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New For Spring and Fall 2008

Yoga and Digital Photography- Shootting Straight From The Heart
Karen Arp-Sandel and Leslee Carsewell
April 20-26, 2008

Relax and center your creative self each morning with a yoga practice to enrich your day's adventure shooting photos in the Perigord Noir. Visual artist and Kripalu yoga teacher Karen Arp Sandel will warm you up and inspire you. Photographer and Metavacances founder Leslee Carsewell will help you to awaken your intuitive tools and use them to find the passion in your chosen subject matter. By practicing yoga first, you will become more focussed and more in tune with a variety of visual opportunities that will make your photos sing. Come with an open mind and a willingness to play visually. You will be surprised by the results. No yoga experience needed.

Karen Arp-Sandel
Karen Arp-Sandel is an artist educator and certified Kripalu Yoga teacher. Radiating an abundance of infectious energy, she skillfully leads her students through both art and yoga activities to help them find their personal “state of flow” Karen is a born teacher. Intuitive, enthusiastic and creative, she is a real gift to work with. Plus she speaks French!

“My practice infuses my life with the positive energy flow I need to maintain a high level of creative inspiration. I am a life long practitioner of Yoga. I find my “home in yoga” wherever I go.  The Dordogne is a stunning place, especially in the beauty and warmth of the springtime there. This is my personal invitation to explore ancient sacred places, be present to the pace of life and to savor with new eyes”

Leslee CarsewellLeslee Carsewell has had a long time interest in photography starting in her teens when she first began working in black and white in the darkroom. During her 28 year award winning career as a graphic designer, she used photography she created or art directed to enhance the messages of her varied client base which ranged from Fortune 500 companies to the San Francisco Symphony, major museums and universities. She now teaches photography at I S 183 in the Berkshires when not in France producing Metavacances programs and shooting the magnificent Dordogne River Valley. Her photo website, was featured in the New York Times.

Check back soon for more complete information on our 2008 programs. A list of our 2007 programs is available below.
You can also reserve your space in our Spring 2008 program with your credit card now.
(Please note that your order will be processed through our Mind on France photography site shopping cart.)



Past Programs
As examples a list of our past programs for 2007 and 2006 can be found below.

Spring and Fall 2007

Karen Arp-SandelPlanting Seeds in France
Meditation: "You reap what you sow"
Yoga for Joyful Living with Karen Arp-Sandel
April 21-28, 2007

We travel to refresh and renew our energy by seeking new experiences, in new places.

Using the practice of mindful meditation on this fun-filled, reflection focused vacation, you will springboard to a deeper level of travel experience and truly be “present in the moment”

Each day of your metavacances vacation begins with rejuvenating morning yoga, drawing on the traditions of Kripalu Yoga, Vinyassa Flow and Buddhist Mindful Meditation.

In the Dordogne, life flows at a different pace. Imagine your own energy flowing at a different pace. What would it feel like? Pausing along the Dordogne before our walks, we practice centering and invigorating pranayama practices. At the outdoor markets, we put our focus on making conscious food choices. In the kitchen preparing our meals, we practice Karma Yoga, yoga in action, infusing our meals with the flavor of mindfulness.

Raising camera to our eyes, putting pen to paper, or dipping into our watercolors to capture a view in painting, each creative effort is an opportunity to connect deeply with Self .Be surprised at whom you become at the end of your experience. Embrace the seeds you plant and be one with your creative authentic self.

No experience needed to come along

Karen Arp-Sandel is an artist educator and certified Kripalu Yoga teacher. Radiating an abundance of infectious energy, she skillfully leads her students through both art and yoga activities to help them find their personal “state of flow” Karen is a born teacher. Intuitive, enthusiastic and creative, she is a real gift to work with. Plus she speaks French!

“My practice infuses my life with the positive energy flow I need to maintain a high level of creative inspiration. I am a life long practitioner of Yoga. I find my “home in yoga” wherever I go.  The Dordogne is a stunning place, especially in the beauty and warmth of the springtime there. This is my personal invitation to explore ancient sacred places, be present to the pace of life and to savor with new eyes”

Karen Arp-SandelWhat French Women Know
Dr. Santi Meunier
May 5-12, 2007

French women have a secret formula for timeless beauty, sensuality and an engaging style that is hard to resist.  From the chic couture fashions of Paris to the understated feminine style of a country lady, French women exude sensuality and confidence regardless of their age.

In France, time slows down, and the timeless quality of life is grounded in their relationships.  French women put great value on the wisdom that comes with age and the sexual freedom that stems from loving and accepting your body, and the changes that occur with the years.

Join Santi for a relaxing and rejuvenating retreat in the magnificent Dordogne region of France.  Santi will explore women’s issues around body image, self esteem, value and fulfillment in the last third of life.

If you are in transition or are facing the challenges that often come in midlife, then we invite you to join us for the French Perspective.

Dr. Santi Meunier is a practicing Psychologist , Writer, Success Coach and the founder of Galactica Institute for Personal Development.  She is a Francophile and embraces the French Perspective as an aging women of honor and dignity.  For more information please check out or call 1 (800) 835-8553.

Karen Arp-SandelWalking in the Footsteps of Merwin
Michelle Gillett and Elizabeth Mollison
May 26-June 2, 2007, or
October 13-20, 2007

W.S. Merwin, Pulitzer prize winning poet and author of more than 40 books of poetry, prose and translation, including books on the area entitled: The Lost Upland, Summer Doorways, The Vixen and The Mays of Ventadorn, lived for many years in this incredible landscape chronicling the seasons and the passage of time and tradition.

In this workshop, we will roam Merwin country on rambling hikes in search of visual expressions of his words. After
Karen Arp-Sandelan al fresco picnic on the causse or a café lunch, your afternoons will be spent reading and discussing Merwin’s poetry and doing some writing and exploring of your own. And we may even throw in a few surprises as well.

Michelle Gillett (above, photo by Juliet McCarthy) is a columnist and a writing instructor. Her poetry and essays have been published in numerous magazines and journals. Among her poetry awards are a fellowship in poetry from The Massachusetts Cultural Council and the MacGuffin Poetry Prize. Her prize-winning collection of poems, Blinding the Goldfinches was published in 2005.

Elizabeth Mollison (below), author, poetry anthologist and long time Merwin devotee has hiked Merwin country for over 40 years. Walking is her passion. She knows and loves this landscape in particular. Her book, Le Roc, available in French and Dutch, tells the story and the life of her village It was made into a French tv documentary. Molly now makes her permanent home here, with her Dutch writer husband Henk Romijn Meijer.

Spring 2006

Karen Arp-SandelCreative Journeys from the Inside Out
April 17-21 (5 day program) Arrival April 15th. Depart April 22
Karen Arp-Sandel and Gabrielle Senza

What would be more wonderful than to experience creative living from your soul? Begin your journey with your adventure in la douce France. You will draw/paint from nature, hike/walk, and slowly breathe in the cultural delights and rural life of this special part of France.

Carnet d'Experiences – Your Personal Notebook of Experiences
Gabrielle SenzaApril 24-28 (5 day program) Arrival April 22. Depart April 29
Karen Arp-Sandel and Gabrielle Senza
Come for both!

We want you to feel immersed in your French experience and to leave with your very own mental notebook of thoughts that change, expand and augment your horizons. Hence we introduce you to Carnet (meaning notebook) d'Experiences (of experiences). In this potpourri week, you will get a chance to work not only with Karen and Gabrielle creating a visual notebook but with international teachers who live in the area. The melange of cultures is bound to give you a broader perspective. Each day will bring new surprises. Curious? Join us!

Multi talented Karen Arp-Sandel is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher as well as an artist and arts educator. She has taught regularly at Berkshire Mountain Yoga, Kripalu Center and The Yoga Center for Healing Arts. Her workshops include Yoga for Beginners, Introduction to Asana and Pranayama, and Restorative Yoga, to name a few. Karen is currently on the faculty of IS 183, an art school in the Berkshires where she enjoys guiding students to find their unique self expression with an open ended process. Karen's unique blend of skills will guide you through the hills of la France profunde and yourself - in a new way.

Gabrielle Senza is an artist, educator, curator, and writer. She exhibits widely and has work in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, Fidelity Investments, Paine Webber, and in private collections around the world. She has taught at Mass MoCA, Cooper Union and Simons Rock College of Bard. She was recently awarded grants from the Puffin Foundations and the Artist's Resource Trust. Ms. Senza is the founder and Executive Director of the creative arts initiative, Red Collaborative.

Marolyn CharpentierPerigord Market Workshop
May 8-12 (5 day program) Arrival May 6th. Depart May 13
Marolyn Charpentier

Market day, many delights...
               Grab your satchel, basket or cabas - we're off to the market!

Discover how Spring comes to the Périgord in a tour of the market, a visual feast of green garlic, tender new carrots, bright cyclamen and bundles of pert narcissus. Take a deep breath and savor the season's fresh scents: a whiff of walnut oil for salads, a creamy log of chèvre cheese, a fruity wine ready to sip - all in a morning's local market tour.

Metavacance Périgord Market Workshop is designed for hedonists, tasters, munchers, and curious travelers searching for the freshest foods in this flavour-rich region of la belle France. These experience-driven days offer a good dose of history and cultural insights as well as a chance to explore the Périgord and Quercy through visits to village and town markets. Mornings are for markets. Afternoons are spent in group activities to record each person's impressions of the experience through individual carnet de voyage notebooks. Sketching, collage, poetry, and mixed media are all included, using found objects as well as materials provided. Time for long walks and picnics are built into the short week, giving everyone time to ramble in the pure air as soft spring light spreads across rolling fields and woodlands .

Local market sleuth, Marolyn Downing Charpentier, leads the workshop - sharing discoveries and insights gathered over a dozen years as a Périgord resident.

Marolyn Charpentier is a travel writer, cook and photographer/artist who has spent over ten years researching and photographing gastronomic markets, festivals, and fairs. Born in the United States, she has worked and traveled throughout Europe pursuing her passion for gastronomy. She is the author of La France Gourmande – A Food Lover's Guide to French Fairs and Festivals. (See the specifics of the book under Selected Reading.) She lives in the Perigord region with her French husband Michel.

Catherine StockA Village Sketchbook : A Water Color Workshop
May 22-May 26 (5 day program) Arrival May 20. Depart May 27
Second session May 29-June 3 (5 day program) Arrival May 27. Depart June 3
Catherine Stock

Catherine will lead us through two workshops, which can be taken back to back or return in the fall for Program II and experience a second season in France. The first program, is a foundation in technique and a thorough review for any artist, yet not too difficult for the serious beginner. Catherine will demonstrate how to stretch paper, paint washes, mix colors, create textures, create depth and lay out a good composition. Most of Program I will take place in the wonderful barn/studio. If you feel that you are versed in these foundations, do consider coming then for Program II. We know you will have a wonderful experience.

The second program will be a five day sketch class in water color and weather permitting, will take place outdoors. Catherine will explain linear perspective, aerial perspective, and we will draw the wonderful buildings in the village, paint local landscapes, sketch animals and sketch at the local market.

Magic is the only word we can think of that will describe what you are going to experience!

Catherine Stock. Educated internationally, prolific illustrator and fine artist Catherine Stock has over 80 critically acclaimed books to her credit as well as far too many exhibitions to comment upon. Catherine lives in a captivating village in the Lot, close to Rocamadour. You are guaranteed to fall in love with it, a true rural paradise. Catherine divides her time between New York City, France and Cape Town.

Fall 2006

A Village Sketchbook : A Water Color Workshop
October 9-13 (5 day program)
October 16-20 (5 day program)
Please see above for program details.

Perigord Market Workshop
October 21-28 (5 day program)
Please see above for program details.

Yoga and Your Energetic Anatomy
September 23-30 (5 day program)
Mary Flinn and Lisa M. Avila, D. C.
According to the ancient text Yoga Vashista our path to happiness and well being is supported in Right Effort and Right Knowledge. Five days and nights of practicing asana and studying the physiology of the body will help balance the whole system of mind, body, spirit. The lecture aspect of this course will focus on the various levels of the body physical as well as the energetic body. Each morning we will begin our day with some flowing asanas. All levels of practice are welcome. In the afternoon we will discuss our physiology, on both physical and energetic levels. We will be exploring the systems of the body, taking the participant through their unique pathways and the significant roles that each organ, gland and chakra plays in the overall functioning of the human condition. We will finish the evening with meditations and breathing exercises which will help us to visualize and enhance the functioning of the organs and chakras.Using ancient yogic techniques as well as the tools of Western medicine, we can obtain optimum health and a sense of well being in our lives. At the end of this course, you will leave with a firm understanding of the flow of their bodies: physically, emotionally, spiritually, energetically.

Mary FlinnMary Flinn has been a yoga teacher since 1995. She has run numerous teacher training programs, and has taought workshops all over the world. She has been studying in India with her teachaerss Pattabhi Jois and Shankaranarayan Jois. She has been featured in Ascent Magazine Mary's Loft" article, and model for Shakti Kaurs' book Kundalini Yoga   and Kiss Yoga published by Dorling Kindersly, and Ravi Singh video Higher Power Yoga.

Lisa M. AvilaLisa M. Avila, D. C. is a board certified chiropractor and kinesiologist licensed to practice in New York, California, Washington, and South Carolina. She has lectured throughout the U.S. on various topics that include trauma and its lasting impact on physiological functioning, energy anatomy, colic in newborns, digestive disorders, menstrual/ fertility issues, and more. Dr. Avila sees a wide variety of patients in her practice,from general wellness to endocrine issues to acute trauma care to suportive cancer treatment. In addition to chiropractic and applied, specialized, and clinical kinesiologies, she utilizes homeopathy, herbal medicine, vitamin and mineral therapies, flower essences, Schuessler cell salts, and oral chelation therapy where indicated. Dr. Avila  maintains a private practice in Manhattan, where she blends care of the body, mind, and soul tailored to the individual needs of each patient.    

New Programs Added All The Time
Watch this space for additional programs and dates as we finalize them. Generally our programs are in the Spring and Fall as these are the most beautiful times of year. We are currently working on programs that concentrate on yoga and walking or hiking and additional new journeys including yoga and watercolor painting, yoga and clay art, yoga and Thai/ Shiatsu Body Work, as well as garden-related journeys and other creativity enhancing workshops. Please Note:
All programs integrate the sites and French countryside into the daily workshop journey activities.

Create Your Own Journey
If you would like to create a customized journey, we would be happy to brainstorm with you about content/theme and accommodations that best suit your group's needs. So organize your college chums, cousins or book group and let's make a go of it! We have ample resources to make your personalized group visit a wonderfully memorable one. Just let us know how we can help.

Catered Workshops: $2350
Self Catered Workshops: $1750

Early Bird Special- Register before March 1, 2007and receive the Catered Workshop Price of $2350

(see registration/fees section for what the fees include)


A Note on the Founder: Leslee Carsewell. Any way you slice the pâté, Leslee is in love with the Dordogne. She first fell in love with France c. 1965 when she was lucky enough to spend the Christmas holidays there with her parents. She has visited the Dordogne regularly since the late 1970s and has lived there for extended periods since the mid 1990's, all the while improving and expanding on her high school French. While she has travelled extensively through most all of France, her love of yoga, creating art and this particular French landscape has lead her to make a career shift and re-examine midlife what has lasting importance and is life changing. As she follows her bliss, she hopes to help you create yours. She invites you to experience the quiet magic in the valley of the Dordogne River for yourself.