Postponed until further notice

Design Your Story in France

A Writing Retreat
with April Bosshard

July 4th to 11th, 2020  

Relax ~ Write ~ Connect

You’re invited to a very special retreat for creative writers. This week will be devoted to relaxing and reconnecting with your story while you deepen your love of writing.

Experience the peace and beauty of Château de Bardouly, a 16th century estate in the Dordogne region of southwest France. Château de Bardouly is a tranquil 100 acre oasis located near the town of Bergerac (of Cyrano fame), which lies between Bordeaux and Toulouse.

We will have exclusive use of the château for this June 2020 writing retreat. For seven nights, Château de Bardouly will feel like home. You will have a private room with a desk, your own bathroom (complete with robe and slippers), and all meals catered for you. 

You will be encouraged to unwind, play, explore, and bien sûr write to your heart’s content!

Take time to relax, write, and connect with other passionate creators.

This early summer retreat offers writers time and space to work on their chosen writing project in an inspiring and supportive setting. Writers will be encouraged to dive deeply and joyfully into their creative process.

Group writing sessions will take place in the mornings and some afternoons, with the option to work at a personal pace and place; each room is fitted with a writing desk and there are many places to work around the property.

Each writer will receive a private story coaching session with April. In addition to a few lessons on story craft, attention will be given to cultivating and maintaining a meaningful writer’s life.

The retreat is open to all writers working on any type of project, though it’s particularly suited to those with an interest in writing novels, screenplays, or memoirs.

In the spirit of creating a safe, encouraging environment for writers to deepen their process and make progress on their individual projects, works-in-progress will not be shared or critiqued in a group setting. One evening may be devoted to author readings, but participation will be optional.

This retreat seeks to provide a nurturing atmosphere for dedicated writers who are: ready to refine their connection to the creative process; open to having creative conversations with other writers; and longing for a break from their usual routine… and, quite possibly, a breakthrough in their writing process.

Laura, Nichole, and Ariela talk about their experiences at last year’s writing retreat with April.


~ Château de Bardouly ~

The château and its surroundings will be your home for seven sweet days…

Delicious Homemade French Food

You can’t go wrong with food in France, and something is wonderfully right about the food at Château de Bardouly. Everything is fresh, healthy, and exquisitely prepared.
(Vegetarian, vegan, and wheat free options are available.)

Meals will be catered by our own private chef. Breakfast and lunch will be buffet style. Dinners will be plated and served at table and will include wine. You will be well fed with delicious, creative, homemade French food.

Your host: April Bosshard
Retreat and Workshop Facilitator, Creator of Deep Story Design

Sometimes called a “story whisperer” and other times a “story genie,” April is a deft and experienced workshop facilitator and story coach who works with writers around the world. Her keen awareness of story principles and deep understanding of the writer’s craft sheds light on many of the complex issues writers face when it comes to story creating and sticking to the writing process. More about April.

“April helped me to get clear about my story. Her process, tools, and tricks helped me to free myself from writer’s block and dead-end journeys that waste time. She is a story wrangler.”
~ Laura Haas, North Carolina

“April is an intuitive, skilled and extremely generous story coach. She has given me exactly what I needed to take my writing seriously and evolve to the next phase.”
~ Dr Bernadette Geraghty, Australia

“April is the deep of Deep Story Design. She is a gentle Story Whisperer, so talented at what she does, with a remarkably deep understanding of story and a way of embracing the whole room with her generous spirit.”
~ Margo Lamont, Vancouver, BC

A Note From April:

There is something powerful about living and working communally with other creative people, even for a short time. You’ll inevitably make a creative leap if you set aside the time and make the journey. I’ve always been so inspired when I’ve paired writing and travel. That’s why it was important to me to create a retreat like this for others.

I truly believe that writing teaches writing, and if writers have the opportunity to dive deeply into the creative process, in a special environment and with the right kind of guidance and support, magic will naturally unfold.

If you’d like to talk to me in person, please get in touch and we can set up a call.

Spending time with your best friend–your writing–is an investment rather than an indulgence. Immerse yourself in daily writing, creative conversations, and the rejuvenating idyll of the French countryside.

Crossing the threshold….
Are you ready to take the next meaningful step in your writing journey? 

Our Days at the Château

Mornings, Afternoons, and Evenings

You may choose to get up early to write, meditate, walk, swim, or do yoga at the outdoor platform. If you’re an early riser, you can help yourself to coffee or tea. Breakfast will be available around 8:30 am. Our writing sessions will convene most days from 9:30 to 12:30. After, at 1 pm, we’ll indulge in a buffet lunch together or solo. Afternoons might include a village or forest walk, a stroll around the property, a nap in the shade, or a swim in the heated salt water pool. And more writing, of course!  A couple of writers will partake of a private story coaching session with April in the afternoon. In the evenings we’ll gather for a beautifully prepared dinner around 6:30 most evenings. Dinner might be followed by games, talks, or readings on some nights. Quiet time will be encouraged after 10 pm.

(Please note: Participation in planned events is always encouraged but never mandatory. If you end up immersed in a deep writing flow, stay with it!)

Give yourself the time to deepen your devotion to your writing.



Fee includes:
7 nights accommodation at Château Bardouly
French Meals
Daily Writing Sessions
Private Story Coaching Sessions
(one in France and another from home by phone)
Post Retreat Writing Support
(4 monthly group calls)
Transport to and from the Bergerac airport or train station
One afternoon excursion to two nearby castles with literary histories

a $500 deposit is required to hold your spot
(refundable until participation is confirmed)
Full payment due by April 1st, 2020
Payment Plans Available ~ Email to Discuss



Do I need to be able to speak French?
Not at all. The retreat will be conducted in English.

Where is the château?
It’s 20 minutes from the town of Bergerac in the southwest region known as the Dordogne. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Bordeaux and a two and a half hour drive from Toulouse.

How do I get to Château de Bardouly by train?
You can take the train from just about anywhere in France to the Bergerac train station, where we will arrange for you to be picked up. To travel from Paris to Bergerac you will be routed through Bordeaux.

How do I get to Château de Bardouly by plane?
There are direct flights from London, and other UK locations, to Bergerac. Within France or other parts of Europe you may need to fly into Bordeaux or Toulouse and then take a train to the Bergerac station.

What if I want to bring a car?
You may want to rent a car if you choose to drive yourself to the château and/or plan to enjoy some self-directed excursions before, during, or after the retreat. (Check to see if you need an international drivers license.)

What else is there to see in the area?
So much! Château de Bardouly is tucked away in the countryside, which is why it is perfect as a retreat setting. But we are not far from the larger cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse. Dordogne is famous for its market towns, the cave paintings at Lascaux, the Hanging Gardens of Marqueyssac, the Dordogne river, and the area rivals the Loire when it comes to castles. We highly recommend that you add some days on one or both ends of your trip to take in the wonders of the region.

Why do I have to talk to April before?
This is simply so that we can get an idea of your project, writing style, and personal intentions for the retreat. We will be a small group (approximately 8 to 10 writers) living, working, and playing together for 8 days/7 nights and we need to ensure that we have a compatible group. All writers, from emerging to professional, are welcome.

Do I get my own bedroom?
Yes! And your own bathroom. If you would like to share a room with a friend, who is also attending the retreat, you will each receive a reduced rate. Most rooms will be set up with king beds but a few have twins or queens.

Will I get to write in a private space?
The château and its grounds are full of places to set up a laptop, and you might want to move around from day to day. Most bedrooms have a desk or writing table.

What if I have dietary constraints?
Our chef is generous and flexible and able to create options as needed. Please let us know in advance if you have special dietary requests. We will our best to accommodate each writer’s needs.

What if I have some physical limitations?
You must be physically able to handle going up and down stairs.  There is no elevator at the château.

Any other comfort tips?
It will likely be warm and dry in July, but you may want to bring a pair of slippers to wear in the house and a jacket, scarf, or wrap for the evenings. Definitely bring a swimsuit as we will have a heated salt water pool at our disposal. If we get warmer temperatures,each room comes with a fan. And the château walls are 3 feet thick, which keeps the interiors quite cool. In case of rain, be aware that this is the countryside and it can get muddy from time to time.

What happens after the retreat?
April will offer a special monthly writing group for retreat participants from September to December 2020 to provide ongoing support for the projects worked on during the retreat. In addition, each writer will also have the option of a personal one hour story coaching call to be scheduled within 6 months of the retreat.

Have I missed a question? Please let me know!

Practical Details and Retreat Schedule 

Arrivals & Departures

Please plan to arrive between 4 pm and 6 pm on Saturday July 4th.

On departure day, July 11th, we will need to be out of our rooms by 10 am. Rides to the airport and train station will occur soon after.

You will be picked up from and given a lift back to either the Bergerac train station or airport, unless you make other plans. (This is included in the retreat fee.)  

If you plan to travel by train or plane from Paris or another city, please try to arrive at the Bergerac train station or airport between 3 and 5 pm, if possible. We will arrange to pick you up from the station and drive you to Château de Bardouly.

On the 11th, train departures around 11 am and flights around noon or 1 pm are ideal.

If you plan to rent a car and drive yourself to the château, please let April know.

Retreat Schedule (subject to change)

Sat July 4th
Arrivals ~ 4 to 6 pm
Settling in and Orientation
Welcome Dinner and Champagne Toast ~ 6:30 to 8 pm
Introductions & Intentions Circle ~ 8 to 9:00 pm

Sun July 5th 
Breakfast ~ 8:30 to 9:30
Writing Session in the Studio ~ 9:30 to 12:30
Lunch ~ 1 to 2 pm
Individual Coaching Sessions ~ 2:30 to 4:30
Dinner ~ 6:30 to 8 pm

Mon July 6th
Breakfast ~ 8:30 to 9:30
Writing Session in the Studio ~ 9:30 to 12:30
Lunch ~ 1 to 2 pm
Individual Coaching Sessions ~ 2:30 to 4:30
Dinner ~ 6:30 to 8 pm
Poetry Reading (bring a favorite poem to read aloud) 8 to 9:30

Tue July 7th
Breakfast ~ 8:30 to 9:30
Writing Session in the Studio ~ 9:30 to 12:30
Lunch ~ 1 to 2
Individual Coaching Sessions ~ 2:30 to 4:30
Dinner ~ 6:30 to 8 pm

Wed July 8th
Breakfast ~ 8:30 to 9:30
Writing Session in the Studio ~ 9:30 to 12:30
Lunch ~ 12:45 to 1:45
Afternoon Excursion to Châteaux de Montaigne & Dumas
Dinner ~ 6:30 to 8 pm
Group Literary Reading (voluntary) 8 to 9:30

Thu July 9th
Breakfast ~ 8:30 to 9:30
Writing Session in the Studio ~ 9:30 to 12:30
Lunch ~ 12:45 to 1:45
Dinner ~ 6:30 to 8 pm

Friday July 10th
Breakfast ~ 8:30 to 9:30
Writing Workshop in the Salon ~ 9:45 to 12:45
Lunch ~ 1 to 2 pm
Individual Coaching Sessions ~ 2:30 to 4:30
Farewell Dinner ~ 6:30 to 8 pm

Saturday July 11th
Breakfast ~ 8:30 to 9:30
Packing & Goodbyes
Depart Château by 11 am on the 11th

“Writing doesn’t depend on inspiration or education or talent, Writing depends on choice. It is an act. It is both the most freeing and the most demanding task you can undertake.”
Eunice Scarfe ~

“Each of us has to discover her own way by writing. Writing teaches writing. No one can tell you your own secret.” 
~ Gail Sher ~