Retreats for artists have been around in some form for centuries, although they really became popular towards the end of the 19th century, perhaps as a chance to escape from the increasing industrialization and growing urban centers. Today, artists’ retreats can be found all over the world, offering the chance for artists of all abilities to focus on their art, avoid distractions, and interact with others.
France has been the home to many great artists over the last few centuries, so it’s perhaps no wonder that painting retreats in France should be so popular. Add to that the French lifestyle, the excellent food and wine, the history and unspoiled scenery, and France perhaps seems the obvious place to focus on art for a few days or longer. Whether you prefer the buzz of Paris with its café culture and dozens of museums, or the countryside and small villages of Brittany or Provence, retreats can be found all over France. Wherever you go in France, you are following in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest artists, including Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro.
Other than the location, there are other factors to consider when looking at painting retreats in France. The cost can vary widely, not only based on the length of your stay, but on the standard of accommodation too, and the facilities and amenities provided. Some retreats are in castles or historic homes, and offer 4 or 5-star accommodation, while others are more basic, and offer more affordable accommodation. Some retreats are self-catering, while others provide meals, although wherever you are staying in France, sampling that region’s food and wine is one of the pleasures.
Some retreats really are in the middle of nowhere, something else to consider, as exploring France is an enjoyable part of any visit there. Some offer extras such as art lessons, local excursions, or cooking classes, and you may want to choose a retreat that allows you to take a break from standing in front of your easel. And your level of skill may determine what is the right artists’ retreat for you; it’s probably better to be somewhere where your fellow artists have the same abilities and approach to their work. One of the reasons that many artists go to a retreat is to interact with others, socialize and make new friends; too many, that’s as important as improving their painting skills.