We are a young(ish!) Anglo-French couple renovating a château in Ardèche, France with the vision of creating a retreat centre. The chateau is a medieval beast of a building set in 130acres of mostly forest in one of France’s least visited areas (even by French people!)
Set in a picturesque valley at the start of the Mountains of Ardèche, there are fantastic views all the way to the Alps. Aside from the copious amount of wildlife that visits us from the forest, whether nightingales singing us to sleep or wild boar rummaging in the garden, we have a lot of different birds... geese, chickens, peacocks, turkeys, parakeets, budgies, pigeons... These are prominent members of the family!
We have a lot of professionals working on the main renovations but we try to do as much as we can ourselves, and we would love to have some volunteers to help with the daily running of this immense building and gardens and land, as well as renovation projects. This would help us to actually move forward with the realisation of our dream. We are an easygoing couple who lead a simple life and enjoy sharing this with others.
We're very sorry but we cannot accept children or dogs at the moment.
Cooking / shopping
Help in the house
Help with Computers / internet
You will get to live in a medieval French castle with hundreds of crazy stories attached to it. You’ll be able to speak French or English with us if you wish to practice either language. The whole area is remote and culturally traditional, with incredibly friendly people so if you want to truly immerse yourself in local French culture it’s perfect. We also play music and have several instruments including a piano if you enjoy playing or always wanted to try. We have many different interests and areas of expertise, from botany to archaeology, wine to music, and we are happy to share this with you.
We are looking for volunteers who are flexible and willing to help out with a wide variety of tasks - basically to add another pair of hands to the things we do ourselves. On any given day this could mean feeding the chickens, clearing paths in the forest, watering the garden, helping with basic DIY tasks in the house or outdoors, or helping to move furniture. We would particularly like volunteers who are able to handle medium-heavy physical work.
There are a lot of organisational tasks to be done - like sorting out a garage or some storage, or moving and arranging furniture.
If you have particular skills like stone masonry, carpentry, plastering or construction then we will be very happy to put you onto projects involving your skill rather than general maintenance.
There are no children to look after and you will not be asked to use any dangerous machinery or do anything skilled that you’re not trained to do!
If you are particularly keen on cooking then please let us know because this is an area we struggle with when we have lots of volunteers and having somebody who is ready and willing to cook varied, nutritious meals for us all would be greatly appreciated.
We will always try to match you to tasks that you actually enjoy, but we would like people to be willing to do mundane tasks as well as the more interesting ones! We believe in being crystal clear about what we expect of volunteers and what they can expect in return. Please don't take this as a sign of rigidity - far from it - we just want to make sure you have the full picture before you arrive, so there are no misunderstandings!
You will sleep in a cosy, fully renovated room and will share a bathroom with us and anybody else who is staying here.
When you are at the chateau we would expect to mostly eat together and share the cooking and clearing up (we’ll buy the food!) We would therefore like to find somebody familiar with at least basic cooking and who is flexible in their diet. There will be space to store any extra food you want to have on hand, in the fridge or pantry. You can of course use the kitchen whenever you like and tea and coffee are always available. We are not vegetarian but do not eat meat every meal or even every day. We try to eat simply and healthily and we love cooking styles from all around the world.
Internet in the château is quite poor and doesn’t always reach your bedroom so we ask that downloading is limited and that you don't stream audio or videos for long periods of time when others might be on the internet. However 4g signal is good so if you have plenty of data this works well.
The countryside of northern Ardèche is remote but very much alive. The local village is a 15min walk away through fields and woods and has several food shops and a bar. It also has two markets a week, which are very lively! There are hundreds of kilometres of footpaths in the local area and the people who love it here most are those who are happy walking or biking all day (you can borrow a mountain bike).
Public transport is tricky so if you want to visit local villages and towns you may need your own transport (we'll take you with us if possible when we go places, but we don't often feel the need to leave our happy bubble). However there are occasional buses from the village that go to the bigger towns, and from one of these towns there is a train that goes to Lyon in one direction and Marseille in the other.
There are lots of trails for hiking and for mountain biking and also road biking is very popular around here. You are very welcome to borrow a bike and there are even electric bikes for rental in the village which are excellent fun and allow you to explore a much wider area.
Most of our friends who stay here say that they feel incredibly peaceful and sleep better than anywhere else. Just a word of warning though... if you're somebody who feels happier with a lot of stimulation - i.e. places to visit, things to do, cultural experiences etc then it could feel a little limited. In general people are happiest here who are content to immerse themselves in the local environment rather than people looking for a lot of places to visit or things to do.
If you're looking for somewhere to be peaceful in your time off - maybe do some painting or reading or just lying in the grass watching the birds - then you will be in paradise.
As for us - we enjoy watching films and tv shows on our projector of an evening, or playing board games (exploding kittens is a new favourite). We eat together, mostly full meals, and enjoy sitting and talking. We would like you to feel part of the family but we're also very happy if you prefer to be by yourself more. We too need our downtime! We also have a piano which you're welcome to use, and I'd love to play some duets if you're musically-inclined.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week