Painting in Provence

Le groupe d'artistes, surrounding the teachers, Laine Francis and Helen Farson, in the middle, at Les Murets

Sometimes we wish we could be a fly on the wall during Linda's artist trips to France.  We know that these trips play to many of Linda's strengths:  Her love of art, her exuberance for all things French, and her natural abilities as the hostess with the mostess.  After her return, we catch glimpses of the trip through snapshots and appreciative emails from the attendees, sometimes hinting at private jokes or secret mischief that may have occurred.  And we wish we could know more.

So we were tickled to spy the  "synopsis" that Linda shared with her fellow artist attendees from her last trip and caught wind of some of the fun things they were up to.  We enjoyed it so much that we asked Linda if we could use it for a blog and share it with others.  This trip featured the dynamic duo of Helen Farson and Laine Francis as the leaders and instructors.  These ladies were the superstars who shared their love of art and taught ten attendees all day long.  And Linda was the glue that pulled it all together.  Next time we want to go -- and if you read this, we bet you will too!

Here you go, Linda's franco-anglais trip summary:

Friday:   What an eventful day as we had late flights, missed trains and missed stops along with trouble finding our little Airbnb outpost due to a pesky little thing called a language barrier!

After a few stressful moments, all arrived safe and sound at various locales and drifted off with anticipation of the week ahead.

Christophe, our ever patient and wonderful driver, picking up his "charges" in his signature converse sneakers.

Saturday:   The trip officially started at 12:00 noon as Christophe and I gathered everyone from the TGV and other locales.  We spent the day getting to know each other, settling in, exploring the grounds and doing little warmups before enjoying our yummy dinner on the terrace -- and a good night’s sleep!

Home, sweet home, after a long journey

Sunday :  Lacoste et Baumettes- We painted in the morning overlooking the beautiful Luberon valley while looking up at the village, and the chateau of the Marquis de Sade.  Helen gave a demo while Laine narrated to the group.  As it was an overcast day, we found it was the perfect weather for a lesson in greens.  Lunch was at 1:00 for the group at a charming little restaurant called “La Fleur de Sel” in Baumettes.  We dined on the terrace in full sunshine enjoying some delicious rose and the crowd favorite, Maquereaux!  Of course there were some other yummy options and we left stuffed.  Some of us finished up our paintings while some of us paid a visit to the beautiful boutique of the tastemaker Edith Mezard in Goult to do a little shopping.

Painting in Lacoste first meant scouting out the best spots!

One of the highlights: Watching Professeur Helen in action, doing a painting demo

Some people just loved to sketch

While others, like Linda, thrived on finding a buckeye (hmmm ... wonder why?) from the courtyard of her favorite shrine: The boutique of Edith Mezard in Lumieres

Monday :  Cassis!   We headed south in two chauffeured cars and while most of us set up our easels along the harbor, others opted for the beach and the blue, blue water, of the Mediterranean. We enjoyed a delish lunch of the famous Soupe de Poisson washed down with their crisp and yummy local white wine at Chez Gilbert.  The owner never ceases to entertain us with his larger than life personality, and his darling daughter provided us with warm and friendly service.   After lunch some of went back to finish painting the harbor while some of us did a little more shopping at L’Eau de Cassis, a parfumerie savonnerie along with other local favorites.  A few of us then headed up to the highest point in the area for a stunning view of Cassis.   Christophe also told us about the very first moving picture that was shot at a train station nearby over a hundred years ago.  After finishing up your paintings the rest of you received the same eye candy from high up before heading home.

Setting up easels in the charming port of Cassis

A plein air painter must be adept at calisthenics, as well as painting!

It looks like there was a little more than painting done in Cassis!

Tuesday:  Gordes:   Gordes marche day was a huge hit with everyone taking a much needed retail therapy day.  We found hats and scarves, sachets and shawls with everyone finding many fun little treasures to take home.  We also found a children’s clothing vendor who just happened to have some fabulous wooly, fringey ponchos that we proceeded to clean him out of.   We had a pique-nique back home at Les Murets of delicious baguettes sandwiches, fruit, salad and cookies and un peu de vin.   Some of us went to a nearby vineyard and painted the glory of the vines coming back with a healthy little sunburn for our efforts.

Sometimes we need a little retail therapy in addition to painting!  Searching for sachets at the Tuesday market in  Gordes

Oh and did we mention that we all needed a new hat?

Wednesday:  Bonnieux:   We all enjoyed this fabulous perche (perched village on a hill) where many of us set up our easels in a level lot overlooking the Luberon Valley.  We were able to paint the nuances of the valley while taking in the shadow of the beautiful architecture up above.  Lunch was at one of our favorites Le Fournil, built around a genuine 17th century fountain, and is set in a natural troglodytic cave, once the village bakery. Christophe took on the role of waiter as he explained the delicious offerings while expediting delivery!   After lunch we found plenty of shopping opportunities starting at the Galerie Janin-Ruggeri, owned by a husband wife team offering beautiful paintings along with signed art books and some wonderful painting knowledge.   We also found a fabulous boutique called L’Atelier Duo offering woven knits and jewelry that appealed to all.  Some of us also found a neat little shop called La Cambuse complete with a handsome and very persuasive shop owner!

Christophe spinning on a dime, and taking on the role of waiter, including his many other duties.

Thursday :  ISS- We spent the day at Isle sur la Sorgue painting the river and paddle wheels, along with its sunny architecture.  As there was a market there that day, some of us enjoyed the offerings while the rest of us set up our easels and got to it.  We had lunch at a yummy little fav of mine called Le Mistral which offered delish local fare including the most delicious fois gras.  Some enjoyed more painting after lunch, while the rest of us found some fab little local boutiques and wandered the village also known as the “Venice of France”.

We'll be telling you more about this lovely painter in the near future. Check out her easel and stay tuned!

Artist humor: Van Gogh's ear uncovered in the Sorgue river!

The last evening always includes an exhibit of all the little jewels painted during the week, and a gentle critique by the thoughtful professeurs

And there may have been different kinds of instruction that took place!

Looks like Laine had a special talent beyond painting instruction, known as scarfing!

Some people showed that they were very adept at multi-tasking!

Friday :  Bye bye time unfortunately…  Christophe took everyone to the TGV bright and early and sent everyone on their merry way to various destinations.  I loved every second with every one of you and certainly hope our paths cross in the near future!  To Helen and Laine, you two are la bombe and can’t thank you enough for your grace, elegance and incredible abilities to guide, critique and encourage all of our campers!

Boxing up our goodies at the end of a fabulous voyage ... and a grand merci to Laine and Helen!

Xoxo to you all!


Merci Linda! And Happy Thanksgiving to all our painters, clients, friends and Huffington families.

Ta ta,


Meet Anne + Meg

What happens when two committed Francophiles, art lovers and design junkies get together over a bottle of red wine? A fine art gallery with a little je ne sais quoi is born, followed a few years later by its home furnishings and décor sibling.


What happens when two committed Francophiles, art lovers and design junkies get together over a bottle of red wine? A fine art gallery with a little je ne sais quoi is born, followed a few years later by its home furnishings and décor sibling.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published