Raison d’Art holidays in the Midi-Pyrénées are offered by Bruce Anderson and Alisa Rosseter, two expat Americans who fell in love with France. Not an ordinary holiday – they offer their guests an adventure in life through their art courses, their lifestyle and their home which is also a culinary and fitness retreat where they can pair guests up with professional chefs and athletes to undertake activities in a unique holiday experience.
Raison d’Art has a mission – to teach the art of living creatively and the joy of la bonne vie.
Bruce and Alisa started their summer art program to provide a unique summer holiday experience for tweens and teens integrating art, nature, history, culture, creativity and outdoor activities into one extraordinary journey in the French countryside.
During the summer months they offer three sessions which are aimed at kids aged 13-18. Guests live at the couple’s 200 year old farmhouse, visit museums, medieval villages, outdoor markets, village fetes and prehistoric caves. Also on the agenda is kayaking, ziplining and rock climbing. Students will also spend part of each day recording and interpreting their experiences both in sketchbooks and through more finished drawings and paintings on canvas. Weekdays include an afternoon French lesson for all abilities.
The experience has proved so popular that this year specialty retreats for adults are being offered in May, September and October and Bruce and Alisa are offering culinary and fitness retreats with professional chefs and athletes.
The raison d’être at Raison d’Art is that everyone should have the opportunity to slow down, unplug from the modern world, and find their own inspiration in this magical part of France.
To reserve a holiday and for more information contact Raison d’Art directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Bruce and Alisa:
In 2002, we took our first trip to France and our love affair with the country began. In France we felt free, at home, and relaxed. We both knew that we would live in this beautiful country someday. In October 2008, we finally felt ready to take a sabbatical, and we left our business in Los Angeles in the hands of others – packed up our dogs, bikes and our life, and headed over to the Averyon Department in the Midi-Pyrenees Region of Southwest France. Spending the year in a 200 year old farmhouse 1 mile from our nearest neighbors, we unplugged, slowed down, created art, and learned how to just “be”. We learned what the French have known for centuries: the art of living. I kept a blog about our year in France (http://blog.raisondartfrance.com/).
The experience was life changing and made us truer versions of ourselves. “Things” didn’t matter in rural France. Nobody cared what type of car you drove, or what label your jeans were. It was all about quality of life and living every day to its fullest. By the end of our stay we knew we wanted to share this amazing place with others, especially youth. We want to open some eyes and change some lives. And, so Raison d’Art was born.
In May 2010, we sold our business in Los Angeles, (an art school for kids 5-18) called Art-Works Studio to a client and began a new chapter of our lives. It’s scary, exciting, thrilling, daunting, but life is short and we felt it was now or never.
A bit about the area where Raison d’Art is based.
Midi-Pyrénées is the largest region in metropolitan France, in terms of surface area, and equal largest in terms of the number of departments covered. It incorporates eight departments, which are Ariège, Aveyron, Haute-Garonne Gers, Lot, Hautes-Pyrénées, Tarn and Tarn-et-Garonne. Within this region, towns and traditions tend to identify themselves more with the historic provinces to which they once belonged, than to the modern-day region.
From all the above, it is not too hard to understand that Midi Pyrénées is essentially a rural area and the leading agricultural region in France.
Our home borders 4 very different departments:
The Tarn has Albi as its major centre. It is a farming region, rich in gourmet traditions, replete with villages built of mellow local stone, vineyards, orchards and gardens. The gastronomic excellence of the Midi-Pyrénées is unquestionable, whether you dine in a Relais-Château or in a local inn, you will taste wonderful foie gras, cassoulet, Roquefort and drink local wines such as Fronton, Gaillac and Cahors. In Albi one can see the paintings of Henri Toulouse Lautrec famous son of the city, and the monumental Cathedral Saint Cecile.
The fortified town of Cordes sur Ciel is about twenty minutes drive from Albi. Perched a-top a rocky hill, little has changed since its establishment in 1222. This part of the country seems to have escaped the worst of the tourist-born scourges of appalling traffic, sky high prices and disappointing cuisine that can afflict the more well-known areas. Its music festival and medieval festival are summer highlights.
We live in this beautiful department. In the 18th Century, the Tarn-et-Garonne department was a prosperous area known for its woolen and silk industry. The department’s agricultural industry has cooperatives producing some good Syrahs, Gamays and Cabernets. The department owes its name to the two great rivers that run across it; La Garonne flows from the Southeast to the Northwest and Le Tarn ends its journey in Montauban.
These rivers offer all water sports including sailing, fishing and canoeing. Hiking, golf, cycling, horse riding and climbing are also popular activities.
The village of St. Antonin Noble Val is a must see. Set in the gorge de Aveyron on the Aveyron river it will take your breath away. Surrounded by limestone cliffs it’s picture perfect.
Much of the most beautiful rural architecture in France, or perhaps to be found anywhere, is to be seen here – ancient houses, barns, pigeonniers and churches simply form part of the unchanging landscape.
In the region you will find chateaux, including Bonaguil, Beynac and Biron; medieval towns, including Domme, Belves, Monpazier and Sarlat; caves, including those at Domme; unspoilt countryside, rivers and caves, beautiful gardens and small unspoilt villages – several classed as ‘most beautiful villages in France’.
Well-known tourist attractions of the Aveyron Department are the castle of Najac, a medieval ruin perched high on a hill, and the many beautiful old castles and monasteries. The inhabitants are also very good craftsmen, and Aveyron is full of various craft objects, handmade, that can be found locally.