Saturday, May 3, 2014

Limoux - on the horizon!

Pick up arrangements 

- For those who will stay at the Novotel on May 9th I have arranged for our ride to pick us up at the hotel. Hooray - no need to get back to the airport!

- According to my notes this includes Anne, Judy, Eileen, Barbara, Trevor and Jamie (and me!)

- Yesim, Tom & Janis and Irene will be picked up at the airport on Saturday morning. Once I have everyone's travel itinerary I will be able to give you times for pick up.

Although I will be staying at the hotel I will take the shuttle to the airport on Saturday morning to meet Yesim, Tom, Janis and Irene. Please remain at the airport and we will find you.

My travel itinerary  

Thursday May 8 8:25 pm AC 846 Toronto to Munich 
Friday May 9 10:50 am Munich to Toulouse

I will stay at the Toulouse Blagnac Novotel Hotel overnight. There is a restaurant for dinner and they offer an excellent buffet breakfast. 

Our final destination
to the airport and a good price.

Money/credit cards

If you have not yet arranged for euros - get to it! It is also wise to inform your credit card co. that you will be in France so they don't freeze your card for suspicious activity. If you require extended health insurance you will want to arrange this too.  

Art Supplies

If you requested a Badger Brush be sure to remind me so I can pack one for you.

Don't forget your up-to-date passport!!!

If you have questions or concerns please contact me.

See you soon!!!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Important Travel Information

Plans and back-up plans!

When I travel, I am always sure to have a piece of paper with the address and phone number of my final destination! So I want you to have this important information too!

You will be picked up Saturday, May 10 at the Toulouse airport. 
Once you have your luggage make your way to the waiting area. It is a small airport and you will easily find benches and washrooms. If you arrive early you may be on your own for a little while - don't panic - more guests are on their way. Stay in the airport. You will recognize other painting guests when they drag in with suitcases and look eager but rather dazed and tired. If they have an art case it is another good clue. Don't hesitate to ask if they are on the painting adventure so you can have a new buddy.
I will arrive in Toulouse the day before and stay at the Novotel (
Toulouse Blagnac AĆ©roport hotel) travelling back to the airport on Saturday morning to meet you. I will also look tired, but enthusiastic and happy to be in France! 
Someone from le Monastere will soon arrive to drive us to Limoux. 

Our final destination is:

Le Monastere

3, rue de la Mairie, Limoux, France

Phone: 01133468310909


Find a phone and call to arrange a pick-up.
Here is how the phone works - if someone is calling from Canada you need the whole number

If you are in France at a pay phone you do not need 01133 so if you are in Toulose call 468310909 - if that does not work try again but do not include the 4

This is the number for Le Monastere - however, there may not be anyone able to take the call at that moment. The phone is in the kitchen and if there is no one cooking the call may not be heard. Again don't panic! Leave a message to tell us: 

1) who you are 
2) where you are 
3) what you anticipate your situation to be 
4) what time you will call back - give us a couple of hours to retrieve the message and someone will stay by the phone to receive your call.

The drive from Limoux to the airport takes 1.5 - 2 hrs so it may be some time before someone can come and pick you up. When we speak we will sort through those details. If overnight accommodations are necessary you can get a hotel shuttle and we will pick you up the next day. I have stayed at the Novotel Aeroport or Ibis Toulouse Blagnac AĆ©roport hotel - both are close to the airport and a good price.

Please stay together as a group and if possible stay at the airport. 

PLAN C - more adventurous 

If you arrive in Toulouse and for some reason you decide to get to Limoux on your own you can go to the Toulouse train station and take a train to the station in Carcasonne. It is a shorter drive from Limoux and we can pick you up closer to when you might call. Be sure to let us know that you will be travelling alone or we will be waiting at the airport for you.

Using this blog - how to make a comment

How to post a comment

- At the bottom of each post you will find a "comment" link - this will open a box that allows you to type your question or remark.
- When you have completed your text be sure and sign your name.
- Next you will need to "Choose an Identity" or "Profile". If you work with one of the listed options go ahead and use it, otherwise click on "Anonymous".
- Now click "Publish".

That's all there is to it!

Still confused? Check out:

Keeping In-touch with Family and Friends

Yes we have internet access at Le Monastere! 

There is one computer located just outside the lounge for us all to share. 
A wireless connection is available but the access is a little limited so if you bring a laptop you may find yourself wandering the halls to hunt down a signal. I recall that you can connect in the lounge and in a couple of other areas of our home.  It is a big stone building that is great for peace and quiet but those wonderful, thick walls make it tricky for digital signals to pass through.

You may find a cafe with free wifi, but unlike home there is not a Starbucks or MacDonalds on many street corners. With this in mind, I hope you will enjoy our trip as a great escape from all of the hustle and bustle of internet and tele-marketers! 

I will bring along my ipad for internet and presentations I have put together as well as for viewing photos of the locations we visit for studio work. I plan to bring along a card reader that works with the small SD card for uploading some of our photos to the blog, from time to time, for family and friends to see what we are up to. We may even try a mini video!  Please be sure to pass this site on to your gang so they can see what you are up to and post their greetings to us.

In the past I have had students arrange for international phone access on their mobile phones. If this is something you require investigate this option through your phone provider. There is one phone in the kitchen for emergency use. If someone needs to contact you they can call but because there is not always someone in the kitchen it may go unanswered. It is possible to leave a message but a return call may not be swift. You will find it better to make contact by your personal email.

Packing Smart

Have you started to think about what you need to pack? You may find answers to some of your questions in today's post.

What size suitcase shall I take?
Check with the airlines to see what is allowed for luggage. Most limit to 1 bag checked, max 50lbs - perhaps your airline will allow 2. It is surprising how quickly I reach that weight limit. I take one bag and my back-pack or smaller case. My suitcase is 24 x 18 x 10. It does have expendable sides that increase the depth by a couple of inches. I notice lots of people at the airports with much larger bags.
Have you seen those nifty vacu-pack bags? I have a couple for packing sweaters - they work great! The ones I have are just "zipped" and rolled to compress the air. They are easy to use and allow you to pack more in less space. (they don't reduce the weight!) You can find them at department stores such as Walmart, Target and Canadian Tire.

We do need to lug our stuff up a long set of stairs so perhaps two lighter bags would be a smart idea - just figure out a way to hook them together for wheeling though the airport.

What to wear
The dress is very casual - there is no need to bring fancy clothes and shoes. You might like to bring one nicer outfit, but there is no where that we go that casual won't work. I pack mix and match, wash and wear which makes it easy! There is a laundry mat down the street, but most people just wash socks, unders, and Ts and hang in the shower or out on drying racks in the courtyard on warm days.

What is the weather like?
I will add a link to weather in Limoux at the right side of the blog so you can take a peek at the forecast. Generally at this time of year it is on the "fresh" side. You will need to take a jacket and a sweater/sweatshirt or two. A neck scarf is always fashionable in France and will help to keep you warm or protect from sun. There are days when it is warm and sunny so you may wish to bring a sun-hat too. Often there are a few funny left-over hats in the studio if you choose to borrow one.


voltage converter and plug adaptor - this may be a two part assembly. The power is "hotter" so you will require a volt converter!
 - extra memory card for your camera
- extra batteries or charger for your camera
- Be sure your PASSPORT is up-to-date!
- Check with your airlines to see what your baggage limit is - remember to travel LIGHT!
- liquids, gels, aerosols that are carried on to the plane in containers of 100ml/100gms (3.4 oz) and fit in ONE clear, closed, resealable plastic 1 qt bag. Do check with your airlines to confirm.
- Leave your prescriptions in their containers with your name (must match ticket) these do not need to go in a zip bag, but must be declared to screening authorities.
- Wear comfie shoes and socks while flying. You will probably have to remove your shoes and put them through the x-ray

- TAG all of your luggage on the outside - include your destination:
3 rue de la Mairie,
Limoux, France

- TAG all of your luggage on the INSIDE - just in case the outer tag gets ripped off. This does happen and bags are lost.
- give family and friends this blog addy so they can see what we are up to:

Please invite them to add their comments. We would all love to hear from them!

Art stuff

What size tubes of paint do you take?
I use the large tubes of watercolour - 15 ml. I go through lots of paint and like it freshly squeezed. The little 5ml tubes are too tiny for me and cost-wise much more expensive! I do know that DVP and the lines they make come in larger tubes - great value and good stuff, but of course it does add to the overall weight and prob. more paint than you will use in two weeks.

Can you take your brushes in the carry on or do they have to be in the checked baggage?
I put my brushes in your checked luggage. There really shouldn't be a problem, but the security will take away knitting needles from little old ladies and I did have a pair of pliers taken so, best not to take a chance.

- Although I have been told that it is allowable to include the small tubes of watercolour in your small clear bag for carry-on I recommend that they are best in your checked luggage.

Colour Kits

You will certainly want to bring lots of beautiful colour in your kit. We will be working in watercolour on our adventures. The larger tubes of paint are better value and there won't be a concern about running out of your favorites.  My preference is Holbein Watercolour, but bring your choice of manufacturer - remember that Artist's Quality is generally more reliable for better results.

For your reference I am including a list of some of my standard colours, but please feel free to bring your favourites! I have included the pigment code for substitutions.

Transparent Non-Staining Pigments: Cobalt Blue (PB28), Burnt Sienna (Pbr7), Raw Sienna (Pbr7 or may contain PY43)
Transparent Staining Pigments: Phthalo Blue PB15, Phthalo Green PG36, Rose Violet or Alizarin (Quinacridone Violet PV19), Indian Yellow and any of the wonderful Quinacridones of your choosing
Opaque Sedimentary Pigments: Cobalt Turquoise (PB28) or Cerulean Blue (PB35), French Ultramarine Deep (PB29), Cadmium Yellow Orange (PR108), Vermillion (PR108) or Cadmium Red (PR108)

The following colours are used only occasionally. PLEASE don't purchase especially for this trip, just bring what you might have or add your "can't live without" favorites. 
Holbein Leaf Green (PY 154, PG7), Cad Yellow (PY37), Cad Red (PR108), Cobalt Violet LT (PV14), Shadow Green (PBl31)
Specialty opaques: Holbein Jaune Brilliant 1&2, Holbein Blue-grey, Holbein Verditer Blue, fav. American Journey opaques are fun too!

A few weeks before our trip "top up" the wells of your travel palette with fresh paint and leave the lid open to allow them to solidify.

You will need to also pack fresh tubes to replenish the supply, so when you are at the art supply store or checking out on-line supplies be sure to peruse the palette department.
I recommend the Heritage folding palette! You will find it at a number of sources such as: You will see a picture of it and information about brushes and paper on an earlier post.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Money - How Much? What Kind of Funds?

Passport and Money

Is your passport up-to-date? 
If not, get this done right away!

How much and what kind of money do I need?
Although I don't know how much you personally will want to spend, I will give you an idea of what worked for me in the past. For daily expenses, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how little you need. 

Meals: Our breakfasts are delicious and very plentiful and most of our fantastic dinners are all arranged. These meals are already paid for in your fees. You are responsible for all of your lunches. These can be very simple with cheese, breads, fruit, pastries etc. purchased quite inexpensively at the market or shops in Limoux and taken along with us. Wine at dinner is provided but if you wish to have some in the evening it is very cheap! "Coca light" is not. Although traditionally dinner is served late in France, our hosts recognize that westerners prefer to dine earlier and so they accommodate us. You are responsible for just one dinner each week at a local restaurant, of your choosing, or bring something home from the market. 

Our daily activities: Visits to villages are arranged so you will experience real French life, rather than tourist traps. You will not have to be constantly putting out euros to pay for admission. 

Souvenirs and gifts to take home: Use your credit card for these personal purchases, or give a little painting that you did to friends or family!

Tips: If you wish to leave a small tip for a waiter it is appreciated, but not necessary. In France the tax and tip are included on the bill as "service compris" (tip included). The one time that I am sure you will want to leave a tip is at the end of our stay for our guide/translator/wonderwoman/driver at Le Monastere. Generally there are three or four dedicated people who work hard, night and day to make our stay wonderful and are deserving of our appreciation.

Shelling Out

DEBIT CARDS - Do go to your bank and ask if your debit card will work in France. There are a variety of symbols on the back that your bank will check to confirm this. Also ask which account it will work with. (Most likely only your chequing account.) You will want to be sure to have money in that account. Unless things have changed in the recent past, bank cards works only in bank machines and not at stores. 
CREDIT CARDS - work at most shops. 
  EUROS -  The rates change daily. Most banks will have euros on hand, but be sure to get your money changed a week or so ahead of our trip, just in case.
So to sum it up: bring along a few hundred euros and if you need more, walk up the street to the ATM machine.

Travellers Cheques - Traveller's cheques are not happily accepted, if accepted at all.Best to use cash, or Credit card in shops.

My suggestion is that you only carry in your pocket or money belt what you are comfortable with (or comfortable losing!). There is an ATM just down the street from our home base and although there is a fee to get cash, when travelling it is recommended that it is wise not to carry too much money with you. When I last checked, my bank charges $4.00 for foreign ATM service and there will most likely be a fee in France. I would rather pay $15.00 to get extra money, when I am running low, than risk a stash disappearing from my pocket or pack. We are in a very safe area and no one on my trips has had any problem, it is wise to be cautious.