Come To Your Senses  

Next Available Retreat: September 20 - 26, 2020

(A Karbohemia Writing Retreat--in France!) 

When was the last time you...

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    devoted time and space to reconnect with your writing self?  
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    felt the sun on your skin, floated in a beautiful sea, broke a sweat hiking?
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    tasted -- really tasted -- excellent food? 

Announcing Dates for 2020 Writing Retreats in Collioure, France

June 21 - 27, 2020 - DREXEL UNIVERSITY 

September 20 - 26, 2020

Why Should You Come To Your Senses? 

I love my phone -- who doesn't? -- but we've become a world of screen-addicts. And the more time we spend glued to our devices, the more distant we become from the simple joys of living. I see it in myself, and in my students. Did you know we check our phones an average of 80 times a day? (A study by global tech protection and support company Asurion found that the average person struggles to go little more than 10 minutes without checking their phone.)

What is happening to us?! 

This isn’t good for our bodies. This isn’t good for our minds. And it really isn’t good for our writing, which depends on our ability to describe our three-dimensional human experience.

I want to do my part to right this wrong, or adjust it a little, anyway. 

“If you want to truly unplug from your life and plunge into a new, intoxicating environment where you can refresh yourself as a writer, Karbohemia is the experience you want. — Come to Your Senses Participant

Who Is Karen Karbo?

Karen Karbo is the best-selling author of 16 works of fiction and non-fiction, including the international best seller, The Gospel According to Coco Chanel. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Elle, Outside, Tin House, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and the New York Times Modern Love column. She has taught writing workshops at the University of Oregon, Rutgers University, Portland State University, Tin House, Portland Literary Arts, and the Todos Santos Writers Workshop. She launched Come to Karbohemia, her writing retreat in the South of France, in 2018.

Ready to Come To Your Senses?

Reconnect With Your Writing Self & Deepen & Improve Your Work

  • Exercise your ability to render the physical word on the page. 
  • Submit to the sun and the sea and in the process, loosen your grip on yourself and your work. 
  • Generate new writing every morning.
  • In-depth craft workshops to sharpen and shape your work.
  • One-hour private consultation with Karen Karbo.  

Relish a Transcendent Culinary Experience, Every Day for a Week

  • "The food is pine nuts and garlic and pesto and fresh ingredients from the local markets - the boulangerie,  the meat shop, the spice shop, the produce carts of local farmers. Everything cooked all day by Emily, the magician chef. An experience not to be missed in this life." - Participant

Immerse Yourself in Collioure, France -- A Magical Place

  • Collioure, where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean and Matisse discovered Fauvism.
  • Medieval streets, fabulous tapas, gorgeous swimming beaches, a windmill, some of the oldest vineyards in the world. 
  • And the colors of Collioure must be experienced to be believed. 

"Breathtaking is too small a word..."

The writing is “what we shouldn’t ever speak about” and “what we’re afraid of” and “what we have yet to figure out.” This is where Karen Karbo’s masterful teaching and depth of writing experience took us. It was on the body and of the earth and sky and sea – all pink and midnight and mauve in a landscape that’s inspired art and war in equal measure. Breathtaking is too small a word. Long live Karbohemia. 

- Jenny Forester (Writer, Teacher, Editor)

How Will Coming To Your Senses Change and Deepen Your Writing Life?

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” - Thoreau

Because our relationship with screens has coaxed us into believing the two-dimensional world is the real world. Because day by day, without quite realizing it, we are losing faith in the power of truly living in our bodies, and the way -- effortless and reliable, if we pay attention -- it confers knowledge and sparks creativity. Because we writers are particularly vulnerable.

Dancers live in their bodies, musicians in their ears, visual artists in their hands and eyes. Our art happens in our minds, and if we’re not careful, we become imprisoned there. We become tethered to the place where we work, which is also the place where we spend most of our lives: in front of screens.

Because to become better writers, we tend to double down, spending even more time in front of our laptop. Because we tend to believe the solution to our writing lies in working more, in thinking more, in redoing our outlines. Because we download apps, purchase productivity planners, commit, once again, to figuring out how to use Scrivener. We open our documents. We struggle to get our thoughts down. We mind-muscle it. Because getting to good writing demands being loose and free, and you can’t be loose and free when you’re strapped to your laptop with a crick in your neck.

What Will Coming To Your Senses Do For You?


​Reconnect With Your Writing Self. Deepen & Improve Your Work 

"If you want to truly unplug from your life and plunge into a new, intoxicating environment where you can refresh yourself as a writer, Karbohemia is the experience you want." - Participant

The retreat is designed for beginning, emerging, and published writers -- anyone who feels the urge to reconnect with their writing self, or deepen and improve their work. Because we live primarily in our heads and on our screens, one of the first writing skills to atrophy is rendering the physical world.

The thing is, great writing depends on the ability of the writer to draw the reader into the reality of the story. Mastering this requires being deeply in touch with our senses, and what it’s like to be a human being walking the earth. We exercise that muscle in daily morning workshops, where we generate new writing based on new experiences in Collioure and the wider world. 

In the afternoon, we venture out -- swimming, hiking, marketing, wine-tasting -- and in submitting ourselves to the sun and sea, wind up loosening our grip on ourselves and our work. Arch-nature lover and writer Henry David Thoreau said “all good things are wild and free” and even a small dose of freedom and wildness enriches our writing.

Sunset over Collioure

Relish a Transcendent Culinary Experience Every Day for a Week

"People who love to eat are always the best people." - Julia Child

No pilgrimage to France is complete without a transcendent culinary experience, and that goes double for a writing retreat focused on coming to your senses. Our retreat chef is Emily Park. She is an expert on Mediterranean food, and incorporating the food and flavors of French Catalonia. 


Says Emily: "Cooking in Collioure is a chef's dream come true. The access to incredible ingredients is unparalleled—tomatoes and eggplant in every shade of the rainbow, luscious figs and melon, herbs that perfume the air, the freshest fish caught in the sea that stretches out in the distance, and the fabulous local cheese, charcuterie, bread, wine, and more all beckoning at the markets. My greatest pleasure it to take these beautiful ingredients and coax them into delicious meals that allow participants to truly connect with their surroundings (and their senses) through the pleasures of the table."


Favorite past dishes include paella made with gorgeous shellfish plucked straight from the sea and bomba rice brought from over the Spanish border, and dolloped with rich, garlicky aioli; a pesto lasagne made with delicate layers of homemade pasta, creamy bechamel, and bundles of basil pounded into an aromatic sauce; and a wobbly panna cotta perfumed with leaves from the fig tree next door and topped with a refreshing Charentais melon granita.


We encourage participants to put themselves in Emily's hands for the week and try new dishes and ingredients. However, please let us know if you have severe allergies or dietary restrictions and we will do our best to accommodate.

Three meals a day using local, fresh ingredients are included with the retreat.

Immerse Yourself in Collioure, France -- A Magical Place

This village in the very south of France (only three villages sit between Collioure and the Spanish border) beckons you to live in your senses -- no, scratch that -- it requires you to do so. The Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean at Collioure. The place smells of salt, earth, lavender, citrus, and rose.

Of the light, Matisse said, “There isn’t anywhere in France where the sky is bluer than the sky of Collioure. I just have to open the shutters of my room and I have all of the colors of the Mediterranean at my place.”

Collioure is ancient. It’s been there since 673, when it was an important outpost for the Visigoths. It was passed back and forth between France and Spain a few times. But for us moderns, it’s as if Collioure was designed by a brilliant architect whose sole mission was coaxing human beings into falling in love with the natural world. There are the aforementioned mountains, in a hundred shades of green, and three sparkling coves. There is the medieval Château Royal de Collioure. There is the 17th-century Notre-Dame-des-Anges Church. There is a moulin, a windmill, and Fort St. Elme, that sits high upon a hill. There are cobblestone streets, and two excellent local bars.

There is that Matisse-approved sky. Some of the oldest vineyards on earth hugging the rugged hills. I’m not really one for hyperbole -- I’ve sworn off the words ‘amazing’ and ‘awesome’ -- but I don’t think you can walk ten feet in Collioure without being intoxicated by the sights, smells, and sounds.

Collioure France

Participants from 2018 

Reserve Your Spot. Only A Few Spots Remain

All-Inclusive Come to Your Senses Retreats in 2020 


There are only ten spots available, and it's first come, first serve. 

  • 6 nights’ accommodation in Collioure village, close to shops, cafés, and the sea
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner included with our retreat chef, Emily Park
  • 5 morning writing workshops
  • Afternoon Sensory Adventures with Karen
  • Evening craft talks by visiting writers
  • The opportunity to connect with like-minded citizens of Karbohemia
  • One hour private consultation with Karen
  • Ground transportation to and from Perpignan (closest large-ish town)

What that means: The only item on your To Do List is getting yourself to Perpignan; then you will surrender to a week devoted to getting back in touch with yourself, your body, the natural world, and your writing.

Bird-by-Bird Pricing 

BIRD-BY-BIRD:  $3250 is the all-inclusive (meals, lodging, workshop) price of Come to Your Senses.  


Deposits can be placed on a credit card or debit card through PayPal (be sure to choose friends/family option to avoid silly fees).


CANCELLATION POLICY - If you can't join us after all and must cancel, we will refund your deposit with 45-day notice. With less than a 45-day notice, we will refund your full deposit only if we can fill your space. There will be a $25 handling fee for all cancellations.

"Life Affirming..."

"This week has been a life-affirming adventure, and I am grateful!" 

- Karen Lynch (Writer, Former Detective)

"It is nurturing and challenging..."

Karbohemia is not a place one finds on a map - it is an experience and a state of mind. It is nurturing and challenging. It is new acquaintances who become old friends. It is deep vulnerability, and tears, and laughter and joy. It is rich colors, textures and tastes of food, wine and history and culture. It is sunrises and sunsets, and songs in the square.   Karbohemia is far more than I could ever have imagined. Come and be amazed. 

- Laurie Taylor  (Writer, Author of The Accidental Truth)


"I promised myself..."

"After following Karen's Facebook page for years, and seeing pictures of fabulous Karbohemia, I promised myself to one day visit this beautiful spot and enroll in Karen's writing workshop. Something told me the trip would be an important experience."

- Anonymous (Participant, 2018)

Come To Your Senses...

and reconnect with your self, your writing, and your practice

Collioure France

“Let us return thanks to Nature for her bounty by using every one of the senses she has given us.” ​- Virginia Woolf



Come To Your Senses! Only A Few Spots Remain!

Come To Your Senses and Reserve Your Spot  

Come To Your Senses

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    6 Nights Accommodation
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    Five Writing Workshops
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    All Meals Included 
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    Craft Workshops & More...

All Inclusive Retreat



$250 reserves your spot.



Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How do I get to Collioure? 

​What do I need to bring? 

​What expenses aren't included? 

​What if I have a special diet? 

Will Karen read and give feedback on my work in progress?

​Is there wifi? 

What if I have just started writing? Is this for me?

​Do I have to share a hotel room? 

What do I need to bring to have my devices work? 

​Do I need to speak French?