Creative Immersion in the Loire Valley: Château de Détilly Writers Retreat
Let’s explore and discover creative retreats together. Over a period of time, at MyFrenchLife.org Magazine we have been interested in Entrepreneurs and Creatives in France, and have published an extensive series of interviews with many very inspirational people, and we invite you to read the interviews and stories.
We’re now introducing this new series of creative retreats in France
This is a ‘call-out’
for suggestions and nominations for quality creative immersive experiences in France.
Please email us at email@example.com
with the subject line CREATIVE FRANCE
if you are the owner, or if you’d like to nominate a quality experience.
We know how important it is to have a wonderfully long list of tempting opportunities available
when you’re planning to travel to France and that’s the point of this series,
to introduce those immersive opportunities to you before your next trip.
This article is just the beginning.
This new series is focused on discovering what outstanding creative experiences can be found in specific geographic regions of France.
We expect to explore retreats specialising in a wide range of creative opportunities ranging
from writing, photography, visual art, and much more,
So let’s dive in and immerse ourselves.
Writers Retreat at Château de Détilly, Loire Valley, France – Eat, Sleep, Write
– By Grahame Elliott –
Where to find it?
I’ll never forget the first time I visited Château de Détilly.
From the road, all I could see was an ancient stone wall and a faded green, iron gate with 1641 engraved in one pillar and an old bell attached at the top. That same night, I returned, wrapped up in my woollen overcoat, to see it in the light of the full moon. There was not a sound except for the eerie call of a tawny owl somewhere in amongst the lime trees, and I wondered what had become of the many occupants that had lived there, and took a moment to think about members of the Valori family who were born at Détilly, baptised, married, died and were buried there.
The Loire Valley
Château de Détilly is located in the heart of the beautiful Loire Valley, known as ‘The Valley of the Kings’ where French kings chose to build their grand châteaux. You might be wondering why they chose the Loire Valley. Apart from being the most beautiful setting in France (‘The Garden of France’), it is strategically situated right in the centre of the country where many battles were fought.
The châteaux in the Loire Valley were either fortresses or royal residences that often began as hunting lodges. In fact, the original Château de Détilly also began as a hunting lodge built by Joseph II, the archbishop of Tours in the 10th century, and due to its close proximity to Chinon, came under the administration of the Château de Chinon.
There are thousands of châteaux in the Loire Valley and I later discovered that in our little village of Beaumont-en- Veron, there are seven of them, two of which Château de Détilly is connected to via an escape tunnel built in the Middle Ages.
The romantic setting of Château de Détilly, its history, mysteries, peace, and beauty inspired my husband and me to develop the site into a bed and breakfast business and a writers’ retreat.
What types of retreats do you offer?
We have two types of retreats on offer now—the château retreats where all guests need do is eat, sleep, write, and have loads of fun, and a self-catering retreat in our renovated Coach House for those who prefer to do their own thing. The Coach House is now available from the end of April to the end of October on a weekly basis, and guests are invited to join other writers in the discussions and workshops. There is also a third option, and that is to book into the château as a bed and breakfast guest.
Often described as an island or an oasis, the château offers privacy to all who pass through its 17th-century gates. So, if you are working on a creative writing project, constantly interrupted or distracted by the traffic in the street, the neighbor’s dog barking and telephones ringing, or by colleagues who want to chat, or need a break from your daily routine in a place where you can connect with nature and like-minded writers, a place you can escape to, look no further. Château de Détilly offers that and more.
I asked Gray what makes these retreats so special.
At Château de Detilly, we offer a unique and inspiring environment that provides writers with the opportunity to focus on their craft. What makes our writer’s retreat unique?
Located in the heart of the Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage. The current Château de Détilly dates back to the 16th century and is surrounded by a beautiful park and gardens. In addition, Château de Détilly boasts the biggest privately owned rose garden in the Loire Valley, and on the subject of flowers, the rare fritillary bloom at the beginning of spring in this region known as the Véron.
- Personalized attention:
The number of participants in each retreat is limited to ensure that each writer receives individual attention and support. Writers who come to the retreats prefer to find a quiet place to work on their projects, coming together at the end of the day to participate in discussions and workshops. For beginner writers, we offer mentoring and courses as an extra.
Guests can organize their days as they please and use all of our facilities that include the 12.5m swimming pool, orangerie, tennis and bocce courts, the rose garden, and more. We also arrange outings to Chinon or nearby châteaux.
Overall, the writer’s retreat at Château de Détilly provides writers with a unique and inspiring environment where they can develop their skills, connect with other writers, and achieve their writing goals.” Gray says.
What are past participants saying?
- “Magical stay in a magical setting! Very charming, peaceful, and romantic! ” – Yasmine.
- “I had an amazing time at Château de Detilly’s writer’s retreat. The setting was perfect for inspiration and the workshops were incredibly informative. I left feeling rejuvenated and with a renewed sense of purpose in my writing.” – Sarah, USA
- “I cannot recommend this retreat enough. The chateau is stunning and the hospitality was unparalleled. The writing exercises were engaging and helped me push past my creative blocks. I met so many wonderful writers and made lifelong connections.” – John, UK
- “The week I spent at Château de Detilly was transformative. The retreat was incredibly well-organized and every detail was taken care of. The writing workshops were led by knowledgeable and experienced writers who gave invaluable feedback on my work. I left feeling confident in my writing and inspired to keep going.” – Maria, Spain
- “I would rate many more stars if there were:) our stay of 3 nights in the Chateau de Detilly was absolutely perfect.” – Cristina.
Will I be comfortable and able to work and relax?
At Chateau de Detilly writers’ retreat, the spacious ensuite rooms are fully serviced daily and all meals are catered for. You don’t have to do anything but write, relax, and have fun. Those who prefer to self-cater can rent the 17th-century Coach House on a weekly basis and enjoy everything the cha?teau has to offer plus their own private parking and garden.
What about the surrounding areas? Are they inspiring?
Chateau de Detilly, dominant in the small hamlet of Detilly, is mostly surrounded by an expanse of fields where beauty, peace, and quiet rule. Thankfully, the writers’ retreats aren’t all work, and it certainly isn’t boot camp. There are many places to write, free from distractions, and when you need a break, take a dip in the pool, read a book in the Orangerie, sip champagne in the rose garden, or work off some energy at the tennis court, or take a trip to Chinon which is only 7 km away. Or, for something romantic, visit the Sleeping Beauty Chateau and the Enchanted Forest, only a ten-minute drive from Détilly.
You’re bound to be inspired by the many famous writers who lived nearby, including Alexandre Dumas, Charles Perrault, and François Rabelais. Discover the history of Château de Détilly. Retrace the steps of the Italian and French nobles who lived there, meditate in the 13th-century chapel where the Knights Templar congregated and weddings were held up until recently. Learn about our rogues gallery too, the massacre at Détilly in the 16th century, the revolutionaries who attacked the château in 1789, and the French resistance fighter who lived here.
Horror and supernatural writers will be pleased to know that apart from the medieval escape tunnel in the garden, there is a cavern under the château and a secret room in the tower.
You’ll be bound to be inspired by the many famous writers who lived nearby, including Alexandre Dumas, Charles Perrault, and François Rabelais. Discover the history of Château de Détilly. Retrace the steps of the Italian and French nobles who lived there, meditate in the 13th-century chapel where the Knights Templar congregated and weddings were held up until recently. Learn about our rogues gallery too, the massacre at Détilly in the 16th century, the revolutionaries who attacked the château in 1789, and the French resistance fighter who lived here.
Horror and supernatural writers will be pleased to know there is a medieval escape tunnel in the garden, a cavern under the château, and a secret room in the tower.
So much history! So much to be inspired by!
You can visit the fortress at Chinon which has been extensively renovated. Initially named the Château de Chinon, the fortress was the home of King Henry II, Eleanor d’Aquitaine, and Richard the Lion Heart, all of whom are now entombed at the Fontevraud Abbey. We recommend climbing the stairs to the top of the fortress’ bell tower where you’ll have a spectacular view of Chinon and beyond. Joan of Arc actually stayed in the Tour Coudray as a guest when she dropped in on King Charles II in 1429. And it was in that same tower Jacques de Molay, the last Master of the Order of the Knights Templar was imprisoned.
Just as an aside, the film, ‘The Lion in Winter’ (Kathryn Hepburn, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Hopkins) is about Richard the Lionheart who succeeded the throne in Chinon in 1189. The remake with Glenn Close can be viewed on Youtube.
After your visit to the fortress, have lunch in Chinon on one of the terraces in the medieval town then wander through the narrow streets that have barely changed since the middle-ages. This is one of the activities that has been inspirational to many guests, especially those interested in historical fiction.
Eat, sleep, write. Now, that’s what I call a holiday!
How Château de Détilly Writers Retreats came about
You can learn much more about Gray in this interview... But to give you the smallest taste. In 2009 while a language and writing teacher at the Nouvelle Sorbonne University and Sciences Po in Paris, Gray made up his mind to write a novel.
Then in February 2015, he established Paris Creative Writers, inviting fiction writers from all over the world to join him to work on their novels and short stories.
In 2020, Gray started Château de Détilly Creative Writers. (Détilly Creative Writers) ... Read more
If you're interested in finding out more about how you can participate in creative retreats in France, at Chateau de Détilly, or elsewhere, contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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