I have been amiss at blogging for a while…ok let’s be honest, a year or two, but as Lynn and I are preparing for our next collaboration in Durfort : Pewter Repoussé and Printmaking in May 2019, (picture below)  I decided to do a short photo blog to showcase our previous adventure in France.

In September of 2017 I was fortunate enough to collaborate again with multi-talented artist, Lynn Leahy on a Pewter Repoussé and Paperclay art retreat at the fabulous La Cascade in Durfort France.

With Lynn travelling from San Diego, USA and I from Calgary, Canada, we met up in Amsterdam and traveled to Toulouse to spend a few days exploring this vibrant city. Our centrally located home for a few days, was the old-world, Le Grand Hotel de L’Opera, located in a former 17th-century convent, with a 1-minute walk from Place du Capitole and 7 minutes by foot to the Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse.



A few days later, joined by Glenda from San Diego and Barbara and Sandy from Butte, Montana, we took a train to the city of Lourdes for an eventful day. Our day started with tight security as President Macron visited Le Capitol next to our hotel and then a two hour delay on our train ride home. All was well that ended well, and nothing that a good glass of wine could not fix!
In 1858 Lourdes rose to prominence in France and abroad due to the Marian apparitions seen by the peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous, who was later canonized. Shortly thereafter the city, with the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes became one of the world’s most important sites of pilgrimage and religious tourism.

We were joined the next evening by Angela and Emma from Texas and Victoria from Florida, for a traditional meal of Cassoulet at the Le Colombier.

The next day we made our way to Durfort via a side trip to the town of Montolieu, a commune in the Aude department in southern France. Sometimes referred to as “Village of Books”, Montolieu contains fifteen bookshops, mostly specializing in second-hand and antiquarian books and has revitalized its economy by becoming a paradise for people who collect old images, antique books or materials for collage. We also managed a quick visit to the Museum of Book Arts and Crafts

We arrived in the lovely town of Durfort, where the retreat home La Cascade is located, and were immediately charmed by this quaint village. This artisan village is located at the foot of a mountain gorge where a plentiful supply of fresh water from the Sor River has assisted craftsmen in the shaping and tempering of copper vessels for centuries.  In fact, many of the streets in the village have a channel of fresh water running down the center. La Cascade is located on such a street, at 27 rue des Martineurs, “street of the Copper Beaters.” Durfort is presently occupied by artisans whose families have been making copper vessels since the 15th century. The name Durfort can be translated as “hard and strong”. You can still hear the ring of hammers on copper in the narrow streets. People come from all over France to buy copper made in the Viergnes atelier as well as the less expensive copperware made in North Africa from classic French designs.

Our home for the next seven days, La Cascade, is the name of a renovated 17th century house is in the region of France known as Languedoc, which in an ancient French dialect means “The Land of Yes.” The name La Cascade suits the house well because it sits on the bank of a mountain stream and its waterfall fills the house with its music. It is a large three-story house that sleeps twelve people, has a large living room with a fireplace, a dining room with French doors onto the terrace and a large art studio on the top floor complete with ancient beams and skylights. The house has modern bathrooms and a spacious gourmet kitchen and every room is decorated with paintings by Suzanne L’Hoste, Carole Watanabe and other artists, not to mention treasures found in local antique shops and flea markets.

Our first night introduced us to our lovely chef, Nese, who sources fresh produce from the region for all our meals and pairs it with local wines (for dinner ; )

Our workshop started in earnest the next day as Lynn had us create our faces, hands and busts in Creative Paper clay. La Cascade has a large art studio on the top floor complete with ancient beams, skylights and well appointed work spaces.

While the paper clay sculptures took their sweet time to dry we started working on our pewter embossing….

It wasn’t all work and no play and we managed a trip to the food market in Revel en route to the beautiful town of Albi, home of the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec and the spectacular Cathedral Basilica of Saint Cecilia, also known as Albi Cathedral. Nese packed us a lovely lunch and then sent us off to fill our water bottles at the spring before we hit the road…

Our first stop was the farmer’s market in Revel.

Then on to the town of Albi..

Time flies when you are having fun, and before long our art adventure at La Cascade came to an end. Friendships were made, extraordinary art was created and the flavors of France left a sweet taste in our mouths, to be mulled over and savored later.

If you would wish to join Lynn and I for the next adventure in France : Pewter Repousse and Printmaking -May 22 to 29 2019 please see this link for more information or email lynnleahy2@gmail.com for more information on registration. Only 4 seats remain!