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Writing in Paris

Dates for 2014

Memoir Writing in Paris 2014 is booked out. Call us on 02 9929 0088
to go on standby.

Arrival: Thursday 23 October 2014
Departure: Saturday 8 November 2014

The itinerary for 2014 is now available. Please register your interest below and we will send you an itinerary.

Imagine living in an apartment in Paris. You’ll be learning the art of writing in the mornings from Australia’s best memoir writing mentor, Patti Miller. In the afternoon, you’ll explore the streets of this amazing city, soak up the Parisian atmosphere, people watch in the cafes, sample delicious French cuisine and check out gorgeous shops and attractions. Welcome to the Australian Writers’ Centre’s study tour, Memoir Writing in Paris.

Writing memoir in Paris - it is early autumn, the traditional season of memory and reflection, the light and leaves are golden, the cafes buzz with discussion - and your heart and mind sing with the richness of history, beauty and pleasure as you step out of your own apartment on the way to writing class.

Here is the city made for and by writers, revolutionaries, poets, philosophers, painters – the city of imagination, memory and art. Here indeed is the birthplace of modern memoir where the philosopher Rousseau wrote his autobiography, Confessions. Join us for this memoir intensive to immerse yourself in ideas, beauty and writing for 17 days in the city of light.

This is 17 days that could change your life.

A Writing Course

This writing sojourn is centred on a series of eight half-day classes with Australia’s leading teacher of memoir, Patti Miller. The classes run from 10am to 1pm, Monday to Thursday each week, the equivalent of two courses (12 weeks) at the Australian Writers’ Centre. This course offers a deep immersion in the ideas, techniques and practice of writing memoir and has been designed to extend and enrich all levels of experience.

Each day will follow a rhythmic pattern with classes in the morning, including a coffee break with treats from the local boulangerie. In class we will cover such topics as Beginning Again, Original Memory, Texture and Detail, the Narrator, Narrative Structure, the Difficulties of Truth Telling, Organising your Material, Structural Trouble-shooting, the Borderlands with Fiction, Travel Memoir, and many other writing issues. The course is shaped around the writing text, The Memoir Book, with a booklet of extra Readings provided.

Also included is a one-hour individual writing consultation with your writing guide, Patti Miller. During this time you can discuss your personal writing issues in depth without interruption. This is an invaluable opportunity to sort through and solve those writing blocks – and all in the unique ambience of a Parisian café. Then the afternoons are free for your own writing – or exploring the delights of Paris.

A Literary feast

Writing is enriched by the experience of a literary culture and so this sojourn also offers a range of literary experiences:

  • A carefully selected and thought-provoking reading list will be provided well before your departure date to inspire you in exciting literary directions.
  • A comprehensive lecture on French literature will be given before the writing course begins. You will be introduced not just to Zola and Balzac, but Colette and Duras and Houellebecq and many more.
  • A literary ramble with notes will be prepared, so that you can wander the streets noting where Victor Hugo lived and where Jean Rhys recovered after a night in Montmartre and where Henry Miller found his inspiration.
  • A literary ‘soirée’ at one of the English bookshops in Paris is on the schedule as it’s always a great way to have your finger on the writing pulse. You can listen to readings and ask questions of a leading contemporary writer in the intimate atmosphere of the Village Voice or Shakespeare’s bookshop.
  • And, most importantly, our cafes and restaurants have been chosen for their literary and artistic significance as well as their fine food and wine. We can drink with Hemingway’s ghost or have coffee with Sartre and de Beauvoir or enjoy the company of hundreds of other memoirists, poets, novelists and playwrights who have made Paris their home over the centuries.

The Writer’s Life in Parisian Apartment

One of the most exciting and original aspects of this sojourn is that you will be living the writing life in an individual and authentic Parisian apartment, not in a tourist hotel. You will have the thrill of getting to know your own boulanger as you buy your croissants and baguette for breakfast, make your way to class in the morning along rues bustling with life, join new friends from class for lunch in a local café, visit the Pompidou Centre or the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay in the afternoon, and meet your fellow writers for a glass of wine at a writers’ haunt in the evening, then go on to dinner or a concert at the Opera or a jazz club – or return to your apartment and write!

We have selected a variety of apartments each within one of the fascinating arrondissements (localities) of central Paris. All will be within either a walk or easy Metro or bus ride of the class venue. Each one is privately owned so each varies in size and style, and has its own charm and appeal. Furnishings and equipment are of good quality and everything necessary is supplied including sheets and towels, which are changed once a week.

Each participant has their own door key to come and go as they please. The apartments will contain a welcome pack of basic food requirements when you arrive. While the Australian Writers' Centre will try to oblige a preference for a locality, for logistical reasons we must reserve the right to allocate apartments.

There are three possible apartment arrangements (costs vary):
• Twin share – sharing an apartment and twin beds in one bedroom
• Share – sharing an apartment with your own bedroom
• Single – an apartment to yourself

Because the experience of living as a writer in Paris is the heart of this sojourn, we will give all the information you will need to be independent and confident in finding your way to class, using the Metro, doing your own food shopping – at exciting street markets, if you wish – and making your own discoveries of Paris.

We offer suggestions for interesting walks around Paris and how to find out what is on and where.

We also offer a choice between two optional tours – either an Insiders’ Walking Tour of a particular locality in Paris, or a trip to Chartres, a medieval town with one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Europe. You can decide on which tours, if either, you want to go on, when you are in Paris. We will also have some group meals – lunches and dinners – in specially chosen Belle Èpoque brasseries or restaurants.

VIDEO: Patti Miller talking about Writing in Paris

Your Paris guides

Patti Miller is your tour director and writing teacher. She is the author of the best-selling Writing Your Life, the most popular text for life writing in Australia, as well as The Last One Who Remembers, Child, Whatever The Gods Do and The Memoir Book. Her latest book, The Mind of a Thief, was released in April 2012.

Many of her personal essays and articles have been published in literary magazines and Good Weekend and other national publications. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in writing from UTS. and has 20 years' teaching experience in universities and writers’ centres around Australia and in Fiji and Paris. She spent a year, 2003-2004, writing in Paris and is thus familiar with the joys and rewards it offers. To find out more about Patti’s writing and teaching visit

Martine Hamel is your tour manager. Martine is a born and bred Parisienne, but lived in the USA for a number of years. She speaks fluent English as well as French, of course, and is experienced at welcoming visitors to her beloved city. She has worked in vacation rentals for many years and knows how to help you find your feet in Paris. She also knows the history and culture of Paris intimately and has a great love and knowledge of English, French and Italian literature.

Past participants

Former participant Pamela Bradley went to learn Writing in Paris with Patti
Miller a few years ago. Last year, the journey she started in her Parisian apartment, culminated in the release of her book Nefertiti Street.

Patti has also helped 20 other writers turn their life stories into successful commercial books. These include: Jenny Kee’s A Big Life; Annarosa
Berman’s Sex at Six O’Clock; Kate Shayler’s The Long Way Home and
Caroline Jones’ An Authentic Life.

For reviews of Writing in Paris see the links below:

Please note: bookings paid by credit card will attract a small credit card processing fee.

More information

To download the course itinerary, including information about costs and accommodation, please complete this form.

Privacy Policy: We will never sell or distribute your personal details. Any details collected will only be used by the Australian Writers' Centre to notify you of relevant course information.

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"I was in Paris! Oh my, if ever I am lost for words… I miss it already – the country, the people, new friends. It was such a beautiful experience all round and I highly recommend it to those who may be considering. Although I was extremely nervous, all my fears were left behind when my feet landed in Paris and we ladies met up for welcome drinks."
- Jane Gilvear

"Patti created a classroom that was intimate and safe. It was a pleasure to catch the Metro to Patti's place everyday. It gave me time to create my creativity and to experience things from my normal life, see with fresh eyes and hear with new ears. This is what makes this Paris trip unique, we have an opportunity to move around Paris. This could not be achieved with students congregated in a hotel. All students were able to experience Paris in their own way. I found the writing course extremely useful. It has opened up my heart to new things. The whole experience was exceptional!"

- Therese Mullins

"I feel that I got 150% out of each day in Paris. I find it frustrating that words cannot express the reality of being in Paris at the workshop. The experiences and opportunities were beyond words."

- Tilly Brasch

"A wonderful two weeks – the company, the learning, the wonderful neighbourhoods with stylish clothes, delicious food and good coffee. So much inspiration. Thank you for Paris and for each other."

- Lauren Eyles

"An inspiring motivating two weeks. In many ways it has been a life-changing experience. Most definitely writing-changing."

- Veronica Rose

"The biggest thanks to Patti, Vicky and the Australian Writers’ Centre for crafting the course and tour and allowing our group to experience briefly what it is to live a life of art, the life of a writer (something a few of us would not have had the courage to call ourselves), in Paris most of all."
- Odette Subijano

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