As Dorothy Parker famously said: ‘Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat.‘  It’s one of those age-old truths: to fill the empty page, we must sit down and put in the time. There’s no way around it.

So why not pick the best seat available?

How about a big leather chair next to a fire, a rustic wooden desk with views across sunflower fields to the river; or a spot in the garden overlooking a wildflower meadow, an 18th century barn and the ruins of a 12th century abbey.  Even better, place that seat in a characterful 19th century Maison de Maitre in the stunning countryside of the Loire Valley (France), fill it with like-minded writers and hosts that take your writing as seriously as you do while pampering you with exquisite food and drink, and you’ll find that your 90% perspiration feels way less daunting. That’s what awaits you on a Circle of Misse Writing Retreat.

The only finger you’ll lift will be to use your keyboard

While our Writing Courses expertly prepare you for the 90% glued-to-your-seat finger-tapping long haul, our retreats make keeping you inspired, motivated and focused during it our 100% commitment. To paraphrase another famous writer, we give you a room of your own with your own en-suite bathroom, a comfortable double-bed, a wardrobe and a writing desk with a view; along with the peace of mind that we’re taking care of everything else. Always available tea, coffee and other beverages. Lots of healthy (and strategically timed naughty) nibbles throughout the day to power you through your prose (or poetry), along with a wide variety of breakfast treats to suit all appetites, luscious boxed lunches and expertly prepared dinners with lots of local wine and non-alcoholic drinks. We really do take care of everything.


  • Some places expect you to help with the meals. Not here.
  • Some places expect you to help clean. Not here.
  • Some places expect you to share bedrooms and bathrooms. Not here.
  • You don’t have to pop into town to buy your own bottle of wine for dinner or anything else.
  • We handle pick up and drop-off at our area airport or train station, so no expensive taxis to worry about.

We take care of it all. And everything is included in the price except your travel to area airport/train station.

Our retreats run a full 6 day/7-night week, unlike other places that average 4 or 5 days, so you’re not packing up to leave, just when you’ve really hit your groove. We really do make this work for you.

As one of our retreaters responded when asked why she returns for two week stints twice a year for the last seven years: ‘All I have to do once I get off the train is write. You do everything else and I enjoy every minute of it. I can’t get that anywhere else.’


Writer’s march on their stomachs too. You’ll have a spring in your step.

Our food is the best you’ll find at any creative writing centre. It should be. We also run a cookery school, food blog and guesthouse. We don’t just feed you, we excite your senses and inspire. We cook professionally and are excited about our fresh local ingredients. We want to share them with you. Mealtimes are celebratory and a time to relax and celebrate the accomplishments of the day. If you are particularly “in the zone” we can arrange for an individual “working dinner”. Just let us know. We cater to all appetites. We’ll ask about dietary restrictions and food likes and dislikes when you book.

And when you want to leave your seat?

Circle of Misse is peaceful and calm, but not monastic. Our house gently buzzes with creative activity and the unobtrusive murmur of home life and the aroma of seasonal ingredients cooking in the kitchen. There will be other writers busily and quietly working on their own writing. So you can find solitude, but you won’t feel isolated. There’s always a chance for a chat, a stroll through the beautiful countryside, an optional trip to our local market, chateau and other local sight-seeing spots. We also mix things up with an optional cocktail/mocktail hour in the evenings where we can chat about the days work and discuss books. We also show a movie on the big screen one night.

Wow! Inspiration covered. What about perspiration, any chance of a hand?

First and foremost our retreats serve to give you focused writing time away from all distractions. As much writing time as possible with lots of creature comforts so you can do your best work at your own pace and on your own terms. So coming with a work-in-progress is highly advisable on a retreat. But you may find it’s the perfect time to start something new or even brainstorm.

Retreats and courses

Our courses – individually tailored to help you find your creative spark (A Writer Begins), learn the writer’s craft in order to plan and start your book (A Writer Prepares) and then master writing craft and problem-solve your way through your work-in-progress (A Writer Progresses) – are the place to start. But sometimes on retreat we still need some help with the heavy lifting. We have a team of talented writers, teachers, coaches and editors to help writers just like you. So, of course, along with the inspiration, some of our retreats offer you the option of getting various levels of nudging to power through the perspiration bit.

We all need different things from a writing retreat at different times while working on a project. Choose the one that best fits where you are at the moment.

Hotel Retreats

These retreats are all about giving you space to be alone with your work. They are truly independent with no formal programme and lots of unstructured time to use as you see fit with us there to look after your every need. The Writer’s Studio does not operate during these weeks, so there’s no optional coaching/feedback or discussions available.

Studio Retreats

Like all our retreats the core inspiration component goes without saying. Because these retreats run while the Writer’s Studio is in full swing with our writer-in-residence and visiting writers running courses and working with writers, it delights us to be able to offer our retreaters the option of joining us for an hour each morning to discuss a craft topic, strategies for narrative problem-solving or some prompts for bringing out your best work and also have up to three individual feedback sessions with the resident/visiting writer. All this is optional and on tap if you want it. You can also work completely independently.

Mentored Retreats

Offered in the spring/summer and early autumn, this is an extraordinarily popular (and intensive) option. You’ll be pampered and inspired per our usual high-standards, while also being individually coached through your writing goals by one of our visiting writing teachers. You’ll need to be stuck into a long project and we’ll read a substantial chunk of it beforehand and plan a schedule for you based on strategies for taking it to the next level. This will include a short reading list selected just for you to be read before arrival. Then we’ll spend the week alternating between coaching sessions to learn techniques to problem-solve your book, focused writing time, and feedback on the work you’re producing here. It’s all about giving you the tools and momentum to elevate your story.

Retreat Add-on:

Masterclass: Behind the Scenes of a Novel

If you’re working or planning to work on a novel, you can’t miss this week! We’re so lucky to have Emma Claire Sweeney here to give us a behind the scenes tour of what it takes to get a novel from inside your head onto the page and then out into the world. Includes a virtual visit from an editor or agent and a feedback session with Emma. You can add this onto a Studio or Mentored retreat. Read the full details.

Travel details

 March & Late Oct/Nov

Free pick-up (Sunday) and drop-off (Sunday) at:

  • Poitiers Airport
    • Pick-up: Coordinated with Ryanair flight FR8474 arriving 16:35
    • Drop-off: Circa 15:00 coordinated with Ryanair flight FR8475 departing 17:00
  • Poitiers (Centre) rail station
    • Pick-up: Circa 16:00
    • Drop-off: Circa 14:30

Rest of Year

Free pick-up (Saturday) and drop-off (Saturday) at:

  • Nantes Atlantique International Airport (You can arrive via plane or train). Full details here.
    • Pick-up 17:15
    • Drop-off 13:15


  • You can also take the train to Thouars, our nearest town, and we’ll collect you. Details here.
  • You can also drive. We’ll send directions and GPS coordinates.