With a couple days up our sleeves before the French Painting Workshop started, we had time to get our bearings and explore the lake and old town of Annecy. The town is just over the Swiss border and sits on a a series of canals that run out of a beautiful, spring fed lake. The town and lake are surrounded by the spectacular French Alps, so that postcard feeling of alpine bliss is everywhere.










DSC06811Two small Painting Inspectors watch with a critical eye.


There is very little the French wont eat. We enjoyed snails, frogs legs and a selection of various internal organs transformed into mouth watering delicacies in this little restaurant.

FRAN1644Annecy hosted the International Animation Festival while we were there.


This giant inflatable screen and elaborate sound system provided a lake side outdoor venue for the festival.

FRAN1512Red chairs in the rain.

DSC06668Lecturers from the Annecy Conservatorium pose for us as we paint the ancient entry door.

FRAN1531We had rain on the first day of the workshop then, fortunately,  fine weather for the remainder

FRAN1533Annecy public gallery in the old castle.(Noreen dancing sideways)

FRAN1688Wild wooden horses

FRAN1652     Border confusion.FRAN1560



FRAN1485Produce Markets keep the town busy three days a week.

FRAN1480 Fromage


FRAN1428Tiger riding bike



FRAN1377  FRAN1370Straw to line the nest.

FRAN1361 This dog carries brandy to lost soles in the alps

FRAN1337  FRAN1222x

DSC06677x Day one, painting in the rain



After our stay in Aix en Provence we boarded a coach and made our way through the French country side to Chateau de la Fluenie. The Chateau was built in the 1300’s and extended in the 1600’s. It is a beautiful old building set on manicured, spacious grounds just outside the small village of  Condat in the Dordogne

The main dining room

After a hard days painting it was nice to relax and enjoy drinks on the terrace as the sun went down.

We were fortunate to have access to a large conference room,should the weather turn bad. Fortunately we had only one foggy morning where staying indoors made painting a lot more comfortable.

The Chateau had its own heard of deer and a collection of very small goats.

Further down the paddock were a pair of friendly pigs

The small village of Condat, just down the road from La Fleunie, was a great place to paint. There was a bar, coffee shop and restaurant in the village, so we were well looked after.

Lunch in Condat

Butterfly disguised as dandelion.

Hand hewn timber in the roof of an ancient Condat farm building.

Trees in the region were getting ready to loose their leaves – some were bare, some where still green and some had fantastic colors.

We visited the medieval town of Sarlat – beautiful old buildings, markets, shops and restaurants, plus a wealth of painting subjects. A great place to spend the day.

Behind the Cathedral we found a quiet spot with a great view of one of  the towns Medieval houses.

La Roque-Gageac was another medieval town tucked under a cliff on the bend of the Dordogne River. It seemed a strange location for a town, but looked spectacular reflected in the water. We spent most of the day painting there, then went to visit the Lascaux Caves. No photos due to copyright restrictions according to our guide?!

After the workshop we traveled to Bordeaux airport where everyone headed off in different directions.

Dianne and I stayed a couple of days in Bordeaux and after the luxurious accommodation we were used to, the view from our room came as a bit of a shock.

Bordeaux has some beautiful buildings, but not far from where we stayed was the building below. It must be the ugliest building in France, built from checker plate metal, freeway crash barriers and funny little windows.

Bordeaux fruit stand


After a week in Paris we flew to Marseilles to meet up with the people on our workshop. It was great to catch up with friends from previous workshops and meet up with the new students. A coach took us to our luxury hotel, Le Piggonet, on the outside of the old town of Aix en Provence.

The hotel was a beautiful old building set in magnificent gardens. We could have happily spent a week painting in the gardens, but the town of Aix had a lot to offer so we split our painting time between the hotel and the town.

Le Piggonet

Hotel Gardens

Painting in the Hotel gardens

Dining at Le Piggonet

Flower markets Aix en Provence

Street Markets

We were introduced to some fantastic restaurants in the town. One of our students lived in the country side not far from Aix and had a great knowledge of all the best restaurants. This was one of our favorites – Le Patio, a small family run restaurant with a great atmosphere, good service and fantastic food.

The little town of St. Remy is not far from Aix en Provence. We spent a day there, painting and visiting the Asylum Van Gogh spent time in. We were privileged to paint in the garden of the asylum, where Van Gogh would have often sat and sketched.

Although the asylum surroundings were idealic, life inside must have been horrific. These bath tubs were filled with cold water into which troublesome inmates were immersed and trapped under these wooden boards.

In the town of St. Remy, the main square provided a quiet, spacious area surrounded by ancient stone walls and wooden shutters. We spent an enjoyable afternoon painting there before heading back to our hotel for drinks under the plane trees.

Blue Shutters – St. Remy

Cassis is a small fishing town on the Mediterranean coast not far from Aix. The busy harbour and backdrop of old buildings made a great painting subject. We shared the park across the harbour with the local boules players, cigarette smokers and baguette eaters. Under the shade of a grove of casuarina trees, we painted the changing vista of the harbour.

Cassis Waterfront

Paul Cezanne lived and painted in Aix en Provence. His house and studio have been made into a museum, crammed with his old coats, umbrellas, paint boxes, skulls, bones and still life props that feature in his paintings.

Cezanne had the house built to his design – living area downstairs, large studio upstairs.

The studio ceiling is about 5 metres high and the Northern wall, almost completely glass. The walls are painted a mid tone, neutral gray and there is a 4 meter x .5 meter corner hatch to remove large works from the studio. It’s a fantastic studio, unfortunately no photographs are allowed inside. Below is the front door to the house.