Looking for a Summer Program? Explore our 2024 Guide to Summer Programs!

    Creative Gap Semester in France: Berridge Programs

    Creative Gap Semester in France: Berridge Programs


    • Listing Type: Gap Year Programs
    • Program Delivery: Residential
    • Destinations: France
    • Program Length: Two Months, Semester
    • Start Month: January, September
    • Category: Performing & Visual Arts
    • Selective: No
    • Gender: Coed
    • Ages: 18, 19+, 19
    • Housing: Other
    • Affiliation: Gap Year Association
    • Financial Aid: Grants/Scholarships, Payment Terms
    • Minimum Cost: $10,000 - $20,000
    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • Twitter
    Write a Review


    Welcome to Berridge!

    Berridge Creative Semester is a unique opportunity to live in a creative community led by professional artists. Based in an 18th-century chateau in Normandy, France, Creative Semester offers a blend of guided excursions, cultural experiences, artistic workshops and hands-on classes in Filmmaking, Writing, Studio Art, Theatre and Music.


    Dive into the scenic beauty of rural Normandy and your chosen art form on Creative Semester – our 9-week residential arts program.


    Set in a quirky 18th-century French chateau on Normandy’s historic Cotentin Peninsula, you’ll explore your passion for Film, Studio Art, Theatre, or Music through lively classes, hands-on workshops, and focused studio practice. Led by practicing artists, this unique creative community is the perfect place to build skills and develop your craft.

    The Arts at Creative Semester

    Each student chooses one Artistic Concentration from Studio Art, Film, Theatre or Music.  Guided by professional artists, you'll build technique through a series of explorations, hands-on workshops, collaborations, and focused studio time helping you refine your unique artistic voice and build confidence in your craft.

    Faculty at Creative Semester

    Our faculty bring with them decades of experience as industry professionals. The faculty at Creative Semester are all working, professional artists who take time out from thriving creative careers to teach and mentor on the program. Learn from them first hand as you build skills, work on personal creative projects and collaborate with your peers. 

    Residential Life at Creative Semester

    The program is housed at Chateau le Mont Epinguet in Brix, France. Built in 1751 by Count Mondesir, the chateau is the highest landmark on the Normandy Cotentin Peninsula. It has housed a nephew of the Pope, a French Admiral and served as German command in WWII. In 1991, it was bought by the Berridge Family. Rooms are shared triples or quads with shared bathrooms in the hallway. Faculty, including a live-in chef, join students in residence, fostering a communal atmosphere with daily home-cooked meals.

    Excursions and Experiences

    The program includes a range of excursions including D-Day landing sites, medieval Bayeux and Mont St. Michel—a monastery on a tidal island that has seen over a thousand years of French history. Hands-on experiences such as breadmaking, visits to local cider and cheese makers, and trips to local French markets round out your experience of Normandy.

    Program Highlights and Excursions

    Some of the places you will go include:

    • Mont St Michel, s 900-year-old monetary on a tidal island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
    • Paris on our 4-day artist insiders tour which includes all the key sites and many hidden gems
    • D-Day Landing sites with a WWII historian including the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach 
    • Bricquebec, a local village with a 14th century castle ruin and weekly, bustling French market
    • Cherbourg, a port city surrounded by a Napoleonic  fort and penultimate stop of the HMS Titanic
    • Bayeux and the story of the Norman conquest including Caen, Bayeux Cathedral, the Bayeux tapestry 
    • Château des Ravalet, an 16th century chateau with a dark history surrounded by world-famous gardens
    • The Nez de Jobourg, coastal cliffs rising 128 metres out of the sea and the best coastal hiking in Europe
    • Coutances and Château Fort de Pirou, an 11th century castle boasting far reaching views from the parapets
    • Granville, a costal town and home to the Musee Christian Dior

    Some of the things you will do include:

    • A three-day Narrative Storytelling workshop to develop your writing and listening skills
    • Build creative skills with professional artists including Filmmaking, Music, Acting and Studio Art (Painting, Drawing, Photography)
    • Learn to live the Norman way with good food, nature and time for reflection at the center of life
    • Have time and space to work on artistic projects for portfolio use and personal growth
    • Work in student teams to run our residence, organize activities and contribute to student life

    Paris Trip

    The program includes a 4-day trip to Paris hitting the must-see sites and exploring some hidden gems. Our Paris trip includes the Eiffel Tower, Seine River Cruise, Notre Dame, Arc du Triomphe and Sacre Coeur. We’ll also explore some hidden gems such as the famous English bookstore Shakespeare and Co, Musee Rodin and Musée de l'Orangerie which houses one of the finest collections of Impressionist paintings including Monet’s waterlily murals. We'll spend an afternoon sketching or writing at Les Deux Magots, the cafe haunt of many great writers and you'll have time to explore, shop or museum hop on your own. 

    Discover where your creativity can take you!

    Immerse yourself in French history and culture while developing your creativity, and discovering opportunities for personal growth.  Creative Semester welcomes artists of all levels of experience and the program is taught entirely in English with opportunities to practice French language. Connect with artists from around the world, cultivate new artistic perspectives and discover where your creativity can take you on your gap year!


    • There is too much to write about this program. To say it's magic and changed my life would be true, even if it's hard to believe. I spent six summers with Berridge as a student in Normany, France. The staff is amazing. They are wise, patient, and funny. I learned so much as an actor. What is special about the work at Berridge is that it's not one-size-fits-all. They are passionate about developing who you are as an actor, specifically. The food is amazing!! Fresh bread from the local bakery every morning and a chef cooks all the meals in the evening. They cater to every dietary preference- vegan, gluten-free, etc. And delicious! The outings and explorations were awesome--filming around the historic chateau grounds and visiting medieval towns in the area. It is also the ultimate safe space and you are surrounded by beautiful nature. I can't recommend this program enough. It lets you be who you are as a student, and as a person. 'You are enough.' I have made lifelong friends from this program who have become significant creative collaborators, and who feel like family. If you are looking through and deciding which place to spend a month of your life, or several, this is the place.

      - Katie Royer - April 7, 2022
    • If you are looking for an experience that will completely change your life and give you the tools to succeed in the film or theatre industry, Berridge is the right place for you. Back in 2016, I came back with a my first short film, countless memories, and a family across the globe. Now I am a globally awarded full-time filmmaker and owe it all to Berridge. First of all, the staff are very approachable and friendly. They feel less like teachers and more like mentors. They will share their real life experiences, then listen to students and create an adjusted experience tailored to their goals and learning style. If you stay in contact with them after the program you might even end up collaborating with them or get more networking opportunities! It is truly an incredible opportunity. The classes are not really classes. I would consider them either real life experience scenarios or workshops. It doesn't feel like a hassle to get up and go to class because it's very much a hands-on experience. In the film aspect for example, we get a crash course on filmmaking and by the end of the first week, we're already working on our films. Going out and testing equipment, talking about actual real world stuff. Things you only see in the field. We learn what they don't teach you in class. I have shot hundreds of projects after my short film shot at Berridge, some of them getting into very rigorous film festivals, but my mom still thinks that my Berridge film is her favorite. That's how good the production was. Shoutout to Brian. The Chateau is just magical. Not only does it look and feel like something straight from a fairy-tale, but it stops time. The reason I come back every year is because it literally feels like it stops time. You are in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to worry about, no deadlines, no gossip, no problems at home. You're at peace. I love walking around the house in the middle of the day and seeing people dancing or singing while I serve my cup of tea. Picture High School Musical but in a castle and not annoying. This is what I picture heaven looking like. No joke.

      - Ramiro Cantu - June 2, 2022