Thursday, February 16, 2023

Exhibiting at the French Travel Sketchbook Festival 'Rendez-vous du Carnet de Voyage'

My first real recollection of hearing about ‘Rendez-vous du Carnet de Voyage’ was via artist Andrea Joseph, who wrote about her experience there on social media a number of years ago. Since then I have visited twice and applied twice to exhibit. You can read about one of the trips here. Last year I was lucky enough to be selected for the show and invited to display my drawings alongside a hundred or so other artists. As well as the artist stands, there are also films, talks and demonstrations. I don’t know of any events like this in the UK and speaking to people from other European countries, it seems like a specifically French thing. I’d describe it as cross between a trade show, an art college degree show with a heathy dose of village fete thrown in, as it a lovely community feel. 

In the application process, I proposed creating a 48-page zine based on sketches that I had made during the pandemic. Entitled ‘London Greens’ it told the story of small journeys in the capital during 2020 and 2021. As well as the zine, I had to create a display and decided to make banners as they would be the easiest to transport across to France, as I would be travelling by train. 

I decided to do the layouts for the zine myself using InDesign and get it published by one of the online printing companies. I rescanned everything and cleaned up the files, resizing some as they were in a variety of sketchbooks. I used MixamUK for the printing and was pleased with the result.  I found this video on YouTube particularly useful for helping with the layout and getting it print ready – Basic Indesign for Zines and Booklets Layout Tutorial by Olivia and Pindot

Time to go!

I travelled to Clermont-Ferrand by train, taking the Eurostar from London to Paris Gard du Nord, then took the Metro across the city to Bercy to pick up the train for the final leg. It is a long journey and took all day. An alternative is to fly to Lyon and then take a train or bus to Clermont-Ferrand. 

Setting up 

I set up on Thursday, the day before the event opened. The banners were relatively quick to hang up thanks to my trusty assistant and I put the original sketchbooks in the display case provided. My zines were dropped off at the self-published sales desk as this is where they would be sold. The organisation takes 20 percent of all sales to help fund the event.

Set up complete


When I arrived just before 9am, there was already a queue forming at the venue door and the opening day was very busy! Lots of school children and college students visited and I hadn’t quite envisaged the amount of footfall. They asked lots of questions, wanted me to make drawings for them and to practice their English. In return I asked some of them to draw in my sketchbook.

I had been invited to give a talk to a group of university students between 5-6pm so I headed to one of the venue’s rooms. I’d prepared a short slide presentation about my work and process, and I answered questions from the group who were studying tourism and publishing. All in English, luckily for me!

The doors on the first day closed at 7.30pm, with an awards presentation afterwards.

With the University students


Although a lot of the visitors are people that draw, it is a big event in the local calendar so many people come along from the city and surrounding area. The event is also popular with the Urban Sketching community and I met and talked with lots of people, some of who I hadn’t met in person before. So it was really nice in that respect. I signed lots of copies of the zines and by the end of the day I had sold out of the stock which I had brought with me.

I managed a short lunch break when one of the visitors from the UK kindly came and sat in for me on the stand.

When the doors closed at 7.30pm everyone headed off to have a celebratory meal together in the city. Myself and my trusty assistant had a lovely time chatting with some of the other exhibitors and eating the local delicacy of ‘truffade,‘ a filing baked dish of potatoes and cheese.

In the catalogue


Even though the zines were sold out, I still had lots of visitors to the stand. There were more drawings to make and some people returned to show me their own sketchbooks which was lovely. It is possible to buy a weekend ticket which gives admission for all three days and if you have the time, I think it is a really good way to see the show. There is a lot to take in and it can feel a little overwhelming to do it all in one go. Some of the visitors from the Urban Sketcher community combined time at the venue with bursts of sketching nearby. Although I have to say it is very cold in Clermont-Ferrand at this time of the year! There are a few museums and galleries for indoor sketching too, including the Michelin Museum, as the company has its roots in the city.

I managed a very quick look around the other displays during the last hour of the festival. It had been so busy over the past three days that I hadn’t really had a chance to see everybody’s work properly. At 6pm the doors closed for the final time and we took the display down. That bit never seems to take as long!

Sketch of me sitting on the stand by Anne Rose Oosterbaan

By this time I was pretty exhausted and ready for a good rest before heading home the next afternoon. It was a great experience and I am so pleased the organisers accepted my application. If you are into drawing and travel, it’s a really nice event to visit.

For all the details about the festival, head to the Rendez-vous du Carnet de Voyage website

1 comment:

  1. Merci beaucoup pour vos impressions du dernier rendez-vous des carnets de voyage à Clermont Ferrand et je suis très contente d'avoir fait l'acquisition de votre merveilleux carnet London green