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Creative Awakening Retreat
at a Private Château

Discover your inner artistry and create something beautiful.

Come away,  learn a new artistic skill, feel refreshed and get your creativity flowing while living in a private château in the quintessential French countryside.

June 1 - 8, 2023 - SOLD OUT

September 21 - 28, 2023 - SOLD OUT

Your Invitation

If you are someone who loves photography and art (even if you don't have experience) and are interested in taking your photos to another level...

If you are someone who wants time to relax,  reflect and meet other creatives just like you...

Then join us on this wonderful retreat to rural France where you will stay in a private château and create a unique art piece that you are proud to hang on your walls.

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...sipping champagne while the sun sets, sitting in the great hall of  the privately owned Château de Saint-Germain-des-Prés, as the aroma of a scrumptious supper prepared by a local chef in the kitchen wafts towards you.

It's the end of a wonderful day of strolling the quintessential French countryside to see where Romans walked, soaking up the sights, history and the creative energy from new friends.

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You learned about the ancient wax-based art form, Encaustic, and how to fuse photography with it to create one-of-a-kind art pieces.

Tomorrow morning will be here before you know it, hearing the birds singing, a fresh scent on the summer air, creating the perfect environment to allow joy and creativity to flow...

And that's just the first day!

​You’ll become part of the Manor & Maker community,  creating relationships that could last a lifetime.


Continue Your Itinerary

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Drinking Martinis



In the morning take your time, familiarize yourself with the château and extensive grounds.

After lunch we will explore the château grounds, town and cemetery together. We will start taking photos and gathering inspiration for your artwork and discuss what makes a good image on the walk.


Market Day

We will head to the vibrant market of Thiviers because it's market day! Make sure to take your phone or camera.

Lunch on your own in Thiviers.

Introduction to photo encaustic in the afternoon. All the details you need to know to create your own work.


Studio Time!

Work together and with Elske, getting your wood art surfaces ready as well as editing and printing your images to use later.

After lunch time on your own in studio (Elske will be in the studio to answer questions, give guidance etc.) or head out to take more photos.  Or relax with a book or have a nap ;).


Transfer/Embedding Day

What do you mean embedding?! Ahh, all will be revealed in studio this morning.

After lunch studio time to continue work on your art and we get exclusive admittance to Historic Monument artwork in the church in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.


Finishing Touches

We will discuss how to make your artwork really shine with the finishing touches.

The rest of the day will be studio time for you to continue on your masterpiece. 


Show time!

In the morning we will work on finishing your art pieces and then in the afternoon we will hang the artwork for the mini show opening in the evening!

In the evening we will host a reception and each artist will give a short talk about their work.

Show openings are always so much fun!



Au revoir!

Begin your journey home, refreshed, relaxed and with your creativity revived.

Please note: We might adjust this itinerary due to the usual reasons - weather, group direction, or unplanned opportunities!

Your Experience

Chambre des Chatelains

Live the Chateau Life

  • Enjoy the château common rooms and 15 ha of grounds during your 7-night stay.

  • Bedrooms are generously sized, with a small seating area.

  • Mix of en-suite and shared facilities - max 2 bedrooms share w.c. or shower.

  • Rooms are first-come, first-served by reservation date.

  • Double-occupancy with two single beds, or single-occupancy for a supplement.

  • Stay with a small group of like-minded people - limit of 8 guests.

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Authentic French Cuisine

  • Champagne reception on evening of arrival!

  • Continental breakfast with pastries fresh from the boulangerie just steps away.

  • Share lunch with your hosts each day.

  • Suppers at the château, prepared by by a professional caterer who knows and loves French dishes.

  • Wine or non-alcoholic beverage of your choice. 

  • Tea & coffee all day, plus snacks and aperitif too!

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Continental Breakfast
Art Supplies - Brushes & Wax

Be Creative

  • Supplies will be waiting for you to start creating - all you need is your camera and laptop.

  • You'll be guided step-by-step through the process of fusing photography and encaustic together.

  • Expand your creative horizons by combining two art mediums to encourage innovative thinking.

  • Additional supplies available for purchase on-site.

  • Free studio time and use of all encaustic equipment with expert guidance to answer any questions.

  • Relax, find new inspiration, and have fun!

Local Connections

  • Transportation from and to Thiviers or Angoulême train station.

  • Inspirational  hike of the public walks & château environs.

  • Authentic local farmers’ market experience, highlighting local foods and vendors.

  • Admittance to Historic Monument artwork in the church in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

  • High tea & pool time at a local manoir.

Vibrant market with fountain

What to Bring

  • Camera, either your smart phone or digital camera.

  • Laptop with some kind of photo editing software. There are good free programs out there, if you would like some help installing one, contact Elske.

  • Comfortable clothes to create in.

  • Good walking shoes.

  • If you like, something nice to wear for a formal supper.

  • And your creative self!

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Leave the week feeling refreshed, relaxed and with a new mindset of openness.

Meet Your Hosts

Meet Elske


Elske deGroot | Luxeca Studios


I’m based in Canada and The Netherlands, and I facilitate creative retreats in France, Italy and Scotland. 


I  began my creative journey working as a commercial photographer and educator in Toronto, Ontario. Through teaching photographic darkroom and printing techniques, I realized that the tactile and physical approach to art-making appealed to me most. Expanding on my lens-based experience, I began to incorporate photographic pieces into other media such as encaustic, often layering images into beeswax, or collaging them with found objects.

I discovered that through experimentation there are no limits to my practice. 

My purpose is to bring creativity and beauty into the world through relationships.

Creativity is such an important part of human life, especially at this point in human evolution. With all the advances in AI and automation, creative thinking in all areas of life is the way forward. 

I promise I will use all my teaching experience to lead you on a fun expansion to encourage your inner creative to come out of its shell. 

I’ll help you reignite the creative force of making connections between unrelated things. Lots of studies say this leads to feeling more joyful too, which is a nice bonus!

It's a good day when I inspire, encourage, or motivate you.

Meet Sara & Stephen

We are Sara & Stephen Cole, Canadians who dreamt of moving to France. We're excited to share our dream, our home, the Château de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. 

The tower of the chateau is from the 16th century, and features a broad spiral stone staircase. Built by a noble family nearly 500 years ago, the 'blazon' or crest of the family still shows on the tower.  

We created “Manor and Maker” to reflect the two sides of our adventure. One, to live as chateau owners with all the ups and downs and two, to pursue our passions as makers, creating art in all its forms. We invite others to come together, united by their passions, to share in this adventure.

We will be available on-site all week to ensure you have a comfortable stay.

Welcome to Manor & Maker.


Start Your Creative Retreat Today!

Reserve your spot by completing the two steps below - register, then make your deposit payment. Prices are per person. Completing both confirms your agreement to the terms & conditions.


We'll be in touch within 24 hours confirming all is well (don't forget to check your spam or junk folder).  


Special Gift!

Something special you can use during your stay & take home after will be waiting for you!

Double Occupancy €2500 (Regular Price €3000)
Single Occupancy €2800 (Regular Price €3300)

Step 1: Register

Select an option

September 21 - 28 2023 - SOLD OUT

Thank you for joining the Creative Awakening!

Step 2: Select Occupancy and Pay Deposit

What's Not Included

  • Transportation from your hometown to the pickup point, including airfare, train connections, or car rental

  • Baggage, accident, cancellation, nor travel insurance ('cancel for any reason' strongly recommended to protect your investment)

  • Passport and visa expenses

  • Personal expenses, such as laundry, telephone calls

  • Meals not served at the château

  • Alcoholic beverages not served at meals at the château

  • Any extra tours or excursions off the property, should you choose to roam

  • Shipping artwork home (or other location)

  • and any other items not specifically noted as included

Questions & Answers


What is Encaustic?

Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). It is an ancient technique.

It is a very stable medium, made from heated beeswax and dammar resin. There are surviving encaustic works from the 1st and 3rd centuries which were found in Egypt. The color on these has remained noticeably fresh due to the protection of the beeswax.

The artist (that's you!) heats & mixes natural bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). You can add color using powered pigments or oil paints.

The artist melts the encaustic medium and applies it with a brush or any other tool that suits the texture the artist wishes to create. Each layer then needs to be heated to fuse it to the previous layer, slowly building up the art piece.

It's an ideal medium to embed photography in the artwork, further adding interest through color, style, and texture. 

Other Frequently Asked Questions




I don't have a lot of experience creating art. Is this retreat for me? 

Yes! If you can take a photo on your camera phone and love learning new skills, this retreat is for you! Elske will guide you through all the other parts of the process. Join in and create something beautiful!



Where are you located & how do I get there?

We are in the town of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Dordogne, postal code 24160 (there are a couple of more places of that name in France!). Here's our guide on how to get to us. We offer pickups from Gare d'Angoulême. (may be scheduled with other guests' arrivals) or Thiviers Gare.  



Do I need to speak French?

No, your hosts can help you with all local needs. It's always nice to be able to say 'hello' (Bonjour!) and 'thank you' (Merci!) though, isn't it?​



Can I bring a partner?

Yes! If your partner is creating art too, then you each register separately as double occupancy. If your partner is not creating art, then book once as single occupancy (your partner stays for the single occupancy fee). In both cases, add your partner's name in the registration notes field so that we book you in the same bedroom.



Do I have to share a room?

If you don't wish to share a room, you can pay the single supplement to have a room of your own. If you book a shared room we will do our best to pair you with a similar roommate. What a great opportunity to build a new friendship!



May I arrive earlier or stay later than the retreat dates?

Much as we love having guests, we aren't open as a B&B, so accommodation is only available on the retreat dates. There is lots to explore in our area, if you wish to make your own plans to extend your holiday.



Can you accommodate my food sensitivity?

France is famous for its fine cuisine, fresh produce markets, delicious pastries and cheeses! Enjoy chef-prepared suppers all week; the taste of France is part of your immersive experience. Join your hosts for breakfasts & lunches and choose what appeals from the shared table dishes. Due to hospitality laws, we cannot offer restaurant style selections or service. We will have vegetarian options but unfortunately, severely restrictive diets and other food sensitivities can not be accommodated.



What if I get sick and can't come? (Cancellation Policy)

We strongly recommend 'cancel for any reason' travel insurance. We do not offer last-minute refunds for any reason, due to advance planning costs. Check out the terms & conditions for other timing. Travel insurance protects your investment, and helps alleviate disappointment if your plans have to change.



What will the weather be like?

Day time temperatures in June are around 24C (75F) with night time lows around 18C (64F). Day time temperatures in September are around 23C (73F) with night time lows around 14C (57F). You can expect mostly sunny days, with average monthly precipitation less than 10mm (0.4 in). Of course, these are averages, so temperatures could be warmer or cooler, rainier or sunnier during your stay. ​

Still Have Questions?

Drop us a line. We'll do our best to get back to you in 48 hours.

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