Our France Art Retreat was a smashing success! There’s something magical that happens when artists from around the world come together in a beautiful place to pursue their artistic passion and learn new skills. Many “ah-ha” moments were had, new friendships bloomed and a whole lot of messy, beautiful art-making took place! If you’ve ever been curious about what happens on a Bardot Art Retreat be sure to read on, because I’ve got all the details from our enchanting French Art Retreat for you.

Art Inspiration & Travel

Exploring new places and collecting new experiences is food for the artist’s soul. If you’ve ever felt a lack of inspiration or motivation in your art practice, travel might just be your remedy! This is why I chose a historic chateau in the picturesque French countryside for the setting of our most recent Art Retreat – a decision that completely delivered when it came to beauty, inspiration, and a truly immersive experience.

Staying in a rustic Chateau in the French Countryside

On our way to the chateau, we drove through the quaint Loire Vally and I felt like I’d stepped into a scene from a storybook. The French architecture was nothing short of enchanting. Towering turrets, whimsical windows, and intricate hand-carved stone details – I had to pinch myself a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming!
When I arrived at the chateau, I couldn’t believe my eyes! Pictures don’t do these magical grounds justice. The chateau looks like a little castle in and of itself, surrounded by gardens brimming with vibrant flora, a sparkling turquoise pool, and a massive lime tree in the center of the courtyard wrapped in fairy lights. (We were lucky enough to dine under it multiple afternoons, but that’s a story for later. 🍽️😋)

If you’ve been yearning for visual inspiration, this stunning Chateau will have you reaching for your art supplies in no time.

Welcoming Everyone!

The atmosphere was electrified as the retreat attendees started to arrive! There were lots of hugs, tears of joy, and a palpable sense of excitement. An air of infectious positivity enveloped us all as we exchanged warm greetings, reuniting with old friends from the Oaxaca Art Retreat of 2023 and forming new connections. It was as if we were attending a creative adult summer camp, excitedly greeting one another.

Once everyone had settled comfortably into their rooms, we reconvened in one of the chateau’s gorgeous outdoor courtyards. I had prepared a special surprise for all the retreat attendees, and I could hardly contain my excitement. Each guest received a thoughtfully curated welcome bag that I had personally created, brimming with an array of new art supplies, a retreat sketchbook, delightful stickers, and other fun goodies. One of my greatest joys is to surprise and delight my retreat guests, and these welcome bags were just the first of many special surprises to come.

Art Lessons that fill the heART!

While the grounds provided a fountain of visual inspiration, it was our time spent together in the studio where I felt the magic of the whole retreat come alive!

Every day after a delicious breakfast in the chateau, we’d all meet in the studio for a morning of hands-on, invigoratingly freeing art lessons. With the goal of tapping into our child-like sense of wonder and creativity, we abandoned all the rules and just had fun playing with paint, scissors, and glue while giggling and singling along to our new favorite playlist: Hardcore Bardcore. 🤣 These inhibition-free art exercises came to be some of our retreat attendees’ favorite and most cherished moments.

Following an invigorating morning of hands-on crafty creativity, we reconvened in the studio after lunch for a fun Procreate art lesson. I guided the retreat attendees through a variety of topics such as color theory and sketching objects from life, but the most cherished session was undoubtedly the Procreate Brush-Making lesson. For the first time ever, I shared my secret brush-making process, allowing attendees to create their very own personalized Procreate brush set. This intimate and personal experience enabled me to offer individualized attention and address any one-on-one questions they had, fostering a unique and memorable learning environment.

Mouth-Watering Meals

If the picturesque location and thoughtfully crafted art lessons weren’t enough of a treat, let’s add fresh, chef-prepared meals to the mix.
For 7 days straight, 3 times per day we were served delectable meals crafted by our Chateau host and certified nutritionist, May Simpkin who is also a member of The Royal Society of Medicine. From traditional French cuisine to culturally inspired fusion dishes, May took exceptional care of us when it came time to nourish our bodies.

Wine Tasting

Not only did May give us a daily culinary adventure, but we were also treated to a lively evening of wine-tasting from renowned local sommelier Thierry Berson, who introduced us to a medley of wines sourced from specialty French vineyards. Thierry was an enthusiastic storyteller and his passion for wine was felt by everyone in attendance.
He even brought a couple of champagne bottles for us and taught us how to “saber” the corks off. It was truly, a memorable experience.

After a few glasses of wine shared with friends and a delectable meal, we always looked forward to the unbelievable deserts our host May unveiled. Trying to guess what sweet treat she would bring out became a favorite dinner conversation amongst attendees – and we were never disappointed. The pavlova and tiramisu should receive awards, just saying.

Art Outings and Adventures

As if we could need anything more than an idyllic setting, invigorating art lessons, and 5-star food and wine, let’s not forget our Art Excursions.
During our France Art Retreat, we went on not one, but two special Art Excursions. One to the town square’s quaint Farmers Market which served as a sales place for local farmers, potters, jewelry-makers, and more.
But the real star of our trip was the inspiring outing to Chateau de Saumur, a 900-year-old medieval castle nestled in the hills of Maine-et-Loire where we sketched whimsical castle details and toured the grounds of this historic infrastructure.

The Trip of a Lifetime

As our time together at our enchanting Château drew to a close, it was evident that the true magic of this art retreat lay not only in the breathtaking surroundings and the wealth of knowledge shared, but also in the deep connections forged among our creative community.
We welcomed artists of all skill levels, fostering an environment of collaboration, support, and mutual growth. The Chateau De La Vigne became a backdrop for spontaneous sketch sessions at dinner tables, mini-lessons in between coffee, and impromptu discussions about what it means to be an artist.
As one of our retreat attendees, Rachel so beautifully summarized, “If there is a heaven for art lovers, then this art retreat gave me a glimpse of what it’s like to be in heaven. I loved that I could just focus on making art all day every day, with other supportive fellow art lovers. The chateau venue was beautiful, and each meal was extraordinary and something to look forward to. This art retreat was a birthday present for myself, and it was the best gift I’ve ever given myself.”

The collective passion for creativity and the strong bonds formed among our attendees made this a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we carry with us newfound friendships, a reignited passion for art-making, and the anticipation of future gatherings that celebrate the power of collaboration and the beauty of artistic connection.