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‘I Love Paris…’

Cole Porter wrote this classic song, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra made it famous… so…

With two of our writing retreats this year already fully booked, a compliment to our efforts to create a memorable week of workshops and cultural activities, we welcome you to sign up for one of our remaining retreats, one of which is in the beautiful French capital in all its golden autumnal, romantic, blue-skies glory.

Here is a taster from last year’s retreat in Europe’s legendary City of Light under the theme 'Sensorial Paris’ to help whet your appetite for a cherished, once-in-a-lifetime holiday with us -

Literary Salon Beside Notre Dame Cathedral

An extraordinary treat for participants - a special literary salon and lively afternoon discussion complete with lunch, wine and refreshing pastis in a classic French apartment right next door to the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris.

From here participants admired the magnificent flying buttresses, Gothic towers and expressive gargoyles of the 12th century cathedral. Severely damaged by fire, participants watched ongoing renovation activities to resurrect the iconic edifice on the Ile de la Cite, an island in the River Seine.

Our exciting event was made possible by Mary Duncan, a friend of ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ and a literary leader in Paris. Mary was a close acquaintance of the legendary George Whitman, founder of famous Parisian bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, before she opened a similar bookstore in Moscow, a project she described as “a true labor of love.” Mary also launched the Paris Writers Group and has written her own captivating memoir, teasingly entitled, ‘Henry Miller Is Under My Bed.

A former professor at San Diego State University, Mary has spent many years in the French capital and not only launched the highly-respected ‘Paris Writers Group’ but also her own publishing company. Among the books she has published are ‘Sade’s Publisher,’ about Jean-Jacques Pauvert who released the complete works of the Marquis de Sade; ‘Writers in Paris: Literary Lives in the City of Light’ by David Burke which explores the pathways of Paris frequented by the world’s most notable writers; and ‘Erotic Art of the Masters: The 18th Century’ by Bradley Smith.

As the popular movie says, ‘There’s Something About Mary.’ A fascinating person to spend an afternoon with.

Making Perfume in Paris

Perfume making is synonymous with French cultural life so we organised a special evening workshop for participants to create their very own scent inside a traditional ‘Maison des Parfums,’ a charming 17th century building close to the River Seine in the historic Marais district.

Hosted by expert perfumer Emmanuel Frossard, a native Parisian and co-owner of Candora, participants learned about the history of perfumes and were guided as to what scents from an assortment of fragrances each participants was given that would be best to create the bouquet they wanted. Participants also learned about the essential make-up of perfumes, known as top, middle and base notes, and how a fragrance evolves.

Interestingly, in terms of literature, Candora has developed an innovative project with novelist, Ingrid Astier, to take visitors on a sensory journey through the small and large stories behind the different scents of the Candora collection, including damask rose, oud, bigarade orange and vetiver in its unique Olfactory Library.

Our visit to the perfumery was facilitated by Patricia Liogier de Sereys, a true internationalist with a love for Paris. Mexico-born, Patricia lived in the US before moving to the City of Light where she established her own hospitality company Paris S’il Vous Plait with clients in a range of sectors including upscale hotels and restaurants. Whether it be a special cruise on the Seine or a trip out of the city to bucolic French countryside, it is well worth contacting Patricia.

Writing Workshops in the Footsteps of Joyce, Orwell and Hemingway

Throughout the week, participants gathered together for practical writing workshops led by author and former foreign correspondent for The Times (London) The Irish Times (Dublin) and Time magazine (New York), in different vintage restaurants throughout the city. These were once popular rendezvous for such legendary novelists as James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway.

The three-hour workshops were followed by a delicious French lunches with wine (of course), served together at our group table.

Exploring the Mysteries of Underground Paris

Something completely different - a unique adventure below the streets of Paris!

Through a special excursion arranged exclusively for ‘Ireland Writing Retreat,’ participants enjoyed the rare opportunity of exploring under the streets of Paris to glimpse an unusual slice of history very few people ever get the chance to see. As the tour is exclusive to retreat participants, we cannot make more information public available here. Come join us and prepare to be intrigued.

Exclusive Literary Walking Tour

Paris has been the home of famous writers for centuries, from Voltaire and Victor Hugo to George Sand and Albert Camus, so in their honor we organised a special guided tour of one of the most intriguing literary streets in the City of light, close to the Seine. Here lived, worked and socialised many well-known French writers and philosophers including the renown couple, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.

National Library of Literary Treasures

No ordinary library, the National Library of France is an astounding museum of Baroque galleries and spectacular painted ceilings containing incredible artefacts of all kinds. Not to mention the rarest of books penned by masters of the literary world.

Here ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ participants entered a special room containing original manuscripts by some of France’s most esteemed authors down through the ages, with their handwritten editing marks and personal notes on the pages. Protected under glass but easy to read are the memoirs of Casanova; the manuscript of classic novel, Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) by Victor Hugo; and In Search of Lost Time) by Marcel Proust.

Participants also perused display cabinets filled with ancient coins; medals, collected by Kings of France since the Middles Ages; antiques such as the throne of King Dagobert from the 8th-9th century; coloured amphora from Etruscan tombs dated 540-530 BC; and Roman silverware including statuettes of Mercury, richly decorated cups, vials, goblets, jewellery, intricately engraved stones, sculptures and ceramics.

There’s even an original Moulin Rouge poster painted by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Among the library’s finest treasures is one of the first examples of writing in the world, a black stone etched with cuneiform from Mesopotamia.

Join us for the Paris Writing Retreat this year - we can only accept a maximum of seven participants. SEE DETAILS

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