Loire Valley, France

Grand châteaux, rural vineyards and the dreamy Loire River

Best of Loire Valley, France

Photo Workshop with Drake Busath

Best of Loire Valley, France

Photo Workshop with Drake Busath



Loire Valley Photo Workshop

Loire Valley, France – Vineyards, Villages and Chateaux

7 days, 6 Nights      8-12 Guests     From $3650 Non-photographer partner discount!       September 15-21, 2020

A subtle and peaceful light bathes the vineyards and grand chateaux along the Loire River in central France. In addition to delicious landscapes, we’ll explore French village life, windmills and the magnificent castles that dot the historic King’s Valley Route.

We will savor the local culinary specialties and famous wines of the Loire. Loire native Marie DeForge Heiss is our host and trip manager, along with her painter-husband, Rod Heiss. They will share with us hidden places, local markets, and waterfront views difficult to find otherwise.

Randy Collier, Master Photographer, Cr., will be the instructor for this tour. Randy, co-owner of EarthLight Gallery in Park City, Utah, has over 35 years experience as a professional photographer and has instructed many Italy Workshops events. His kind, patient method of teaching and his deep knowledge of photography always draw rave reviews and returning guests.

loire valley photo tour itinerary map

Pre-Workshop: Arrive Paris airport and take train directly from CDG airport to Angers, France, ( 2.5 hours); or visit Paris for a few days before heading to Angers.

Tour Itinerary

Loire Valley Day 1 Angers Italy Photo Workshop

Day 1 | Angers

Check in at the Best Western Hotel Anjou (1 night). Join the group for a walking tour of Angers and crepes in the historic center.

Our first evening we’ll focus on photographing street scenes and creating architectural “still life” images in the old town.

Loire Valley Day 2 Italy Photo Workshop

Day 2 | L’Abbaye

Load up and travel in mini-vans.

Stop along the way at one of the charming villages in the valley, St. Rémy-La-Varenne Prieuré & Cunault Church.

Check in at Domaine de Mestré, our charming 14th century country inn (5 nights).

Pay an evening visit to world-famous Fontevraud Abbey.

Loire Valley Day 3 Italy Photo Workshop

Day 3 | Saumur

Workshop orientation in the living room.

A relaxed drive to the riverside town of Saumur with its imposing castle.

Step back in history in the remarkable  Champigny troglodyte caves.

Vineyard visits along the way to photograph and taste.

Sunset at Parnay Church with a tailgate gourmet picnic.

Loire Valley Day 4 Italy Photo Workshop

Day 4 | St. Pierre-en-Vaux

Begin the day with a sunrise shoot at St. Pierre-en-Vaux country church and cemetery.

Continue with visits to tiny Prieuré Church and the pre-historic Dolmen at La Bajoulière.

Have lunch in the caves of Rou Marson, tasting the fire-baked specialties there.

Explore more hobbit-style houses and famous cave/cellars of Loire Valley.

Last light finds us at the windmill, Moulin de Gouré or Louresse-Rochemenier.

Loire Valley Day 5 Italy Photo Workshop

Day 5 | Candes-Saint-Martin & more!

Workshop in the living room, everyone sharing some favorite images.

Visit Candes-Saint-Martin Village with its fantastic cathedral set in a charming little village.

Picnic lunch at Montsoreaux Village and Castle.

Stop to photograph a windmill set in a quiet vineyard: Moulin de la Herpinière.

Chinon Village/Fortress.

Evening shoot of Fortress/Landscape from across the river.

Loire Valley Day 6 Italy Photo Workshop

Day 6

In our workshop tradition, we’re keeping this morning open so the group can decide whether to revisit a location, explore a new one  or simply relax and the farmhouse and do some editing.

In the evening, we’ve arranged for a private dusk-shoot at Chateau Chenonceau, a rare treat without the tourist crowds.

Loire Valley Day 7 Italy Photo Workshop

Day 7 | Angers

Workshop wrap-up in the living room at the Inn and slideshow.

Check out and meander back through this serene countryside toward Angers.

We’ll find a village for lunch along the way.

Arrive at the Angers Station by 3:00 p.m. where we can help you find the train you need.

Au revoir!

The Workshop

Our curriculum has been tweaked and pruned over 18 years to offer you only the essential tools you need. We recognize that we only have a week with you… no time to impress you with our expertise or bore you with technical trivia.

Workshop Sessions

Classroom time (one-hour sessions) is devoted to reviewing your daily images on-screen and offering helpful suggestions. In the field, our discussions center around better composition and finding great light. And of course, answering your technical questions and helping you master your own equipment.

One on One Workshop Training

Randy Collier Italy Workshops

Randy Collier, M.Photog

Workshop Leader

Randy Collier, longtime instructor at Italy Workshops, will lead this workshop.  Randy is a  pro landscaper with 40 years professional experience. In addition to a great body of work in the West and in Hawaii, he has taught and photographed extensively in Italy and France.

Most recently, Randy has been partner in a photography gallery in Park City, UT, so he will be teaching the fine points of capture and editing for immaculate gallery-worthy prints.

Randy is famous for his deep knowledge of Photoshop and Lightroom and privately tutors photographers all across the US.  He is widely loved for his patience,  kindness and good humor.   More about Randy


Marie Heiss Loire Valley guide

Marie and Rod Heiss, our hosts

Local Hosts

Marie Deforge Heiss is our local host and trip manager. She was born and raised in the Loire Valley and promises to show us the very best of the region’s villages and landscapes. Marie will keep you informed at all times about our schedule, travel plans, meal options, and various other important details. More about Marie …

Artist Rod Heiss (Marie’s husband and all-around good guy) will join the group if we have have 8-10 guests.   Having Rod along means all your travel bumps are smoothed out.  Where’s the nearest cafe? ATM? Best place for lunch? He’s got you covered.

Experienced local trip managers like Marie and Rod allow the instructor to be available to you full time, instead of chasing down logistics. This is your guarantee of a safe and smooth week of learning.

Office and Registration

Italy Workshops offices are located in Salt Lake City, UT in the historic downtown mansion of Busath Studio & Gardens.  Please feel free to stop in and visit.

We are open and reachable by phone Tues-Friday 10AM to 6PM MST.  801-364-6645

Sheryl Bird handles all registrations from her office in Boston, MA.  Sheryl is reachable by email at info@italyworkshops.com

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Camera Should I Bring?

Any camera is acceptable, including smartphones. Automation for the beginner can make the trip fun and stress-free and, at times, increase creativity.

Should I Bring a Computer

Participants who are very comfortable with their computer are encouraged to bring it along. Editing your images during the week can enhance your learning experience. We currently use Adobe Lightroom CC for our on-screen reviews sessions. You will learn new LR editing methods and workflow shortcuts during classroom reviews and critique. Even if you’ve used Lightroom, we highly recommend brushing up before the workshop by watching the free tutorials available on Adobe.com.

If you are not fluent downloading and managing digital images, you might consider leaving the computer behind and just focusing on camera work. You can still submit images daily for review, and perhaps find more time to learn about your camera and develop a discerning eye. (Not to mention sleep happily while others are editing into the night)

Observer Participants may be beginner photographers, attending all instruction and field trips, but not required to submit photos for critique. This is a fun way to learn without pressure. You’ll still photograph the same things and we’ll still want to review your work on the back of your camera and offer individual instruction in the field.

All Skill Levels Are Welcome

Beginner and Intermediate Photographers

We enjoy helping you master those buttons and menus on your camera! Short, daily field lessons will tackle one technique at time. Further individual attention in the field helps you lock in the concepts.

Any camera is welcome (yes, even smartphones!).

Non-photographer partners are welcome to sit in on all discussions and participate at their own level of interest. (Beginners often make some of the best images we see!)

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“I learned as much in a week with you two as I learned in two semesters of photography classes.” Read More

-Jeri Petersen | Tuscany

Advanced Photographers

As an advanced photographer you’ll be encouraged to:

  1. Build your portfolio, adding strong images every single day of the trip.
  2. Focus on style development, lighting and composition.
  3. Work in “concentrations” to produce a collection of work suitable for a gallery showing or book project.

You will return home with a body of work suitable for a gallery showing or book project that will express your personal style, as opposed to a random collection of travel photos.

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” I was delighted to end the week with not only hundreds of excellent images but nine new friends as well.” Read More

– Jim Pierotti CRA, 30 yr. pro photographer | Tuscany

Loire Valley Photo Workshop Reviews

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“Every detail is thought of when you travel with Drake and his team! The accommodations, food, transportation, communication and tour sites were all fantastic. “ Read More

– Amy Hansen | Salt Lake City, UT

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“I felt we were truly blessed with amazing workshop staff. Drake and Joel are gifted photographers who spent every waking moment looking for good places for us to shoot as well as giving us individual attention when we were out in the field. “ Read More

-Bonnie White | Salt Lake City, UT

Loire Valley Photo Workshop Dates

Loire Valley | September 15-21, 2020

Begin and end in Angers, France*
Group Size: 6-12 People


$3650 / Participant (double occupancy)
$500 / Single Supplement
$200 non-photographer partner discount

* These trip starts and ends in Angers, France. You can arrive in any major French city, but Paris is recommended. 



Ground travel by minivan included. Starting from and returning to Angers, France.


5 nights accommodations at  Domaine de Mestré.

1 night accommodation at Best Western Hotel Anjou


All breakfasts, lunch or dinner 5 days


Workshop tuition, including instruction in the field throughout the week and on-screen review where allowed by time and hotel space.

Not Included:

  • Airfare
  • Trip insurance (recommended)

*Also not included are crowds of tourists, slow moving tour guides and lectures on the history of plague 🙂

Payment Schedule

  • A reservation fee of $500/person will hold your spot
  • The balance of payment is due 120 days prior to your workshop/tour

Hotel Rooms

We use hotels rated 3 or 4 stars, always with private bath. Rooms are assigned in order of reservations received, so early signup is recommended. Ask about premium rooms if you would like to upgrade for an additional supplement charge.

Single Private Room Supplements

Fees are based on double occupancy. Single supplement may be added for participants who wish to have a private room to themselves. Supplements vary depending on the hotels used.  If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room with another participant, please let us know and we’ll do our best to match you with a roommate.

Cancellation fee schedule 

  • There is no charge for cancellation within ten days of booking your workshop.
  • After ten days, reservation fees are non-refundable but may be applied to a future workshop event.
  • Cancellations less than 90 days prior to workshop incur a cancellation fee of 25% of the total workshop cost.
  • Cancellations less than 45 days prior to workshop incur a cancellation fee of 50% of the total workshop cost.
  • Cancellations less than 15 days prior to workshop incur a cancellation fee of 75% of the total workshop cost.
  • No partial refunds will be given for unused portions of a workshop.

Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend that you purchase travel  insurance to protect your investment.  Travel Guard is a good place to start shopping for trip insurance.  You can get a free quote online.

Cancelled Workshops

Italy Workshops reserves the right to cancel any trip for any reason whatsoever, including insufficient signup, logistical problems that may impede a workshop, hotel closures or acts of God.

Refund of all fees paid shall release Italy Workshops from any further liability. Italy Workshops is not responsible for any expenses incurred by workshop participants in preparing for a cancelled workshop. In the case of insufficient signup to make a workshop feasible, notice and refund will be sent 120 days prior to the workshop.

Photographic Release

Italy Workshops reserves the right to photograph and film its trips in entirety. Participants should be aware that images of them may be used for promotional purposes or joint marketing efforts with third parties, without remuneration.

Reserve Your Workshop Experience Today

Group sizes are extremely limited. Please reserve early.

You can reserve your spot by filling out the form below,
or by calling us at 801-364-6645

Hold My Spot

    How many people in your party?

    An invoice will be sent to your email for $500/person reservation fee.