Hand drawn sketch of france

Come to your senses and your writing.

Registration open NOW for 2023

2023 Retreats:

June 18 – 23
With guest authors:
Lidia Yuknavitch & Natalie Serber
SOLD OUT (wait list only)

Sept 17 – 22
with guest authors:
Gina Frangello & Jeanne McCulloch

In France, being yourself is the only way to be. Individuality is a value here; going along with the crowd is pas intéressant. To bring your boldest, most inspired and unique self to the page, its sometimes necessary to renovate your spirit. So, how do we get there? How do you go from schedules, screens, and the demands of everyday life to feeling creative and free enough to make a difference in your work?

You come to Collioure. Matisse loved it for a reason. In the summer, the weather and the light are perfection; the Vermillion coast is enchanting; and the colorful architecture, cuisine, wine, and locals are enough to make you swoon with delight. Yes, I said that. Swoon. Now: just imagine the effect that could have on your writing.

In addition, we’re over-the-moon delighted to welcome some of our favorite writers to the south of France.


Click here to learn more about our fabulous guest instructors.

Register Now

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The Experience

Why Collioure? It’s magical.

But don’t take my word for it – just ask Mattisse. When talking about the light here, he 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.”

But there’s more. This village that sits in the very South of France doesn’t invite you to the sensual, it requires it. There’s the view of where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean, hundreds of shades of green and sparkling seas. There’s the smell of salt and earth, lavender, citrus and rose. And there’s the history. Collioure was built in 673 as an important outpost for Visigoths. Treat your senses to the Château Royal de Collioure, the 17th-century Notre-Dame-des-Anges Church, a moulin, a windmill, cobblestone streets and Fort St. Elme, high upon a hill. It’s almost as if Collioure was designed by a brilliant architect whose sole mission was to get humans to fall in love with the natural world, again. And let me tell you – it works.

Colliour Image of Karen Karbo, Author

It’s France. Get ready for incredible food.

The food. The food! The food. It’s so good, I need to exclaim more than three times but for now, I’ll tempt you with this: paella made with gorgeous shellfish plucked straight from the sea; 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. Are you there yet?

Part of coming to your senses is culinary, thanks to our talented retreat chef, Emily Park. Emily’s an expert on Mediterranean food and the flavors of Catalonia, which means her meals are transcendent and unforgettable.

“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. 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).” – Emily Park, Chef

Put yourself in Emily’s hands for the week and try new things. If you have severe allergies or dietary restrictions we’ll do our best to accommodate, of course.

Collage of food

Your Writing

Speaking of Writing…

Writing happens in the mind and on the screen. If youre not careful and I say this from experience you can push yourself to a level of productivity that requires you to spend even more time on the screen and less time in the world. But great writing is born from the senses and coming to Collioure will awaken all of them. Thats why the retreat isnt all about writing, its about living. Whether youre a beginner, an emerging, or a published writer, this retreat will help you experience the world in a way thats loose, free, and wonderful for your stories. Here, youll:

  • Reconnect with your writing self to deepen your work
  • Put words on the page every morning
  • Surrender to the sun and the sea and see what it does for your stories
  • Experience in-depth craft workshops with special guest authors
  • Get the gift of a one-hour private consultation with Karen
  • Dive into Afternoon Sensory Adventures with Karen swimming, hiking, marketing, wine-tasting and emerge inspired, refreshed, and delighted
Woman writing in journal

What’s Included

The sun, the sea, and inspiration for your story, included.

Each retreat is all-inclusive and has ten attendees, so registration is first come, first served. The retreat includes:

  • 6 nightsaccommodation in Collioure village, close to shops, cafés, and the sea
  • Two meals a day + hearty snacks included
  • 5 morning writing workshops
  • Afternoon sensory adventures with Karen and guests
  • Evening craft talks by visiting writers
  • The opportunity to connect with like-minded citizens of Karbohemia
  • Optional one on one consultation with Karen

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.

Matisse Paiting of france


Writers love it here. Read on.

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. Karbohemia is far more than I could ever have imagined.

Laurie TaylorWriter, Author of The Accidental Truth

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.

2018 Participant

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 ForesterWriter, Teacher, Editor

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

Karen LynchWriter, Former Detective


Invest in Yourself.

All-inclusive Come To Your Senses Retreat

(includes meals, lodging, workshop, one-on-one consultation)


Each retreat is all-inclusive and has ten attendees, so registration is first come, first served.

  • Our basic payment structure: 1/2 when you register, 1/2 four months before your retreat begins. Deposits can be placed on a credit card or debit card through PayPal.
  • Cancellation policy: Can’t join us after all? I’ll refund your deposit with 90-day notice. With less than a 90-day notice, I’ll refund your full deposit only if we can fill your space. There will be a $25 handling fee for all cancellations.
French beach
Painted Wall

Retreat FAQs

You have questions? I have answers.
Well, to these questions, at least.

How do I get to Collioure?
The closest major airport is Barcelona (BCN). Perpignan, the closest city to Collioure is ninety minutes north by train. Some students also choose to fly into Paris (CDG) and take the train south. Perpignan is five hours south. Whether you come from Barcelona or Paris, we will pick you up in Perpignan and take you to Collioure.
​What do I need to bring?
Casual warm weather wear, with a jacket or heavy sweater just in case it gets chilly at night. Good walking shoes. Toiletries you cant live without (there are markets and pharmacies here). Swimsuit or shorts/top to swim in. Note: the beach scene is casual and inclusive here. This is a place where every body is a swimsuit body and everybody who wants to go swimming, does. Aqua socks for the smooth stones on the beach. If you have tender feet, youll want these. Sunscreen, bug spray (forget DEET, Burts Bees Natural Bug Repellant works great.) Laptop, notebook, and the accompanying chargers and adapters.
​What expenses aren't included?
Airfare and train fare. Spending money.
​What if I have a special diet?
Please let us know as soon as possible if you have a major food allergy or dietary restriction so we can talk with Chef Emily about whether it will be possible to accommodate.
Will Karen read and give feedback on my work in progress?
Yes. A one-hour private consultation with Karen is included in your retreat package. You can discuss the work youve generated during the week, or arrange with Karen to review and discuss 25 pages of your work-in-progress.
Is there wifi?
Absolutely, both in your hotel and in the workshop space.
What if I have just started writing? Is this for me?
Come to Your Senses is designed to develop and strengthen your ability to capture the real worldon the page. This is a key component of successful writing, and beginners as well as seasoned pros need to exercise this muscle. This retreat is for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in a unique environment, and write from their full human selves.
Do I have to share a hotel room?
No. All rooms are singles, with a private bath and AC.
What do I need to bring to have my devices work?
This explains everything you need to know about adapters and converters. If it all seems like too much of a nuisance, we will have power strips at the workshop space at the ready for you to charge your screens. If you need one for your hair dryer or  curling iron, youll have to make sure you have the right adapter and converter.
Do I need to speak French?
It never hurts to learn some basic French. That said, Collioure is a beloved holiday spot by the British, and most people are happy to practice their English with you.


Curly line

I also teach at the Todos Santos Writers Workshop every year.
Want to learn more? Go

Sunny retreat photos