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Dream Of France No Longer, Come Enjoy It With Us

Ever dream of visiting the lush vineyards and aromatic lavender fields of France? 

Now turn your dream trip into reality and enjoy astonishing history, iconic landmarks, rich wildlife, colorful cafe terraces, national parks and ancient villages, as well as exquisite cuisine experiences - with wine, of course - while participating in writing workshops led by international published authors.

And, better still, let our multi-national team at ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ do all the planning for you. And be sure to take advantage of our generous New Year discount which ends Sunday, January 14.

To mark our 10th year celebrations in 2024, we will organise an extra-special retreat in the heart of rural French wine country with lots of excursions to places of unique interest combined with exclusive live folk music and traditional dance performances. Each participant will also receive an innovative gift to mark our first full decade in operation.

This special retreat under azure blue skies and brilliant sunshine will take place in the Spring (March 25 to 31, 2024), in Languedoc, a region of beautiful landscapes an hour from the Mediterranean Sea and the Spanish border. This also means you can extend your stay and visit other cities such as Barcelona, Monaco, Monte Carlo, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Marseilles, Avignon, Toulouse, Perpignan, Nice, Cannes and Carcassonne if you wish. See map (red dot is Prades, where our retreat takes place).

All participants and tutors will stay together in an enchanting 19th century Spanish Colonial-style chateau, Villa Lafabregue, with an inspiring setting featuring stunning views of Canigou, the sacred mountain of Catalan people; an outdoor swimming pool and a fragrant botanical garden filled with palm trees, cacti, a goldfish pond, herbs and exotic flowers and outdoor seating for meditation. 

The chateau is located in the charming town of Prades with its cafe-filled central square and lively open-air market where local producers proudly display their fresh fruits, organic vegetables, honey and cheeses. On market days, you can relax at outdoor tables, wine or pastis in hand and maybe a slice of Basque cake or Pyrénées Croustade with myrtle berries, a sweet pie of puff pastry, with buskers playing traditional music as a soft backdrop.

Offering exceptional panoramic views over the stunning Pyrenees, Prades also boasts a rich and colorful heritage in both Baroque and Romanesque architecture and centuries-old traditions, with half-timbered houses dating back to Medieval times.

Your days and evenings will be filled with lively exchanges on literature and writing styles and techniques, as well as philosophical musings on life itself. Daily writing workshops on subjects ranging from character development and building suspense to shaping dialogue, sensorial writing and memoir will take place in the shadow of Canigou. Amid pure air and unspoiled Nature you are sure to find inspiration in such a calm and serene atmosphere steeped in history.

As part of your package, you will also be treated to wine tastings and fine French foods at different restaurants and taken on special cultural and historic excursions including a walk by led by an historian and tourism guide through a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, a walled Medieval village of cobblestone streets featuring dragons and other mystical creatures; a visit to a spectacular red-rock geological ‘moonscape’ of fairy chimneys and organ-like sculptures millions of years old known as ‘The Orgues’ with formations known locally as ‘Cheminées de Fées’ (Fairy Chimneys); a guided tour of age-old cellars where the famous aperitif, Byrrh, is made, featuring the largest oak vat in the world; as well as a bustling open-air French market. 

Diverse people with an abiding interest in reading and writing from countries such as Iceland, Scotland, the US, England and Canada including a trade union leader, lawyer, teacher, actress, banker, social worker, nurse, pastor and nutritionist have all participated in our previous Languedoc retreats (listen to their comments here) and we expect a similarly diverse group in March, making informal discussions all the more fascinating and stimulating. But be aware - as this is a bespoke writing retreat with personalised attention, we accept a maximum of only ten participants. So don’t miss out on a place by procrastinating.

Live song and dance events are also part of the itinerary for the week, especially an exclusive Catalan dance performance complete with traditional costumes, accompanied by a buffet of assorted French cheeses and charcuterie and an array of drinks, including wines, pastis and Byrrh, the delicious local aperitif. Participants will even learn a few dance steps.

Lead writing tutor for the daily workshops will be Sean Hillen, former foreign correspondent for such newspapers and magazines as The Times, London; The Irish Times, Dublin and Time magazine, New York. Sean, from Ireland, has written in many different genres including memoir, ‘Digging for Dracula,’ novel, ‘Pretty Ugly’ and novella, ‘Driver’s Diary - Death at the Mouth of Flowers,’ and also worked at the United Nations Media Center and was chairperson of a national multi-million dollar US Fulbright Commission. Sean has been a featured speaker at numerous literary conferences and festivals in such places as Dublin, Berlin, Belfast, Tucson and Washington.

To cap off what we believe will be a memorable week, all participants to this commemorative writing retreat will receive specially-designed course certificates, as well as surprise gifts unique to the region in addition to ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’s 10th anniversary gift.  

So, take advantage of our commemorative New Year discount offer now and join us for a wonderful week in March and a well-earned holiday with a difference. Offer ends midnight Sunday January 14th 2024.


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