Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A French Preview

A Garden in Eden...made to be painted

(photo: france-voyage.com)



Welcome to the Prieure N.-D. d'Orsan in Maisonnais, fourteen miles from our workshop headquarters in La Chatre.

In 1996, I stumbled upon the Priory, heeded a welcome sign, and found myself in an enchanted world. Here was a recently derelict group of marvelous buildings brought back to life through the vision of two architects, Patrice Taravella and Sonia Lesot.

At this stage the project was only three years old. They had, nonetheless, made great strides in protecting and restoring the buildings and in making the garden.

Everything was very informal, and I found an opportunity to talk with them both. But eventually their unrelenting tasks, and my need to make some drawings, sent us all off to work. Here's a drawing from that visit.


And another.


The Priory began its life in 1107. All that the monks needed would be produced here. The owners have made an extraordinary garden, respecting the monastic heritage but invigorating every design touch by their consummate taste.


I have just been in touch with Patrice, and we are welcome to come paint in the garden during our French Workshop. What fun we shall have! The Priory is also a tiny hotel (3 rooms, I think) of the Relais et Chateau group, We'll be able to get some lovely things for our lunch break. Patrice has said we may come any of the days, so we'll be sure to pick a gloriously sunny one.


We can paint from ten in the morning until seven in the evening. The fee, so you can save up, is 10 euros. If, however, you are able to convince them that you are a child of less height than one metre ten, you can get in for five euros.


I, for one, couldn't be more excited to paint at Orsan. Here's a video from the BBC, featuring Patrice interviewed by English gardening writer Monty Don.




10 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Leslie....thanks for all the Facebook likes. Why aren't you joining us?

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    2. I wish that I could blink my eyes and magically appear! What a glorious place. I am enjoying it all vicariously. Hope that 's OK for now :)

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  2. Monty Don was a great favorite of mine when I spent 8 years creating my garden - the threads/strands crisscross. Echoes...

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    1. I devoured The Prickotty Bush in the early nineties, when I was doing a lot of garden-making, and again when we were building our garden in France. See you soon.

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  3. I am garden-green with envy for your upcoming trip! I can see your paintings everywhere here, and would have LOVED to be joining you. As it is, I shall have to content myself with placing escargot shells on the tops of all my bamboo stakes....

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    1. N'oubliez pas le ble dans la pelouse!

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  4. What an enchanted place that must be!

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  5. 'Tis, indeed! 906 years of practice makes perfect. Hop on a plane and play with us!

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  6. My wife is a keen gardener and follower of Monty Don, so I remember seeing the show featured on the series he did throughout France. Sounds like a great place to paint. See you there!

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