Holidays in South France: Beautiful Locations That Will Inspire You to Paint

Holidays in South France: Beautiful Locations That Will Inspire You to Paint

Spring is a fantastic time of year for holidays in south France. For art lovers, the scenery is so inspiring. The Lot Valley is awash with colour as the flowers are in bloom in the countryside, private gardens and window boxes, and the region’s meadows and forests are lush and green. It is also a quieter time for holidays in the south France; so you get to beat the crowds, enjoy rural peace and tranquillity, and capture the region’s beautiful landscape on canvas.

Another benefit of spring holidays in south France is that there are several good exhibitions on at this time of year. These include an exhibition of unclaimed French works recovered from Germany at the end of World War II, which can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts, Place of Dr Esquirol, Agen, between March 1 and May 31. The price is 4.30 Euros for adults, free for under 18s, and free for all on the first Sunday of each month.

The Tourist Office of Bon-Encontre, Rue Republique, is exhibiting works by some of the region’s painters where the focus is on one artist a month. Opening hours are Monday 3 pm – 5 pm, Tuesday to Friday 9 am – 12 noon and 3 – 5 pm, and Saturday, 10 am – 12 noon. An exhibition of art created from recycled waste is shown at the Galerie des Tanneries, Priory Street, Nerac, between March 2 and April 1. The display is free. Opening hours are Friday until Monday 2 – 6 pm.

Holidays in south France have much to offer amateur and professional artists alike. The Lot Valley’s scenery will delight and enthuse you from bustling towns, historic villages, serene rivers and miles of rolling stunning countryside that are all just waiting to be depicted in your sketchbook.

Kingfisher holidays offer holiday cottages, gites and farmhouses to rent in fabulous rural locations. Many of these are just a short walk or drive from the nearest town or villages. Read on to find out more about art inspired holidays in south France and some of the most scenic places to paint.

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Top Five Beautiful Places to Paint

Here are some of our top five recommended places to paint in the Lot Valley, which include historic landmarks, stunning bastide towns, country locations as well as Latour-Marliac nursery.

1. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, on the Way of St James Pilgrimage route, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful villages in France. This picture postcard village has inspired artists for generations. It enjoys an elevated position on a cliff above the River Lot in France and is dominated by a medieval castle with charming half-timbered houses, narrow streets, and alleys. Here, you can get lost in time as the entire village is built using just three building materials – oak, clay, and limestone.

After a day of painting, you can taste local delights in one of the village’s many restaurants mentioned in the Michelin guide. These include Table de Haute Serre, at the entrance to the chateau, where you can enjoy delicate flavours of fine wine, truffles, and saffron. Le Gourmet Quercynois has a duck-based menu and has a small but interesting wine museum. After a sumptuous meal, you can pay a visit to one of the many artists’ workshops open to the public.

2. Cahors

If you would like to paint a bustling, lively city, Cahors, on the River Lot is the place to go. With beautiful bridges, rivers and complete medieval houses around and about the city, it is an artists’ dream. Seek out some picturesque sites along the narrow streets to the south or paint the famous 14th century Valentre Bridge – a landmark in the city. Also worth sketching is Cathedrale Saint Etienne de Cahors, a Roman Catholic Cathedral and national monument of France.

If you don’t want to paint buildings, the city has many beautiful gardens to sketch in. There are 29 secret gardens in all on a route marked around the city. Among them are: a lavender garden, an Arab garden, and the medieval gardens, which include the Moorish gardens. After a day painting you can relax and sample the region’s famous black wine. Holidays in south France wouldn’t be complete without visiting the local vineyards. There are around 200 domaines and chateaux in the area and nearly all of them sell wines direct to the public.

3. The Water Lily Garden 

Latour-Marliac at Temple Sur Lot is the very nursery that inspired Claude Monet’s (1840 – 1926) famous water lily paintings, a collection of around 250 oil paintings created during the last 30 years of his life. You can follow in his footsteps and record some of these beautiful hybrids in white, delicate pinks, yellow and dark red. Monet saw these water lilies exhibited at Bagatelle during the World Fair in Paris 1889 and this inspired him to create his own water lily garden with water lilies ordered from Latour-Marliac. You can visit the gardens April – September, Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm. It has a shop where you have the opportunity to buy some of the plants.

4. The Lot and Dordogne Rivers

For anyone looking for art inspired holidays in south France, you will find breathtaking scenery all the way along the Lot and Dordogne Rivers. Just take out your easel by the water’s edge or hire a boat and try sketching some of the scenes from the river (just make sure you have someone on hand to row the boat!). You could paint holidaymakers canoeing down the river or cycling along the riverside paths, or just simply record the stunning scenery. After a morning using oils, acrylics or water colours, pack up your paints and brushes and go for a leisurely stroll.

5. The Vineyards

A short drive from Cahors (a journey of ten miles) there is the stunning vineyard of Chateau Saint-Sernin, which is set amidst beautiful open countryside. Find them at The vineyards are broken up by walnut trees, which the workforce tended to during heavy rainfall when they were unable to work on the vines. After a tour of the vineyard, you can sample some of their delicious wine.

The Lot Valley has many wonderful places to paint. In addition to any of the above, there is the historic Bonaguil Castle, the beautiful medieval village of Pujols, Penne D’Agenais and many more local scenes. You will find beauty all around you in the Lot Valley and much to inspire you.

Holidays South France   – click here to search our cottages, gites and farmhouses.

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