Experience a French Art de Vivre Workshop at a Beautiful Château Near Paris

with French Stylist Marie-Paule Faure and French-American Culture Expert Elizabeth Seitz


Château de Courances in Courances, France
  • French Art de Vivre Workshops in the French Countryside

    Come join Marie-Paule and Elizabeth in the charming village of Courances south of Paris for an unforgettable day in the French countryside focused on the French ‘art de vivre,’ or “art of living.” Over the centuries, France has perfected that wonderful coming together of lovely table settings, gorgeous flowers, culinary delights, historic atmosphere, natural beauty and engaging conversation. Our one-day workshops will bring all these aspects of French style together for an authentic and one-of-a-kind cultural and travel experience in France!

    Our day will begin with your arrival at our workshop venue – the exquisite Château de Courances, a 17th century French castle set in one of the most gorgeous parks and gardens in all of France. We’ll begin with a welcome tea and coffee as we get to know one another at the marvelous Foulerie, the former hemp mill on the property which has been beautifully restored. Then we’ll immerse ourselves in the French art of living with our creative hands-on workshop in English where you’ll learn to set tables the French way using a variety of tableware and decorative items –we’ll even make some of these ourselves! – both new and vintage, incorporate flowers and natural materials effortlessly into table decor, create and present inviting buffet meal settings, prepare mouthwatering recipes for a French picnic lunch, and celebrate entertaining in the French spirit. Once you’ve had a chance to take photos of your table and floral creations, we’ll sit down in the fabulous gardens to enjoy our French lavish picnic-style lunch with wine and discuss French manners and entertaining etiquette.

    Following lunch, we’ll enjoy a guided historical walking tour of the Château of Courances park and gardens and also the village of Courances with its lovely 12th century church, the unusual historic double ‘lavoir’ or village wash house, and the ‘Jardins de Courances’ organic farm store. Our workshop grand finale will be a pop-up ‘brocante’ where you can shop for antique and vintage French table and culinary items especially selected by Marie-Paule and Elizabeth for our Art de Vivre workshop participants. After our rich day together, you will have acquired that French sense of entertaining style, spent a day in the magnificent French countryside at Courances, and made a host of new France-loving friends. Marie-Paule and Elizabeth will also have a unique French parting gift for you as a ‘party favor’ from our wonderful day together. This special Art of French Living workshop in the French countryside will be a French cultural experience you won’t want to miss!

  • Our Venue, the Lovely Château de Courances

    Owned privately by the Ganay family for four generations, the Château de Courances was built between 1622 and 1630 during the time of King Louis XIII and has undergone many changes over the centuries. Left in a state of neglect during the 19th century, the chateau was entirely restored in 1872 by Baron Samuel de Haber, a wealthy Swiss banker. At the time, de Haber added important stylistic elements including the famous horseshoe staircase copied from the nearby Château de Fontainebleau and the red bricks on the facades, typical of the Louis XIII style. This is why the Château de Courances is said to be twice Louis XIII in style. Both a family home and an historic landmark, the privileged Ganays share their beautiful heritage with the public on weekends and holidays from April to November each year. We are pleased to share it with you on our private workshop day.

    One of the most fascinating things about Courances is the water. It is said that the name Courances comes from the expression “running waters” – the verb ‘courir’ in French means to run – found in the park and the surrounding village. The chateau estate includes 14 natural springs, a small river called the ‘Ecole’ and 17 ornamental pools which have slowly been added to the gardens over the centuries. The earliest pools date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Our workshops will take place on the grounds of the Chateau and at the Foulerie which is the former hemp mill built in the 1600’s, now wonderfully restored.

    Photo Credit: Photographer J.B. Pellerin
  • French Art de Vivre Workshops ~ Details and Dates for 2018 and 2019

    The French Art de Vivre Workshops are designed for all lovers of France and French culture and are open to participants at all skill levels. The day-long workshops will take place on the grounds of the Château de Courances about an hour south of Paris. Included in the workshop cost is private transport from the center of Paris. For those wishing to spend a night or two in the French countryside, there are marvelous historic vacation accommodations on the estate of the Château de Courances – we can work with you to arrange a short stay around the workshop, pending availability – just let us know.

    The French Art de Vivre Workshops include:

    • Private day in the French countryside at the Château de Courances estate near  Paris
    • Table setting, floral design, buffet creation and culinary instruction – demo,  group and 1×1 time
    • All materials needed for the table décor, flower arranging, recipe preparation  and entertaining lessons
    • Morning welcome tea, coffee and viennoiseries
    • Lavish French picnic-style lunch with wine
    • Guided visit of the park and gardens of the Château de Courances
    • Walking tour of the village of Courances
    • Access to the exclusive pop-up brocante just for workshop participants
    • Parting gift as a special souvenir of our French Art of Living day together
    • Warm camaraderie and conversation with other France-loving guests!

    Dates for the 2018 and 2019 French Art de Vivre workshops with Marie-Paule Faure and Elizabeth Seitz

    • 2018:
      Thursday, September 20
      Thursday, October 11
    • 2019:
      Thursday, May 9
      Thursday, June 13 at the Hôtel La Mirande in Avignon (as part of the special four-day “Culinary Journey to Provence” – see separate travel program for details)
      Thursday, June 25
      Thursday, September 5
      Thursday, September 19
      Thursday, October 3
      Thursday, April 11

    Workshop Cost

    The one-day workshop cost is $475 per person.

    This includes:

    • All workshop instruction
    • Private transportation to and from central Paris
    • Refreshments and lunch
    • Guided garden and village tours
    • A parting gift

    Workshop guests will depart from Paris about 9am and return about 5pm. Overnight stays at Courances are additional; please contact us for further information or for hotel recommendations in Paris. Advance registration with payment is required to reserve your spot. Due to the special nature of these events, the workshop fee is non-refundable but is transferable so you may find someone else to attend in your place. A minimum of ten guests is required for the workshop to occur. It is highly recommended that all guests purchase travel insurance in the unlikely event of illness, personal matters, or natural / political / airline interference.

    Photo Credit: Photographer J.B. Pellerin
  • Marie-Paule Faure

    For the past 20 years, Marie-Paule’s work has appeared in interior decorating magazines such as Côté Ouest, Marie-Claire Idées, Maison et Jardin, Victoria Magazine, among other French and American publications. She is particularly interested in “arts de la table” (arts of the table) and topics related to cooking and entertaining. A few years, she left Paris and settled in the countryside, and this change of life has sparked some additional interests. With her work and her book Recevoir Simple et chic, she hopes to share some of her best magazine projects. There’s also easy and affordable decoration ideas, simple recipes and tips for entertaining, because she loves to make the everyday a little more beautiful with what she has at hand. Before that, she used to be a dancer.

    Elizabeth New Seitz

    A native Texan, Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz is a noted expert in French language and culture. She is the founder of French Affaires, a unique company celebrating French travel, culture, language and l’art de vivre. She received her B.A., M.A. & Ph.D. in French from Vanderbilt University and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and with Vanderbilt-in-France in Aix-en-Provence. She has lived, worked and traveled extensively in France since 1983. A former university French professor, her specialty is making France wonderfully personal and accessible to everyone through her one-of-a-kind France journeys; custom France trip design; and French events, classes and lectures. She still loves to teach the French language and is often asked to speak about French culture to groups across the U.S. Elizabeth, her husband and their French dog Marcel divide their time between their house in Courances, France, and the U.S. She is currently writing two books on France. www.frenchaffaires.com

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