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September 29, 2011


Creative Holidays – Painting, Writing, Crafts & Photography

by Julianne Mooney

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I speak from experience when I say our creative aspirations are often neglected. How many times have you heard people say “I’ve always wanted to write a book” or “I used to love painting, but I just don’t have the time now”?

Why is creativity viewed as a luxury, an indulgence? Taking time out of our busy lives to sit down and write a poem or pick up a brush and paint a landscape should rather be viewed as a necessity in life. Like eating dinner or going to bed.

After years of racing home to do some writing, but never quite finishing my book, I decided to take a step out of my life and give creativity a go. I took a sabbatical from work, packed my bags and headed for the hills in Southern France to a tiny hamlet with nothing to distract me, but a library stacked with books and a fridge filled with wine. It took me one week to realize I would not spend a month there, but an entire summer nurturing my muse.

Three months may be a stretch for most people, but taking time out of your life to indulge your creative side is one of the most refreshing and inspirational things you can do for yourself.  ‘Creative Holidays’ are fast becoming the new trend, with people of all ages opting not for a holiday on the beach, but rather holidays where they focus on painting, writing, dancing, singing or whatever their passion is.

Painting weekends in Tuscany, Writing retreats in France, photography in Istanbul or Kerala, cooking in Morocco, you name it, you can take yourself off for a weekend or a week if you are truly devoted.

This morning on Ireland AM we discussed a few great creative holiday option.

La Muse, Black Moutains, France 

La Muse is at the heart of a tiny hamlet north of Carcassone in the mountains. Surrounded by stunning forest, close to the canal du midi it is a retreat for all creative types – artists, writers, photographers etc. You can rent a room in the main house, where facilities such as the large library, studios, outdoor terrace are shared or for those travelling within a group or family, you can rent the adjacent 3 bedroom house or 2 bedroom cottage. All residents have access to the shared facilities and in the evening people tend to gather, cook meals, chat and enjoy some local wine!

While there are workshops run at La Muse, it is primarily a retreat, with the retreats running for between 1-3 weeks. It’s a great way to get the space, time and inspiration needed to immerse yourself in your own creative work. However, it’s not all work and no play, with plenty of pretty villages nearby, the historical city of Carcassone, lakes and lots of walks right on your doorstep.

La Muse is the creative hub of the area and the owners, John & Kerry organize impromptu dinners, trips into town and most importantly offer guests incredible support and advice on their creative projects.

La Muse is the perfect place to go and face your creative projects head on, in stunning and inspirational surrounds. You won’t want to leave.

Getting there

Flights Direct to Carcassone

From €19 one way

 Prices From:

Three week retreat from €700

One week retreat from €395

Mews House (3 bedroom house) from €1000 per week

Two-bedroom Cottage from €850 per week

 Frui, UK – Worldwide Creative Holidays

This UK company organises creative holidays around the world and has built a strong reputation for providing interesting, creative, fun, vaule for money holidays. The great thing about Frui is that they offer such a range of holidays, everything from photography, painting, cooking and Art Appreciation. Everything is arranged for guests, from airport pickup, tutoring, accommodation and most meals.

Groups tend to be no more than 15 people and vary in ages and they try to make each trip a different experience every time. You can expect a high standard of tutoring, with your tutors having an in-depth knowledge of the areas you visit, but also expect to have lots of fun, food and wine. This is the companies ethos, to visit beautiful locations, explore them creatively, but do so in a fun way.

Choose from places like Italy, Morocco, Turkey, India and even Vietnam.

Courses run from 2 – 11 day trips.

Prices from:

Weekend course from €330

11 nights (India, Vietnam) from €2400

 Cork, Ireland ( (

2011 was designated the Year of the Craft and rising from this has been the promotion of existing and new ‘Craft Trails’ throughout Ireland. The purpose of these trails is to encourage the growth of the professional craft industry. Generally concentrated within a small area, visitors follow a trail map visiting a whole range of studios and workshops. Watch the artisans at work or join in on a workshop. There’s everything from furniture makers, candlemakers, potters, jewelry designers are included on the trail offering plenty of variety for all interests. Check out for details.

Cork has a huge number of craftspeople with a registered 230 craftmakers and artists. You can move through the area going from one artisan workshop to the next, or there are plenty of workshops to take part in. In August they have a craft month with a range of events and workshops littered around the. Last year, an estimated 50-100,000 attended, with 100 craftmakers taking part.

Kinsale Pottery and Arts Centre 

Run courses in pottery, batik, glass fusing, millinery, costume jewellery-making, needle-felting, rag weaving and even Christmas decoration making. Classes are run at the studio and they have links with local accommodation so they can help to arrange your stay in Kinsale. They arrange hen parties, groups, summer camps etc.

Day courses from €60

Weekend courses from €200

 For those looking for something a little trickier or quirkier like woodcarving or stool and table making check out for some listings of courses in Cork.

Ben Russell  

Runs woodcarving and digital photography day/weekend courses

Prices from:

One day course from €85

Alison Ospina 

Courses on chair, stool and table making

Prices from:

One day course from €185

To view the information download this PDF October_6th_Creative_Holidays[2]-1

31 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 6 2011

    Hey Julianne,

    Great post and great interview!

    Thanks a million…



    • Oct 6 2011

      Glad you liked it, loved been able to tell people about lovely La Muse. Guess it’s no longer my best kept secret 😦

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