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We are a small family: James and Sophie and young son Guilhem, living in a late-medieval/early-Renaissance Chateau in the South of France. We speak French and English.
The chateau is located in a small village in a beautiful part of the South of France with gorgeous views and walks. We have been renovating it since 1997.
The area is interesting historically and for its natural beauty. Volunteers have helped with the herb garden, building, landscaping, renovation and also generally helping with the running of things. We very much appreciate their work and their company. We usually take half the meals together and volunteers have their own space nearby to give them some space to hang out and us some family time. We have two dogs very cool sweet standard poodles and now two cats as well.
James runs historic tours of the region, focused on the Cathars. Helping look after visitors and prepare events is much appreciated.
We have very comfortable volunteer accommodation. It is important that volunteers keep the common spaces absolutely immaculate, cleaning bath, tidy bathroom and kitchen washed up dishes etc.
We have gloves but you will need hat and if you really want to get in to the stone work some proper work boots.
We speak French and English.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Help with Computers / internet
You will learn about organic gardening, ancient building techniques, tourist business, cooking. Lots of people say that their English has improved while here.
Part of the benefit of travelling is the opportunity to meet other travellers - we sometimes have five or six at a time. Many travellers to this region decide to settle permanently.
There is also lots to learn about - the area has a spectacular and unexpected history. There's also French and Occitan, Lots of local food specialities and exceptional wines.
Some areas where help is needed, in no particular order.
Gardening. We try to produce as much organic food - vegetable, fruit, nuts, herbs - as we can ourselves. The garden is about half completed so needs lot of work including landscaping, planting, pruning, weeding, watering, creating compost and routine maintenance.
Cooking / Housework / Childcare / Shopping / Helping organise events.
Stonework, using lime. We use lime, not cement, to rebuild walls mainly around the garden. We need help with wall building, restoration and pointing / re-pointing. The work varies from being relatively unskilled for those learning the basics to more challenging for the talented and experienced.
Stonemasons - trainee or retired are particularly welcome.
Repairs & Maintenance. We have lots of odd jobs - repairing tools & equipment, Fixing broken odds & ends. Even helping with the occasional experiment.
Teaching. We have an eight year old son, and would like him to learn things that we can't teach ourselves - eg Spanish, music, painting .... or anything interesting.
Marketing. We are looking for good marketing ideas for the Association that supports the renovation of some of the urgent repair work on the chateau.
Painters. We have a range of art needed from a mural of a garden, to pictures of the Chateau and heraldic artwork.
Internet. We have unusual internet requirements because the walls are so thick there has to be a router in each room. We have tried and failed to establish a single network which works seamlessly as equipment passes from one room to another. Implementing a full working solution counts as a full week's work! (Not nearly as easy as it sounds).
Engineering passive overflow from water reservoir to the pond
Leaded glass workers
Dealing with French Functionaires!
Help in 2017. The year started with Melchior creating three new raised herb-beds on the lower East terrace by filling in earth and sand. We are now building three more raised beds by constructing stone walls in geometric forms. As at February 2017 we are preparing the ground by digging it over and levelling it, and then we will start with geometry, planning the line of the walls.
The accommodation is a sunny comfortable three bedroom house, with WIFI, next to the Chateau in a small village. The kitchen is shared and strictly kept tidy and clean. There are lots of good places to sit out doors. Parking is not a problem. There is a collection of bicycles available. There are two market towns about 15 minutes cycle away.
The countryside here is spectacular. There are lots of walks - thousands of miles of walking tracks + cycling & riding tracks. We are within sight, and easy walking distance of Rennes-le-Chateau. Carcassonne is less than an hour away by car.
There are many castles to visit nearby, including Carthar Castles. Also Abbeys, ancient towns & cities. The coast is an hours;s drive away, and the Pyrenees even closer.
Local sports include swimming, sailing, climbing, fishing, canyoning, kayaking & canoeing, paragliding, skiing.
There is lots of out door space to hang out and enjoy being in such a beautiful place.
We have a bicycles available for volunteers to use.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
25 hours a week