Join us at our non-profit science and arts space in the Pyrenees, Ariège, France



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 Min stay requested: at least a week

  • Description


    We spent years wishing for a place to think, discuss, create and play in the middle of the mountains. Now we have it: our escòla in Ariège, in the quietest and hippiest part of the French Pyrenees, where it’s only a mild exaggeration that you might encounter more bears than tourists.

    The dream is to become the ideal mixture of a science lab, an artist residency, an eco-conscious commune and a base camp for the alpine-minded. The reality is getting there slowly.


    1) We are not a business, we are an "association" (a nonprofit) and our activity does not generate income, hence we cannot offer wages for your help. We are however very happy to host and feed our helpers, take them on hikes and invite them to attend whichever activities may take place here.

    2) We try to have people come for 2 weeks max as a baseline. If everything goes well for both sides and it doesn't prevent other people from coming, we can always think about extending later!

    3) Our activity just started in November 2020, so if you come in '21, you will see the early stages of our project, where we still try to figure out how to make it all work!

    **** Who are we? ****

    We are Yuval, Matthieu, Jeff and friends, from France, Israel and other exotic locales.
    All of us are scientists or interested in science, gravitating around ecology, math and the human mind.
    We also care about much more: climbing mountains, playing music and games, writing books and songs and programs, cooking and gardening, and everything in-between.

    When our activity starts, we will also regularly have guests – scientists and creators – coming to stay with us and work individually or in groups. What we ask of them is to share some of their knowledge by teaching, giving seminars, etc. and all our helpers are very welcome to benefit from this as well.

    **** Who are we looking for? ****

    This is a big project (a very large house, a small house, and a fair bit of land), and all kinds of helping hands are welcome. If you like the mountains, or you are intrigued by our weird concept, or both, feel free to reach out to us.

    A big plus – though not a requirement – is your interest in taking part in the intellectual or artistic aspects of the project.

    In particular, we believe that, of all creative activities, science remains too isolated from society at large. If you can write or play music on your spare time, why couldn’t you advance human knowledge a little? So if you feel like discovering your inner scientist, or you just think it’s fun to live with a bunch of people who want to learn and create stuff together, we hope this can be the place for you.

    **** How to get here? ****

    You can land at Toulouse airport (many international flights & domestic flights from Paris). From the Toulouse train station, you can take an hourly regional train (90 minutes, 10 or 18 euros). We will come pick you up at the station in Tarascon-sur-Ariège, 5 minutes away from the house (or Foix if necessary).

    **** Other details ****

    Researchers and creators will be working and living here, and groups may come for retreats and seminars. The one and only rule we have is: all fun is welcome, as long as it does not interfere with our central and unique activity. There are many great communal living spaces around in the Pyrenees, while there is only one science collective (that we know of!)

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Art Projects
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Help around the house

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    If you would like to learn, discuss or teach ecology, mathematics, physics, anthropology, linguistics or cognitive science, we have people staying or passing through the escòla who are mostly too humble to claim to be international experts (or are they?).

    If you are looking for hikes, climbs, paragliding, we’ll have people doing that practically every sunny day. You can jam with us, paint with us, or pester us to learn a bunch of languages including Hebrew and a bit of Sanskrit.

  • Help


    WARNING: As stated above, we are a nonprofit and not making any income, so we cannot offer wages, but we have lots of other perks for helpers.

    -- Gardening
    We have 1.2 hectares of land, including a vegetable garden, bushes, fruit trees, etc. that await your green thumbs and your motivation.

    -- Handiwork and maintaining the center
    Chopping wood, helping with painting, cleaning, and generally fixing stuff. No large work is planned at the moment (masonry, carpentry, etc.), but if you have special skills in that domain, do let us know!

    -- Making the center more eco-friendly
    We are quite conscious of ecological issues – some of us even research them – so our electricity comes from a renewable provider, we burn local wood for heating, make compost and so on. But there’s still a lot to be done: grey water reuse, producing a larger fraction of our own food, etc.

    -- Making the center more beautiful and interesting
    We welcome creative input! We can make plans together and build a zen garden, a pond, a trellis, or all sorts of indoor decorations, because there’s nothing nicer than a beautiful environment for thinking about the universe and life in general.

    As noted above, we would also enjoy it very much if you felt free to participate not only in the material aspects of the project, but also in our scientific and/or artistic endeavors.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent
    French: Fluent
    German: Beginner

  • Accommodation


    The center comprises three main spaces (in total, a dozen rooms can be used for accommodation)
    * The Workshop: the central meeting and working space with a bunch of extra rooms.
    * The Base camp: a communal living space for up to 5-6 residents
    * The Hermitage: a small independent house for up to 2-3 guests

    Helpers will be fed! Food is vegetarian (though we won’t object to you eating meat) and generally communal, rotating cooks.

    Other perks include:
    * A large garden with vegetables & fruit trees, sloping down to a river
    * A saltwater swimming pool
    * A gym area next to the pool for sport-ish activities, yoga, climbing practice, etc.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    **** The area ****

    The escòla is located in Surba, Ariège:
    * 5 minutes away from civilization (Tarascon-sur-Ariège)
    * 15 minutes away from Foix, with its cultural activity and castle
    * 10-30 minutes away from ski slopes, prehistoric caves, and some of the best climbing spots in Ariège and the Pyrenees
    * 1h away from Toulouse, Carcassonne, Andorra and a whole bunch of Cathar castles
    Trains run to Tarascon-sur-Ariège and Foix from Toulouse (or Andorra), and we will pick you up when needed or lend you a bike, as well as inviting you to join on hikes and other adventures.

    **** Expectations ****

    As noted above, this remains first and foremost a place for science. Researchers will be coming from far away to work on their projects and exchange with us, and other activities should not interfere with that. But as long as this first objective is preserved, our second objective is leading a fun life in the mountains. You are very welcome to contribute to these two aims however you wish!

  • 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 DSL and wifi, as our own work also requires a reliable connection. There are plans for optic fiber in the area within a year or two.

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    Animals are generally welcome as long as they can coexist with the standing biodiversity: we host scientists, a cat, an occasional mare and a rotating cast of wild birds, squirrels and the occasional errant boar in our garden. If your pets make it difficult for any of these species (especially the scientists) to survive, we may not be able to accept them.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 3 hours a day, 5 days a week

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Host ref number: 876398126356