The first Summer School at Richelieu was in 2002 and Hazel was our tutor. It was by chance that we had this place, which was near perfect for us. I was talking to friend one Sunday about trying to find a place big enough to sleep 16 in comfort and with space big enough to dance in. This lady told me her partner had such a place in France and would be will to let us use it. The house was being worked on so would not meet official letting requirements but we could have it at £200 per week to cover the utilities.

We took it for 2 weeks and I charged £175 per person. The house owners were wonderful in that they put down a wooden floor in their Grand Salon so we could dance and for the number of dancers it was perfect. The house had about 15 bedrooms but some were better than others. There were enough bathrooms and loos plus most bedrooms had washbasins. There were 3 kitchens, 2 dining rooms and a huge sitting room. There were also several quiet sitting rooms, a garden and a terrace. There was a courtyard through an archway at the front that was big enough for small cars and parking at the back in the garden although opening and closing the garage door required strength or lots of manpower.

19 Grand Rue Richelieu

The big snag on this holiday was the heat. It was the summer when France had many deaths because of the heat and we were there to dance! Breakfast was at daybreak with classes starting as early as possible before the sun got round to the dancing space. We did very little in the late afternoon as it was too hot.

This was the holiday when we met Hilary from Vancouver in Canada. She came to England to attend various English based summer schools and phoned me about the HDS summer school that I was also involved with. She sounded so easy to get on with I invited her to join us as we had space and she was a great addition to the group.

We had several more Summer Schools in Richelieu and had a variety of different tutors including Lieven, Jorgen Shou-Pedersen, Barbara Segal, Dorothee Wortelboer, Anne Daye and for our last one Cait and Chris from the group Gaita. By the last one the journey was becoming a bit of a problem for some and the alterations to the house meant there were fewer bathrooms. It was a wonderful place to dance, so atmospheric and magical. Those of us who were fortunate enough to go will not forget.

From Alison