The Brouzils Seminars

Les Brouzils Memoir Writing Project

Two-week writing programs in France for writers of personal, literary non-fiction.

The Brouzils Seminars provide limited-term residency programs for serious writers who wish to be mentored by accomplished professionals in a setting well away from the familiar surroundings of everyday life.

The Seminars' Memoir Writing Program is designed to help those who are looking for ways to tell the stories of their lives not just for themselves, but also for the education, entertainment and enrichment of others. Sessions meet in Les Brouzils, a small village in the French Vendée, with follow-up distance mentorships.

Workshops: The memoir-writing program is a very distinctive approach to manuscript preparation in which small clusters of writers gather to create finished, professional-level proposals, introductory chapters, working outlines and other supporting documents, with ongoing off-site mentorships.

The result is a deadline-driven process that results in finished, publishable manuscripts. Unlike many workshops and seminars, the purpose here is not to discuss the work of other participants in purely encouraging terms, but to engage in the hard work of launching a writing project that has a reasonable chance of ending in success. Participants may combine two or more of these sessions, or enroll in a single session and participate in follow-up consultation, including chapter-by-chapter mentorship.

Seminars are conducted in a small, private chateau situated in a park opposite the village church. The sessions focus on finding the compelling story in the inventory of your personal experiences and then learning not only how to write it well, but how to present it to agents and editors and other professionals. This is a proposal-to-publishable-manuscript process. Workshop meetings, faculty consultations, and on-going mentorships help participants go from finding a starting-point for their work to discovering a method for developing the work over time.

Location: The Vendée, situated in the west of France just south of Brittany and the Loire, is the most traditional of French regions, with a rich history punctuated by a bloody uprising during the French revolutionan episode that has given the area its own distinctive character. The now-tranquil village of Les Brouzils was once at the center of those events. The place is removed from the noise of urban life, yet it is not remote: A rural railway station is nearby, and from there, it's little more than a half-hour to Nantes (and another two hours to Paris via TGV trains). In the other direction, an hour to the west, the little train takes you to the coastal village of Les Sables d'Olonne, with its long, sandy beaches, its celebrated music school and its collections of art and books housed in the old Abbaye Sainte-Croix. The surf along the Vendean coast is often high and dramatic, but the warm summer weather rivals that in the south.

The Brouzils Memoir Writing Project.

Enrollment in the Brouzils Memoir Writing Project is limited to 5 students per seminar per session. Early registration encouraged. Participants may combine sessions with mentorships.

Workshop sessions and 2009-2010 calendar.

  • 9 August to 22 August 2009. CLOSED 2 July 2009. Waitlist CLOSED 2 August 2009.
  • 27 September to 10 October 2009. CLOSED 13 September 2009. Waitlist CLOSED 19 September 2009.
  • 2010 Schedule will be posted before 1 March 2010. Individual residential mentorships available in the off-season. Please contact the Seminars for details.

These sessions are conducted under the supervision of the Seminars' Director or another member of the Brouzils faculty. Each workshop meets at least once daily, except weekends. Limited enrollment. Late registrants will be waitlisted. Pre- and ongoing post-session mentorships available.

Session sequence: Each session convenes with an informal opening soirée with aperitifs and then follows a fairly intensive schedule, meeting eacch day for two-hour instructional sessions. Individual consultations are held as necessary. The process begins with locating the story at the center of each participant's life, discovering how to plot and outline it, and successfully identifying its principal themes. The retreat periods during each day are used for manuscript development. By the time the session ends, successful participants will have have constructed a professional book proposal, created a chapter outline, completed at least one chapter, formulated an ongoing writing plan and developed a basic marketing strategy. Most significantly, they will have learned how to write a compelling memoir that can be published or passed on to family members and friends.

Additional enrichment: Studio time, regional exploration and individual tutorials in French and German language instruction are available by special appointment at additional cost. Courses in guitar, piano, voice and drawing may also be arranged.

Fees and enrollment procedures:

Tuition and fees:

US$2625.00 with accommodation (college teaching masters' room or chateau bedroom, either with shared bath), light morning and afternoon meals. Full board US$280.00 extra. Extra person supplement.

US$1910.00 with independent accommodation arranged. See below for accommodations information.

Discounts: Returning participants may deduct ten percent from the total tuition.

A $400 enrollment fee, applied against tuition, must accompany all applications. The enrollment fee is refundable only if the applicant is not accepted by the Seminars. All remaining fees are payable in advance and due 30 days before the beginning of the first seminar meeting. A fifty percent refund may be made if cancellations are received by the Seminar administrator in writing 60 days before the session begins. A ten percent refund may be made for cancellations received by the Seminar administrator in writing 30 days before the session begins. Notification address: Brouzils Institute, US Agent, 118 N. Locust St., Mankato KS 66956 USA. No refunds are possible for cancellations received less than 30 days before session start date or for participants who withdraw from the Seminars at any time after a session commences. These fee policies apply to all participants regardless of enrollment date.

Payment of the enrollment fee may be made by credit card or eCheck via PayPal to the following email account:

Tuition fees may also be made by check through the US agent: Brouzils Institute, 118 N. Locust St., Mankato, KS 66956. For additional information, please email

Tuition includes seminar and small-group courses and evaluations, light lunch buffets (on class days), enrollment fees, travel expenses for any required group expeditions, welcoming events, and a farewell toast.

Not included: Air fare, accommodations, insurance, travel document fees (including valid passports), independent excursions, telephone charges, books, any personal items.


London and Brussels are often the most inexpensive destinations in Europe for participants coming from the US. Ryanair operates frequent, low-cost air service between London and Nantes and La Rochelle. Connections from Brussels and from Paris to Nantes by rail are fast and frequent. Car rental is available in Nantes and La Rochelle. SNCF-TER trains provide transportation to Nantes from the neighboring village, (l'Hérbergement). Trains to and from Nantes run several times daily; travel time is approximately 35 minutes. Travel time to the coast is approximately one hour. The Vendean coast is spectacular.


We assist all participants in locating suitable lodging. For those not residing at the chateau, additional accommodation may be found locally, ranging from the spacious quarters at the Manoir de la Thébline to the simple, comfortable local rural gites, hotels and inns. Prices vary widely. An accommodation and information list is available here. Note to summer session applicants: Early reservations are encouraged as August is a very busy time for local landlords, hoteliers and innkeepers.


The workshops meet in the chateau building. Wireless web access available to those with wireless-enabled laptops. The Seminars can provide a limited number of not-very-new bicycles and will make these available on free loan to participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Bicycles also may be reserved in advance. The facilities (including especially those bicycles!) are used at your own risk (see the note below on insurance). The chateau is not very modern and, while every effort will be made to accommodate every participant, the place is a bit unfriendly to those with special needs. Therefore, some preplanning may be necessary. Write to us at info at if you have a question concerning this. Light lunches and continental-style breakfasts are served informally during specified dining hours. The building and the grounds are smoke-free. The building closes at 9 p.m., although residents may come and go until midnight. Pay-as-you-go mobile telephones are available for an additional fee.

Enrollment procedure:

Please submit by email a current CV, a writing sample and/or a statement of goals. If you have a question or need assistance, please contact the Seminars. The email address: info at


Applicants are invited to participate solely at their own risk. All participants must be fully insured against illness and injury. The Seminars cannot accept any responsibility of any kind for any injury or illness, including those incurred on the Seminars' premises. Participants will be asked to sign a document acknowledging these points.

Academic credit information:

Our American academic partner, Fort Hays State University, will award undergraduate and graduate credit based on evaluations of participation and accomplishment.


Les Brouzils. The village is largely unchanged since this photograph was taken a century ago.


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Subject to change without notice. © 2007-2010 The Brouzils Institute.
Contact us: Chateau le Ligny, 2 rue Georges Clemenceau, 85260 Les Brouzils, France | email

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US enquiry/message line 1 415 675 1616
Visit our American academic partner: Fort Hays State University | 600 Park Street, Hays, Kansas 67601-4099 | tel +1 785 628 FHSU