Chateau d'Orion, Aquitaine, France
A guest contribution by Janna Schwanemann
In the south-west of France, where the hills are gently green and the Pyrenees are Atlantic, lies the Béarn. An area that, apart from its béarnaise sauce, is not very famous and is more of an insider tip for tourists. Because anyone who thinks that the French province at the foot of the Pyrenees has nothing to offer is wrong: The Béarn and the neighboring French Basque Country are bursting with breathtaking nature and rich culture.
An island of its own temporality
Here, in the middle of a small village, is the Château d'Orion. If you drive through the cast iron gate along the pebbled path to the castle and enter the reception hall through the heavy entrance door, you will quickly notice: This is an island of its own temporality, far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the driven rhythm of the big cities. The former lay monastery from the 17th century is now a guest house and meeting center. A living museum that reveals the spirit of the centuries and is filled with new life every day.
As a guest at Château d'Orion, you can not only sleep in style and eat delicious food, you can also, if you like, be challenged to discuss and philosophize about the pressing issues of the present. The two Germans, Elke Jeanrond-Premauer and Tobias Premauer (see picture above), who bought the house and its inventory in 2003 and lovingly restored it, have set themselves the task of creating a model for the pleasurable symbiosis of spirit and enjoyment . And so the events of the think tank Château d'Orion combine the rational with the sensual, inspiration and relaxation complement each other.
Knowledge and nutrition
"Thinking weeks" take place regularly in the historic country castle, during which a small group of participants in community intensively deals with a topic for five days. Despite all the programmatic and perspective diversity, a central aspect is always the search for a successful life. At Château Orion, this extends to the area of nutrition, among other things. Mainly goods and products are used that come from the company's own permaculture garden or regional sustainable agriculture, as well as projects that focus on an agro-ecological cultivation method. As part of a week of thought, the spontaneous vegetation in forests and meadows will now also be examined: Steffen Fleischhauer and Claudia Gassner are designing one creative journey of discovery under the title "Edible Wild Plants" from April 22nd to 28th, 2018.
For the operators of Château d'Orion, holism is a central requirement - in nutrition as well as in thinking and acting. The aim is the connection of heart and mind, the balance between ecological, economic and social responsibility. The question of how we want to live in the future also affects the field of work and the organization of human coexistence. So after the wild plants seminar there will be a Thinking week with change manager Jutta Eckstein on the subject of agile work organization (April 29 to May 05, 2018).
A fulfilling time
Those who are more in the mood for contemplative relaxation will certainly enjoy one of the deckchairs in the shade of the 200-year-old plane tree with a view of the distant mountain range or an excursion into the surrounding area. The Way of St. James "Voie de Vezelay" leads past the house just under 300 meters away. A visit to the very special Basque local history museum "Chemins/Bideak" or the village of "Sorde l'Abbaye", which has been declared a World Heritage Site, is also worthwhile. The sea is also just under an hour's drive away, as are the majestic Pyrenees.
Anyone who embarks on a stay at the Château d'Orion will not experience an off-the-peg vacation. Each room tells its own story, you don't move anonymously, you are moved personally, never intrusively. Instead of an international, profile-less food buffet, people cook appreciatively and individually with whatever the garden has to offer, depending on the season. It is not a pastime, but an enjoyment of the time that frees the head and creates space for new things.