Subscribe to
Our Bimonthly

Receive updates discounts plus French recipes!
Email us

Painting Castles and Gardens in the Loire Valley

Along the lush Loire River Valley, more than 1,000 châteaux bathe in their own beauty and stunning grandeur. Embark on this eight day painting holiday which takes you on a journey of discovery through some of the most prominent chateaux and gardens of this famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your paintings will be inspired by some of the grandest and most beautiful architectural structures in France like Chenonceau, Clos Luce and Amboise.

Day 1: Arrival

We will pick you up at the Tours train station early in the afternoon (TGVs ride from Paris Montparnasse station to Tours in 1 hour and 15 minutes).

Hotel check-in: you will have time to rest in your comfortable bedroom or to explore your surroundings before the Champagne reception and orientation meeting, followed by a gourmet dinner.

Day 2: Painting on Location

The first day will be a slow day for you to deal with jetlag. In the morning, the teacher will give you the necessary basic advice to start the workshop in a group meeting, and start on your first painting.

In the afternoon, you will go on with the painting session on the hotel property that offers a variety of typical vignettes to paint.

Day 3: Discover Leonardo DaVinci's Mansion and Inventions.

We will go to Amboise, where Leonardo Da Vinci lived at the end of his life. We will visit his home, the picturesque mansion of Clos Luce, where he developed many of his most visionary inventions.

Clos Lucé houses a museum and park filled with prototypes of some of Da Vinci's most imaginative creations, including the machine gun, helicopter and paddle boat.

The museum's basement also features a display explaining on how tech giant IBM brought some of his inventions to life. Food for thought.

You will have the opportunity to paint in the garden, inspired by the magic of the park and surrounded by centuries-old pines, Italian cypresses, yews, madonna lilies, yellow irises, horned violets, European alders, cyclamen repandums, and of course, the famous Mona Lisa rose.

Day 4: Garden Festival at Chaumont Castle

Chaumont is a Cinderella type castle. But in addition to being a very beautiful castle, Chaumont is famous for its international garden festival. Every year since 1992, the gardens of chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire play host to the annual ‘Festival des Jardins’, a garden festival with up to 30 themed gardens.

These gardens are created by different landscape architects, designers and artists around a theme, which changes every year. This brings the chateau surroundings to life with the colour and fragrances of the many plants and flowers on display. You will discover the most incredible garden structures.

Day 5: Market in Amboise

Markets are part of everyday life in France, with almost every town and village having their local "marchés" .

A visit is not complete without a wander around the stalls sampling and taking in the atmosphere of French life. You will find fish, meat, bread, fruit & veg., cheese, flowers, clothing, kitchen supplies, furniture, jewellery, handbags, garden supplies, live birds...and just about everything you can think of.

Then, weather permitted, we may be able have a picnic by the Loire in the afternoon with the bottle of Vouvray, bread cheese and rillettes just bought on the market.

The whole aftenoon is yours to paint the quaint houses in Amboise, the Loire river or the castle.

Day 6: Romantic Castle of Chenonceau, built over the river

In the morning, we will visit one of the gems of the Loire Castles: Chenonceau. This amazing castle was built on a bridge and the proximity of water is delightful. The history of this place is incredibly rich, from the love intrigues under the reign of Henry II to the hospital it was turned into during WWII.

Afternoon: Painting in the sprawling Renaissance gardens of the castle, which are sure to leave you breathless. You will be able to pick among many subjects to paint: the orderly French style squares, the views of the castle, the river plunging under the castle or the amazing vegetable patches.

Day 7: Wine Tasting

We are based in the centre of the world- heritage Loire Valley wine region, where some of the finest wines in France are produced. The wines drunk by the French Kings centuries ago. There are 69 Controlled Place of Origin (AOC) (Appellations d’Origine Contrôlées) wines in the Loire Valley offering a wealth of colourful oenological delights as there is a diverse range of still, rosé, white, red and sparkling wines produced throughout the region.

So, it is a must to taste some of them. We will visit a little winery owned by a family. The owner will show you the cellar, explain how he produces the different wines and we will finish the visit by some tastings, of course!

We will come home early to give you time to finish up some paintings and do a little "vernissage" with all your art from the week.

Day 8: Departure

After breakfast, we will drive you to the Tours train station for you to catch a TGV to Paris or for an extended stay in the area to visit more castles.

Dates & Rates 2017

June 9-16, 2017 1 spot left
Teacher: Sonja Hamilton, swa
Watercolor Painting and Journal Sketching Workshop (ink & watercolor)

Price is $3,190
(+ $550 for single room)
-$400 off for non painters

Watercolor painting, Sonja Hamilton, swa

Join Sonja Hamilton, swa, on her 9th tour with French Escapade. Register early to insure your spot! We have added a second week because the first one is already sold out!

Castles and Gardens are breathtaling in the Loire valley!

The chateaux look like they've come straight from a fairytale with their turrets, pinnacles, lanterns and moats. The most beautiful parks and gardens reside within the Loire region appropriately named "the garden France."

What better places to create memories with paint!

And let's not forget the Gourmet Fench food and wine!!

Demonstrations will help you with composition, color harmony and the play of light on objects.

Sonja will do a demo every day and also give you some one to one help. All skill levels are welcome.

Plan on small format sketching plus painting in ink/ or watercolor-a doable size for the traveling artist.

Sonja has been a teacher for over 40 years and is the author of a book called: "Watercolor - It's just a piece of paper". It is a watercolor reference book published and printed in Oregon in 2015. 176 pages of information with Sonja's paintings and exemplars from her teaching experiences in the classroom.

She says of her work, "Although I draw and paint in many mediums, I find watercolor exciting, spontaneous, and challenging. When I paint, my cares leave and I become totally immersed in what I'm doing. Watercolor is a joy - exhilarating, yet most relaxing for me. It is who I am".

  • Tours train station pick-up and drop-off
  • A welcome reception
  • 7 nights at our hotel
  • All breakfasts
  • 2 lunches and 5 dinners including drinks
  • All art classes
  • A personal bilingual guide throughout the week
  • Entrance fees to all sites on the tour

  • Flight and train to/from France and Tours
  • 5 lunches and 2 dinners
  • Optional activities
  • Personal expenses and tipping

Toll free: 1-888-483-5713
Local: 1-510-483-5713