Help an English couple with home renovations and garden in a rural town, Maubourguet, south west France



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 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks

  • Description


    We are a British couple (George & Catherine) Who bought an empty derelict property in South West France in 1996. While George continued working around the globe, Catherine moved into the house in 1998 to renovate this large impressive French home and attached buildings that had been left empty for over 40 years. Parts of the house date back to the 1700’s and were used at the time to feed and accommodate the cavalry. Then in the 1800’s the family St Martin built their Manor house and eventually attached the two buildings together. The house is now renovated to a very comfortable standard and has been brought up to date while keeping the original features. The property as a whole is enormous with over 30 rooms so requires a lot of help keeping it up. The gardens also require lots of attention and we attempt to grow our own vegetables as organicaly as possible. People with experience in growing their own vegetables would be very welcome. The house itself has really interesting history which we’d be happy to tell you more about.

    This year with covid has been particularly difficult. George left in February for a 3 week contract and a week later the airport was closed for international travel. He’s still away and may not be able to return until next year. Meanwhile while continuing alone I fell and broke my hip/femur, damaged the ligaments in my knee and have recently been relearning how to walk again. This has inevitably left me needing more help but unable to accept anyone due to my own limitations. I’m finally getting better and although I can’t yet drive can now at least cook food for you. So anyone who enjoys being helpful and needed, please get in touch.

    This is a wonderful place for nature lovers, and although we have a sleepy village at the front of the house the back opens up to the beautiful countryside and is perfect for dog walking, running, cycling and all things outdoors. Gascony is an area rich in history with little medieval villages where you can find traditional markets, at certain times of year there are also fêtes, festivals and music but please be aware this is not really a party area for those looking for nightlife.

    I (Catherine) am fluent in French, but we speak English at home. If you want to practice French or maybe improve your English, I can offer you help and encouragement as I’m TEFL qualified and our French neighbours are also very welcoming; we have French television, films & lots of books in French and English.

    We ask for 5 hours a day for 5 days a week as there’s so much to do but we are completely flexible about which days and want to make sure you have 2 days of your choice off each week to relax and maybe explore the local history and culture. We provide 3 meals per working day with plenty of food and good quality comfortable accommodation.

    We urgently need help with both cleaning and gardening. We are trying to de clutter as we want to downsize to a smaller, more manageable property. Lots of stuff needs cleaning and photographing to sell. Anyone who has a passion for cleaning is very welcome.

    Autumn is on its way and the gardens need work with pruning, general tidying, weeding and raking of leaves. I do employ a professional gardener who happily does the bulk of this work. This is physical work and requires stamina that we oldies no longer have. We have a long to do list of jobs big and small around the house or garden that we just don’t seem to have the time to get done so there is always plenty to do. We have made the difficult decision to sell our home and downsize. This involves a huge amount of clearing and selling our belongings and rearranging our home to make it more appealing to buyers. Assistance with this would be welcome.

    At the moment we could use maybe two to four people willing to work together. We have a double bedroom with king size bed for a couple and a twin room for two people willing to share. We need people who are happy to work outdoors when the weather permits. If the weather is not so kind there is general diy work inside, rearranging furniture or painting and decorating work too. You should be someone who is content to work on their own and be responsible for whatever project is given. We try to only ask for work that fits with your profile and ideally something you love doing. On that basis we only accept those people who have the relevant experience. Relevant experience would be gardening, electrical, building...

    Due to the nature of the work no families will be accepted. And ALL travelers must work the required hours.

    We have two dogs, several cats (both in and outside) so workawayers must be comfortable and experienced with animals. No allergies please! George continues to work around the world and has an unlimited number of stories for those interested, when he is here.

    We love to meet new people from around the globe and learn about other cultures. Mealtime is usually a good time to get to know each other.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    DIY and building projects
    General Maintenance
    Help around the house
    Animal Care

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Maubourguet is a small rural town/big village with 2,500 inhabitants. (that's actually quite big around here with most villages having around 200 people!) From May onwards there is usually a 'fete' each weekend somewhere in the locality. Beautiful unspoilt countryside, perfect for walking, close to the mountains if you wanted to hire a car for a weekend with the nearest large town with high street shopping being 25 mins by car. Lourdes is approximately 30 minutes drive. Any questions, please ask. I will always answer as honestly and as fully as possible. We have many friends of all nationalities and I encourage everyone to mix and to integrate. The town has many facilities such as library, mediateque, cultural events, walking club, choirs, etc., We are also on the route of The Way. St Jacques de Compostelle. And often have The Tour de France pass in front of our house. In 2018 it was on the 26th July. And we were filmed as usual (our house is unique).

  • Help


    Current projects are: renovating the original trout pools (very overgrown); constructing some sort of dry access/jetty at the old wash house to help with a natural watering system for the vegetable beds; weeding in the garden, some landscaping, re-painting the buildings; sanding and repainting shutters, painting of internal woodwork..... The list goes on.... In order to improve our home we need to look at every area and ensure that it is the best it can be.

    Our previous helpers have done a fantastic job in getting the gardens back into shape and made huge inroads into painting the outside of the property. We are looking for people interested in continuing this work. We live on our savings so have to use our brains and creativity to enjoy life and to maintain the property. We have an old stone and timber wash house butting into an irrigation canal and we need to create dry access (small jetty) from the river bank.
    Another project is to clear the three connecting fish ponds and have them working again.

    We have approximately one acre of land divided into 5 separate areas; the front garden, side garden, small orchard, vegetable plots, large walled garden and a courtyard. The bamboo needs keeping under control, the vegetable plots (raised beds) require weeding and re-planting, the front garden has been planted with trees and bushes that also require maintenance. There are fences, pergolas, paths, that require repairs or maintenance. If you have a love of and affinity with land, your ideas and assistance would be greatly appreciated. Honestly we are struggling to cope as we get older. In the past we ran a bed and breakfast business and there are reviews and photos on the usual sites. The reviews also give you an idea of who we are 😊 and who you would be sharing your time with. Previous workawayers have left their mark with several improvements around the property, such as fencing to create a support for wisteria and we always welcome creativity.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent
    French: Fluent

  • Accommodation


    Accommodation will be a comfortable bedroom, on the 2nd floor, sharing if you are travelling together, living with us in the main house. There is a large modern bathroom with a great shower for those two rooms. Being a very large property, there are a number of areas for your non working hours that you can relax in if you prefer your own space.

    We will provide bedding and towels and there’s usually some communal toiletries you can use and all your meals during work days. On days off workaways usually arrange their own meals. The weekend (free days of your choice) provides the opportunity for everyone to have time and space on their own. This is important and we do stress that we will not be providing food on these days. This is your opportunity to explore the area and enrich your cultural experience. We can loan tents and sleeping bags if you wish to walk part of the pilgrimage St Jacques des Compostelle or just explore the Pyrenees.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Money, other than for your travel here, is not really essential in this home, however a small amount of money will help you make the most of your time here as there are many places to visit including Spain which is only one hour away. Car hire is reasonable (especially if you are sharing) and Maubourguet has a host of facilities, tennis courts, bull ring (course landaise), football, rugby pitch, swimming pool during July/August etc.,
    There's horse-riding, yoga and french classes nearby and this beautiful area is perfect for meditation, walkers and cycling enthusiasts.

    You'll find hundreds of books - mostly English - and some French- and bicycles which you can borrow and you would have the use of a washing machine once a week. We have 'very slow!' wi-fi so you can check your emails.if you want faster internet you can get it free at the Internet shop in Maubourguet. We also have a piano for those who play.

    We are not vegetarians but often eat vegetarian meals. We provide plenty of home cooked food with lots of healthy vegetables. Workaways normally help with either preparation or clearing up and I’m happy for the help while I cook the meals. Read the reviews as the food always gets a mention!

    Unfortunately, we can't accommodate special diets such as gluten free or vegan. Vegetarian is fine but we have limited resources for alternative foods as we're living in a remote part of France.

    We ensure you have comfortable, clean accommodation but do ask you to please leave your room and bathroom as you find it so it's nice for the next workaway or guest.

    (Please note: This is a non-smoking house but we do provide one room where smoking is permitted).

    It is important to me that anyone genuinely interested in helping will have read all of the profile.

    Internet access
    Limited internet access

    We have pets

    How many Workawayers can
    More than two

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities
    We always try to help workaways fulfill their interests and we hope that it's a mutually enriching experience chez-nous...we're happy to take you to the local markets and show you our local town. We have lots of information about places and events here. There is a bus stop in maubourguet if you want to explore the area further afield. In summer we have lots of village fetes often with live music and everyone can enjoy the beautiful warm evenings relaxing.

    Hours expected
    25 per week

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  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    We have ADSL in the town although they are working on bringing fibre. This is however resulting in some disturbances when the work is local.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    5 hours a day for five day's a week

Host ref number: 17677834974a