Saint Avertin and Tours on our Art Retreat

by Jun 12, 20193 comments

Our arrival at Saint Avertin just outside Tours was a bit eventful – very comfortable First Class TGV ride from Montparnasse to Saint Pierre Des Corps, then a fair wait for a taxi which had to do two trips for all seven of us. I had tried to book a taxi, but no joy! Anyway, we arrived to a welcome by Florence and family in a very comfortable and large holiday house or ‘gite’. We have six bedrooms and ensuites – each with a theme – mine is ‘Alexander Calder’ (sculptor) and Alice has ‘Leonardo da Vinci’. The house was once in the grounds of a nearby chateau and has some exposed beams and a wall with scratched names, crude drawings of pick axes and dates – one, 1730 – by a surgeon barber. We have a small orchard and big terrace – ideal for painting when fine.

So far we’ve been to the Sunday market – a typical French marché with locals eager to sell us fromage, vegetables, fruits, honey, meat and wine. It rained a little but was lots of fun. Other adventures have included not being able to find the switch to turn on the oven – eventually found hidden by the fridge by Sue – what a relief!! The dryer was also a trick until we were shown the special stick that holds the door closed. 

Catching the bus into Tours city was certainly interesting – we had been given tickets for the bus, but were not sure how to recharge them.. Fortunately the bus driver let us on and we only had a problem on alighting and meeting the inspector of tickets. He was quite bemused in the end and finally showed us how to use the machine and accepted that we were ‘family’, so we purchased two ‘family’ tickets at half the price. I originally chose Tours as our base because it is a central town in the Loire Valley with easy train connections to the various Chateaux, but it is also an interesting place to visit. 

We were blown away by the Cathedral St Gatien in Tours – built first in the Romanesque style which was mostly destroyed in a fire and was then rebuilt in early Gothic style in the 1200s. It was so, so serene inside and not crowded at all AND the organist was practising while we were there. Totally emotional and the leadlight windows were sublime.

Floated then into a café and had hot chocolate and pastries – very rich!! A walk along the river and then into the old town with its amazing ancient timber framed buildings.

An amazing tour de force dinner followed cooked by the amazing Alice, woman of many talents! Much hilarity as well and many glasses of wine later, it was decided that Tuesday would be a rest and creative day.

Botanical dyeing was fun and adventurous with Robyn – collecting leaves, logs and flowers and tying up the muslin, boiling it up and washing it out. Some worked well, others not so well. It was certainly interesting to do. With rain on the horizon, a session of still life was the afternoon’s creative exercise. Various vegetables, fruit and flowers were organised and then drawn and painted.


  1. Suzy Johnson

    Oh how I wish I had come!
    Lovely to see you all having a great time, enjoying the experiences of France and putting your talents to good use as beautiful memories of the trip.
    Would love to try the botanical dyeing when Robyn gets back , a familiar face(with Fay ) from the Bangalow Garden Club.
    Keep safe and happy

    • Christine Read

      Thanks Suzy, we’ve had a terrific time so far x

  2. Jim

    Stunning trip Christine. Great reporting x


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