Painting Retreat on the French Riviera

The Château de La Napoule Artist Retreat

Diane Dahlke on May 25–31, 2020

Sign Up for Trip

The idea of color will serve as the jumping off point for our painting retreat led by long-time Continuing Studies painting faculty Diane Dahlke at the Château de la Napoule on the Mediterranean Sea in the French Riviera.

Working in oils, acrylics, or watercolors, painters will live and work at the Château, a castle dating back more than 2000 years and perched on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea in La Napoule, France. Students are housed in a private Villa on the grounds. Most meals take place in the grand dining room of the Château. With its eight acres of formal gardens and sculpture adorned architecture, the Château holds two coveted distinctions from the French Ministry of Culture: Monument Historique and Jardin Remarkable.

The retreat’s ideal painting students are those who consider themselves at least at the intermediate level and who are interested in their own personal development. The retreat (this year at least) is not intended for beginning painters as we will not be discussing technique or materials on a novice level.

Important Information

Informational Session
Sunday, December 8, 2019; 3–4PM
Porteous, Osher Hall, Second floor

Meet Diane Dahlke, discuss the curriculum, view slides from previous retreats and learn more about the history of the Château and the great beauty of its environs.

Trip Dates: May 25–31, 2020
Trip Fees: $1875–$2150 per person. This fee includes: course tuition and most meals (breakfast each day and dinners from Monday to Friday). This fee does not include transportation and/or airfare.

To Register: A $500 non-refundable deposit is due upon registration. Final payments are due February 2. Spaces are limited — Register Today! Please call the CS Office at 207.699.5061 with questions.

Sign Up for Trip

For more information, please see our FAQ list below.


What is a typical day like?

  • Early morning: Walk the beach or the Château’s gardens, hike Mt. San Peyre (a small mountain minutes away), coffee on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, or sleep in!
  • 8AM: Breakfast at the Château
  • 9AM–12PM: Diane gives a short lecture on different topics (shape, positive/negative space, value, color) that apply to all genres or styles of painting, followed by a brief exercise on that topic. The remainder of the morning is yours to paint in whatever parts of the Château grounds are most inspiring– the terrace, private beach, the gardens, the Villa patio, out your room’s window, any nook or cranny of the Château itself…the choices are endless. Diane rotates among students for feedback and discussion.
  • 12–1PM: Lunch
  • 1–5PM: Independent painting/artwork on your own
  • 5PM: Critique/discussion + cocktails/tea hour. On one evening we will host the delightful Christine Viesinger, scholar on French Painters of the 20th Century, for a talk and slide show, followed by dinner at the Château.
  • 6PM: Dinner in the grand dining room or on your own. The Foundation provides 2 dinners during our stay.
  • 9PM: Stargazing, beach walking, reading, cards, up to you!

Can I draw instead of paint during this retreat?

Yes! Painting, drawing and photography are best suited for this retreat!

How do I get there?

Nice, France (Aéroport Nice Côte D’Azur) is the closest airport to our destination, approximately 30 minutes away from the Château by car. There are flights from Boston (none direct, but all offer connections to Nice). Most students share an Uber from the airport to the Château.

What is the housing like?

Participants will be housed in the Villa Marguerite (Italianate 19th century) where each room has a sea view, a garden view, or a mountain view– and its own bathroom. Most rooms are double occupancy and there are only a couple of single occupancy. If you would like a single please do not hesitate to register immediately! Students who choose a double will be grouped with another participant unless specified.

  • Double with garden view: $1875
  • Double with ocean view: $1950
  • Single with garden view: $2150

Note: Each room is unique and quirky in its own way. We will assign rooms as registrations come in so you are encouraged to register early if you have specific requests or needs.

All accommodations are on the 2nd and 3rd floors. There are no elevators, so participants must be able to maneuver stairs unassisted. The first floor of the Villa has a fully equipped kitchen at our disposal, a living room, a dining room and a computer room with WiFi. There is also a garden patio and terrace.

Will I be able to roll my suitcase up and down the staircases in the Villa and Château?

Since the building is historic, students cannot roll suitcases up and down the stairs, especially since the stairs are tile and crack easily. Please pack so that you can lift your suitcase up and down the stairs.

I have trouble getting around, is there an elevator?

There are no elevators and all rooms are accessed by stairs. Students do a fair amount of walking and will be working outside on varied surfaces.

What are the meals like?

Breakfast (8AM) and two dinners (6PM) take place at the Château. Continental breakfast is provided daily and two French cuisine dinners are offered on the Château’s terrace or in the grand dining room. Special dietary request will be charged extra. Wine is not served but may be purchased separately in town and brought to dinner. With a full kitchen at our disposal and groceries within walking distance, students can make their own lunch/dinners or get something to eat in the village. (There are plenty of cafes + places to buy baguettes, meats, cheeses, salad ingredients, etc nearby)

What is the town like?

The town center of La Napoule is a 5 minute walk from the Château. There you will find a pharmacy, bakeries and small grocery stores, a bank, restaurants, etc. The train line running East-West along the coast makes a stop at La Napoule and schedules are available online or at the station.


Do I need to rent a car?

No. There is plenty to do within walking distance, train or taxi.

What is the weather like at this time of year?

Typical daily temperatures range between 55-70 during mid-May, but as in Maine, fluctuations within one day may occur.

What about art supplies?

Yes, you will need to bring whatever supplies you plan to use, though the Château does have plenty of easels. Students might want to bring a small lightweight folding stool to sit on while working.

How can I learn more about the Château?

See for more information about the Château, its mission and its founders, Henry and Marie Clews.

What else is there to do in the area?

  • Stroll the town and shops of Mandelieu-La Napoule (2 mins away on foot)
  • Tour the town of Cannes during the Cannes Film Festival (15 min train ride; or for the adventurous, a 5-mile walk on the beach)
  • Evening film on the beach at the Festival (free, 15 minutes train ride)
  • Casino (5 minute walk)
  • Chagall Museum (Nice)
  • Two islands off La Napoule (15 minutes): Ile Saint-Honorat and Ile Sainte-Marguerite
  • Picasso Museum (Antibes)
  • The Maeght Center
  • Matisse Museum (Nice)
  • —and so much more!

Please contact the CS Office if you have any other questions at all: 207.699.5061.