Peaceful Normandy - beekeeping, wood processing and gardening. France



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  • Description


    UPDATE NOVEMBER 2019 - We have a tree felling and firewood project for November and would greatly appreciate some willing extra hands to help with this. You need to be prepared to be outdoors and have some heavy and repetitive work but we all work together so it is convivial and good experience. In exchange you will get hearty, healthy meals, be accommodated in a very comfortable room within the family home with a proper bed and decent mattress. You will be welcome to join our leisure activities or have time for yourself to explore the local area. Absolutely no smokers please and we would prefer you not to have complicated dietary requirements. We are always interested in cultural exchange so if you feel you have something exceptional to contribute or think that we are particularly compatible please do not hesitate to get in touch. And applications for next year (look at our full profile for what is generally going on) are always welcome, we are happy to make plans in advance.

    We are: Dominic (49), Rose (47), Sylvie (13) and William (12) and we are accustomed to simple living, healthy eating, exercise and working outdoors. We are an energetic and adventurous English Francophile family. Dominic is completely bilingual, Rose’s French is sufficient for day-to-day interaction and the children are learning. We now live in Mortain, a small town in beautiful rural Normandy, but up until Autumn 2016 we were living in Cornwall in England. If you want to know more about us and our skills then I suggest you read our own workawayer profile and I can save this space to give details of the host opportunity we are offering.

    With our new life also comes new challenges and work to be done … So as well as liking to meet new people and share experiences we also welcome extra hands to help us with our projects.

    We have two properties with which we need assistance. A house in town (well more of a village actually) which is comfortably furnished with a large garden. And a farmhouse (which is a significant renovation project), barns and vegetable garden a few kilometres out of town. Help around the townhouse is for day-to-day stuff – cleaning, gardening, decorating. Help at the farmhouse is more challenging and varied and could include – tree felling and firewood processing, landscaping, building, gardening, eco-construction, etc. We have hens which provide us with fresh eggs and we also keep bees and have 10 years experience. Active beekeeping work takes place in the Spring and Summer but Winter is a time for maintenance and preparation of all our equipment. We love to teach people about beekeeping.

    Mortain is a typical small quiet Normandy town in the heart of the bocage. The town is well serviced in that it has small shops and supermarkets as well as schools, doctors, library, etc. Community events often take place and we socialise at home with friends but there is no social scene or nightlife. It is an ideal base for nature lovers with plenty of access to the countryside. We are only 40 minutes from the coast and the Baie of Mont Saint Michel.

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    Babysitting / child care
    General Maintenance
    Cooking / shopping
    Help with Eco project
    Help in the house
    Animal care
    Language practice
    Help with Computers / internet

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Workawayers should expect to feel included and well cared for while they are staying with us. Our aim is to integrate visitors into our family life and help them get the most out of the experience based on their own needs. Certainly, it is a good opportunity to improve English and French and also to acquire practical skills. It is important to us that workawayers are offered good quality accommodation. You can expect to be kept warm and comfortable and be well fed in conditions that are suitable for the time of year and weather conditions.

  • Help


    The opportunity we offer would be suitable for a single workawayer or a couple. We are open minded to welcoming families but parents would have to be able to accommodate the child(ren) within their own bedroom and think about how their child(ren) would integrate with our own.

    We would like to host workawayers between our own trips and visiting guests. Our ideal candidate(s) would want to stay with us for a minimum of two weeks as we feel this is the time needed to get into good working patterns together and for the workawayer and host to get the most out of the experience. But we are flexible and open minded.

    There are lots of projects on the go but at the moment, we have quite significant amounts of firewood to be processed and work in the vegetable and flower gardens. We operate a no-dig organic gardening policy and we are expanding our production as quickly and as much as possible. The beekeeping season reaches its peak in April/May/June but there are maintenance jobs to be done at other times. All the work we offer is healthy and rewarding and Dom is very experienced. There will be lots of learning opportunities for the workawayer but at times it can be hard physical work. It is best suited to someone who is robust, happy to work outdoors in all weathers and with a healthy but unfussy appetite. Don't worry, we provide plenty of good quality home cooked food to feed hungry workers. There are also sections of the townhouse which require redecorating and deep-cleaning. This might be best suited to a workawayer who is not quite so keen to be outdoors all the time and wants to do less heavy work. That having been said firewood processing is often a family affair (many hands make light work) and there are tasks to suit all levels of strength and ability. Lots of the work we have to do is done together as we enjoy the sense of family unity and achievement this brings and we envisage that most workaway tasks will be undertaken in partnership with us and you will not be expected to work alone. Therefore, this opportunity will suit workawayers who are keen to interact with us to improve their practical and language skills (in French and English) and for social/cultural exchange. It would not perhaps suit a person/couple who want autonomy and peace and quiet.

    We find that discussion and openness are the principle factors in managing expectations and making sure both hosts and workawayers have their needs met. So we ask our workawayers to please feel free to ask questions, express opinions and discuss concerns as soon as they arise.

    You will be expected to work a maximum of 25 hours per week. It is unlikely that this will be 5/5 as the weather and other factors often force a pattern of more intensive periods of work interspersed with leisure days. We will be able to discuss and agree working patterns in advance and adapt these as we go along. Also, less working hours are to be expected over holiday periods and you will certainly not be expected to work when we are not. In exchange, we offer a lively family atmosphere and an active exchange of ideas with others. All your meals will be provided and you will have warm, clean and comfortable accommodation. You will be made to feel welcome and part of our family for the time you are with us. We will include you in our family activities (which are mainly free and primarily involve going out for long country walks) or you can spend your free time as you choose independently. We want all our workawayers to leave us feeling positive about their experience.

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    English and French

  • Accommodation


    There is a certain amount of flexibility about the accommodation we offer. In the townhouse we have various bedrooms and allocate a comfortable room which best suits the need of each person. During the summer months we can offer a caravan at the farmhouse or a pitch for your own van or tent. Please ask about the accommodation available at the time you hope to visit and discuss your preferences with us.

    Meals are usually taken with the family but there would also be some scope for you to do your own thing or to cook for us. We eat a varied and interesting diet which is rich in garden produce but also contains, meat, dairy, fish and some cheap treats. We adults do like a glass of wine, cider or the local speciality poiré. Whilst we aim to be flexible with dietary requirements, catering for vegans or vegetarians is difficult to weave into our regular meals and I feel a vegetarian workawayer would have a less inclusive and enjoyable experience.

    We are non-smokers and we have children. Understandably therefore, no smoking is permitted anywhere on our property (inside or out) and we do not tolerate any drug taking. Really, if you are a smoker I don't think we are the hosts for you.

    There is a good WiFi connection and we have a landline telephone which can be used by workawayers under certain conditions. We have UK Freesat TV in the main family living room and you would be welcome to watch our choices with us but we manage this content in relation to what we think is in our children’s best interests. We can also make a television unit and DVD player available for your own private use in your bedroom.

    Public transport links to Mortain are reasonably good (for rural France) and if you think you will be reliant on public transport we suggest you do your own research in advance about whether this will meet your needs. We can agree pick-up and drop-off from nearby stations (Vire, Caen, Rennes) or airports (Caen, Dinard, Rennes) at the start and end of your stay. Bicycles are available to you and we will include you in trips that we are taking ourselves if you wish to participate. However, if you wish to make the most of local attractions and places of interest (eg D-day landing beaches, Bayeux Tapestry) then you would be better with your own car. There is plenty of parking space for workawayers with their own vehicle.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

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Accuracy of profile: (5.0)

Cultural exchange: (5.0)

Communication: (5.0)

Host ref number: 749993187845