Writing from the Heart in Paris

A writing retreat with Janet Hulstrand

August 4 through 10, 2019

This six-day writing seminar, offered in Paris, the City of Light—a source of inspiration for many writers, poets and artists throughout history—will give you the time, the courage, and the presence of mind to write whatever you are moved or inspired to write about. This could be poetry, a novel, family history, a memoir, a graphic novel, a play, or even an OpEd...anything!


Mornings we will meet in a lovely, comfortable salon in our charming boutique hotel on the Right Bank. There you will use writing exercises designed to get your creative juices flowing; help you dig deep into your heart and mind; think of new things to write about; and work on strategies to overcome any obstacles getting between you and your writing.

Whether you’ve spent your entire professional life writing (but have not had the chance to focus on writing from the heart), or your desire to write is a scary secret you’re not sure you want anyone to even know about, this seminar is designed to help you shake off those fears and get comfortable writing with the support of a small, nurturing, nonjudgmental group of sympathetic listeners, and the guidance of an expert teacher, writer and editor.

While the main emphasis of this seminar will be on writing for the joy of self-discovery and self-expression, practical advice and information that will help you pursue publication—if that is one of your goals—will also be included.

In addition to the group morning writing sessions, each participant will have an individual, one-hour consultation with Janet Hulstrand.

Afternoons and evenings you will be free to explore the city on your own or with others in the group.  Janet will be available to provide suggestions and answer questions about things you may wish to do.  For example, you might want to join one of the Paris Walks tours one day. Or take a tour of the Opéra Garnier, which is very near our hotel. Or get on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, or visit a museum. Or you might want to go to Versailles, or Giverny, or Fontainebleau. 

OR you might choose to simply buckle down and continue to work on your writing: in your room or in one of the hotel salons; or in a Parisian café, park, museum, or other space of your choosing. All of these are available to you, and can be very conducive places to write from the heart. It’s up to you to choose!

In the evenings, you may want to walk, or cruise along the Seine on one of the bateaux mouches, stroll over to Paris Plages to see what’s happening there, or view the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero (not far from our hotel) when the sparkling lights come on in the evening.

Are you ready for this adventure? Sure you are! Read on...

And remember: “If you don’t write your books, nobody else will do it for you. No one else has lived your life.” José Saramago


Who can, or should, participate in this seminar?
Do I have to have written something in order in order to participate in the seminar? Do I have to present a sample of my writing to be accepted?
What will the format of the seminar be like?
What is the Hotel Monceau like?
Is there Internet access at the hotel?
Do I have to pay a single supplement?
I’m coming with a spouse, partner, or friend, and we would like to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
How many people will be in the seminar?
How do I get from the airport to the hotel?
Tell me about the seminar instructor/facilitator.
What will the weather be like?
What to wear?
Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
I don’t speak French. Will I be able to order food for myself? Will I be able to get around Paris without knowing any French?
Is it safe to walk around by myself at night in Paris?
Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
When do I need to sign up by?
If I want to stay longer than six days, can you arrange that?
August in Paris, really?

Q. Who can, or should, participate in this seminar?
Writing from the heart is for anyone who wants to discover--or rediscover—the joy of writing. Past participants have ranged from those who have spent their lives writing for a living, but have never had the chance to “write from the heart,” to those who have harbored a secret desire to write for years, but had never dared to do so. The main thing these two types of people have in common is a fear of writing from the heart—and this seminar is designed to help you get over that fear.


Q. Do I have to have written something in order in order to participate in the seminar? Do I have to present a sample of my writing to be accepted?
Anyone who wants to sign up for this seminar can do so, and participants are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. You can come to the seminar with something you’ve already written that you want to work on, or you can come with nothing more than the desire to write (and a notebook, laptop, or tablet in or on which to write). You are not required to send a sample of your writing: you will simply be asked to answer a couple of questions about what you hope to get out of the seminar when you register for the class, which will help the seminar facilitator in planning.


Q. What will the format of the seminar be like?  
We will meet mornings after breakfast in one of the hotel salons reserved for our use. Janet Hulstrand, facilitator, coach, and guide, will provide writing “prompts” designed to help you come up with new ideas, dig deeper into, or perhaps refine old ones, or simply loosen up and write. As time allows, those who wish to share what they have written with the group will be given the opportunity to do so, but no one will be required (or even subtly pressured) to do so. Afternoons and evenings you will be free to work on your writing in your room, or in a park or café of your choosing; or to explore Paris on your own or with others in the group. Janet will be available to answer questions about things you might like to do in your free time and/or to offer suggestions based on your interests.


Q. What is the Hotel Monceau like?

The Hotel Monceau is a delightful boutique hotel in the 8th arrondissement (district), where previous Politics and Prose groups have happily stayed. It is located in a “regular” Parisian neighborhood, not an overcrowded, touristy one. The description of the neighborhood on the hotel website is very helpful in providing information about some of the things to see and do in the neighborhood, and the hotel is conveniently located to several bus lines as well as Metro stations from which you can get anywhere in Paris you want to go, or even out of town.


Q. Is there Internet access at the hotel?

Yes, free Wifi (pronounced “wee-fee”) is included in the price of your room.


Q. Do I have to pay a single supplement?
No. This trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room.


Q. I’m coming with a spouse, partner, or friend, and we would like to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?  
We’ve priced the seminar for everyone to have their own room, both because Parisian hotel rooms just aren’t as large as those in the U.S. and because having “a room of one’s own” can be very important in the writing process. If sharing a room would make this trip more feasible for you, however, and you have someone you’d like to share a room with, let us know and we can look into the possibility of offering a discount for a shared room.


Q. How many people will be in the seminar?
The maximum number of people is 12, and the minimum number in order for the seminar to run is 7. Please don’t buy your plane tickets until we have confirmed that we have reached the minimum group size.


Q. How do I get from the airport to the hotel?
There are several options. SuperShuttle is a good value, and offers the advantages that you can book it in advance from the U.S. and you will be brought right to the door of the hotel by shared van. Of course you can also take a taxi or Uber, but that can be very expensive and unpredictable, depending on traffic conditions.


Q. Tell me about the seminar instructor/facilitator.
Janet Hulstrand is a professional writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher who divides her time between France and the U.S. From 2011-2015 she frequently taught classes at Politics and Prose, and she still offers a class (“Parlez-Vous Anglais? Survival French and Travel Tips”) here on an occasional basis. Since 2008 she has offered writing workshops in Essoyes, a beautiful little village in Champagne. This is the first writing workshop she has offered in Paris, but she created and has taught a literature course (“Paris: A Literary Adventure”) for the City University of New York almost every summer since 1997. She speaks French fluently and will be happy to provide suggestions and advice for activities you will be planning for your free time.


Q. What will the weather be like?

It’s impossible to predict weather accurately these days—summers are getting warmer in France, including in Paris—but generally speaking, August weather in Paris is still more or less pleasant, certainly more pleasant (less hot, less humid) than in Washington. Because of the unpredictability of the weather it’s best to pack layers that will allow you to adapt to whatever weather we are presented with. (Include sweaters and long pants, as well as clothing that would be comfortable if it gets very hot.) Also, be aware that although our hotel is air-conditioned, many places in Paris still are not: so you should consider that when you are packing as well. And rain is always a possibility in Paris, so don’t forget your umbrella.


Q. What to wear?
Parisians tend to be a bit more formal in their dress than Americans: we don’t recommend that you plan on wearing T-shirts and jeans most of the time. Still, you can certainly wear what’s most comfortable for you for the most part. Jeans, especially fashionable, tailored jeans, are acceptable almost anywhere, except for the very nicest restaurants. You may want to bring along one jacket, and a few scarves to “dress up” your look. Most important if you wish to thoroughly enjoy exploring Paris: comfortable walking shoes.


Q. Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price? 
We will have two meals together in a restaurant, one at the beginning of the seminar, and one at the end. But since we will have been together all morning every day, we think that for most of the week, it’s best if people make their own lunch plans with others in the group, or just take off on your own. The seminar is designed so that you will be free in time to get lunch at a place of your choosing, and since we won’t be having dinner together, that way you will be free to roam further afield in the afternoons and evenings if you wish to do so. (Versailles? Fontainebleau? Giverny, anyone?) You’ll also be free to choose where and when you’ll eat, with whom, and how much you want to spend. (Incidentally, dining alone in Paris does not carry the stigma that sometimes is felt in the U.S. In fact many people consider it one of the great pleasures of being in Paris: there have been numerous essays written about this!)

There are so many delicious choices for meals in Paris: some days you may want to eat in a restaurant, café, or brasserie; other days you might want to just eat a sandwich or salad for lunch, sitting in a park; or get a takeout meal from a traiteur; or browse the local food markets. This two-part article by Janet’s friend Gary Lee Kraut, editor of France Revisited, has some great guidance for finding good restaurants in Paris, and of course there are many other sources of such information.


Q. I don’t speak French. Will I be able to order food for myself? Will I be able to get around Paris without knowing any French? 
Absolutely. The waiters in most restaurants speak English, and many menus are also translated into English. As for getting around Paris, both the Metro and the bus system are extremely user-friendly. Janet will be happy to answer your questions about how to use the public transportation; and we’ll cross from the Right Bank to the Left Bank together for our welcome to Paris lunch on Monday afternoon: after that you will all be “pros”!


Q. Is it safe to walk around by myself at night in Paris?
Yes. Of course, as in any city, it makes sense to be aware of your surroundings, especially after dark. But in Paris it’s usually quite safe to be out on your own or with a friend in the evenings, and in August, the days are still quite long. The most prevalent crime is pickpocketing, which mostly happens in areas where there are crowds of tourists. Professional pickpockets are very good at what they do, so we recommend that you leave most of your money, credit cards, and passport in the safe in your room, just taking with you what you need for one day. A handbag that you can sling over your shoulder and tuck high under your arm (with a good zipper) works better than bags with long straps that dangle below your waist. Also: Don’t place your smartphone on a café table outside. Not a good idea!!!


Q. Do you require us to buy travel insurance?  
We strongly recommend it. Please read our Terms and Conditions carefully to see our cancellation policy. Also be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely. You’ll want to be insured for both trip cancellation and medical evacuation. Many insurers require you to enroll as soon as you have paid your deposit on the trip, so don’t put this step off. There are many websites that offer comparison information about trip insurance.


Q. When do I need to sign up by? 
Since the group is quite limited in size, the sooner you put down your deposit, the better. It’s best to reserve as soon as you think you’d like to come.


Q. If I want to stay longer than six days, can you arrange that?  
Yes. Janet can request that your stay at the hotel be extended at your own cost after the seminar is over. If you’d like to arrive early, she can also request that, though she will not be there to greet you if you come early. (But be sure to wait until she tells you your hotel reservation has been secured before buying your ticket!)


Q. August in Paris, really?

August is actually an excellent time to be in Paris. Because many Parisians take their vacation during the month of August, the city is a bit more relaxed than at other times of the year; and while it is true that some local businesses may be closed, all of the museums and major tourist sites remain open during August. There are still plenty of Parisians around, as well as visitors from other parts of France and from around the world; and there are fun summertime-only activities such as outdoor concerts and films to enjoy. This 2010 essay, by the American writer James Morgan describes some of the pleasures of being in Paris in August. (Although some of the details may have changed, most of what he says is still true.)

Please read the following Terms & Conditions carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.

Price of Paris Writing Seminar
The price of the Paris writing seminar is $3350, based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay. This price includes hotel accommodations for a single room; breakfasts in the hotel; two meals in a restaurant; four group writing sessions; one individual consultation/coaching session with the seminar leader; and additional guidance of the seminar leader as described in the seminar description and the FAQs.

NOT included in the price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions; taxis or other forms of city transportation; airfare and airline baggage fees; most meals; hotel, restaurant or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry or room service; access to the Internet except as established in the FAQs; airport transfers, and/or any other services not specified in the seminar description.

For the optional extension excursion to Champagne, the price is $1400. It includes one-way train fare from Paris to Troyes; travel by van from Troyes to Essoyes, and around the surrounding area, and return to the train station in Troyes; three nights in hotels; breakfasts, dinners, and one lunch; and admission fees to the museums listed in the itinerary.

NOT included are any museum entrance fees NOT included in the itinerary; the return to Paris (or elsewhere) from Troyes; and anything else not specifically included in the trip description.

Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.

To reserve your space in the seminar, register here: https://www.wildblueyondertrips.com/trip-registration. To secure your space, mail your deposit check, made out to Wild Blue Yonder in the amount of $600, to Sheila Campbell, Wild Blue Yonder, 1001 Spring Street, Suite 623, Silver Spring, MD 20910. If you’d prefer to pay by credit card (there’s a 3% surcharge), email Sheila at scampbell@wildblueyonder.biz and she’ll send you a Paypal invoice.

Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received, except for deposits made less than 60 days before the seminar begins; those deposits are completely nonrefundable. Beginning two weeks after the receipt of the deposit by Sheila Campbell, the deposit is no longer refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your reservation.

Once your deposit has been received, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.

We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.

Full final payment is due May 15, 2019.


Cancellations and Refunds

For any cancellations made before May 15, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded any other payments you have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing by an email sent to: scampbell@wildblueyonder.biz 

No refunds are possible after May 15, 2019. We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance when you pay your deposit for this trip.

Travel Documents
You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip.

Health and Medical Issues
We welcome all travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. You must be able to climb stairs and board trains and buses on your own, and should be comfortable with a fair amount of walking in streets that may have uneven surfaces and no curb cuts. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you.

We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level will not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets, and entrance fees).

Trip Insurance
We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Should you have to cancel your trip after you have paid in full, we cannot offer refunds other than specified above, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.

Arrival and Departure Dates
It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive in Paris on the specified seminar start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date by May 15, 2019.

The liability of Janet Hulstrand, Wild Blue Yonder, and Politics and Prose, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.

In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in this trip, the participant, on behalf of her or himself, as well as his or her dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release Janet Hulstrand, Politics and Prose, Wild Blue Yonder, and their officers, employees, representatives or agents from liability for personal injury, death, property damage, or loss suffered by any person in connection with this seminar.

Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters, theft, or the negligence or default of any third party. The Trip Planners cannot accept responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in airline schedules or other causes; all such losses or expenses will be the responsibility of the participant.

Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation, or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety, or general well being of other trip participants. We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality.

By registering for this trip, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in the trip, and agrees to all of the Terms and Conditions herein. The participant further agrees that any segment of the seminar that he or she may miss, including meals, sightseeing, classes, local transportation, or other elements is not refundable unless covered and reimbursed by appropriate travel insurance purchased by the participant. The participant understands that paying the seminar deposit indicates agreement with the terms set forth here.



Sunday, August 4, 2019

Check into the hotel starting at 3 pm. Welcome to Paris apéro in the hotel salon at 5 pm. Dinner on your own.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Breakfast is served from 7 to 9:30, and will be followed by our first morning writing session from 9:30-12:00. Then we will travel together to the Left Bank, for lunch at Janet’s favorite café in Montparnasse, and after lunch we’ll stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens (favored by Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and many other writers), making a stop at Janet’s favorite literary site in Paris.

Tuesday, August 6 - Thursday, August 8, 2019

Breakfast, then writing session 9:30-12:00. Afternoon and evening free.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Free day. Those who have not yet had their individual consultation with Janet can do so today. This is also a good day to gather your thoughts about ideas you’ve had for your writing, resolutions you’ve made for when you return, etc. before you are thrust back into your “normal” life, or the rest of your European adventure. And we will meet for our farewell meal at the amazing Le Train Bleu restaurant in the Gare de Lyon, saved from destruction by Janet Flanner and André Malraux, and made famous by M.F.K. Fisher in her essay “Gare de Lyon.”

Saturday, August 10, 2019

After breakfast together, it will be time to check out of the hotel, and say our bon voyages et au revoirs!!