Robert Dessaix – novelist, essayist, journalist – Australia – September 2016
“Sainte Valière is just the right setting for hatching or honing a book, a play, a poetry collection: spacious rooms with a view, tranquillity, history, with inviting countryside, ancient cities and small villages to explore between bursts of inspiration. It’s France. It’s almost Spain. It’s perfect.”
Marie Bondeson – artist – & Håkan Obbel – Sweden – October 2018
“We came with the intention to recover from a period of hard artistic work and get new energy. We found a quiet, friendly, warm and open space. A good place for dreaming, a wonderful working space and a socially great house to stay at. Eloise and Sophie are two really caring people that do everything to make your stay as good as you can wish. The atmosphere in the house and in the village is both relaxing and energising so you can actually get things done. Thank you both for a rich experience.”
Ann McGinley – painter – Australia – September 2018
“I think it was Oscar Wilde who said “‘To do nothing at all, is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.’
At Hôtel St Valèere, Eloise and Sophie have managed to create a state of suspension where the resident artist is freed from quotidian thoughts and concern. Time moves slowly in this small, historic village. As the church bell chimed the hours, I had abundant time to consider, delve and contemplate my art practice. This is something that is so valuable to the progression of creative thought but unfortunately increasingly harder to experience.
Eloise also acts as an effective conduit to the Languedoc environs and community whether this is an art class at the town hall, music at nearby restaurant, a swim in the river, or even an overnight trip to Arles. Or the more difficult pursuit of doing nothing.
The Hotel itself is welcoming. The rooms are spacious and there is abundant studio space and light. Through the open windows, while working, I could sense village life locals walking to the épicerie for their croissants, a coffee and a gossip; cars on their way to the neighbouring villages of Ginestas or Paraza; or tractors rumbling to and from the surrounding vineyards. The large kitchen offered respite on hot days, a place to eat breakfast or lunch or prepare a much needed coffee; but more importantly the origin of many delicious meals prepared by Sophie or Eloise. Equally respite could be had in the library on the top floor with views of the surrounding hills or in the magenta downstairs salon. In the evening after a profitable day of idling, working or exploring the countryside by bike or car, the terrace was the place for sharing conversation, food and the region’s wonderful wines.
I hope I again have the opportunity to experience such creative idleness.”
Nikola Hoffmann – painter – Germany – September 2018
“Residency with heart. I was staying (unfortunately only) two weeks at the lovely Hotel Sainte Valière. Arriving in the picturesque small town of Sainte Valière and stepping into the hotel feels like entering into a whole different world. The charm of the 19th century and the landscape make you feel living in another time. But especially the warming welcome and hospitality of Eloise and her family makes you immediately happy and feeling like you’re in the right place.
My stay was really special. During the day I was painting downstairs in the atelier with the sun shining through the beautiful windows. As I was very lucky and had the opportunity to also paint in the upper atelier (the other residents were using their room to work) I could benefit from the high windows for painting in the afternoon, when the sun made his way up to the second floor.
In the evening Eloise and her mother Sophie cooked delicious dinner for us which we enjoyed outside on the terrace accompanied with wine and great talks. The community was just great. We had a great connection and did some trips to the other towns together, for which we could use the car that was available for the residents. We also did an overnight stay at Arles. Eloise’s mother was so kind to let us stay in her apartment. It was really generous like they were all the time with us. Thank you so much for the wonderful time!”
Amber Carne – painter – Australia – September 2018
“Hotel Sainte-Valiere was everything I imagined and more. Set in a peaceful village amidst vineyards with the Black Mountains off in the distance, it is an idyllic location to immerse yourself in your creative project. It’s a perfect balance of time alone to think and create and interaction with other residents at meal time or excursions in the local area. Eloise and her family have created something truly special. An authentic cultural and artistic experience that will have you wishing you’d stayed longer.”
Belle Bassin – experimental visual artist – Australia – September 2018
Katerina Knight – textile artist – UK – July 2018
“The space which Eloise has created at Hôtel Sainte Valière for Artists encourages both creative and cultural exchange, through engaging conversation over lovely food and wine amidst a dreamlike landscape. The surroundings offer the perfect balance of inspiration to produce new work whilst allowing undisturbed time for reflection and thinking. Hôtel Sainte Valière is everything you could ask for and more, I will treasure my time spent here.”
Rio Walto – musician & theatre-maker – Switzerland – July 2018
“The region around Sainte-Valière is perfect to get lost. Grab a hat, get a bike and explore the magic land of vineyards. Back at Eloise’s Hôtel you will find a lovely old, spacious and sometimes mysterious house where you can stare at the ceiling for hours and hours. Thank you Eloise for taking care of us and creating such a lovely residency.”
Margarita Georgiadis – painter – Australia – June 2018
“My residency at Hôtel Sainte Valière fulfilled my every wish and expectation of what the perfect artists residency should be. Uninterrupted, peaceful endlessnessism of time, productivity and wandering through a spectacular landscape that feeds inspiration. A lifetime can be savored in a day here, with the wonderful knowledge that tomorrow will bring yet another lifetime of continuing magical experiences.”
Danny Aviles – illustrator- US- June 2018
“I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived to Sainte-Valiere as it was my first residency but the time that I was there was definitely well worth it. Besides being a great place to work, my biggest takeaway will be the relationships that I made during my stay. I really value the conversations with all the people I had the opportunity to meet. The residents, Eloise and the people in the surrounding villages. These are things I will hold onto for as long as I can.”
Jade Lillie – arts executive – Australia – June 2018
“Hôtel Sainte-Valière is a peaceful and creative place where friends and artists come together, make new work, share conversations and focus on creative ideas. Eloise has created a very special place for artists that welcomed me to experience this beautiful part of the world whilst writing, walking, sharing meals and great conversation. I highly recommend Hôtel Sainte-Valière as a place to stay and undertake your own project, collaborate on ideas and sit in the beautiful garden whilst enjoying the sunset over the vineyards. It’s been such a pleasure.”
Adam McCulloch & Emma Sloley – writers – Australia/Mexico – may 2018
“A room of one’s own in a beautiful ivy-covered grande dame at the heart of a sleepy village nodding among the vines of the Minervois…this was how the story started for us in the summer of 2018. At the Hôtel Sainte Valière we found a place to write and to dream, where the company was stellar and the atmosphere somehow both tranquil and invigorating. Eloise and Sophie (and visiting chef Mary!) were wonderful and thoughtful hosts, providers of legendary meals and wine, and conversationalists extraordinaire. From cocktail hour by the fireplace in the scarlet-walled salon, to an evening cruise on the Canal du Midi, to a tipsy midnight feast of mushroom bourguignon shared around the kitchen table, the experience was nourishing in every way.”
Debi Hamilton & David Francis – poets – Australia – May 2018
“Hôtel Sainte-Valière. What magic! We have just spent two weeks as poets in residence at the Hôtel Sainte-Valière, and we’re hoping the enchantment doesn’t wear off any time soon.
Imagine a three-storey, 150-year-old house, with large guest rooms and high ceilings. Add the surrounding village, where the smallness of the streets suggests a looming intimacy which is never quite realised because it’s so quiet (apart from the insistent marking of time by the two village church bells); then imagine all the solitary time you might want, seasoned with conversation and excellent food and wine at dinner time with your fellow guests; and picture all this being run by a woman who can whip up a stunning meal, draw you an artistic little map of a walk or drive you might enjoy, and hold you spellbound with her stories—and you still won’t have the half of it.
Our fellow guests will not be surprised to hear that we really enjoyed the food, wine and scenery of the area—we made up for many of their cloistered hours at the desk by exploring the surrounding villages and countryside at lunchtime—but they may be surprised to hear that we both managed to achieve a lot more writing than our daily lives at home allow. And we slept better than we have anywhere else for years.
So, thank you Eloise for making such an experience possible—you have created a very beautiful space for writers both to work and to refill the well.”
Nabin Chhetri – poet – Scotland – May 2018
“St. Valiere was fabulous and it gave me the space to write in tranquility. I miss the Salon and the get togethers after dinner. At the end of the day, it is the lovely people who make things memorable. I miss the quiet, palatial room, from where, every day, the birds never failed to sing. The stroll around the vineyard, the wine around the fireplace, and the casual reading inside the room, everything was enigmatic.”
Lizzy Sampson- installation artist- Australia – September 2017
“I spent a little under two weeks at Hotel Sainte Valiere to undertake a self-directed arts residency in September 2017. This was my first residency since becoming a parent, and Eloise was so accomodating of my family – arranging everything we needed for our stay. The food prepared by Eloise and Sophie is nothing short of magnificent – and the additional picnics by the river were always delightful. Having a car available to explore the surrounding villages, rivers and mountains was amazingly helpful and made being autonomous during our stay very easy. Sainte Valiere provided a very different sense of place, space and time and each hour of every day seemed to stretch – so that I really achieved a lot of thinking, making, exploring and doing in just 2 weeks. I feel like I just began to scratch the surface of life in a small village and would love to return to explore this further. A very accomodating, comfortable, creative and welcoming place to live and work. Merci Beaucoup.”
Antoine Giorgini- film maker- France – September 2017
Jens-Martin Eriksen – author, essayist – Denmark – September 2017
“L’Hôtel Sainte Valière is a really great place for everyone who wants peace and quiet to work on their manuscripts. Wonderful spacious rooms in and old doctors house in a small village in the South of France, nice food and homely atmosphere, great wines and countryside to be explored close to Canal du Midi and historical city of Minerve. ”
Ida Rödén – illustrator, sculptor – Sweden – September 2017
“When you realize you can do it all – when your kids can be without you a full week, when you manage to convince an art foundation to financially support your adventures, and when you have the best husband that pushes you to follow just that dream – the one of doing it all. Well, that’s when you wake up in a spacious room where the sunlight is peeking through big windows revealing the narrow streets of Sainte-Valière. This Artist Residency was just what I needed – fantastic home-cooked food, solitude, car trips, stimulating dinner conversations with the hostesses and the writer in residence (Jens-Martin Eriksen), and the occasional meeting with locals to see what they are up to (to learn from the experts about the fate of the cathars). And, not to forget, time to make art – in this case thorny beetles hidden in thorny plants coloured with the juice from berries and greenery collected during my daily walks outside the village.”
Rachel Lang- film maker- France – Juillet 2017
« Vast spaces for reverie with superb dimensions befitting Man who seeks. Difficult to match with words the sensation Sainte Valière leaves you with. So instead we will return, with Fabien, and shoot a short film in the style of Rohmer. »
Fabien Gorgeart- film maker- France – Juillet 2017
“I left the residency with a terrible desire to return, as well as the pride of belonging now a little to the beautiful story Eloise is inventing between the walls, vibrant with inspiration, of the magnificent Hotel Sainte Valiere. Rarely have I worked as well as I worked there. I have the feeling that there I could give the necessary push to lauch a new project, forever associated with the place, Eloise, and my director friend Rachel with whom we chatted beneath plane trees drinking delicious rosé!”
Jeannine Cook – silverpoint artist – Majorca – May / June 2017
“Hôtel Sainte Valière – from Winegrower’s “Folly” to Artists’ Residence
Light footsteps flying down the spacious stairway, sunlight flooding through the big windows, laughter and a welcome soon sealed with a glass of wine: my stay at Hôtel Sainte Valière began deliciously.
I soon learned that this gracious house, one of the main homes built in this small hilltop village during the 19th century wealthy heyday of wine culture in the Languedoc Roussillon area of southern France, was originally called a “winegrower’s folly”. The Cayla family knew how to make a home of gracious proportions, and today’s guests at Eloise Caleo’s Artist Residency are the lucky beneficiaries (…)
My two-week residency flashed past but it was the prefect place to get down to working really hard. I wanted to complete two big silverpoint drawings for an upcoming exhibition and this was the ideal situation simply to push through and finish them in dogged fashion. My quiet and privacy were respected delightfully.
So many enticing trips, nonetheless beckoned… so many attractions to delight, and all close enough to hand to Sainte Valière that an artist can slip off for a while to change gears from creating to celebrating life in France.”
To read Jeannine’s full testimonial click here
Macdonald Jones – photo, sculpture, installation artist – USA – June 2017
“Hotel Sainte Valiere is a wonderfully calm & charming residency. There are lovely trails for walking or biking and many beautiful sights and neighboring towns to see and inspire you. The work space and large table by the window are perfect, and the food is excellent!”
Miranda Mills – documentary maker, performer – Australia – June 2017
“Hôtel Sainte Valière is a large welcoming unique artists residence in a small village. Here, I had the opportunity to both enjoy quintessential French country life and have time and space to focus on my particular oeuvre and groove! The environment is quiet and the rooms are elegant spacious and relaxed. Chez Eloise I was encouraged to take time for both reflection upon my own work and recreation. It is close to the Canal du Midi and walking, bike riding or exploring by car in small day trips is a delight.
I visited Minerve a medieval town on the edge of the Black mountain and swam in a crystal clean stream, cooled down in the ocean at the picture perfect ancient seaside fort of Collioure and passed through small villages, vineyards and olive groves that embody the essence of the French experience. I felt nourished by all this and my creativity began to flow again after leaving a very cold Tasmanian winter as I opened out in the beauty of a southern French summer away from the crowds.”
Raphael Pintart – journalist and screenwriter- France – June 2017
I’ll be back!”
Stéphanie Jeannet – illustrator – Switzerland – May & September 2016
“The Hôtel Sainte Valière for me is a place of which I am still dreaming, a house where warmth and beauty are shared, a place full of space and horizons to think, to create, to tell oneself stories and to carry those stories further.”
Sandra Ivany – photojournalist – May 2016
“My time spent at Saint Valiere was like stepping into another most graceful period where time slowed and one’s surroundings were lovely and soft. There was an atmosphere of a creative salon where truly alive and creative people shared with each other deep conversations of dreams, experiences and ideas. The village, the countryside, the light and even the air are unforgettable. Eloise – many thanks for your kindness and your hospitality and for your support in helping me achieve my creative project – It was truly an honor to get to know you.”
Antoine Giorgini – screenwriter – France– September 2016
“My time in Sainte Valière was very, very good for my inspiration. You can think clearly there, and the almost religious calm pushes you to be creative. If you want to have a break from your work, there are plenty of places to visit, to eat and drink, the surroundings are absolutely magnificent. A charming welcome, the lady of the house is as pleasant as can be, present but not too present, always up for passionate discussions by the fireplace. I came in early September, and came back at the end of the month as I found that one week’s work in Sainte Valière was worth two months work at home. L‘Hôtel Sainte Valière allowed me unparalleled creative energy and I am counting on returning as soon as I am able.”
Helga Griffiths – installation artist – Germany – September 2016
“Hotel Sainte Valière is the ideal place to work quietly. I enjoyed my daily routine of walking and thinking and could get lots of new ideas on which I started working. I felt very much at home and did enjoy my spacious beautiful room as well as the library which is offering an incredible view over the rooftops of the village. I admire Eloise’s passion and incredible energy that she puts into making this residency a success”
Frans Peter Valbjørn Knudsen – textile artist – Denmark – September 2016
“A fantastic place, fantastic people. Food is excellent. Peaceful and quiet and plenty of room for thinking and working. I will definitely come back if possible. There is a place in my heart called Hotel Sainte Valière”
One sunny Saturday morning, Sainte Valiere was intrigued to see this surprise installation by Frans Peter…
“This piece of art has been a diffuse thought in my mind and a quick sketch in my bag for years. Here, in Hotel Sainte Valière, I found the peace and quiet to work on it and put my thoughts into form and material. The piece is a personal story…”
Margie Ulbrick – author – Melbourne – September 2016
“I was fortunate enough to spend one month at Sainte Valiere with Eloise, Cleo and Sophie. They are a beautiful and interesting family and very supportive of all things creative. I loved meeting other residents and sharing some of our experiences of the creative process. The landscape of this beautiful area of Southern France (surrounded by vineyards) is inspiring and to get fully immersed in its climate, colour and light was a treat. There are many lovely walks and it is possible to cycle along the Midi canal and see some of the neighbouring villages. I loved working upstairs in the library where I looked across rooftops and listened to birds of all descriptions as well as the tractors on the fields harvesting the grapes and nearby horses. The views were so picturesque and completely inspirational for my writing. The house itself is spacious and well set up with each room having it’s own ensuite and lovely windows opening out to tree tops and the local village. Perhaps best of all, was the energy and space for the creative juices to flow, the time to work uninterrupted and to have meals all prepared so that we could merely show up in the evenings and join each other for some socialising, friendly banter, and delicious French food and wine. A lovely courtyard was the setting for our evenings when weather was warm and then a beautiful open fire inside the dining room when the weather was cooler. I’m so grateful for the experience of Hotel Sainte Valiere.”
Vardos – July 2015
“In 2015 Vardos were invited to undertake a small residency at Hotel Sainte Valiere in France. Being in Sainte Valiere allowed us the chance to absorb and practice the music we had just been studying in Eastern Europe, culminating in us performing at a very successful opening night to which the village was invited. In a beautiful calm and quiet mansion with its own lift, ensuites for every room, just a few dozen metres away from the local shop providing fresh fruit and croissants, we were also walking distance from vineyards and inspiring Provencal landscapes. Crystal clear swimming ponds are not far away, and larger towns such as Carcassonne and Narbonne are also close by. As a writer I was inspired by the history of the house and its occupants, to write the short story, The Cave of Dr Cayla, and also to make some sketches. It was valuable to meet and find out more about the locals some of whom had insights into the history of the house and its occupants which informed upon my writing.”
Sofia Chapman of Vardos
Sofia’s story The Cave of Dr Cayla appeared in Gargouille Literary Journal and can be found here:
The Sugar Fed Leopards – September 2015
“Eloise and Cleo greeted us after a long scenic drive to the small South Western town of Sainte Valière. We felt welcomed as we sat in the quiet courtyard and were seized by the simple romance of life there. Water, wine, cheese and dinner to muse over, Dave chopping some garlic, Carrie chasing Cleo and the rest beginning to take bags up the big staircase and settle in. The kitchen is expansive and inviting, I just wanted to cook, often and for many people. It would be the place where we shared the rich flavours of the region and talked about which disco music we really liked.
The house is 3 stories of bright rooms with luxuriously big bathrooms, each room has speaks of an ideal lifestyle with a view that is completely transporting. Throw open the windows to let a breeze sweep aside the thin curtains and you can feel the village is so close but it is quiet and still in it’s worn stone. We were able to spend the days relaxing in the informal atmosphere, reading for long hours, writing a handful of melodies, including the bands favorite hit ‘Golden Apricots, castles in the sky’ and visiting nearby towns for long lunches. We watched tourists move down the canal in different shaped vessels with different holiday agendas. We strolled by an orchard and snoozed under some big maple trees…
…The house exuded all the glory and mystery of another time. The warm colours of the region and the superb light linger on and I recommend a stay at Sainte Valière to anyone, whatever reason you can find to become familiar with this part of the world, would be good. Eloise is accommodating and hospitable and it would be a worthy exchange to share some of this style of life with her wonderful family. One day I will stay a year and write a novel.”
Steph Brett of the Sugar Fed Leopards
To read Steph’s full testimonial click here
Reviews by travellers
Frédéric Millet August 2016
I fell quickly under the spell of the village of Sainte-Valière and Eloïse‘s house. My room was large, comfortable, furnished with taste. Eloïse knows how to welcome her hosts (even preparing very good meals, which turned out to be very convenient when one arrives at night) and has many recommendations for places to visit, restaurants, and river swim spots. I certainly don’t regret holidaying a little further from Narbonne and the coast. One wishes great success to Eloïse in her arts residency and b & b activities.
Audrey Batisse August 2016
We were excellently received during our time with Éloïse. Magnificent setting! We emphatically recommend this place. Thanks again!
Felix Partzsch August 2016
For us a fantastic holiday experience in the middle of the vineyards of Minervois. The pictures of the wonderful house meet the reality only partially, since in reality everything was much more beautiful. Thank you, dear host family! We would return any time…
Christiane Pluvy August 2016
Spacious room, charm of a grand old house, but especially the quality of our welcome by our two hostesses, the delicatesse and attentions of Eloise, and the kindness of her mother who accompanied us 12 km away without hesitation.
Romain Soudre, August 2016
We stayed with friends in this very beautiful house. The house is very spacious, full of charm with everything one needs. The garden is particularly pleasant in full summer. The house is in an authentic village and there are many activities to do nearby. If we were to return to the region, we would come back without hesitation. Eloise was very available and attentive during our stay and beforehand for its preparation.
Suzel Lombard, May 2016
Strategic spot to discover the region: Canal du Midi and of the Robine by bike, walks on foot, cycling from Ste Valière, vines, coast etc… Express response from Héloïse. Warm welcome, charming and spontaneous, on the part of our hostess who showed much empathy. She undertook to make our stay pleasant, making herself available. Large maison de maitre in the middle of the village. 3 spacious, quiet and luminous rooms, with big comfortable beds and a desks, two with a large bathroom. (We appreciated this grand house which is in the process of finding a new soul, without losing its old one). Copious breakfast with home-made jam and fresh bread. Dinner shared by the fireplace with interesting discussions. When it is fine, one must really appreciate the garden and the terrace. Very pleasant stay. We would be delighted to see Héloïse again on another visit. We wish her well in her dynamic socio-cultural and musical projects.