Writing from the Heart…in the Heart of France



How would you like to…

Relax in the same beautiful, inspiring village that nourished the creative genius of Pierre Auguste and Jean Renoir, among other artists?

Work on your writing (or begin to write for the first time) with others in a nonjudgmental, supportive, small-group workshop?

Enjoy fine French cuisine and champagne tastings with local vignerons?

Explore a beautiful and relatively undiscovered part of France?

(View a short video message from creator/workshop facilitator Janet Hulstrand here.)

Welcome to Writing from the Heart (In the Heart of France)

“I believe that the best writing is born of both wisdom and courage. Wisdom comes from life experience. The courage to express what we truly believe and have learned through our life experience is the source of the best writing there can be.” Janet Hulstrand, author, editor, and workshop instructor

Writing from the heart is a bold act. It is not for the faint of heart.

In writing truthfully we both confront and expose the most vulnerable part of ourselves, by discovering who we really are and sharing with others what we really believe. This can be both liberating and terrifying.

What if what I believe is mistaken, or stupid?
What if I offend someone?
What if people won’t like who I really am, or what I have to say?

These kinds of doubts can make it hard to find the courage to write with honesty and depth. And yet when we do, the almost inevitable result is that others respond with understanding, acceptance, and interest.

Do you know what you believe? (If not, writing can help you discover it…)
Do you know what you want to share with others?
Do you have the courage to express your beliefs and the wisdom you have gained through living?

Writing from the Heart is a journey into the heart of France and into your own heart…a journey you will never regret…

“Essoyes, where my mother was born, has remained more or less unspoiled. There is no other place like it in the whole wide world. There I spent the best years of my childhood.”   Jean Renoir

“A nice peaceful place with some good light.” Mary McCarthy

The workshop will be held in the inspiring village of Essoyes, in the heart of Champagne country, two and a half hours southeast of Paris.

Charmingly situated on the Ource River, surrounded by rolling hills and open fields, Essoyes is very conducive to peaceful contemplation. The village offers quiet streets pleasant for walking in; there are also trails that lead visitors past rural landscapes that Renoir painted, to other nearby, picturesque villages. Local caves offer visitors the opportunity to learn about the process of making champagne and participate in degustations; and nearby Bar-sur-Seine and Troyes are rich in history, art, and architectural beauty.


Troyes, an important cultural, educational, commercial and governmental center since the Middle Ages, has one of the finest quartiers of restored half-timbered buildings in France.

“Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say.”  Brenda Ueland, author of If You Want to Write 

This 6-day writing workshop is for anyone—from novice to professional writer—who would like to write, or write more, about what matters to you, whether it be personal, political, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or prose.

We will address the obstacles that can prevent people—whether they think of themselves as writers or not—from expressing themselves with clarity, fullness, dignity, and passion, and from enjoying the process of writing. While the main emphasis will be on writing for the joy of self-discovery and self-expression, practical advice and information that will help guide those who wish to pursue publication will also be included.

Participants will have the opportunity to work with others as well as independently and one-on-one with the instructor to identify their own personal obstacles, dismantle them, and unleash their creative energies, allowing their writing to flourish.


Classes are held at “Our French Ranch” on the edge of town.

Classes will be held in the mornings, in a lovely chalet in a beautiful wooded glade, leaving afternoons and evenings free to read, write, or discover Essoyes and the surrounding area.

And while one of the main benefits of the class is the chance to “get away from it all” (whatever “it” is), past participants have also enjoyed the chance to discover and explore a beautiful and relatively unknown part of France.


“This was a life-altering experience; mind, body and soul coming together with similar people with infinitely different lives, in search of a common thread: the written word. Janet provided the environment in which we were able to weave our individual threads into a lovely fabric of stories, descriptions, poems…and support for tender subjects. The citizens of Essoyes showed us the true meaning of hospitality…Renoir said the best years of his life were in Essoyes. When you are here, you understand why.” Renee Johnson, Writing from the Heart participant

You can see what others have said here:


Janet Hulstrand (at left) with some of her Writing-from-the-Hearters.

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, and teacher who divides her time between France and the United States. Her essays and articles have been published in the Christian Science Monitor, International Educator, Guide to Retirement Living, Smithsonian.com, and many other publications. She studied essay writing with Anatole Broyard and literature with Philip Roth, and has taught writing and literature at Hunter and Queens Colleges of the City University of New York. Her first book, Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Homewas widely praised: she and her coauthor now blog on this topic at Downsizing the Home: Lessons Learned. She is a frequent contributor to Bonjour Paris and France Revisited, and she writes essays on travel and literature for her blog, Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road. She teaches literature and culture classes at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C., and is currently working on her next book, A Long Way from Iowa, a writer’s memoir. Her relationship with the village of Essoyes goes back to 1978, when she and her future husband met and fell in love while picking grapes in the vineyards surrounding the town.



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