Classroom Abroad at La Napoule

By Maryanne Grebenstein —

For several years, I’ve had the pleasure of conducting a Classroom Abroad experience for calligraphers and book artists at Château de la Napoule in the south of France. It’s such a marvelous location that in my last blog post I shared some of the history of the château and photos of how beautiful it is.

These trips are so special to me that in this post I’d like to share a few of my thoughts and photos. The trips vary each time, but they all offer interesting instruction and unique adventures. (I’ve had some people who have never picked up a pen join us as much for the travel as for the calligraphy! And some participants have brought non-artists as traveling companions, too.) I look forward to them months in advance.

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
Participants in The Abbey Studio’s Classroom Abroad, getting ready for an afternoon outing to Monaco.

We usually start with several days at a different location (such as Paris, London or Cambridge UK) before heading to the south of France to the château. The group travels together from Boston and the first days of the trip give us a chance to get to know each other, adjust to the time change, recover from jet lag, and well, see some pretty incredible sites.

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
The Eiffel Tower.
Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
Even in the fall Luxembourg Garden in Paris is gorgeous!

 

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
The Bridge of Sighs in Cambridge, UK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The starting location of the trip also exposes us to destinations and exhibits that prepare us (a.k.a. stoke our enthusiasm) for the Classroom Abroad portion. There’s so much to see and it’s a joy to experience history in this way; many of Europe’s attractions and magnificent museums honor its long and storied past.

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
This is one of the many beautiful illuminated manuscripts we saw at an exhibit at the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris.

 

 

 

 

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
Musée Cluny in Paris.

 

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
Medieval garden including wattle fencing at Musée Cluny in the heart of Paris. We see this in manuscripts – what a thrill to see it in real life!

 

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
An ink bar at a stationery shop in Paris. Yes, they fill an ink jar for you after you select the color(s) you would like.

(Does anyone want to set up an “ink bar” locally? I’d be a devoted customer!)

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
Walkway at the château.

While at La Napoule there’s a special mystique to spending a week at a restored castle. It feels so … exotic. I love to walk the grounds and explore the gardens, and the air smells amazing.

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
One of our ‘pot luck’ lunches.

 

 

 

 

We spend mornings in the studio, and then break for lunch – often one of our delightful ‘pot luck’ lunches where everyone brings a little something they have found at the neighboring market.

After lunch, students can continue their studio work independently.

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
Participants at work in one of the galleries at the château.

 

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
Participants another year when our work space was set up in the Villa.

Or, they can hop on the regional train that is directly across the street and visit one of the many beautiful neighboring towns along the French Riviera such as Cannes, Monaco, Nice, Antibes, and San Tropez – all very nearby! (That’s another amazing feature about La Napoule!)

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
The beach at Nice.

 

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
The casino at Monaco.

 

The Picasso Museum at Antibes.
The Picasso Museum at Antibes.

Here are a few examples of work created during Classroom Abroad.

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
Work of one of the participants.

 

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
Work from another participant.

 

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
Work from yet another participant.

 

Château de la Napoule, The Abbey Studio, Calligraphy, classroom abroad
One year we had a little reception to show off some of our work.

I’d love to know what you think of my photos! And if this kind of trip sounds amazing to you, there are still a few spots available for the 2016 Classroom Abroad, running October 1-12. Feel free to contact us for more information at info@theabbeystudio.com or phone us at 781-740-9000. You can also click here to download a packet of information. I promise you it will be a trip you’d never forget.

 

All photos by the author.

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