Provence Vacation Workshop with Alex Hillkurtz

April 22-26, 2024

From our home base in Avignon we will visit and sketch some of the gorgeous hilltop villages of Provence, France: Gordes, Roussillon, Menerbes, Bonnieux, St. Remy and of course, Aix-en-Provence. We will walk in the footsteps of Van Gogh and Cezanne, visit an abbey surrounded by lavender fields and check out the crumbling remains of the home of the Marquis de Sade. In April, the average daytime high-temperature is 20°C (68°F), and the average nighttime low-temperature is 7°C (44.6°F). Because this workshop will involve some walking up and down hill as we are exploring hilltop villages, a basic level of fitness is required (and sensible shoes). 

Meet your Instructor Alex Hillkurtz


Alex Hillkurtz was born in England and grew up in California, where he was an award-winning film student at Chapman University. After graduating with a BA in Film Production, he established himself as a successful illustrator and storyboard artist in Hollywood. Currently living in Paris, Alex has turned his focus to a career as a watercolor artist. Alex uses the language of cinema to inform his images, moving beyond what is most obvious, and focusing the viewer’s eye on what he wants them to see. Alex has exhibited his work in Europe, the United States, and Russia. He is a member of the National Watercolor Society (USA), the California Watercolor Association, and a member of French Plein Air Painters, and USK Paris. He conducts regular online and in-person workshops and masterclasses on watercolor painting and sketching. Follow Alex on Instagram.

Arrive Monday April 22, 2024

Welcome to Avignon! Workshop participants who arrive early are invited to meet in the hotel lobby at 2:00 for a warm up sketch (optional). All tour participants are invited to a welcome reception at 6pm. Meet in the lobby at 5:45.

Day 1 Avignon

Monday April 22, 2024

In the morning we will make our way through the winding streets in the historical centre of Avignon as we walk to the location of Workshop #1. 

After lunch we will visit the Palais des Papes and we will dance sur le pont d'Avignon! Bien sur! 

Day 2 Roussillon + Gordes

Tuesday April 23, 2024

Today is our first excursion south to the gorgeous hilltop village of Gordes where we will stop briefly to explore the colourful Tuesday morning market. Then on to Roussillon, a town built atop deposits of ochre that was used to paint so many of the buildings. Here Alex will teach Workshop #2. 

Afterwards we will visit an ochre factory to learn more about how this pigment is made.


Day 3 Aix-en-Provence

Wednesday April 24, 2024

Today we will spend the day in leafy Aix-en-provence, the "city of 1000 fountains". Here we will stroll Cours Mirabeau and see how many hot spring fountains we can spot on our way to where Alex will teach Workshop #3.

After lunch we will follow the bronze medallions embedded in the sidewalks that will lead us to the studio of Cezanne. 


Day 4 Menerbes + Bonnieux

Thursday April 25, 2024

Today we will visit picturesque Bonnieux, a hilltop village in the Luberon mountains. Here Alex will teach Workshop #4

In the afternoon we will visit the picturesque narrow streets of beautiful Menerbes stopping for a wine tasting and a visit to the Corkscrew Museum. 

Day 5 Saint-Rémy + Glanum

Friday April 26, 2024

On our final day we will visit nearby Saint-Rémy where Alex will teach Workshop #5. After lunch we will visit the Monastery of Saint-Paul de Mausole where Van Gogh stayed for one year after he cut off his ear. On the way home we will stop in at Glanum the Archeological site where can be found the ruins of a Gallic city steeped in Greek and Roman influences built in the 2nd century BC 

In the evening we will celebrate an amazing week with a farewell dinner (included).


Saturday April 27, 2024

It's time to say goodbye but you will never forget the friends you made or the skills you learned during this great week! Or extend your stay for a long relaxing holiday!  

Recommended Workshop Supply List

For a complete workshop supply list, click HERE.


Click HERE for answers to frequently asked questions.

For more information about the workshops content contact Alex at

For more information about this vacation package contact Brenda Murray 


Tour Includes

  • A welcome reception
  • All art classes
  • 4 full-day excursions via coach to: Gordes + Roussillon, Menerbes + Bonnieux, Aix-en-Provence and Saint-Rémy 
  • Admission to the the studio of Cezanne, the Monastery of Saint-Paul de Mausole, a wine tasting at a vineyard, and the Glanum Archeological site.
  • Farewell dinner

Tour Excludes

  • Flights to/from
  • connecting transportation to/from airport
  • Hotel
  • Meals (except those listed above)
  • Painting supplies
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Porterage/luggage handling
  • Travel insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Items not explicitly specified in the inclusion list

Early Bird Prices in USD. Book now before Nov 24, 2023 and save $200!

Cost in USD

$1960.USD  $1760.USD Workshop Participant

$1360.USD NonSketcher Companion (such as partner or travelling buddy)

NonWorkshop Participant tickets include the same attractions and meals as the Workshop Participants with the exception of the art classes.

To reserve your spot in this workshop a $500 nonrefundable deposit is required for Workshop Participants and a $300 nonrefundable deposit is required for nonWorkshop Participants is due 150 days before the start of the workshop. The remaining balance is due 120 days before the start of the workshop.

To make a deposit, please scroll to the bottom and click BOOK NOW.



The official hotel of this tour is the the Hotel de l'Horloge, Place de L'Horloge, 1 Rue Félicien David, Avignon. This hotel is located in the city center just steps from the Pont d'Avignon and the Palais des Papes. Cancellation policy is free of charge until D-48 hours prior to arrival.  A very reasonable group room rate has been negotiated (131€ to 196€/night) depending on room type plus city tax including breakfast.

How to Make A Hotel Reservation

Before making a hotel reservation, the first step is to register for this workshop by clicking the BOOK NOW button below.

After you have registered for this workshop the link to make a reservation will be sent to you. We advise you to make your reservation right away as the hotel's very generous cancellation policy is free of charge until D-48 hours prior to arrival.

Workshop participants are not obliged to stay in this hotel. You are welcome to stay in another hotel or Airbnb if you prefer. However, if you are interested in staying in this hotel we advise you to book asap because the hotel will not hold rooms indefinitely and they have a generous D-48 hour cancellation policy.

Practical Tips

Participants will need to fly into either Paris or Marseille and take a train from there. If flying into Paris, the TGV train leaves from Gare de Lyon. If flying into Marseille, the train leaves from Vitrolles Marseille Airport. Trains can be booked either HERE or HERE.

Travel + Medical Insurance

Travel insurance is also highly recommended as it covers you in the event you must cancel your trip and it covers emergency medical services which may be significantly more expensive than expected when travelling in a foreign country. Please check with your insurance provider. Click HERE for a list of US insurance providers. Some credit card companies may also offer travel insurance if you paid for your trip with that card.

Covid-19 Vaccinations

The instructor and tour manager are fully vaccinated against covid-19. This tour will be following all locally recommended protocols. Please check the covid protocols required for France by clicking HERE and check back close to the date of departure as the protocols may change. 

Your Tour Manager

Participants will be accompanied by Studio 56 owner, Brenda Murray. Brenda is a Canadian artist and arts advocate, the founder of Urban Sketchers Waterloo Region and a former Urban Sketchers Board member. A seasoned traveler, Brenda has traveled to Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea (resident for 4 years), Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, UK, and the USA (35 states). Brenda will be on hand to assist the instructor and to ensure that everything runs smoothly. She has completed the St. John's Ambulance Emergency First Aid - CPR C - AED training.  Learn more about Brenda HERE. 

For More Information

Email or call Brenda Murray at 519-572-1757.

How to Register for this Workshop

To reserve your spot in this exciting vacation workshop, please click the BOOK NOW button below to make a deposit.