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Chateau Le Mont Epinguet, student residence in Normandy, France
Gap year students painting during a studio art class.

Dive into the scenic beauty of rural Normandy and your chosen art form on Creative Semester – our 9-week residential arts program.

Set in a quirky 18th-century French chateau on Normandy’s historic Cotentin Peninsula, you’ll explore your passion for Film, Studio Art, Theatre, or Music through lively classes, hands-on workshops, and focused studio practice. Led by practicing artists, this unique creative community is the perfect place to build skills and develop your craft.

Ask big questions about creativity and collaborate with your peers. With Normandy as the backdrop, you’ll create work that is both personally meaningful and informed by a sense of place. From shooting a documentary about a lighthouse keeper to painting en plein air, you’ll connect with the history and stories of the Norman people and experience your own slice of French life.

Join a vibrant community guided by seasoned artists, where you can craft a portfolio showcasing your individual and collaborative projects, perfect for shaping your path towards college and career opportunities.


Gap year music student recording vocals for an original song

Spring 2025: Feb 10th - April 9th, 2025​

Cost: $17,500 USD

Inclusive of all room, board, airport transfers, tours and entrance fees.

Not included: airfare to Paris, CDG. Meals on excursion days and Paris Trip. A sample what you might need to budget for meals can be found here.

Concentrations Offered: Film, Theatre, Studio Art (Painting and Drawing) and Music.

French Language Offered: No

Language Requirement: None

Eligibility: Open to students between the ages 18 - 22.  Requires an online application and interview.


Map of Normandy, France


Gap year students visit Chateau Pirou in Normandy, France
  • Mont St Michel, a monastery over a thousand years old on a tidal island and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Paris including the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, the Pompidou Centre and Musée de l'Orangerie. 

  • D-Day Landing sites including the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach led by a WWII historian.

  • Bricquebec, a local town with a 10th century castle ruin and weekly, bustling French market.

  • Cherbourg, a port city surrounded by a Napoleonic  fort and penultimate stop of the RMS Titanic.

  • The sites of the Norman Conquest including Caen, Bayeux Cathedral and the Bayeux Tapestry.

  • Saint-Vaast-La-Hougue, a beautiful fishing village, with beaches and great fresh seafood.

  • The Nez de Jobourg, coastal cliffs rising out of the sea and the best coastal hiking in Europe.

  • Coutances and Château Fort de Pirou, an 11th century castle boasting far reaching views from its parapets.


Each student chooses one Artistic Concentration from Studio Art, Film, Theatre or Music.  Guided by professional artists, you'll build technique through a series of explorations, hands-on workshops, collaborations, and focused studio time helping you refine your unique artistic voice and build confidence in your craft. Take a look at the class descriptions here.

The program includes a range of excursions including D-Day landing sites, medieval Bayeux and Mont St. Michel—a monastery on a tidal island that has seen over a thousand years of French history. Hands-on experiences such as breadmaking, visits to local cider and cheese makers, and trips to local French markets round out your experience of Normandy.

A long weekend in Paris will explore the must-see sites and uncover some hidden gems. We’ll visit the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, Musee Rodin and Musée de l'Orangerie—home to one of the finest collections of Impressionist paintings including Monet’s waterlily murals. We spend an afternoon sketching or writing at Les Deux Magots, the cafe haunt of many great writers, and you'll have time to explore, shop or museum hop on your own.

The final week of the program brings it all together with a final showcase of work and time to reflect on the deeper insights and connections made in this unique creative community.


Gap year film students shooting their short film
  • Build creative skills with professional artists through hands-on classes.

  • Collaborate with your creative peers and work across the disciplines.

  • Visit a goat farm and learn how artisanal cheese is made using old-fashioned methods.

  • Learn to live the Norman way with good food, nature and time for reflection at the center of life.

  • Visit a 16th century windmill learning how to mill flour and bake bread in an ancient wood-fired oven.

  • Have time and space to develop projects and find your unique artistic voice.

  • Connect with nature and enjoy coastal hiking, beach combing and wooded walks.

  • Work in student teams to run your own residence and contribute to student life.

  • Learn meditation, mindfulness and other stress-reduction techniques.


Gap year studio art student painting a canvas in the art studio

This program is for anyone interested in learning new creative skills, considering creative careers and developing their artistic practice in a supportive environment. 


Consider this program if you would like to:

  • go deeper in one specific artistic discipline and develop discipline in a creative practice

  • develop your skills and knowledge of Film, Theatre, Studio Art or Music

  • see if the full-time artists life is for you

  • learn from professional artists and explore career options in the arts or creative fields

  • complete a portfolio of work for college application or career advancement

  • collaborate with fellow artists and work as part of a team or group

  • live in a beautiful part of rural France and have an experience of French life

  • build practical life skills in a supportive environment


Chateau Le Mont Epinguet, student residence in Normandy, France

The program is housed at Chateau le Mont Epinguet in Brix, France. Built in 1751 by Count Mondesir, the chateau is the highest landmark on the Normandy Cotentin Peninsula. It has housed a nephew of the Pope, a French Admiral and served as German command in WWII. In 1991, it was bought by the Berridge Family. Rooms are shared triples or quads with shared bathrooms in the hallway. Faculty, including a live-in chef, join students in residence, fostering a communal atmosphere with daily home-cooked meals.

In Paris, the program is hosted at the Maisons Internationales de la Jeunesse et des Etudiants. The MIJE in Paris offers simple, dorm-style accommodations in the heart of the Marais, about a 10-minute walk to Notre Dame.

Learn more about the MIJE

Learn more about the chateau


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