Sketching in France – Valbonne


Day 4 – Market day in Valbonne. Local bus 630 brings us on a pleasant 30 minute ride through a verdant Spring countryside with views towards Grasse and as far as the distant Alps. Valbonne is a lovely authentic village with a lively and colourful Friday market. A sunny café in the Place des Arcades is our perfect spot to sketch the scene over coffee and croissants. 


Kieran explores some great sketching spots by the church and around the market



Colette and Pauline escape from the market crowds to discover the quiet side streets of the old town



Maria and I find a sunny spot in the park to sketch – an archway, shuttered windows, dappled light through a veil of Spring green foliage. We pass a pleasant half hour drawing the scene as people come and go. There is nothing like sketching to draw you fully into the moment, absorbing the warm sun and dancing light on grass and stone.


Brenda - Quiet Corner of Valbonne
Brenda – Quiet Corner of Valbonne

Our friends Beverley and Robert have invited our group to their nearby villa for a beautiful lunch on the terrace, the view sweeping in all directions from the Alps to the Mediterranean. This is the best of Riviera living, gracious hospitality in an exquisite home, friends gathered over a lingering déjeuner in the sun, fine food, chilled wine and general joie de vivre – life doesn’t get much better than this!


But the time comes to leave for the bus back to Le Cannet – we fly home tonight. A last group picture by the Mairie, sketchbooks in hand!

Its been a full, fun, rewarding week. We’ve inspired and encouraged each other, and bring home great memories of our shared adventures, as well as a sketchbook full of a visual record of these few days together. We’ve tried new materials – pens, markers, watercolours and acrylics, we’ve figured out how to pack light to get around easily, and we’ve gained the confidence to just sit there on the street and do it.


For me, sketching is more about the practise of entering fully into the present moment with quiet attention, than about the result on the page. The satisfaction it offers comes from the total absorption of our senses – sight, sound, touch – in that very moment, with relaxed concentration, a focus that allows our sketchbooks to become a “holding place” for our experiences. As you turn each page, the moment of creating it comes vividly alive.

I still have my very first sketchbook from 1974, visiting Venice as part of my Art History degree programme. I couldn’t afford a camera so I sketched the gondolas, bridges and canals and those simple pen drawings bring it all back to me, over forty years later – the Italian sun, my first cappuccino, the youth hostel across the water from Piazza San Marco, being 20 with the world at my feet and the magic of Venice before my eyes.

First sketchbook! Venice 1974, age 20
First sketchbook! Venice 1974, age 20

In my sketching workshops and classes, this is what I want to share – not just the “how to do it” and the development of our artistic skills and confidence, but for the peaceful space it can open in our lives, a pathway to fuller presence.


Special thanks to my fellow artists – Ann, Colette, Pauline, Maria and Kieran, for sharing this week with us. Many thanks too:

  • to Boris at the Park and Suites Hotel in Le Cannet for your welcome and many courtesies
  • To Walid from the Office de Tourisme for a wonderful tour of the village
  • to deputy mayor Mr Pigrenet and everyone in Le Cannet who made us so welcome
  • to Pim and all the Hangar artists
  • to Beverley and Robert for your gracious hospitality
  • and especially to Michael – couldn’t have done it without you!

One Comment

  1. Beautiful..really awesome👍👍👍


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