Feb 07

Internship in France at La Giraudiere

Internship in France at La Giraudiere

This week I began a new chapter of my life when I arrived in Brossac to begin an internship in France. I hadn’t really considered interning until I began exploring my career options for life after college. The search quickly yielded one unmistakable result: more than anything, employers want their new hires to have relevant work experience. Therefore, in today’s difficult job market it is more important than ever for job-seekers to distinguish themselves from their peers and gain as many valuable skills and as much experience

American Internship in France

Intern during his travels

as possible. For college students and recent graduates, perhaps the best way to attain this is through an internship in a foreign country. In addition to valuable lessons in the workplace, internships abroad also offer a distinct opportunity to learn about foreign cultures, interact with different people in new and exciting locations, and improve foreign language skills among native speakers. However, this information is hardly a secret, and many other people have written on the subject. A recent article on USA Today’s College site also details the multitude of benefits that come from interning abroad, including the opportunity to receive college credits. So if the life-changing opportunity of living, learning, and interning in a foreign country is so exciting, beneficial, and accessible, why not go for it? La Giraudiere offers training internships in the southwest of France that develop skills vital to the workplace, offers the opportunity to begin learning or continue improving abilities in the French language, and is unique in that it offers lodging, meals, and French lessons all on site among other interns and volunteers from around the world. Take a look at the website for more information on a terrific opportunity to find a great internship in France:

Internship in France http://www.lagiraudiere.com/internship-abroad/

Internship Accomodation

Steven Hawkins

La Giraudiere Intern

Assistant to the Project Director in France



Jan 24

Christmas Dinner in France

Christmas day @ La Giraudiere – Christmas day was two days after the La Giraudiere Christmas market had finished. What a challenge yes 2 days after finishing the market and clearing all or nearly all our next challenge was to prepare the old house for a traditional Christmas day with a traditional Christmas dinner and there were 20 guests oh la la.

The French Christmas is normally spent with family on the evening of the 24th unlike the traditional Christmas of the UK which is a morning of opening presents followed by a traditional festive Lunch followed by some mince pies and an evening playing games and music. A traditional English / French Christmas dinner was planned for Christmas day with all the usual trimmings. The pool table was set up and there was a dart board mounted on the new walls and Max, a friend of Paul, kindly lean’t us a poker table and equipment.

We had the help of a professional chef and friend of La Giraudiere – Stephanie – for this dinner. With the shopping list on hand, we spent the entire morning of Christmas’s Eve shopping, or rather battling the madness at the supermarkets. Food preparation took up the entire afternoon, hence all we did for Christmas’s eve was a simple & cosy dinner by the telly and a wood burner.


The Christmas Day Menu a la Giraudiere

So Christmas day started in a good old fashioned manner – a trip to the village church for the Christmas mass around 11am whilst Paul found some large logs from his wood store which only just fitted into La Giraudiere’s huge chimney and even more were put aside for later to give a real festive feel to the old house.

I was glad I had that hour of peacefulness for it was straight dive into dinner preparation for Stephanie was in the kitchen when we returned after mass. Almost immediately, everyone went straight to work without even having the chance to dry ourselves from the walk in the rain! Boiling the vegetables, cooking the sauce, washing the pans, setting the tables, cutting the bread – the whole place was soon bustling with activities!on, guests, friends and neighbors consisting of a good mix of French and English, started to arrive and the old house was filled with cheers of warm welcome and chit chatting. The dinner kicked off with aperitif at 2pm, a rather odd timing for dinner but it was a 7 course dinner and would last for hours like true French dining with the one best exception we had Christmas Pudding.

It was raining sporadically through the day but it  did not spoil the fun. The rest of day was spent enjoying the feast and in games of darts, poker, billiard and of course, good wine and company.


dinner_christmas_francemore photos here - http://youtu.be/aMQaxoUOHHk

and here at the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/

Things quieten down a lot after Christmas and that gave us time to visit the Charente area – The charming medieval city Pons, beautiful château and river at Jonzac, the Christmas market of Riberac, the alluring underground churches at Aubeterrre, the comic city Angoulême and Cognac, place where the famous drink is named after.

We also spent some time reinstating the place to its original neatness and even got loads of laundry done despite the rainy weather so as to ready the place for the new batch of volunteers.

New Year Eve’s was spent at the local clubhouse near the lake, nothing fancy but definitely an interesting way to welcome the New Year amongst the English and French. We have a dinner invitation on New Year’s Day at a Scottish’s couple; whom I affectionately know them Mr. and Mrs Cake from her lovely gateau and mince pies.

Today is my last day of my three weeks stay at La Giraudiere, I am from Singapore and return tomorow during my stay I have learnt many things including

  • to wear my socks first before my pants
  • to type on French keyboard
  • to cook rice on gas stove
  • to appreciate weather reports
  • to play billiards and poker
  • that I can be excited over rainbows and starry skies
  • that genuine teamwork and community spirit do exists
  • that winter may be freezing with the rain and icy wind but one does not feel the cold at La Giraudiere, for you get the warmth of good spirited people around – “Thank you La Giraudiere for a Christmas to remember”.

à santé,




Jan 07

Volunteers Christmas Market France

Christmas Market at La Giraudiere Brossac France

First day of a new year,2014, also a good day to ‘pen’ down my thoughts after 3 weeks at La Giraudiere (LG) volunteering which included creating a Christmas Market

Wintery & meaningful Christmas plus the long time wish to visit France– that was what brought me to Brossac this December. My name is Jacqueline; I am from Singapore and this is my first visit to France.

After a weekend in Paris, I arrived at Chalais train station to meet Paul (the project director at LG), who for some reason thought my name was Elizabeth. Funnily, I had been reading a book of Queen Elizabeth I on the train journey so I wondered if Paul read my mine. Sounded like a good start?!

The other Christmas international volunteers were Christine from Canada, Ten from UK & Ann from Ireland who arrived a day after me. All of whom are pretty fluent in French, unlike me. I also met some of the local volunteers including Niko and Ameryic, part of the  association named “Les Amis de Giraudiere”, who were getting the old house ready for the Christmas Market that weekend.

The Dinner Rota– The volunteers and Paul took turn to cook dinner for one evening each week. I was a bit nervy upon knowing this. While I was familiar cooking for a big group back home, cooking for international crowd – that’s a first! I was relieved and glad when my stir-fried vegetables and fried rice received good response. But what I enjoyed the most was the Chilli that Ten made the day before. It was hot, delicious and comforting that I was actually quite thrilled when she made it again this week. The taking of turns to cook is a great idea as we get to experience international cuisine and add team spirit of the group.


Marché Noël – This is the first time LG organized a Christmas Market and it was a pretty grand affair. Preparation commenced weeks before that also includes the call for volunteers like me via the website. Besides getting the old house ready, there was also a marquee set up on the outside grounds. Promotion sign boards were placed around strategic locations such as supermarkets in the nearby area. Posters were also placed in public bulletin boards and shops too for awareness. There were about 30 stall sign-ups by the time I was here which was impressive!


Most of the time in the week leading that weekend was spent decorating the place, cleaning up, arranging the tables and setting up our food stall and bar. Paul normally discussed the work needed and we split up the duties accordingly. I must say everyone adapted pretty quickly and things were moving rather smoothly.


One highlight of the week was the visit by the local papers, not 1 but 2 reporters from the Charente Libre and Sud Ouest! La Giraudiere Marché Noël was featured on the 22 Dec edition and also a couple of entries Charente Libre blog page.



I was assigned mainly to ‘administrative’ job, starting with doing up a flyer for Les Amis de Giraudiere in both English & French! There were tiny mistakes discovered after print which was a jab to my pride. That was when I began to feel my impossible French was becoming a handicap. Nonetheless, at no juncture throughout my stay did anyone make me feel left out. Thankfully, my adaptness with the computer came in handy when creating the events collaterals. I suppose I am also fortunate and grateful that fellow volunteers were encouraging and the locals were friendly and understanding.


On the day of the market exhibitors begun to stream in from 8am on Saturday for the stalls set up. Coffee was served around while we helped around. I was tasked with photo taking and distributing the flyers with the only phrase I was taught ‘Si vous voulez’!


The experience was intriguing, besides getting a little shopping done I got  to  interact with the local residents (with some translation help, of course) and listening to their stories and advice offered. It actually got me thinking – how I was so warped up with the insignificance in the past and how to ‘live a life’ meaningfully.

Being the first time a market was held, we started to improvise as the day moved along. Warming up the marquee area, adding directional signs, increase food item for sale. I was running back and fro the house to print things off the computer.



The Christmas mood peaked when the choir started to fill the house with their melodious and festive carols. Even Paul joined in with his rendition of ‘White Christmas’. The first day slowly comes to the end with chit chat at the bar while some attempted the raffle game.

We ended the long first market day with an awesome dinner at Saint Bernard, which coincidentally was also the last day of operations for the restaurant owner.

Day 2 was marked with an increase of visitors, from the good weather and Sunday mass. Although there was no Christmas caroling that day, children were largely entertained by our Santa Claus and Santarina! alias Aymeric and Betty

I am incredibly amazed by the community spirit within LG and the village, how everyone part of or knew the association participated the market enthusiastically – manning the bar, roasting the chestnuts, decorations work shop, making the fries, sandwich and hot wine, dressed up as the Santa Claus, Christmas caroling or simply by turning up to support  market!

Like everything else, all good things have to come to an end and we did it the joyous way. The guys started to dismantle the marquee before the skies got darker while the volunteers worked together on the Thank You dinner for the friends of LG who helped out at this market.

While many of us were exhausted from the long hard week, it was worthwhile as the night ended in good music, good wine, fun and laughter.


More photos here - http://youtu.be/0LdoNFujUu0


Different events are planned for 2014 and If you would like to volunteer at La Giraudiere in France then for further information at Volunteer In France we look forward to seeing you at La Giraudiere.

Nov 17

Marché Noel Brossac




de 9h00 à 17h.30

marche noél hollyLocation de Marché Noel Braderie en Brossac

marché noel

 Ventes de jouets, décorations, vêtements, produits locaux, cadeaux, arts, artisanat et plus Père Noël, animations pour les enfants, illuminations et des surprises… 

Nombreux exposants over 30 exhibitors
Stand gourmant Food and delights
artisans Skilled crafts and créateurs
Ventes de jouets décorations – Sale of toys and decorations
cosmétique and Clothing vêtements
produits locaux – regional products
Animations – a few surprises
Visite du Père Noël atelier – Father Christmas and his workshop
création d’objets de noël Illuminations – Play room for children to create Christmas objects
Restauration / buvette Bar and food on place
Hot wine and Chestnuts

Entrée et Parking gratuite-buvette et restauration sur place.

 Marché Noel Braderie

Réservation  Contact français : ou Contact anglais : 05 45 98 69 93

Tarif exposants : 2,5€m en intérieur
2€m sous Tivoli

Marché Noel Organisé par L’association Les Amis De La Giraudière No W162001657

Nov 05

Christmas Volunteers set the date for Marché de Noël

Christmas Volunteers for Marché de Noël a La Giraudière

This year La Giraudiere through its association, Les Amis de la Giraudière, will be opening it’s doors to Christmas volunteers from around the globe. The Christmas volunteers are needed to help put in place three different events, all of which are Christmas related.

One of the main events will be a Christmas Market or Marché de Noël where roasted chesnuts and hot wine will be sold and local arts and crafts can come and exhibit their goods and skills.

christmas volunteers tree image

The association is thinking of the Sunday the 22nd of December as the date for the Christmas market at La Giraudiere. The date is probably the correct one, as this will give time for the international volunteers to arrive, settle in and prepare for this event.

Preparation will take the form of marketing and apart from the internet a lot of the marketing will be done on the ground. Visiting the already established markets and distributing flyers so both exhibitors and public become aware of the new venue.

Once the marketing is done then there is the setting up and the transforming of La Giraudiere into a small Christmas paradise with all the usual and unusual decorations and tinsel.

The prices for exhibitors will be 10 euros per place (or table).  2 tables will be 20 euros and so on. There will also be a reduced price for exterior exhibitors and that is to be 5 euros per table.

The main theme of the market is Christmas and therefore those exhibitors selling Christmas related products would be given preference followed by arts and crafts.

This is only one of the events planned for this year there are two others for more information visit the website at Christmas in France and maybe you could be a Christmas Volunteer this year

Oct 28


Volunteer at Christmas presentVOLUNTEER AT CHRISTMAS IN FRANCE

The new page is live and you can now volunteer at La Giraudiere this Christmas. The volunteers are needed to set up the following events so come along get involved and forget that same old Christmas feeling vist now and  Volunteer at Christmas


MARCHE NOELChristmas Market in France the first event will be the Christmas market, or in French, marché noel, at La Giraudiere where artisans, skills, crafts persons and any other market trader can come along and display and sell their seasonal products. Could you see yourself helping with the marketing, the setting up or roasting chestnuts and serving hot wine then come and get involved.

Christmas carols and Evening Brunch in France  The second event is to be an evening of christmas carols and music with a Christmas theme and evening brunch followed by hot mince pies, the music would be Christmas related this could be a local choir or maybe you can sing? or do you play an instrument?

Celebrate Christmas Day in France at La Giraudière  Christmas day and the village is invited for what will be a full Traditional Christmas day with presents, crackers and a traditional Christmas dinner followed by an evening of fun and games including pool, darts and cards accompanied by mince pies and creme anglaise plus whatever we can think to add.

Check it out and reserve your place remember prices start from 18 euros per day all in quick visit VOLUNTEER AT CHRISTMAS and help


Oct 19

American Volunteers sends thanks

An American volunteers in France and sends thanks

Karyssa who recently graduated from University of Colorado in USA with a BA in International affairs and a minor in French took time to send her thanks for participating in the summer 2013 volunteer program at La Giraudiere.Kary stayed for 5 weeks leaving us on the 19th September during her stay she worked in the Gardens, helped put up and prepare ceilings for painting, American volunteers in Franceplunged into the social media and blogging of the project and prepared some lovely meals for the group

Kary thank you for all that you did at La Giraudiere, none of it went un-noticed, it was a pleasure working with you and it is people like you that make my work here worth while. Your smile around the house and sense of caring are sadly missed – Paul


Karyssa testimonial is as follow;

“I chose La Giraudiere as the first stop on my first ever solo traveling experience.  Leaving my home in the US to live at an unknown place on the other side of the world and live with complete strangers was intimidating, to say the least, but it ended up being an absolutely incredible experience.  The setting was beautiful; the exposure to French culture was fantastic; the food was delicious; but the best part of all was the people.  I was amazed that a group of people of various ages, nationalities, and backgrounds got along so well and became such good friends in such a short period of time.  We worked together, we ate together, we explored together, and we shared some wonderful moments together.  In addition, the community of Brossac was so welcoming, so generous, and so willing to share the French language and culture with us.   I learned that humor, kindness, and friendship can surpass language and cultural barriers.  Thank you Paul, for working so hard to create such an incredible opportunity!

Oct 17

Christmas volunteering in France at La Giraudiere

Christmas candels in FranceChristmas Volunteering in

France at La Giraudière


Christmas volunteering at La Giraudiere is possible this year. Yes the La Giraudiere association “Les Amis de La Giraudiere” is going to put together a Christmas full of festivities and Christmas Tradition in Brossac which will provide forteen days of festive fun.

This weekend there is a meeting at La Giraudiere of the officers and members of the association and on the table are the following proposals.

A “Marche de noel” or Christmas Market where artists, crafts persons, antiqitaires and Christmas related trades people can display their wares. There will also be a pere noel, yes a Father Christmas. Hot mince pies and vin chaud, hot spicy wine, will also be provided. Suggestions about who should be the pere noel are allready arriving and top canidate is Arnaud.

An International Christmas evening with a local choir visiting and providing traditional Christmas carols and songs from around the world “I am dreaming of a white Christmas” is bound to be on the list and what about silent night well it is endless I cannot wait.

Christmas day at La Giraudiere with a tradVolunteering Christmas presentsitional English and or a French Christmas dinner and other events are planned including around the globe visit via skype to pass Christmas greetings to the international friends and volunteers of La Giraudiere. The principle idea is that no one in Brossac should pass Christmas alone as all will be invited.

Lastly and by no means least if our energy can last the festive season will finish with a new years dinner party for all those involved and volunteered their services.

There will be a link published upon the website to the pages which will explain more about the program and how you can help for the moment I will provide the main page link at Christmas volunteering in France

Christmas volunteering in France could be the perfect start to a

happier and healthier new year.


Oct 07

Volunteers Autumn foire at Rioux-Martin

Volunteers Autumn foire


The weekends at La Giraudiere start from Friday to Monday so four days for the volunteers to explore the region and become immersed in the rich culture in France.

This weekend Cordula and Fredrick from Germany were out and about with Fredrick’s father and Brother who had come to stay the weekend on a visit. The remaining group consisting of Elaine from the UK, Julie from Australia, Jim and Peggy both from USA remained at La Giraudiere and were quick to take up Paul’s offer to visit Aubeterre, a plus belle village de la France, plus a surprise visit to an Autumn Foire.

For the La Giraudians Volunteers Autumn foire at Rioux-Martin is a must, no matter what time of year you visit La Giraudière, there is likely to be a fête in one of the nearby villages. French villagers certainly like to party, and they make visitors really welcome to these events too. Sunday 6th October dawned very hot and sunny, but here in the Charente region autumn was being celebrated in the attractive and very well tended village of Rioux-Martin.

Volunteers soup in FranceVolunteers soup in France There were stalls galore, of bric-a-brac, colorful plants, local crafts, local wine and honey, plus a café bar area where locals were catching up on each others’ news or just enjoying the beautiful sunshine. The mayor of Brossac was there, (though not on duty!) and Paul introduced us all.

We all decided to stay for the Lunch and we met some friends of Paul Jean-Mitchell from the petanque club in Brossac and his partner plus some other friends who live in nearby market town of Chalais. We all sat down together for lunch and this was a good time for us to practice our French and immerse in the ambiance of the occasion.

A hard-working team prepared a five course lunch (a bargain at 11 euros) and about180 people sat down to a rational French communal lunch.

The first course was pumpkin soup or known as soupe au potiron in French this was followed by more soup for those who wanted and of course there was bread w, water and red wine. The main course was honey coated hog roast with white French beans, the name of which slips me for the moment, but again there was a second helping for those that could manage it. Then came the cheese and salad followed by the dessert a wonderful apple pie.

After a superb lunch Paul and Julie went to watch Brossac village football team whilst the rest of us went back to LG for a well deserved siesta

volunteers in France autumn

Oct 06

Vendange fête en France

local folk dancers

Fete des Vendanges

Every year, in September and October, French wine producers (les viticulteurs) harvest the grapes that will be made into wine – and this harvest is known as le vendage. Its timing depends on many factors such as where the vineyard is, the type of grape being grown, and the nature of the wine to be made,  plus of course the weather conditions that year, so the Charente region’s 2013 vendanges are several weeks later than usual due to this year’s climate.

Some grape harvests are now done by machine, but others still use teams of seasonal workers picking by hand (vendange à la main). Human pickers can beat the machines by being gentler with the vines and by only picking healthy grapes and on steep hillsides humans have a definite advantage over machines ! These workers have to be strong, able to travel between the various vineyards, and willing to work between eight and fourteen hours a day. When conditions are right, the grapes must be picked !


This year we didn’t do that much grape-picking, thankfully, but instead we went to a Fête des Vendanges in Archiac which showed us all about the process. What did our group think ? “informative and great fun !”   “An excellent introduction for those unfamiliar with the process.”

The day was a brilliant mix of demonstrations, eating, drinking, entertainment, folk dancing and singing, plus a display on Cognac and barrel-making. As Peggy, an American volunteer, said, “A great experience of local culture ! ”

Normally, each year the volunteers from La Giraudiere are invited to help the local viticulteurs with their vendage unfortunatley because the harvest is so late it is an expirience that will be missed so the Fete at Archiac help replace it some what.


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