France: Additional Info / FAQ

What can I expect from Kathy’s Fast Flash workshop?

Designed and launched by Kathy Fish in 2015, the Fast Flash workshop is aimed at skill-building, with a unique emphasis on artistry and innovation. This all-new “live” version of the popular online class is packed with craft lessons, generative exercises, and instructive, inspirational readings. The skills acquired and strengthened in this workshop are applicable to creative writing of any length and form. Expect to write lots! You will come away with several fresh drafts in hand. 

What can I expect from Nancy’s Flash Novel workshop?

Do you have a large, book-length idea that you’ve been wanting to bring to fruition? Do you feel overwhelmed knowing where to begin? Do you love the intensity of FlashNano or NaNoWriMo? Then get ready: In this workshop with Nancy Stohlman you will envision, draft, collage and create the momentum for that large-scale idea you’ve been wanting to tackle (whether that’s a flash novel, a traditional novel, or even a collection).  Together we will create a “flash flood” of ideas and you will leave the workshop with the bones (at least) of a bigger book project.

Any reviews of your past retreats?

Glad you asked! Read testimonials from past participants HERE. 


About the venue:

”Matthew and Emma Pruen wanted to create a space that would hold the deepest emotional work. They searched for property that was both sufficiently private and open. They found this Manor house that hadn’t been lived in since the 1970s and set about converting the huge barn into a large group room with high spec en-suite accommodation.The French Retreat is a very special workshop and retreat centre. The vast double height group room with its vaulted ceiling is simply stunning.”

How to get there / airport transport:

The village of Yviers is situated in the Charente department and Poitou-Charentes region (now part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region), in the west of France. Yviers is 436 kilometres from Paris and a little over one hour driving time from Bordeaux. 

Flying: The nearest airport is Bordeaux–Mérignac International Airport in Bordeaux, in southwestern France. Your retreat fee includes shuttle pick-up and drop off to this airport. Some coordination will be required. 

Driving: Head for the town of Chalais and from Chalais exit the town in the direction of Brossac on the D731 and take the 2nd left after you see the end of Chalais crossed out signs. The retreat is at the end of the track. The address is: La Loge, Yviers, Charente, 16210

Rail: “The French Retreat is accessible by rail. Our nearest station is Chalais and we support all rail travellers with free transfers from Chalais train station to the French Retreat. Our nearest TGV stop is Angouleme.

Angouleme is on a TGV line between Paris and Lille to the north and Bordeaux to the south. From Angouleme you can take a direct local train to Chalais.

If you are coming from Bordeaux  the main station (also known as Bordeaux St Jean) to Chalais takes an hour and costs €15.70. You can book your tickets online here.”

If you are travelling from London by Eurostar you can change in either Lille or Paris. You can book TGV tickets here.

What is the payment schedule? When will I need to pay my balance?

  • A $500 deposit is due at the time of registration to reserve your place.
  • 50% Payment due on or before February 1st, 2020.
  • Remaining balance is due on or before April 1st, 2020 (you may opt to pay the entire balance at any time before April 1st if you wish).  

What is your cancellation policy?

  • 100% refund of deposit (minus PayPal fees) before Jan. 1st, 2020
  • 50% refund of deposit (minus PayPal fees) after Jan. 1st & before Feb. 1st, 2020
  • Please note: After Feb. 1st, 2020 no refunds can be made. In some extenuating circumstances, a $500 credit may be applied to a future retreat.

May I bring along a non-writer guest or partner?

We understand that you may want to bring along non-writer guest! We can consider this on case by case basis if there is room available.

Should I purchase traveler’s insurance?

Yes. We highly recommend you get traveler’s insurance for our international retreats, ideally at the time of making your deposit. Good travel insurance can cover you when medical insurance won’t, particularly for international travelers. It protects against trip delays, offers rental car coverage, and covers lost luggage and accidental death. More info here:

Note: We will require proof of health insurance (scanned or physical copy of insurance card) prior to the retreat. This is for your own protection in case of emergency. 


“We love our food at The French Retreat and aim to provide you with memorable meals. As award-winning restaurateurs our standards are high and we take pleasure in creating original menus using the most delicious local ingredients available.” 

Does the venue accommodate those of us with dietary restrictions?

Yes. The chef at The French Retreat is happy to accommodate special diets e.g., gluten free, dairy free, FODMAP at an additional cost of £10 per person per day. 

Wine corkage (if guests bring their own wine) including hire and washing up of wine glasses and bottle recycling:  €2 per bottle.

Alcohol / Smoking:

“If guests wish to consume alcohol we ask that they are respectful of others and are quiet in the house or La Grange after 10 pm. Smoking is permitted outside, away from the door areas, and guests are requested to use an ashtray.”

How to dress / pack:

“Although it can be very hot in the day with clear skies, the evenings can be chilly so bring another layer if you feel the cold or if you want to stay up late watching the stars, which are magnificent. It is a very rural and relaxed location, comfortable shoes are recommended and if you head out you will find the local restaurants are very informal.”


There will be WiFi, but being rural France, the wifi is slower than cities, so please do not expect to able to stream films.


NOTE: The French Retreat is located in the countryside. From Matthew & Emma:

“We have two cats. We do our best to keep them out of the house and La Grange but guests need to keep bedroom doors and window shut to keep them out. Please advise if any guests have a cat allergy and we can allocate them an upstairs barn bedroom which will reduce the risk of an unwanted visitor. They do act like cats and chase and eat mice, we do our best to prevent this but unfortunately this is not always possible.

We do not use pesticides and it is therefore a paradise for lovely insects like butterflies, bees and moths. Unfortunately their less attractive cousins thrive too. You may use insect spray if you want and we recommend mosquito repellent during the summer. Cobwebs can appear overnight but they are not “dirty” and the spiders are harmless. We don’t want to exaggerate what is normally not a problem but clearly the more doors and windows are left open the more insects you are likely to have in the house.”

Misc. / What to expect from the venue:

“The French Retreat is both our home and a retreat centre for anyone looking to find stillness, reconnect with themselves or learn something new. We welcome you as we would a guest in our home, rather than a visitor to a hotel.

Your bed will be made up with cotton sheets, duvet, pillows and a throw. Soap and bath towels and pool towels will be provided. Unless otherwise arranged you do not have your bed made and towels replaced every day.

The local market town of Chalais is within easy walk, there are also a few bicycles for your use.