Deep in the gorgeous Dordogne, Les Soeurs Anglaises (the English Sisters) is a delightful company that runs creative workshops and courses in a beautiful old house. There are many such places, but what makes the English Sisters special is first of all their commitment to providing top teachers, secondly their enthusiasm, and last but not least, the surroundings.
The house is the sort of place we all dream about owning - a glorious stone-walled, high-ceilinged 19th-century maison with luxurious accommodation, traditional and modern furniture and furnishings, and crisp fresh linen. There are two sea water outdoor pools, a gently flowing stream, mature gardens, and a superb, chic studio building.
It's all very inspiring, which is the idea. The two sisters and their company run a series of five and six day courses throughout the summer season, ranging from knitting and writing to textile sculpture. Some of the names they use are well known to the British, like Patricia Roberts who revolutionized knitting and sold fantastic yarns in her Covent Garden shop. Julieann Worrall Hoods teaches you how to make wire sculptures (her chickens and rabbits were used in the Conran shop in Brompton Cross). If you're a couple and †only one partner wants to do the creative thing, don't worry. The countryside around is full of castles, small towns with enough cafes to keep the most avid people watcher happy, walks and cycle rides. Above all, this is fun.
Prices range from £750 to £1,600 per person and include 5 days' tuition, 6 nights accommodation, transfers, full board (with wines chosen by Michael Armitage of the Interesting Wine Club), snacks, tea and coffee, use of all the facilities including bicycles, Wi-Fi and those heated swimming pools.
Flight from the U.K. run to Bergerac (Ryan Air and Flybe) or Bordeaux, and the TGV train goes to both Angouleme and Bordeaux. You need to book a course way in advance, and the first course runs from April 24th to 30th.
For more information, check the website.