Help renovate an enchanting old house in Brittany, France



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    within 1 day


 Min stay requested: at least a week

  • Description


    I have been planning to move abroad for years, and last summer I came to France to look around some houses. This house in Merdrignac was one of the last properties I saw, and I was immediately enchanted by it. it. So I grabbed the opportunity and put an offer in. However, I got stuck in the UK for months while Covid did it's thing, and now finally I'm here, in this amazing place, which has gotten rather shabby and overgrown after being deserted for over a year. It is going to take an enormous amount of work to get it back on its feet again, and create the environment I want to live in.

    The house hasn’t been updated for decades, so I have builders coming in over the winter to re-wire and re-plumb the whole house. But I need to prepare the house before they arrive, which means removing all furniture, wallpaper, carpets.. and then next spring, when they’re finished, it’s all interior decoration, I'm talking painting, up-cycling furniture, finding things in brocantes/charity shops, fixing cracks and plastering the walls, and all the other things I haven't even thought about yet. And I haven’t even started on the garden... I’m planning to build raised vegetable beds, create a compost system, completely renovate the greenhouse, install a watering system, plant an orchard and a wild flower meadow, reinstate the pond, trim hedges, plan a natural swimming pool and build some garden furniture… and all of that after the wilderness that is now the garden is brought back under control! Basically the To-Do list is immense, and ever growing.

    There are lots of little projects to be done around the house and gardens that would be perfect for a few workawayers to sink their teeth in to. I love to cook, so believe me, you won't go hungry, plus it's France so delicious bread, jam and wine will always be available in my house!

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Art Projects
    Language practice
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance
    Help with Computers/ Internet

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    I am a Londoner, living in France. When I lived in London I was a theatre production manager. I have experience in set-building and scenic art. Over lockdown, mostly to stave off boredom/insanity, I bought, designed and built our camper van TangaTanga, and I redecorated my sister’s flat in London. This house is by far my biggest challenge yet. I am obviously more than happy to share any know-how when it comes to building and designing with anyone who comes to help.

    My garden will be wholly organic and natural so workawayers will be able to hone their green fingers in a pesticide free zone, I have been learning all about different ways to compost, shred garden waste and create a green space that fits in with the landscape, so my garden is a welcome home to all the creatures of nature.

  • Help


    There is a lot of DIY/ simple building and gardening jobs to do around the house and grounds. If you are familiar with basic power tools, that will be very useful, but there are tons of jobs that won’t require any particular skill except enthusiasm! The house has wonderful bones, but has been left to decline over the years, so is very dated and in need of a lot of TLC.
    Some items on the list:
    -Removing wallpaper and fabric from the walls, pulling out fixing staples
    -Pulling up carpets
    -Stripping dark varnish from woodwork
    -Sanding and treating the wood floors
    -Unbolting and removing the current kitchen units
    -Replastering the walls, and filling in cracks
    -Painting the walls
    -Upcycling furniture
    -Repainting the external windows and shutters

    The garden is currently very overgrown, and needs a lot of work. I want to create a sustainable garden that will provide food for the house. going to be completely organic, the previous owners left all sorts of tools in the shed so it really is a case of pick up a rake, pair of sheers, spade, fork or even strimmer and have a crack at taming the wilderness. Then of course the planting of wild flowers and vegetable can begin.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    French: Beginner

    This host offers a language exchange
    Hi, I have moved to france, and my conversational school level French isn’t cutting it! So I’m hoping to improve my speaking and comprehension skills while I work on the house. If that is something you can assist with, that would be fantastic.

  • Accommodation


    You will be staying in the main house, there isn't much furniture and it is basic for now but you will have a bed to sleep on. There is running water, a working shower and toilets, and a working boiler for hot water. The heating is pretty primitive but once the renovations begin the amenities will improve. There is plenty of space in the garden should anyone prefer to camp, you would need to bring your own tent or camper van though!

    I will supply fresh bread from the boulangerie with jams and spreads for breakfast, and of course croissants will be available! There will be plenty of tea and coffee for you to help yourself to throughout the day and I will provide dinner for everyone. The local town is a 5 minute walk from my house with little bars, boulangeries, creperies, a large supermarket and some restaurants, all selling lovely food, so the opportunity is there should you want to venture out.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    There are lakes near the house that feature sailing and paddle boarding. There are terrific forests for hiking and foraging. Saint Malo is an hour north of me, with great shopping and food, as well as daily boat trips to Jersey, and the historic town of Dinan is about 40 minutes away. The south coast is about an hour away by car, and the capital city Rennes is 40 minutes east, buzzing with shops, and a terrific weekend market that I usually head over to. I should have my two London Town bikes up and running soon so you can borrow these to explore the area as much as you like. They are in no way mountain bikes though, so be warned! I have a car and can pick people up from the nearest station, which is Caulnes, about 25 minutes away. There is not much in the way of public transport here, so depending on how much you’d like to explore, your own means of transportation might be useful.

    I have been a workawayer myself many times while travelling in Nepal, Japan and Indonesia and had wonderful experiences every time, I met some awesome people, fellow travellers like myself and locals alike and learnt some new skills, one being how to milk a buffalo! I am opening my new home up to anyone who is keen to help me make this place an amazing space and get creative with the garden.

    I am an early riser myself but I don't expect others to be, I love cooking and entertaining and look forward to meeting some fabulous people!

  • 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

    I’m in the process of setting up WiFi here. I am on the edge of a town so the connection speed should be fine… I’ll update with more details as I go.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    I have a back gate that is 2.4 meters wide, the back yard will have space for a camp Evan that can fit through! No outdoor toilet facilities at the moment but the house facilities will be available.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

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

Host ref number: 898618923987