Elixir: Writing Retreat

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect from the instruction portion of the retreat?

The emphasis of Elixir is on the writing part of “writing retreat,” as well as the retreat experience. Thus, while we do have some exciting one-hour lectures lined up for weekday afternoons (two of them by NYT Bestseller Nova Ren Suma) and an informal panel discussion with all faculty members, we will not be holding workshops or dividing into critique groups. 


A limited number of add-ons are available for purchase as well. Add-ons include:

*one-on-one manuscript critiques (up to 25 pages) with Nova Ren Suma or J.R. Angelella ($200)

*one-hour outline coaching session with Kyle V. Hiller ($100)

*30-minute practice pitch sessions with Kate Angelella ($50)



How do I get to the retreat?

The retreat is located in Campbon, France, approximately 30 miles west of Nantes (about a 40-minute drive). Elixir will collect all participants at either the Nantes train station or the Nantes Airport, depending on their mode of arrival, and transport them to the château. Pickup time at the train station will be at 4 PM, and at the airport at 5 PM, on Wednesday, June 10.


When do we begin at the retreat?

We will kick off the retreat with dinner at 7pm on Wednesday, June 10. The first full day of activities will be Thursday, June 11.


When do we leave from the retreat?

The last day of the retreat is Wednesday, June 17. Breakfast will be served at 8am like every other day, and departure from the château at 11am. 

How do I get to Nantes?

There are numerous ways to travel to Nantes. 



If you are flying in, we recommend searching for flights that go through Dublin, London, or Paris. If budget is a concern, we recommend searching for flights to your connecting city separately from a flight with a budget airline to Nantes. Budget airlines include easyJet and Ryanair, but we highly recommend using a combination of Google Flights, Momondo, and Kayak.com to find a flight that fits your schedule and budget. 



There are numerous trains that travel from Paris to Nantes. You can find train times and costs at Ouigo.com and SNCF.com. Most trains depart Paris from Montparnasse, Massey (near the Orly airport), or Charles de Gaulle Airport.  If you are flying into Charles de Gaulle Airport, taking the train to Nantes is fairly direct and simple. 



There are numerous bus companies that travel from Paris to Nantes (and from other cities, as well). Although the trip tends to take longer, busses are a good budget option. You can find bus times and prices at BusBud.com.


What if I need to cancel my trip? 

We highly recommend buying trip cancellation insurance. All Elixir fees are non-refundable, and you are responsible for ensuring you purchase the appropriate type and level of insurance. There are numerous insurance companies that offer trip cancellation insurance. 



Do I need health insurance?

While getting health insurance isn’t required, it is highly recommended. U.S. insurance is not accepted by the French health system, however, there are a number of insurance companies that offer international health insurance for people traveling abroad. This can sometimes be combined with trip cancellation insurance.



Do I need a travel visa to go to France?

If you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need a visa to travel to France. You MUST have a passport that is valid for at least three (3) months beyond your date of departure. You can find other details about travel to France on the U.S. State Department website.



What can I expect from my stay at the château?

We want your stay at the château to be peaceful and comfortable so you can get the most out of the retreat. There are a few things to know about the château that will help you fully enjoy your visit. 


First, it’s important to know that the château is fairly remote. We chose this location to minimize distractions. The town of Campbon is about 2 miles away from the château. While it’s possible to walk there, there are no sidewalks. Additionally, Campbon is a small town and doesn’t offer a lot of amenities that you might find in a bigger city. As such, we highly recommend bringing everything with you that you think you’ll need. That said, we can arrange transportation if you do need to visit a store during your stay. 


The château itself is sizeable, but cozy. All bathrooms are shared, so please be sure to keep things tidy and to be respectful of other participants.



What is the château's accessibility?

While Elixir faculty are willing to make accomodations within their own capacity, the château is not ADA compliant.



What kind of things should I bring with me?

We recommend bringing with you anything essential to help you write, relax, and feel your best. This can include (but is not limited to):


  • A laptop

  • Toiletries

  • Comfortable shoes for walking

  • Clothes for a week (a washing machine is available onsite)

  • Bathing suit (if you want to swim)

  • Tennis racket (if you want to play tennis)

  • Rain jacket



What will the weather be like?

The weather in western France in late spring/early summer can be somewhat unpredictable. It can be hot and dry, but also cold and rainy. Generally speaking, temperatures range from 50° and 70° F, though it can get as warm as 80° F. Evenings are often cool and windy, so be sure to pack appropriate clothing to keep you warm. 



What’s the food situation at the château?

Most meals at the château will be catered. Vegan options will be available at each meal. Please let us know if you have any specific requests. We will make every effort to accommodate your needs. 



Each morning, you'll be presented with fresh-baked French pastries daily. We will also have a variety of yogurts and organic muesli available. Coffee, tea, and juice will also be available.



Lunches will likely be a cold buffet, consisting of an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. More details will be shared here once the menu has been finalized.



Dinner will likely be a warm buffet, consisting of an appetizer, a main course, cheese, and a dessert. More details will be shared here once the menu has been finalized.


Snacks & Drinks

A mixture of healthy snacks and fun treats will be available to participants, along with juices, sodas, coffee, tea, beer, and wine. 



What are the details of the Mont Saint-Michel excursion?

On Saturday, June 13th, we will take an excursion to Mont Saint-Michel. Originally constructed in the 8th century as a small church, Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the top tourist destinations in France. 


We will leave the château at approximately 9am, arriving at Mont Saint-Michel at approximately 11:30am From there, you are welcome to explore the village and the abbey. We will reconvene at 5 pm, departing from Mont Saint-Michel and returning to the château at approximately 7:30pm. 



Besides writing time, instruction, and Mont Saint-Michel, what other activities will we be doing? 

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! That’s why we found a place that plenty of leisure activities as well. Feel free to avail yourself of the heated swimming pool, the tennis courts, the soccer field, or just walk around the countryside (be careful, though, as there aren’t any sidewalks!).


Additionally, we'll have evening entertainment most nights, including a wine tasting, a private jazz concert, a cooking demo for Sunday Brunch, and other fun stuff. We're adding new things regularly, so stay tuned!

If you have any other questions, please contact us!