We are Christine and Mike and, following many years of holidays in the Gers, in South West France, we moved here on a permanent basis in September 2016. Our home is a Gascony Chateau - part of which dates back to the 13th century - which has a large barn, gite, out buildings, swimming pool and over 5 hectares of land. We run a chambres d'hotes and rent out the gite for self catering. We share our home with a large, friendly, Labradoodle called Hugo! Whilst he is very sociable, we are not able to take anyone travelling with a pet.
Our house is located in a rural setting on the edge of a very small hamlet, 5 kms from a small market town with bars, restaurants, supermarkets etc and 24 kms from the departmental capital, Auch. Toulouse (accessible by train from Auch) is 1.5 hours by car, the Pyrenees and Bordeaux approximately 2 hours drive.
Whilst we have numerous indoor and outdoor projects, one of our ongoing plans is to make our woodland more accessible to guests and visitors. We are keen to leave a significant area of woodland for wildlife (we have counted over 60 different species of birds from our land and see deer, red squirrels, hedgehogs etc) but are also developing a wild flower garden to attract more butterflies, and clearing paths around the woods and along the River Baïse which borders our land. We still want to access the old disused railway embankment and in 2019 have started to develop a vegetable garden.
As we have been living in France for a relatively short time, we are still learning about our new environment and want to explore and experience the local way of life. We are taking French lessons and are keen to improve our spoken French so help with that would be very welcome. We speak English at home, though and so spoken English is essential.
Cooking / shopping
Help in the house
We will provide support, advice and learning as appropriate to the task being undertaken. Our home is centuries old and has an interesting history - we continue to learn about the culture of this area of France as we live and work here. We have both experienced long but very different careers in the UK prior to moving to France, are keen to share our experiences and are always interested in learning from others.
We have a large number of projects underway including:
Woodland clearance and 'chipping'
Creating paths down to the river, to the site of an old church and to the disused railway embankment
Log gathering, cutting, splitting and storing
Gardening (mainly weeding, spreading woodchips and general tidying!)
Removing an old caravan previously left in the woods
Developing and maintaining our 'no dig' allotment
Clearing barn and out buildings
Various 'Do it Yourself' projects
Volunteers will live either in the self contained gite or in a room on the top floor of the chateau which has access to a kitchen, bathroom and large living area. We would generally expect to eat together and appreciate visitors helping to prepare/clear up communal meals and expect that this will be an activity outside of 'working time'. Our diet is mainly, but not exclusively, vegetarian. We have experienced some delicious meals prepared and cooked by our workaway guests!
Volunteers would be collected from Auch and will be welcome to join us at local markets, vide greniers, trips of interest etc. The house is in a rural setting, however, and volunteers without their own transport may wish to borrow one of our pushbikes to explore local towns and villages.
We are non smokers and would appreciate volunteers who do not smoke.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week