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Artist's retreats

The Croft Magazine // Daisy Game tours some of the world's most creative destinations - and tells us who they got their artistic reputations from.

By Daisy Game, Travel Editor

The Croft Magazine // Daisy Game tours some of the world's most creative destinations - and tells us who they got their artistic reputations from.

Where: Hydra
Who: Leonard Cohen

Slow living is the name of the game on this sun-and-star soaked isle. Cars, scooters, and buses are an absolute no-go : a troop of port-side donkeys await the bag laden visitor. A fan of Hydra’s let’s-do-something-by-doing-nothing attitude, Leonard Cohen spent many a beach-bronzed year kicking about the island. Leonard dihard? It’s no chore to follow in the singer-songwriter’s footsteps - many happy hours can be spent hiking the island  (which clocks in at a wee 50km squared) in search of a rocky beach or cool pew of one of Hydra’s stone monasteries. And in the evening? Sip on some chilled Ouzo, pick at a bowl of olives - and keep an eye out for the ghost of Cohen: last seen singing with the donkeys...

Pottering through the olive groves in Greece | Epigram / Daisy Game

Where: City Lights Bookstore and Publishers, San Francisco
Who: Alan Ginsberg

Whilst the Beat writers may have found their footing in Greenwich Village NYC, this bunch of disenfranchised youths (Diana Di Prima, Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac etc) also spent time in the land of ‘no cultural advantage’ (!) : kicking the sidewalks of Los Angeles and San Francisco. A little grungy and anti-establishment-y, SF’s City Lights was an early Ginsberg backer – stepping in to publish the poet’s now-considered-seminal work, Howl. Today, the bookstore is still swaying to the rhythm of the written word, inviting visitors to indulge in both its history with the Beats, and in its present as a still-up-and-running seller. Calling all  ‘angel headed hipsters’ out there - this is the one for you.

Where: Charleston, Sussex
Who: Bloomsbury Set

Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant -  during the second world war years, the infamous clique retreated to the sisters’ Sussex farmhouse. It wasn’t anything luxurious – winters were notoriously icey, and there was no hot water to thaw sketching/writing fingers – but the creative-crew proceeded to transform their new home into an artist's wonderland. Walls were covered top to bottom with painted murals, furniture covered in velvet and roses trained to climb the garden trellis: it’s all pretty fabulous. Today, Charleston is open to visitors and hosts an annual Literary Festival  -  it’s surely the dream destination for any budding Bloomsbury enthusiasts.

Where: Aix En Provence
Who: Paul Cezanne

Fruit bowls, tree lined avenues and hot, hazy French houses : father of post-impressionist painting (...discuss) Paul Cezanne found inspiration in his home town of Aix. You can visit the ‘atelier de cezanne’ – where the painter worked from 1902 until his death four years late - and play an immersive game of spot the difference : lavender, crickets, shaded coffee tables, cobbled streets, warm red wine ... if you can spot it, Cezanne probably painted it.

The streets of Southern France | Epigram / Sophia Choudhury

Where: Shakespeare and Co.,  Paris
Who: everyone?!

Established in 1920 by one Silvia Beach, Shakespeare and Co might just be The Ultimate in creatively conscious retreats. Acting as a kind of unofficial ‘Salon’ through the 20’s and 30’s, Beach’s store hosted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and James Joyce (yes, really!) The spirit of Beach’s hospitality lives on through (now in its second, relocated guise) Shakespeare and Co’s Tumbleweed Programme : in exchange for a few hours work in the shop, aspiring writers are welcome to tuck themselves into beds-amongst-the-bookshelves, and sleep in the shop free of charge. To think that a place like this exists is - in my humble and forever bookish opinion – proof of magic in the world.

Featured Image: Epigram / Daisy Game