Volunteer dinner out in France at O P’tit En K


Volunteers had a wonderful dinner in France at O P’tit En K, but we were missing one thing…


Fresh chips and a delectable pizza at O P’tit En K


To elaborate on this rather cryptic post, the team spent Saturday exploring the region: Karen and John took in the sights and shops of Chalais, while Zach and Katherine headed off to Angoulême, city of “bandes dessinées,” or comic-style artwork (more on the new arrivals coming soon to a screen near you).  They had a great time attempting to translate the information about the artwork in the “musée de la bande dessinée” into English and exploring the hilly environs of the city, where they happened upon a small park inabited by two gigantic sculptures of hands.  Upon their return to Chalais, Paul took Zach and Katherine to the lovely O P’tit En K restaurant, where they had the best chips and black olive pizza in the department of Charente.


Making connections with the local sculpture in Angouleme

If you would like to benefit from a dinner in France such as this, visit our website at Volunteer in France.


British volunteer arrives in France

Farhad Mustafa, a British-Bangladeshi volunteer, arrives in France to help at La Giraudiere

Hot off the heels of Zach and Choon comes Farhad, hereby referred to as Foo, to join the 2016 volunteer season of La Giraudiere.

Foo has a Bengali heritage but was born and raised in England, specifically the West Midlands but Paul calls him a Northerner. He can speak English & Bengali and studied French & Spanish at college. He decided to volunteer at La Giraudiere in order to improve his French and experience life abroad.



Foo learning how to play the French card game Belote at the local village hall in Brossac

Foo arrived on the 16th of April, bringing a deluge of British weather along with him. He spent the first few days acclimatising to Brossac, enjoying the plentiful vistas and food it has to offer. He watched a local football match between Brossac-Chalais and Barbezieux, which with his support ended 6-2 in favour of Brossac-Chalais. You can follow the football team on their Facebook page Entente Brossac-Chalais.


In his time here Foo has been supporting the team with their projects such as rendering the balcony and cleaning up the apartments. He has also done a touch of translation and has been working the emails, answering queries from prospective volunteers and interns and helping volunteers to arrange travel to La Giraudiere.

During his stay Foo has been eating plenty, thanks to all the great cooking provided by the team. He’s produced a few meals of his own which were well received. In his weekends Foo has visited Bordeaux, La Rochelle and Angouleme in order to see the sights.


French lessons every Friday morning at La Giraudiere

Foo has been keen to get involved with the French lessons and has been enjoying them very much. He has been using his spare time to study French.

————————————————— Update ——————————————————

Foo made his departure Saturday, May 7th, at 07:00, making it the earliest Foo sighting on record.

Ready to tackle any task Paul put in front of him and highly regarded by volunteers and locals alike, Foo was an invaluable member of the 2016 team.

British volunteers arrive from Germany

John and Geoff head into La Giraudiere to volunteer and lend a hand in France.

La Giraudiere continues its 2016 season with the arrival of 2 new guests. John, Paul’s brother, and his friend Geoffrey Heath came to volunteer in France for a week. They are tied for 5th volunteer of the 2016 season.

John is a Londoner through and through whereas Geoffrey is from Rochdale, however they both now reside in Germany. John works for the US army and Geoff is a retired tailor.

John was a valuable asset to the team – he assisted greatly in painting apartment 4 and the balcony rendering project by providing a constant supply of cement. He also repaired the shower in apartment 4, chopped some wood for the fireplace and cut down some weeds with the weed whacker.

Geoffrey took over housekeeping duties, keeping the apartments spick and span and making sure the table was set for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day to keep morale bursting high.

On the night of their arrival the duo were welcomed by being taken to Le Bistrot du Circuit, a local French restaurant which overlooks a Formula 2 race course. Their menu offers a wide variety of splendid French dishes and great value for money – you can get a three course meal for 18€ with a choice of 6 entrées, 6 plats and 6 desserts.

They both leant their talents to create some great-tasting German cuisine to share with the team, with rhubarb and apple pie for dessert for the weekend.


Geoff, Foo, Paul and John enjoying a drink together

They finished off their stay at La Giraudiere by attending a special fish & chips night held at The Clubhouse, a local sports bar. La Giraudiere was full of fun and laughter during the week of their stay.

World traveller finds his way to volunteer in France

John Hollister, an American Volunteer, arrives in France to help out at La Giraudiere

La Giraudiere’s 2016 season starts well and its fourth volunteer of the 2016 season makes his arrival. John is the second American Volunteer to arrive in France in order to help out at La Giraudiere.

John originates from San Diego but refers to himself as a nomad – his goal is to visit 100 hundred countries now that he is retired. To date he has visited 72 countries.

John arrived on the 18th of April, bringing sunny weather with him and putting up a good fight in a heated game of pétanque against the reigning champions.

Volunteers_working-holiday_France During his stay, John has been helping out with painting apartment 4, installing a safety barrier for the balcony and rendering the balcony walls. John proved to be a valuable member of the team with his skills.

John did not like to cook for the group and felt guilty when it was his turn for the week, especially after eating the delicious meals provided by the rest of the group. However, he compensated for it by purchasing a curry from the local boucherie to which Paul provided the rice (which is why he’s called Mr Rice) and Paul’s brother, also called John, made a lovely apple pie for dessert which was copiously covered in crème anglaise.


John made use of his days off by visiting Pons, La Rochelle and Bordeaux for his first weekend and enjoying the local festivities provided at the Brossac Fête du Muguet on his second weekend, there he shopped at the market stalls, watched the bike race and visited the brocante to buy some gifts for La Giraudiere.

John was happy to participate in the Friday French lessons and was a keen contributor to the class. He practiced his communication skills with the teacher and Foo and also by visiting the village shops.

You can read more about John’s travels and his stay at La Giraudiere by visiting his blog at   American volunteer in France


Malaysian volunteer arrives in France

Choon Poh Tan is the second volunteer to arrive to help out at La Giraudiere

La Giraudiere continues its 2016 season by welcoming Choon, from Germany, to help out. She is the first Malaysian to arrive at La Giraudiere.

Choon is a service agent at Frankfurt Airport, due to her career she is a polyglot. She is capable of speaking English, German, Chinese, Malay, Russian and basic French. Choon used her time off from work to arrive on the 9th of April. She came to La Giraudiere for the opportunity to get involved in the rural French lifestyle and to improve her command of the French language to better assist the many Francophones she deals with as part of her job.


During her stay she helped out in many ways. She spent plenty of time in the garden, getting rid of weeds and planting roses. She was also a great help around the house by cooking some excellent vegetarian dishes, setting the table for meals, organising the linen and doing a spot of cleaning. When the weather was unsuitable for gardening she helped out with painting the windows in apartment 4.

Since she came down by car, in her spare time she drove off to explore the Charente region. She visited the Chalais market which takes place every Monday and drove down to Bordeaux for a day out.

Choon took part in the French lessons with Paul and Zach. She got involved with the local community by playing belote and pétanque, lending her ample opportunity to practice French with native speakers.

We were happy to host Choon at La Giraudiere and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

First volunteer in France

Zachary Aubin, an American volunteer, arrives in France to help out at La Giraudiere.

La Giraudiere starts off its 2016 season with the arrival of Zach. He is the first volunteer  to arrive in France this year to help out at La Giraudiere.

Zach, fresh out of high school, is a teenager from Masachusetts, USA, who is taking a gap year to explore Europe and experience different cultures before he starts college in September. He works as a life guard for a water park and has volunteered in many projects back home. He is a budding film maker who aims to become a corporate lawyer but Paul believes he has the potential to go even higher and become a politician, perhaps even the President of the US.

Zach arrived on the 8th of April, making his way down from London


Zach has been helping the team by cleaning up around the house and their tools after they’ve finished their work for the day. He fitted new lamp shades in all the apartments,  gave the windows a new lick of polish and assisted John with the cement mixing. He’s also working on creating a video to promote La Giraudiere.

Zach has been using his weekends to travel far and wide through France, visiting Bordeaux and Paris, and even going as far as Germany for one weekend.

Help Creat international volunteers partnerships

La Giraudiere looking for global partners and international volunteers

One of the projects for 2016 that volunteers and interns can help with is setting up and forming new international partnerships. Contacting associations and organisations from around the globe that operate similar programs to that of La Giraudiere.

We would contact to ask if the organisation would like to strike up a partnership with us, We have several ideas in mind but would also welcome ideas from you and also from the organisation or association,

We will be informing them that we are a non-profit organization / association based in south west France and that each year we open our doors to international volunteers, interns and groups from around the globe who wish to help or learn about France it’s culture, language and way of life in general. That our project presents an ideal oportunity for their participants.

Ideas presently on the table are,

  1. Initially we could propose an exchange of emails and messages making each other aware of our respective organizations, goals and ideas.
  2. Exchanges on social media, likes on Facebook and follows on twitter and other social media.
  3. Preparing a blog entry or webpage about our newly found partner describing the organization and their goals. Similar upon their website describing our association, our goals and opportunities in English and or the language(s) of the new partner.
  4. We would also include their project/program in our quarterly newsletter.

If you think this is something that you would enjoy setting up and or doing then apply to help now at Volunteer or Intern in France

Les Amis De La Giraudiere – France

International volunteers logo

Sidney and Paul last day together at La Giraudiere

Sidney and Paul’s last day together.

Today, Monday the 22nd February 2016, has been a very long day at La Giraudiere. Sidney had his breakfast at 7.00, much earlier than normal. After his breakfast he tried to make it to the door but failed as he has been doing so for the last week.

After clearing up, Sidney spent the morning inside dozing and then waking up and checking on me and then dozing off again and this was how the first part of the morning passed. I telephoned the vets office whom informed me the vet would be passing in the afternoon and not the morning.

Sidney's last Sunday at La Giraudiere

Sidney’s last Sunday at La Giraudiere

For Lunch Sidney had one of his favorite sardines on toast and the same for me. After lunch Sidney let me know he wanted to go out and with my help we made it to the grass just across the road from the gate. He covered up many of his rivals marks stumbling in between but knowing I would get him back on his feet.

At 3.00 the phone went again and it was the secretary from the vet saying the vet would be passing between 4.00 and 5.00, this is going to be the longest hour or two of my life.
It is so difficult not showing Sidney how up set I am about what is planned although I think he knows exactly as he will not let me out of his sight for a moment.

We waited outside of the gites on the grass together with neighbors passing by. Every time I hear a car or vehicle I start to fill up and say to myself I have to stay strong for Sidney.

At 5.20 the vet arrived and by 5.30 Sidney was asleep in my arms and by 5.40 the vet said that Sidney had left us. I knew he had gone as I had my hand on his heart throught out and now it was no longer beating but he was still warm. I gave him his last hugs and I closed his eyes as he had been looking at me throughout.

The vet helped me carry Sidney to his resting place I then asked the vet to leave me alone with Sidney so I could finish what needed to be done. I placed Sidney in his favorite blanket and placed him in the sleeping position he always preferred.

With the sun setting and piercing through the dark clouds above, it starts to rain, only a little, as though the Charente sky is weeping. I feel so empty I have not just lost my dog I have lost my best friend and partner. I finished burying Sidney at 11.00 pausing several times in between.

Sidney a beach lover finds the next best thing

Sidney a beach lover finds the next best thing

La Giraudiere will never seem the same, It feels so empty here at this present time. My sole consolation is Sidney now sleeps with no pain and will remain at La Giraudiere.

For those visiting this blog for the first time; Sidney was a black Labrador who was born on the 1st November 2001 just outside the village of Chaunay which is 10 kilometers north of Ruffec in Charente. His father was from England and his mother was French apparently Sidney was the result of a holiday romance.

His registration name was Sydney Souks but I changed it to Sidney Socks. Apart from 4 weeks of Holidays in Spain and England Sidney passed his life at La Giraudiere in Brossac in the department of Charente France. His main job there was welcoming visitors, volunteers and interns from around the world.


Sidney summer 2015 passing time with volunteers from USA and Canada

Labrador Volunteer Sidney rests at La Giraudiere

A Labrador is the best friend you could ever have;

Today I have made the desicion that it is time to let Sidney go to sleep so that he can keep his dignity, self respect and stop his pain. Sidney as spent his entire life at La Giraudiere and it is here that he will rest.

Sidney is the longest serving volunteer at La Giraudiere and during his time he as met volunteers and interns from all around the globe. Judges, Doctors, Solicitors, Editors, Writers, politicians, body guards, Japanesse, chinesse, brazilians the list is endless and all he welcomed with a wagging tale.

If anyone who knows Sidney wants to come and say goodbye you have the weekend as it will take me that long to prepare his resting place.

If you want to send a message then please do so or post something on our facebook  at Pauls Facebook page

What occured, Last week Friday, I took Sidney to the vets in Chalais because I wanted to know how it will be when the time comes. The vet was very complimentry on how Sidney was, he further explained that Sidney had reached the good old age of 102 years and that arthritus was normal in Labradors and drugs would help the pain. He prescribed some tablets for his arthritus pain and releived me of a some money saying “let me know how it goes”

The tablets are Previcox 227mg and the dosage prescribed was three quarters of a tablet each day.

Saturday morning, Sidney was a bit subdued and by Sunday he had lost the use of his back legs. By monday he was paralysed at the back but still tried to walk dragging himself with his front paws from his bed so he could say hello.

For the last week, each morning, I help Sidney to go outside by placing a towel under the rear part of his body to support him. If it is Sunny he stays outside watching me and If it is cold and rainy he wants in. This photo is taken today Sidney’s last Sunday at La Giraudiere. He as just had his breakfast and done his visits.

Sidney's last Sunday at La Giraudiere

I feel so privlidged that Sidney spent his life with me, yes it was he that chose me, he is, was and allways will be the best friend I ever had had. I will miss him enourmously.

Sidney has choosen his resting place at La Giraudiere and now slowly I prepare it. It is the spot he most liked, it is where he would look out for Bella or Poppit, two of his favorite girlfriends, both of whom mothered his offspring and sadly also fell asleep for the last time several years ago. The vet is arriving on Monday.



Book now to Volunteer in France 2016

Volunteer in France

You can now book your place to Volunteer in France at La Giraudiere

The ‪#‎volunteers‬ 2016 program starts in April and finishes end of October allready June is booked so if you are thinking of ‪#‎volunteering‬ in ‪#‎France‬ this year at La Giraudiere then get you application in now further info at http://volunteer-france.lagiraudiere.com/