The Second half of my trip to France…

watercolour – Caramany20-11-15 - 1 (1265)This post is about my week in Caramany, a small, ancient hill top village – in the Pyrenees-Orientales department in southern France.     A very beautiful area.

My friend the artist Suzy Davidson ( –  has been renovating an old ruin there for the past nine years …..all of this done whilst living in South Africa and and Malaysia.    Quite a feat.        On her regular visits, she has managed to organise builders, and much more…..and being a hands on person has done a lot of work herself, including building walls….wall6

To get there, I flew to Carcassonne and then a two hour drive to Caramany.     (On my return trip to Brittany and then London, I travelled by train – more about that in a minute)   

I left London just  before the ‘Beast from the East’ descended on the UK and Europe.  For the first three or so days it was freezing cold.     Fortunately Suzy had just installed two wood burners!

Suzy between house and atelier. 20-11-15 - 1 (1237)Initially it was too cold to paint outside (we actually woke to a dusting of snow one morning!) – and so I painted some interiors, plus portraits of the local Caramany people – again an excellent way to connect with people and to learn about a place.

A very warm spot next to a wood burner (now shown in this picture:)20-11-15 - 1 (1282)A rapid sketch from open window. 20-11-15 - 1 (1266)Built into rock, the community sits on many levels.     I took this photograph overlooking the courtyard to Suzy’s house with the ravine, village and hills beyond. 20-11-15 - 1 (1253)There are 150 full time residents – (during the summer months this number grows)     Through Suzy, I was able to meet some of the locals who not only made me very welcome but also provided in one case a delicious typically French five course lunch, and in another a superb evening meal.

Marie – a multi talented lady. – watercolour  20-11-15 - 1 (1347)Seven year old Capucine – watercolour 20-11-15 - 1 (1449)By mid week the sun was shining and in sheltered spots it was very warm.   I actually enjoyed my first al fresco lunch of the year.

Part of the village in mild sunshine. 20-11-15 - 1 (1507)Remy – Caramany resident – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (1441)Vivi – wife of Remy  – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (1440)I certainly hope to visit Carmany again during a warmer period when I am able do much more plein air painting.      I believe that Late April/May or September/October would be perfect….as I think the summers might be a little too hot for my liking.

Perpignan is about a 35 minute drive from Caramany, and so it was here that I caught the  first train on my way to Lorient in Brittany.      Other than the initial local train, I was travelling by TGV – the superb French train system which travels at high speeds and for the most part is very efficient.

Between Perpignan and Narbonne – I was able to see the lagoons with Pink Flamingos….what a treat.     After a quick change at Narbonne onto Toulouse, – Toulouse to Paris and Paris to Lorient where Elisabeth and Herve were waiting for me.    The train was right on schedule.        It sounds like a long day, and it was but given that the trains are so comfortable and everything on schedule….it is a far better way to travel than flying!.    An excellent opportunity for reading, writing, thinking and people watching.

A rapid watercolour/gouache in my sketch book looking down on the reservoir beneath Caramany….It was extremely windy and cold that day. .   20-11-15 - 1 (1545)

Now onto my next trip where I will be giving a workshop at the beautiful school in Olhao Portugal      starting Wednesday 18th April….

We have received two late cancellations and so if anyone is interested in joining us on what is always a wonderful week, please contact Camilla at +44 203 2877 140

I have a limit of 12 for these workshops and am fully booked for September.   

At this time of year, especially after our very cold spring, the thought of arriving at the School is such a treat.     The top of the old olive tree that grows up through the centre of the School….simply beautiful. P1150724

I finish with a pile of magical hummingbird watercolour doodles 20-11-15 - 1 (1646)


A Bientot



35 thoughts on “The Second half of my trip to France…

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I did enjoy it and yes the whole are is very beautiful indeed. Hoping all is well with you in Wales…I wll be there at the beginning of July. Massive Hugs back to you xxx

  1. Ben Aqiba

    Wonderful post Janet,

    I like your style.You transfer the emotion in your portraits.In their eyes, there is something in their eyes.You built their personality into their eyes.
    I know that you had a great time in France.

    Thank you

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much Ben….The eyes are key. They are the window to the soul. I begin every portrait whether a very fast watercolour or a large oil painting with the eyes….. I have always loved France…everything about it….Janet 🙂

  2. Teagan R. Geneviene

    Janet, thank you so much for bringing us along for this wonderful trip. What beautiful places! It is no wonder it brought out such amazing creations.
    Caramany was particularly nice to see. All these places are so vastly different from anywhere I’ve lived (or even stayed) that I can’t really imagine living there. Purely wonderful to see all this through your eyes. Hummingbird hugs!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Teagan for this lovely comment. France is such a diverse, beautiful and amazing country….You can find everything there and so many beautiful villages, towns and cities. The countryside (again very diverse) is stunning and the customs in each area change, which I love…as do the food specialities….and the food is fabulous. If you eat in a very modest little bistro you receive wonderful food….May of 2019 I will be spending the whole month in Brittany which i love. Hope you and Crystal enjoy a beautiful day Janet xx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much Brad. Yes, a great place for a retreat from the world 🙂 We have had a very cold spring thus far, although we did see some sun today which is wonderful. Hope all is well with you. Janet 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Katherine. It’s something I love to do and as I have said before a wonderful way to really connect with people. I love France…and there are so many beautiful places there…..Hope your day is going well. janet xx

      1. janetweightreed10 Post author

        What a difference a little warmth and sunshine makes. I went out for a while and people were smiling and it felt so good. I am sure much more is to come. janet

  3. ShimonZ

    This post was a masterpiece, Janet. It stands independent of the experiences it records. The watercolrs are you as an artist at your best. With a very light hand your expressions are truly powerful. And the frosting on the cake is the exquisite photography you add to the images. They demonstrate how well you’ve learned to express yourself with all your beauty and humor in any media you choose. I love this.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Shimon….what a lovely comment to wake up to. From you this means so much. I feel as if I am getting back into my stride again…which as you can imagine feels very good. I am no longer juggling so many other things which means that I am able to focus completely on my work. I send you and dear Nechama Hummingbird Hugs….janet 🙂

  4. snowbird

    What wonderful experiences, right up my street, I totally agree re preferring trains to planes! I would travel any which way to avoid flying. I agree with Shimon re these last posts, simply marvelous, he has the right words of course! You have such a talent, I always say that but you can take my breath away at times! I bet it was marvelous painting away while a log burner roared away, hopefully you had a glass of white too! You have such interesting friends, obviously because you are such an interesting gal!
    Finally sorted email notification issue, that button was turned to off, hopefully all resolved now. Enjoy Portugal!!!xxxx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Dina. I am imagining you settling back home after your long trip…must feel good. On 3rd may will be flying to Boston and spending one month on the east coast…if I could go by train, I would! First for a week on the 18th…’s all go, but wonderful. I haven’t forgetting our getting together, will contact you soon. Have a fantastic day with all your furies who must be so pleased to see you. Janet xxxx

  5. Virginia Porter

    Thank you Janet for such a lovely trip. I enjoyed the food and fine wine and especially the beautiful people of that magical region..
    The ‘pile of Hummers’ was my desert.
    Much love here for you dear Janet!!!!
    gini. xx

  6. davidjrogersftw

    Dear Janet,
    Whenever you’re on the move I can count on something good coming out of it. I liked the determination of your friend Suzy. She’s quite a woman, isn’t she? What a lovely, lovely village. I think it has an enchanted Brigadoon quality–and your portraits of its residents are just so nice.

    I so liked the picture of your art supplies on the floor–thrilled me actually because they remind me of one of my favorite themes–how hard you painters work, yet so effortlessly too, shaping such beauty out of those little tubes. I’ve told you that if I possess any skill in painting I haven’t discovered it yet. Perhaps that’s why I give painters skilled in the way you are such credit.

    Your constant sketching makes me think I might benefit from spending more time writing about the little things that I experience and memories and other thoughts that fill my mind rather than only working on “big” projects. What do you think?

    Have a wonderful time in Portugal and of course on your venture out this way.

    Best always

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning David, Oh yes, Suzy is quite a woman – I admire her greatly. We met when I house/studio/animal sat for her and her family 12 years ago just outside of Brussels and immediately clicked. I was there for two idyllic summers before she moved to S. Africa and then Malaysia with her family and menagerie of animals. I think the next step is for Suzy to be in France full time.

      Wherever, I go I take paints, palette, paper, brushes etc. I mentioned to my daughter recently how interesting it would be to travel and pack my bags with no art supplies! There would be room for things like clothes 🙂

      Every time I am away sketching, I am reminded of how important it is. I always emphasise to anyone coming to my workshops that sketchbooks will be a key element. I have book cases full of them from different places and times, and they really are wonderful to have and to pass onto my children. Yes, I do think quick written notes are a very good idea for any writer. I think we all tend to start a project and get into the ‘meat and potatoes’ of it, but it is my belief that lots of quick sketches, ultimately help with all the more serious work. They also open my eyes to so much more often very unexpected insights.

      As we speak I am preparing for both upcoming trips. Portugal and then USA and of course in both cases, paints and sketchbook will be packed.

      Enjoy the weekend…and the baseball of course.

      Best wishes to you and Diana


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