Detailed Retreat Itinerary
SUNDAY, JUNE 6th: ARRIVAL
Check-in time: 12 noon – 1:30 PM
Meals included: Cocktail party
Bonjour! We’re thrilled to welcome you to the Maison Pierre Chanzy.
In Paris’s friendly St-Marguerite quarter, this Art Nouveau hôtel particulier, built in 1902, will be all ours for the week.
We’ll meet you with a refreshing beverage, give you time to unpack and freshen up in your bathroom stocked with quality French products, then venture out. Our destination is the Arènes de Lutèce, a 1st-century Roman arena, once the scene of gladiator tournaments but today the venue for a friendly game of pétanque. The team at Paris Ma Belle will take care of running everything, while you get to know your fellow writers and the Paris Writing Retreats team.
Back at home, you’ll be treated to a relaxed champagne cocktail and a light dinner buffet.
MONDAY, JUNE 7th: DAY 1
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch
Today’s workshop: A woman doesn’t just need inspiration – she needs a plan
Paris is filled with a treasured literary history. It’s also a vibrant, contemporary city on the move, where the “Writer/Poet X lived here” plaques are a backdrop to daily life. Rather than merely admiring those plaques, let’s get some work of our own done.
In this session, we’re talking about where you want your writing to be in six months and what the retreat can help you unlock this week. (You can choose to work further on this in the one-on-one session with Keris included in your registration fee.)
Lunch will be at Au Vieux Paris, arguably Paris’s most charming restaurant, two steps from Notre Dame.
After a tour of the bookstores of the Latin Quarter and St Germain, we’ll end our day with a write-in at La Terrasse de Madame in the Jardin du Luxembourg. (Includes one drink of your choice.)
The Jardin du Luxembourg: Created in 1612 as the garden for Marie de Medici’s palace, the 60 acres contain heritage apple orchards, beehives, puppet shows, chess boards, statues of France’s queens, and much more.
Musée du Luxembourg: Open until 10PM Mondays, the museum is France’s oldest and features a wide range of art in over 40 annual exhibitions.
St. Germain: The classic Left Bank, filled with history, food, and great shopping. Yours to explore and experience.
Musée de Cluny: From medieval to Renaissance times, including Gallo-Roman baths and the stunning Lady and the Unicorn tapestry. Open until 7:45PM on Mondays, though the gardens are currently closed due to restoration works,
Île de la Cité: While the Cathédrale is closed for restoration, you can take the 20-minute walk back to visit Sainte Chappelle (open until 7PM) and La Conciergerie (open until 6PM), wander over to the charming Île St-Louis, or pick up supplies from a nearby supermarket for the classic baguette, cheese and wine dinner along the Seine.
TUESDAY, June 8th: DAY 2
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch
Today’s workshop: Set it like you mean it
Setting is an essential aspect of fiction and memoir writing. Get it right and your setting becomes an intriguing secondary character; flub it–or try to fake it–and you’ll hear from readers. Keris Stainton has published books set in NYC, LA, London, and Italy (One Italian Summer, which Rainbow Rowell calls “Gentle and romantic. A holiday in itself.”), and will guide you on how to make your setting resonate with your readers, while Lisa Anselmo and Gabrielle Luthy can tell you the reality versus the romance of life in the City of Light.
In keeping with that, today will be spent living like a local. We’ll take a leisurely trip to the Marché d’Aligre street market, known for its rich cultural mix and excellent fresh produce, and the nearby covered Marché Beauvau (1843). There, we’ll shop for supplies for the lunch that we’ll pull together at home.
After lunch, we’ll hold a write-in at nearby Le Pure Café. Movie buffs might recognize it as one of the settings from Before Sunset. (Includes your choice of non-alcoholic beverage.)
Our neighborhood has plenty of small, affordable shops. There are also more great restaurants here than you can get to in a week, although this article from Paris By Mouth might help you narrow down your choices.
Stroll over to the Canal St Martin for a drink at Le Comptoir General, a fun, eclectic bar tucked down an alleyway, where you might just spot a celebrity or 2–we have!
You’ll definitely be amongst the stars at Père Lachaise. Apart from being the burial site for luminaries (Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Héloïse and Abélard, and–of course–Jim Morrison), the cemetery is a really pretty spot and a green getaway on hot days. Open until 6PM; you can pick up a free map at the entrance.
Just a short walk on from Père Lachaise is the quartier of Belleville. Teeming with life, street-art and diverse cultural layers from centuries of immigration, the quartier is also home to an amazing array of restaurants–as well as some of the best views of the city from its hills.
The Viaduc des Arts is a complex of 64 art galleries, cafés and artisan shops beneath a 19th-century train line converted into the pedestrian-only Promenade Plantée. Walk the promenade, also known as La Coulée Verte for all the flowering trees and greenery, then shop or relax at a café.
The Opéra Bastille is open in the afternoons for free, self-guided tours (guided tours require a minimum of 15 people), or you can be cultural and attend the opera itself.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9th: DAY 3
Meals included: Breakfast, afternoon tea
Today’s workshop: Think Like a Brand
We all have a great story to tell, but how do you convince agents, publishers, and readers to care? Author, speaker, and branding coach Lisa Anselmo will show you how thinking like a brand can create a more compelling read—and a passionate following. She’ll discuss everything from identifying your core theme to positioning yourself with a unified approach (head shots, website, marketing messaging), and even rebranding strategies for authors looking to relaunch their careers.
Lisa lives in Paris and NYC, and is the author of My (Part-Time) Paris Life—How Running Away Brought Me Home (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press). She also hosts a travel series on Youtube, My (Part-Time) Paris Life. She spent most of her professional career in magazine publishing, working on such iconic brands as Allure (Condé Nast), InStyle, and People (Time Inc./Meredith).
Her unique background in design and branding, as well as writing and performing, informs her coaching method, Finding Your Authentic Voice, which shows writers how to create—and market—a must-read, helping them and their work connect on a personal level with their audiences.
After a self-funded boulangerie lunch, we’ll get an on-the-ground lesson in the Place Vendôme and the Rue Saint-Honoré on what makes a brand resonate and how even the most famous brands keep things fresh.
On the subject of brands that resonate, we’ll take afternoon tea at Nina’s Salon (founded in 1642), where the tea is crafted from the fruits and roses of the Chateau de Versailles garden, and the cake was Marie Antoinette’s favorite. Some of the Queen’s personal items are on display in the salon.
We’ll end with a write-in at the Jardin des Tuileries.
The Louvre: Speaks for itself, open until 9:45PM on Wednesdays.
Musée des Arts Decoratif: This wing of the Louvre is dedicated to all the pretty things–fashion, costumes, advertising, graphic design. Open util 6PM.
Musée de l’Orangerie: 20th-century masterpieces, including Monet’s Waterlilies (Nymphéas). Open until 6PM.
Galérie Nationale du Jeu de Paume: Temporary exhibitions featuring photography and other artworks. Open until 7PM.
Centre Pompidou: Less than 3km away, the finest collection of modern art in Europe is housed in an equally impressive building, with a rooftop restaurant that boasts a spectacular view. Open until 9PM.
(Note: The Grand Palais will close for renovations late 2020 until late 2023.)
THURSDAY, JUNE 10th: DAY 4
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, cocktail
Today’s workshop: Sense and sensuality
To write sensually is not just about the five senses, nor is it about sex scenes (though any truly great sex scene is loaded with sensuality). It’s about spinning a web around your reader, drawing them into your world. It’s the unexpected detail that creates intimacy between you and your audience, the moments that make them hold their breath, then pick up your next book, sex scenes or not.
Author of several Paris-based romance and mystery novels and her own ultra-sensual memoir, Meet Me in Paris, Juliette Sobanet will show you how to weave sensuality into your writing in a way that makes readers feel as if they’ve jumped into your story and are being whisked away by your characters, setting, and of course, the romance. We will also explore ways to create a sensual writing process that takes you on your own intimate and fulfilling journey with your story.
In keeping with the day’s theme, we’ll have a grasse matinée (lazy morning), before a picnic lunch in a secret garden in the 7th arrondissement. We’ll discuss how to include sensuality in our writing and which writers do it well, before a special treat: a guided tour of the Musée Rodin, focusing on the sensuality in his sculptures and paintings. (Shout out to Camille Claudel, as well.)
Next, we’ll stroll along Paris’s most famous market street, Rue Cler, with its feast for the senses. As dusk descends, we’ll indulge in a luxury cocktail at Le Bar Botaniste in the Shangri-La Hotel. Intimate, creative, sumptuous—the perfect way to end our day!
La Tour Eiffel: the landmark to beat all landmarks is right across the river and open until 12:45AM.
Musée d’Orsay: another icon, now with even more space dedicated to Impressionist art. If you like the Art Nouveau period, their furniture collection is not to be missed. Open until 9:45PM on Thursday.
Palais de Tokyo: one of the finest contemporary art museums in Europe, also has fine restaurants. Open until midnight.
Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac: Designed by famed architect Jean Nouvel, the museum’s known not only for its 3500 works from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania, but its gardens, plant wall and Les Ombres restaurant (another with a view of the Eiffel Tower). Open until 9PM.
Palais de Chaillot/Place du Trocadero: Built in 1937 for the Universal Exposition, the Palais has 3 museums (Musée de la Marine is closed until 2021) and a national theatre. Open until 9PM. The Café de l’Homme has a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower, but a seat on the terrace will add a 50€ surcharge to your bill, so we suggest crossing the Place to Carette, Café Kléber or Café du Trocadero. Much cheaper, you still get the view, and you get to people watch.
Montmartre: it’s about 30 minutes by métro to Montmartre, where, being former locals, we can fill you in on the best hidden restaurants the Butte has to offer. The Basilique de Sacré-Coeur is open until 10:30PM and well worth a visit.
FRIDAY, JUNE 11th: DAY 5
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner (Cruise)
Today’s workshop tour: DiverCity
We’re not saying we’ve saved the best till last but there is something special about the Marais, with its aristocratic, artistic, Jewish, and gay heritage. Our tour guide, native Parisienne Édith de Belleville, will bring this diverse district even more alive with tales of the many cultures that have shaped Paris.
We’ll leave you at the recently opened Eataly. You’re free to lunch there, or at any of the many other delicious experiences the Marais has on offer. The afternoon is yours to spend shopping and sightseeing.
We’ll regroup at the Maison Chanzy at 6PM in preparation for our final outing: a Seine dinner cruise on an exceptionally charming boat.
The Marais houses many wonderful museums, all open on Friday:
- Musée Carnavalet (the Museum of the City of Paris, reopens spring 2020)
- National Archives (free)
- Musée Cognacq-Jay (free)
- Musée National Picasso-Paris
The Maison de Victor Hugo is closed for renovations, but might be open by June.
You can set up one last writing session in the magnificent Place des Vosges or the Square Saint-Gilles du Grand Veneur, or people watch on the terrace of one of the many wonderful cafés. We recommend Carette, Ma Bourgogne, Les Philosophes, Chez Marianne, and Le Loir dans La Théière.
Opinion is divided on whether the influx of designer stores is good or not, but we love Cire Trudon, the world’s oldest candlemaker (1643), Penhaligon’s, Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, Mariage Frères, and Repetto, as well as small specialty food stores.
Cross the Rue Saint-Antoine headed for the Seine to explore the village-like atmosphere of St. Paul, including the stunning 17th-century Saint-Paul St-Louis church. Just up the Rue de Rivoli is the soon-to-be reopened, iconic La Samaritaine. You can also jump on the métro to Boulevard Haussmann, where you’ll find the grands magasins of Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.
SATURDAY, JUNE 12th: DEPARTURE
Check-out : 11AM
Meals included: Breakfast
One last breakfast, one last discussion to close the writing circle, then our week in Paris is over.
Thank you for being with us. We hope you’ve enjoyed our time together and that you’re refreshed, replenished, and–most of all–in love with your writing