formalised her visitor experience. You can probably imagine that when you move to a chalet in a ski resort, visits from friends become almost industrial in scale: people you met at a mother and toddler group in 1998 suddenly remember you with incredible fondness and decide that you would love a visit from them and their now large adult family.Well – they are very welcome. Mairi has teamed up with her fab friend, June Keen, above, dazzling us all with her barbecuing skills, a neighbour, in similar situation. Mairi, below, dazzling us with her Prosecco pouring skills.

They are offering the most amazing hospitality at affordable prices, winter and summer, in both their own homes, which have small private apartments attached and in larger chalets surrounding them both, which lie empty much of the year. There are spaces left on two dates this September for Les Joly Dames Walking Weekends for Women, 5-9th September and 19th-23rd September. Please get in touch to find out more if this appeals to you on their Facebook page.You are treated to a chalet style experience on your walking holiday: a delicious breakfast followed by a picnic packed lunch that we ate en route, a small sample of which is depicted below.We walked from 9am to 3pm and returned home to afternoon tea and a soothing yoga session.Not sure if my rather huddled position, yes that is me in the middle, is a particularly good advert for the wondrous coaching we received in the leigh of Mont Blanc, but honestly my need is clear. We then showered and got ready and enjoyed aperitifs on the terrace and a three course evening meal with wine.Mairi and June have christened their venture Les Joly Dames after a nearby peak, thus named, hoping to attract like minded women who want to enjoy each others company in glorious surroundings whilst improving their health and fitness as well.Of course, you might wish to come as a family or a ready made group as well and this would be no problem. Please enquire.Marit our guide giving us clear directions above – yep – one word – up. And trying not to chuckle our general mis-behaviour below.

Up hill and down dale does NOT cover it. We saw fabulous waterfalls…

Wildflowers…

And were thoroughly entertained, encouraged to default into the can-can position at every juncture…  Mairi and June are planning ski breaks and creative holidays as well.

Here I am, gently showing the Interior Design Toolkit to Mary Weaver, the Houses editor at Living Etc magazine – hope I wasn’t being too intense – she was completely free to edge away from me along the sofa – honestly!

The Alps is a wonderful place to go for an activity holiday obviously, but also to write, paint or practice mindfulness. Any ideas you might have, get in touch with Les Joly Dames and they will get started on a bespoke holiday tailored to your requirements, straight away.

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