Creative Writing Courses


Our much-praised Creative Writing courses, led by author and professional tutor Sarah Hymas, promise the exploration of new techniques. The daily workshops will expand the imagination using writing games and exercises that rely on play, memory and a sense of adventure.

Reading as well as writing, talking, thinking and offering feedback – our focus will be to limber up, stretch ourselves and write with renewed vigour and joy.

Sarah will offer her long experience as a published author of poetry, plays and short stories to advise on the business side of being a writer, including discussing ambitions, expectations, and the sort of publications people might best target for getting work published.

On both our Creative Writing courses you can punctuate your writing time with relaxation in the grounds, or find inspiration in walking or cycling along the nearby Canal du Midi. An evening restaurant visit is included and on one day you will be free to explore the historic city of Carcassonne or to visit Toulouse. Your transport for this is arranged by us and the cost – as with everything else on the course – will be included in the price.

* SPECIAL OFFER: Participants wishing to book a place on both courses are invited to stay at the house on an accommodation-only basis for the Saturday and Sunday in-between nights – at no additional cost.

Only a light breakfast will be provided on both mornings but transport will be offered to nearby towns with shops, bars and cafes, or to canal-side restaurants.

There is also a train service for people who wish to explore further afield – for example, the Toulouse line extends to the Mediterranean, passing through Narbonne, Beziers and Sete en route to Montpellier.

2020 Courses

“Write Like No One’s Watching”

29 June – 4 July, 2020 : Creative Writing (6 days – 5 nights, Mon-Sat)
28 September – 3 October, 2020 : Creative Writing (6 days – 5 nights, Mon-Sat)

All-inclusive price per person £895, two sharing.

Single occupancy supplement £60.

Non-participant sharing bedroom with participant: £100 discount.


During this course, which Sarah has been operating with us since 2009, the emphasis will be on informality. You may be a beginner or a more seasoned writer; either way, you will not be expected to conform to any particular genre or style.

Whether your chosen form is poetry or prose, fact or fiction, the focus will be on creating character, atmosphere and coherent structures. Discussions will cover topics such as plotting, pacing, dialogue, imagery, point of view, power and economy of language, punctuation and editing.

The course programme includes daily 3-hour group sessions, one-to-ones and an after-dinner feedback focus one evening. Participants are encouraged to bring with them one or two of their poems or a short story for the one-to-one and another for group discussion.

“Pen & Think” – Tutored Retreat

6 – 12 July, 2020: Creative Writing (7 days – 6 nights, Mon-Sun)

Cancelled due to COVID-19 until further notice. Register interest!

All-inclusive price per person £995, two sharing.

Single occupancy supplement £60.

Non-participant sharing bedroom with participant: £100 discount.


This course is for the experienced writer who is progressing their work. Due to popular demand French House Party has extended the duration of this course by a day to 7 days in 2018.

The retreat is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the time and space for devoting yourself daily to your current writing, be that a novel, memoir, collection of poetry or short stories.

There will be at least two one-to-one sessions with Sarah in the afternoons to explore your work in depth, in conversations specifically tailored to your needs. Sarah will help you to keep on writing if the dreaded ‘block’ is an issue, offer advice on structure and approaches to editing and provide a detailed analysis and feedback on your work. She will also be happy to discuss your ambitions and plans for your work if you are ready to publish it.

There will also be one evening feedback session for all participants to discuss each others’ work-in-progress, as well as opportunities to share ideas and inspirations with other writers.


‘What an absolutely wonderful experience I had under the guidance of one of the greatest tutors I’ve had the pleasure to know – Sarah Hymas. Learning new skills is one thing, but learning new skills while meeting new people, eating the finest of foods and drinking delicious local wines in a stunning setting where on all sides acres of sunflowers not their large yellow heads in a gentle South of France breeze …. it’s a memory which will last me long into the future.’Brendan Harding, professional writer

‘As I said hello to my fellow classmates over a glass of Champagne as the sun set on the Languedoc, I knew I was in for a treat…Beautiful countryside, lovely people, amazing food and, above all, a really gifted tutor.’ – Maria McGeoghan, Manchester Evening News

‘Sarah was a very skilled, empathetic instructor who developed our confidence.’ – Zayneb Allak

‘I had never been on a writing course before and did not know what to expect. I was a little anxious…but it was a brilliant few days. I was met at the airport and immediately put at ease. The house was comfortable, the food and wine excellent; the company entertaining and pleasant and I left feeling happier about my writing and feeling generally cosseted and cared for. I would recommend it absolutely without reservation.’ – Ann McGrath


sarahhymas2Sarah Hymas is a co-founder of the Writing Smithy, a mentoring and manuscript appraisal service, a writer of poetry (Host was published in 2010), plays, lyrics, short stories and her work has appeared in magazines, anthologies, single collections, multimedia exhibits, theatre brochures, dance videos and as a libretto for an opera. She currently works for Arc, a poetry publisher, as well as working as a freelancer in writing projects and workshops. She is also a writing coach. In 2010 Sarah was named the winner of the UK Arvon Foundation’s ‘six-word short story’ competition. In 2019 Sarah was awarded her Ph.D for her thesis on poetry and marine ecology.

More information and examples of her work can be found at her blog, Echo Soundings

Creative Writing Course photos, July 2016

Creative Writing Course video