Creative Exploration in Provence

Vaison-la-Romaine, France

Luova Retreats
  • Email address verified
May 7 - 14, 2019
Group size: 8 - 18
Creative Exploration in Provence
Vaison-la-Romaine, France

Luova Retreats
  • Email address verified

Deposit: $500
May 7 - 14, 2019
Group size: 8 - 18

About this trip

Luova is a Finnish word that means to create.  But life is busy—how do we find time for creative expression? Spend a week in a villa in Provence in the south of France and let your creative side come out and play. Take inspiration from the peaceful,  rural surroundings, be supported by our resident writer and artist, start the morning with a relaxing yoga class, take a dip in the pool, enjoy meals prepared with fresh, local ingredients. We’ll make it easy  for you to write, paint, think, relax, read—whatever you need to do to  fuel the creative magic that lives in all of us. 

How the Retreat Works

We all have creative potential. Come to Provence and discover yours!

A creative perspective on the world helps you solve problems—whether in business, studies, or everyday life. A creative perspective also deepens and enriches your experience of the world—whether traveling or closer to home.

What’s stopping you from taking a more creative approach to life?

Have you ever said or thought:

 • I can’t draw a straight line
 • People will laugh at my ugly stick figures
 • I have stories I want to tell, but I don’t know how.
 • It takes too much time to do art. Besides, I’m not an artist.
 • I’d love to add some little drawings or something to my journal, but I don’t know where to start.
 • I’ve started a few drawings, but they were awful, so I just gave up.
 • How do people get started? That blank page is terrifying!
 • I never went to art school. It’s too late for me to be creative.

During this week-long creativity retreat in Provence, we’ll help you feel comfortable in your creative skin. You’ll explore the culture, landscape, and cuisine of Provence with a fresh perspective. We’ll provide you with a series of easy, hands-on projects that will deepen your experience of the place—and the people you meet along the way. Yes, you’ll have a great time in Provence, but more importantly, we’ll teach you techniques and strategies you can take home with you. You’ll learn to see the familiar with fresh eyes and bring creative touches to your art, writing, or craft projects.

Each day you’ll discover new ways of integrating text and imagery as you explore the French countryside using all your senses. You may have had some experience with writing or art, but neither is necessary to enjoy this retreat. You may feel more comfortable with the written word, but want to add visual elements to work—we have all kinds of cool techniques for you to try—and all the materials on hand you’ll need to experiment. Perhaps you’ve always liked to sketch or doodle but you’d like to strengthen your writing skills. We have exercises to help you do that, too.

However you arrive, your week in Provence will be rich and stimulating. You’ll put your newfound observational skills to work at a local winery where we’ll attend a tasting (of course) and indulge in some sketching and writing while surrounded by grapevines hundreds of years old. An expedition to the local market is just the ticket when it comes to integrating found objects into your journal pages. Write about your experiences as you go truffle hunting, jotting notes as you go and then creating a unique art postcard once back at creativity headquarters in our comfortable French villa.

You won’t have to worry about cooking (fresh, local ingredients and amazing food will just keep coming), or cleaning up because we take care of all of that for you. Need some inspiration and encouragement? Our resident artist and writer have decades of experience between them, nurturing budding creatives. Most evenings we’ll show a film that features an artistic theme. Enjoy a glass of wine while you watch with new friends and then indulge in delightful conversation afterwards. If you’re a night owl, you may choose to work late into the night on a new project inspired by the day’s activities (or the evening’s movie).

Creativity is an attitude, a way of approaching the world and your experiences, wherever you find yourself. Each morning, we’ll begin the day with a yoga class that includes a short meditation—set an intention that you’ll carry throughout the day. Of course, if you prefer to sleep in (and, after a late night of creating, that may be exactly what you need), that’s fine, too.
Each day we’ve built in lots of time to relax, to think, to play, create and explore as you put to work the techniques and ideas we’ll share with you.

Every step of the way, our resident artist and writer will share tips, techniques, encouragement, and as much (or as little) help and guidance as you like.

If you’d like to take advantage of a bit of one-on-one time, that can be arranged (we’ll set up the consultations schedule on the first day).

You’ll go home with your head full of ideas and your heart full of joy and excitement. Being creative will no longer feel quite so overwhelming or intimidating. Our aim is to rekindle the delight and wonder that a child feels as you play with new materials, techniques and ideas. On a more practical front, you’ll leave with handbooks that cover everything we cover at the retreat plus some ideas to put into practice after you return home.

Provence has long been a place where artists and writers have gone to find inspiration. Join a long line of creatives that includes Van Gogh, Picasso, Gaughin, Matisse, Chagall, Çezanne, Virginia Woolf, Patricia Sands, Robert Louis Stevenson, Georges Sand, Edith Wharton, Peter Mayle, Willa Cather, Patricia Wells, and Martin Gayford. Just being there makes one feel like creative doors are opening! 

Non-participating travel companions.

Non-participating travel  companions are very welcome! Your partner or a friend are welcome to  participate in any or all of the activities, so if they want to try one or two things without committing to a whole week of creation, that's just fine too.

For those who’d rather not, there’s lots to do in the neighbourhood or, of course, Orange, Nimes, Avignon, and Carpentras are not far away. Golfers might like to play a round at Domaine de Manville or Le golf de Saumane, visit a local spa, or take in something  at the theatre. Those activities are not included in our retreat  pricing.

Our field trips are included for all attendees even if they are not taking part in the creativity workshops. We're still hammering out the details of the field trips, but expect three half-day excursions, perhaps to a vineyard, truffle hunting, or similar, as well as a full day field trip, which will include optional instruction.

Because we’ve structured the workshops so each day is self-contained, it’s easy for travel companions to pop in, try their hand at watercolours or sketching,  journal-writing or poetry just once during the week. Who knows, if they  enjoy the session, it’s easy to pull up another chair and join in during subsequent workshop sessions. There’s lots of room [and plenty of yoga  mats] if you want to join in the morning yoga session, the pool is large, and the area lovely for  hiking, biking, and exploring. 

Who We Are: Nikki Tate

Nikki Tate published her first magazine article in 1987 and has been writing and publishing ever since. With over 1500 articles, reviews, and blog posts under her belt, she has plenty of experience writing for adults and is also the author of more than 35 books, both fiction and non-fiction, for children and teens. The subjects she tackles are diverse and include medical assistance in dying, the Pony Express riders, running shoes, whisky, mountain climbing and trees. She has  written in a wide range of genres including fantasy fiction, picture books, contemporary juvenile fiction, and high-interest, low vocabulary novels for teenagers. 

Nikki  believes that anyone can write and loves working with emerging writers just beginning to find their voices. Warm and encouraging, Nikki’s workshops are known for being lots of fun, as challenging as you’d like them to be, and fabulous for writers of all ages and experience levels. Whether you want some input on a tricky section of your novel, are finally getting around to writing that children’s book you’ve always had in mind, or are just curious and want to see what it’s like to express yourself through the written word, Nikki can help you take the next step on your creative journey. 

Students say:

I’ve known Nikki for many years during which I participated in several of her writing workshops. I also organized a school tour and observed her in action in front of enraptured kids from grades 4–7. She is a  vivacious, knowledgeable and conscientious presenter with years of  experience as a writer and in the publishing business. I enjoyed her enthusiasm and her practical approach to writing, and I always left her  workshops feeling excited and encouraged about writing. I highly  recommend Nikki as a writing mentor and instructor.

--Lorraine Kemp

I’ve had the privilege of participating in Nikki’s writing workshops on more than one occasion. They are informed by/rooted in her vast knowledge  and experience in the world of writing and publishing books for  children. She shares her understanding of young readers and how to connect with this audience in one’s writing. Nikki is highly imaginative  and energetic in presenting her lessons, then deeply practical in directing writing exercises and providing writing tips. I’ll never  forget one workshop where we brainstormed an imaginary world while Nikki drew its corresponding map, followed by us selecting from a variety of unique props to inspire our creative writing exercises. But the greatest impact on me as I developed my writing skills was that she always had  something positive and encouraging to say when critiquing our work,  paired with suggestions for improving our writing.

--Karen Autio

Who We Are: E. Colin Williams ARCA

“There was never a time when I didn’t want to be an artist.”

E.  Colin Williams was born in England in 1935 and attended the Royal  College of Art in London in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s when the world  of art was undergoing profound changes. With a depth and breadth of  experience that includes classical training, exposure to cutting-edge artistic influences, and decades working as a visual artist, Colin continues to explore new directions in his own creative journey even in his 80s. 

With instructional experience at the National Art School in Sydney, Australia, the Banff Centre of the Arts and Creativity (where Colin was the first Artist in Residence in 1969), the University of Calgary, Colin has taught students of all levels, from complete beginners to those on the path to becoming full-time professional  artists. As Artist-in-Residence, he established the Visual Arts University Transfer program at Keyano College in northern Alberta.

Colin is delighted to be joining Luova in Provence, one of his favourite places in the world to paint. His workshops in sketching, pen and ink, and basic watercolour inspire and support those new to visual art and looking to explore, experiment, and learn some basic techniques. If you are hoping to enrich your artistic practice, you'll find Colin to be a wellspring of knowledge and experience, able to help you delve deeper into your creative work. 

Whether you’ve been drawing or painting for a while or have never picked up a  brush, Colin’s gentle encouragement will help you find the confidence you need to dig deeper in your art or try something  completely new. 

Students say: 

Colin’s passion and enthusiasm for art, along with patience and humour, made for an inspiring experience. He introduced me to a variety of mediums, tailoring the workshop to tap into my ability and creativity.


Samples of Colin's work are included in our photo gallery, or learn more at


The retreat takes place at a  beautifully-renovated 19th century villa just steps from Vaison La  Romaine. With two huge outdoor eating spaces, a generous indoor dining  area, theatre screen, several seating areas, and a gorgeous pool, there  are plenty of areas in which to find your own space to create or connect with another guest at the retreat.

Standard room rates are per person based on double occupancy. The rooms include a mix of king/queen rooms and those with two singles; please let us know your preference at time of booking. If you are booking a double room with another person, please let us know the name of the second person when you book. As is the French style, each room has its own toilet and shower, though they may be situated just across the hall rather than en suite. 

We also have limited space in two 'dorm' rooms, which sleep up to four on two sets of bunk beds. Since you'll be rooming with a couple of extra artists, the price is a little bit lower. We think that's win-win: more pocket money for all that amazing wine and cheese you might want to take home, and some extra  friends to boot.

In addition to our instructors, we also have two full-time staff providing meals and cleanup and working on logistics support. In total, there will be one of us for every 3 to 4  participants, which means someone will always be available to lend a  hand!

Early Booking

Book before October 31, 2018 and receive 10% off using booking code EARLYBOOK10

Plus, be the first to book a double room in either week and receive the best 'suite' in the house. This room includes its own terrace with an outdoor bedroom, as well as private access to a hot tub! $500 value per week. First-come, first-served, so get your deposits in now.   

Terms and Conditions

A $500 deposit is due at the  time of booking. This deposit is non-refundable if you cancel your trip  for any reason. We suggest purchasing cancel for any reason (CFAR) travel insurance. Deposits are, however, transferable provided your friend or family member takes the same type of room and does so in the same week you were planning to come.

Final payments are due by March 4, 2019. We have payment plans available, so you are welcome to  split your payment up into five parts over the coming months.

  • If you cancel your booking more than 30 days prior to departure, the penalty is 50% of the trip price. 
  • Within 30 days of departure, the penalty is 100%. 

Should  Luova need to cancel a retreat for any reason, we will provide a 100%  refund, including any service fees incurred by artists, of all monies  paid to that point.

What’s included

  • Accomodation
    7 nights in a comfy double occupancy room in a beautifully appointed French villa close to town. As is the French style, each room has its own toilet & shower, though they may be across the hall.
  • Home-cooked meals
    3 meals a day from dinner on arrival to lunch on the last day, coffee, snacks, and wine/beer with dinner. On excursions, you will be responsible for one lunch & one dinner over the course of the week
  • Creative Explorations
    Each day we offer guided hands-on creativity sessions exploring techniques in both written and visual arts. Field trips provide a chance to try out new skills and techniques.
  • Basic Art Supplies
    We provide basic art supplies, but if you have specific tools you'd like to use, please bring them along. We'll provide more details closer to the retreat start date.
  • Welcome gift
    This one's a surprise, but we promise it will put a smile on your face. As if that amazing pool wouldn't already!
  • The extras
    Airfare, travel insurance, transfers to the retreat location, any meals eaten off-property, and any personal incidentals.

Available Packages

Double occupancy room, two people
Available until Apr 7th12 left

This is the price for one double occupancy room, with two participants. This price is per person. When you book, please tell us who the second person in your room is.  

Deposit: $500
One Spot in the Dorm
Available until May 7th7 left
Deposit: $500
Double occupancy room, one person
Available until Apr 7th6 left

For those looking for a bit more privacy or space to spread out, this option provides you with an entire room to yourself. 

Deposit: $500
Deposit: $500

Double occupancy room, two people

Your Organizer

Luova Retreats
Luova is a Finnish word that means to create. But life is busy—how do we find time for creative expression? Spend a week in a villa with us and let your creative side come out and play. Take inspiration from the peaceful, small town surroundings, be supported by our resident writer and artist, start the morning with a relaxing yoga class, take a dip in the pool, enjoy meals prepared with fresh, local ingredients, and enjoy engaging cultural excursions.