Christmas Volunteering France

Christmas Volunteering France

This year as just flown by,, it seems only a while ago I was blogging about last Christmas volunteering France and here we are with just over 9 weeks to go until Christmas arrives yet again.

If you are facing the same old Christmas and not really relishing the thought of it, then maybe a change would do you good.

Last Christmas La Giraudiere opened it’s doors to Christmas volunteers for the first time, and I have to say it was a lot of work organising the events, but a great success especially as regards people having memories of a Christmas that will last for a long time.

This year, as last, the Christmas page of the website is displaying the Christmas publicity inviting volunteers to sign up you can see it at Christmas-Volunteering-in-France it also says about the plans for this Christmas the Christmas Market, the Carol service, Christmas Day dinner and new years celebrations.

You might be interested to see how thing went last year,  2013, what work was there to do for the Christmas market and how did everyone contribute towards the Market.  Check out a picture video produced by one of last years volunteers

So think you could help this year?  Like to be printing the publicity, driving around and placing the publicity for everyone to see or distributing the flyers at other markets and fetes.

Last year there were 4 international volunteers from Ireland, UK, Singapore and Canada who joined up with the local volunteers to produce a great team. Who knows where they will come from this year but for sure it will be a very merry Christmas at La Giraudiere.

Christmas volunteering France lightsSo do not miss out get your application for a place in now visit the Christmas page for info and link to apply at Christmas In France

Looking forward to seeing you at La Giraudiere

About Us ~ New About La Giraudiere page published

About Us – About La Giraudiere

A new web page titled About Us as been published upon the website, The new web page explains what La Giraudiere is about and what it offers its programs, internships and other traineeships. It goes onto explain how the internship programs are designed to bridge that gap between studying and taking on a real work position.

The volunteers program was how La Giraudiere became established as a global project open to all. It too is mentioned and how it encourages all no matter what greed or race, what age or background you can come along and help and in doing so benefit from a stay in France at a price unknown before.

2015 will see the return of a school group from the USA so our “about us” page gives mention to the fact that one of our principle goals is the welcoming of Schools and University groups.

All the programs  at La Giraudiere are described in brief and how they provide a unique learning experience, which with French language lessons for non French speakers and the English language program for French speakers  reinforces our commitment to encompass all.

The page mentions our Code of Conduct which all applicants have to agree to abide to before being accepted onto the programs.

As a non-profit organisation the La Giraudiere association, Les Amis De La Giraudiere, is in place to not only help our project but also the other associations within the village of Brossac. Weather you be here on an internship or as a volunteer you will be encouraged to get involved and become immersed in French rural life and sample “La vie association” Francais.

The about La Giraudiere page finished by stating “La Giraudiere is well established in the village life of Brossac and yet remains international in its operations and scope. This mixture of Local French life and international outlook provides a place for cultural understanding with a unique French experience”.

Which for those of you that have participated will know only to well. Take time to visit and bookmark our new About La Giraudiere  page

About Us about La Giraudiere learning logo

La Giraudiere Logo

Nilou Begins Working Holiday at La Giraudiere

Calgarian Nilou Davoudi Arrives At La Giraudiere to Jump Start Her Working Holiday Experience 

I first came to France when I was 16 to visit family in Normandy. Instantly I was in love with France and everything French – from the language and culture to the bread, cheese and wine to the kind, proud people who smile easily. Ten years later and I came back again with my husband to visit. The love I had for France was still very strong. So, I quit my cubicle job, left my wonderful husband, friends and family behind for a working holiday year in France.  I decided to come to France to improve my French, learn more about the culture and learn more about myself as a person too.

Heavy snow blankets the city of Calgary AB Canada on Tuesday September 9th 2014 (Ted Rhodes/Calgary Herald)

The day I left my hometown Calgary, Alberta, Canada, there was still snow on the ground and the weather was bone chillingly cold. No this wasn’t the middle of winter – it was mid September. After a long flight from Calgary to Amsterdam, another flight from Amsterdam to Bordeaux, a short bus ride, a train ride and a car ride, I finally made it to La Giraudiere – exhausted but thrilled to be there. I had seen several photos of LG before I arrived but the photos do it no justice. This place is absolutely breathtaking. I chose La Giraudiere to help me transition into my working holiday year. I had never been to southern France so this was a great opportunity to not only see the sights but also immerse myself fully into the language and culture.

Working Holiday in France at La Giraudiere

Working Holiday at La Giraudiere in beautiful south west France (http://www.lagiraudiere.com/)

 

So far I have been here for a couple of days and I am living the life! The views are stunning, the weather is a dream come true, Brossac (the village) is like a postcard and the food is to die for. The other volunteers here are fantastic and Paul and his adorable dog (Sidney) are the best hosts you can ask for. I feel right at home! I am hoping that my time at La Giraudiere will give me the confidence I need to begin a year working and living in France.

Everything here has been better than I would have ever expected and I am very grateful and glad I found La Giraudiere!

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Student ends his year in France volunteering at La Giraudière

Student, Matthew Harrison, ends his year in France volunteering at La Giraudière

Matthew Harrison year in France

Matthew ends year in France at LG

After spending a year in France at Toulouse University, physics student Matthew decided to spend his last four weeks in France at La Giraudière in June and July of this year.

He proved to be a very handy odd job man; and at well over six feet tall, there was no need for a step ladder! During his stay he helped with the gardening, painting, insulating, tidying, cooking and any other bits and bobs that needed doing around the house.

A regular at the local Pétanque and weekly music concerts in the village, Matthew relished the opportunity to mix with the locals.

He has a very high standard of French which stood him in good stead for his year in France studying Physics at Toulouse University. Thanks to his high standard of French he was even able to contribute towards the lessons at La Giraudière and was impressed the quality of teaching.

Now back in his home town of Hull, the LG team wish Matthew all the best in whatever he does next. Thanks for all your help Matthew, and we hope to see you back here again very soon!

This is Matthew’s testimonial  of his time at La Giraudière.

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Volunteer Leo says goodbye to La Giraudière before returning to Hong Kong after his Working Holiday

Leo and Jenny visit La Giraudière

Leo and Jenny visit La Giraudière

On Saturday La Giraudière was thrilled to welcome back one of its previous volunteers when Leo and his girlfriend Jenny popped in to see us. Leo spent three weeks here in January at the beginning of his French working holiday, and he came to say goodbye over the weekend before going home to Hong Kong.

Under the France and Hong Kong Working Holiday Scheme, Leo was able to spend up to one year as an employee in France. As we enjoyed lunch in the garden, he filled us in on his time in France and other various places all over Europe. He maintained, however, how glad he was that he started his European adventure here at La Giraudière. It acted as a base for him, he said; and gave him the opportunity to gain confidence in the language and culture before setting off to find work. In between landscaping and gardening, repairing wood burners, painting and other general maintenance tasks at LG, Leo spent his weekends exploring the area; and by the end of his three week stay he’d found a job at a restaurant in Bordeaux. He then went on to find work in Marseille, before spending the last two months of his trip travelling Europe with Jenny.

Playing around with the 'Selfie Stick'

Playing around with the ‘Selfie Stick’

After a lovely lunch in LG’s garden, we had the chance to play around with the couple’s ‘selfie stick’, an Asian phenomenon that’s about to take Europe by storm! Paul then took Leo and Jenny to the market in Tatre, where they enjoyed some fresh French oysters. It was then time to say our au revoirs, and to wish them well on their last week in France before their return.

Thanks for coming to see us Leo and Jenny! As Paul said, it really makes his work here worthwhile.

Leo, Jenny and Paul after lunch

Leo, Paul and Jenny after lunch

To learn more about the France and Hong Kong Working Holiday Scheme, visit http://www.consulfrance-hongkong.org/Working-holiday-visa

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Written by Elain Jones, a student from Wales volunteering at La Giraudière

Les événements de La Giraudière en 2014:

Les événements de La Giraudière en 2014:

Le calendrier des événements prévus à La Giraudière pendant la dernière partie de 2014 sont désormais disponibles sur le site de l’association.

Le premier événement se déroule le 24 septembre, une “Soirée pour les Brossacais de rencontre la communauté internationale de Brossac;” Le but est de mélanger tous les nationalités de Brossac et pour les expatriés différents de venir rencontre les autres et la communauté locale. Il y aura un turnoi des flechettes avec des prix à gagner, ainsi que plein d’autres activités. Le prix pour les joueurs est 14€ et 9€ pour les non-joueurs, qui comprend le repas et le dessert.

En octobre quand les nuits commencent à tomber plus tôt…il n’y a rien mieux qu’une soirée internationale pour vous éloigner de la télé! On propose la “Soireé Allemande,” avec le schnizel accompagné de la bière bavaroise traditionnelle et du vin allemand. Le prix est 11€, y compris le schnizel et frites, un quart du vin allemand ou un demi-litre de la bière bavaroise.

Le 8 novembre sera temps d’encore brûler le pauvre Guy Fawkes, donc un grand feu et un ragoût chaleureux vous attend à La Giraudière: “Guy Fawkes Night;” Le prix est 12€, y compris un apéritif de punch, un bon bol de ragoût irlandais et un quart de vin.

Le marché de Noël à La Giraudière, Brossac: Notez que les dates du marché ont changées. Le marché reste un événement de 2 jours, mais aura désormais lieu le dernier week-end de novembre, le 29 et 30. Il y aura aussi un repas pendant la soirée de 29, un dîner du marché de Noël à 19.30.

Les détails complets de ces événements et les autres prévus sont disponibles sur http://association.lagiraudiere.com/

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Le calendrier des événements à La Giraudière

La page web des événements de l’association

Events at La Giraudière 2014:

Events at La Giraudière 2014:

The calendar of events planned at La Giraudière for the final part of 2014 are now published and live upon the website of the association.

The first event planned is on the 24th of September, named “Soirée pour les Brossacais de rencontre la communauté internationale de Brossac;” The goal here is for the different expats and nationalities of Brossac to come along and meet other expats and the local community. There will be a darts knock out with prizes plus other activities planned for the evening. The price will be 14€ for players and 9€ for non-players, which will include dinner and dessert. Reserve now as places are limited.

October and the evenings are drawing in…what better way to pull you away from the tv than an event with an international flavour? “Soireé Allemande — A German night with Schnitzel served with traditional Bavarian beer and German wines.” The price for the Soireé Allemande is 11€ and includes your Schnitzel and frites and a quarter of German wine or half a litre of Bavarian beer.

November 8th and it is time to burn poor old Guy Fawkes yet again, so a warming open air fire and stew awaits you at La Giraudière: “Guy Fawkes Night;” The price is 12€ and includes a warming punch aperitif, a hearty bowl of Irish stew and a quarter of wine.

Marché de Noël à La Giraudière Brossac: Note that the Christmas market dates have changed. The market remains a 2 day event, but will now be held on the last weekend of November, the 29th and the 30th. There is also a dinner planned for the evening of the 29th. Dîner du Marché de Noël – 19.30.

You can see fuller details of these events and others planned by visiting http://association.lagiraudiere.com/

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Calendar of Events at La Giraudière

Association events web page

French red wine and Sunshine at La Giraudière

French red wine and sunshine at La Giraudière

As the end of May approached and my stay in France drew to a close, I couldn’t wait to start planning my next French adventure. As a student at Cardiff University, I’d spent eight incredible months teaching English at a lycée in Brittany; where I’d fallen in love with the French way of life, the people and the culture. Although I couldn’t wait to spend the summer at home in Wales, a part of me was bursting to come back to France and spend a few more weeks living life à la française before returning to the hustle and bussle of my final year at university. I was looking for an unique experience that would also give my French a little extra boost, and a stay at La Giraudière seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

“…good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people.”

Volunteer meets Sidney the black labrodor

A warm welcome from Sidney

As Paul, the Program Director, drove me from the train station to La Giraudière; the breathtaking views of sunflower fields, vineyards and red-roofed houses were exactly what I’d hoped the Southwestern French countryside would be. Upon arriving at the house I was greeted with a very warm welcome from Sidney, the black Labrador, who later joined Paul and I on the grand tour of the old stone house. As I’m filled in on all the goings-on at LG, I can’t wait to get started on helping to plan future events.

First day at the office for volunteer

A busy first day at work

Today, on my first full day as a volunteer at LG, I’ve jumped straight into the marketing and social media aspect of the project. With all sorts of events such as a Pub Games night, Belgian and German evenings, Bonfire Night and a Christmas Market planned in the next few months, there’s a lot of organising and promoting to do! During my three weeks at La Giraudière, I’m looking forward to participating in the project’s clerical day-to-day, marketing and event planning work; and of course lending a hand to any other jobs that need doing around the house. Although I’m afraid I’ll need some guidance from other members of the team when it’s my turn to cook!

I can’t wait to spend my weekends meeting and socialising with the locals, or the Brossacais as they’re called; and discovering more of the beautiful rural landscape that surrounds the village of Brossac. I’ve been promised a bike by Paul, so who knows where I’ll end up! I’m keen to visit the nearby market that takes place every Monday, and I might even try my luck at one of the village’s bi-weekly Pétanque games!

A bottle of French red wine at La Giraudière

A bottle of Bordeaux’s finest at La Giraudière

And after passing through Bordeaux yesterday, I’m also very eager to return and spend a few days exploring the city. Rue Sainte-Catherine, which at 1.2km is Europe’s longest shopping strips, is especially tempting!

So after my first 24 hours here at La Giraudière, the next few weeks are set to be an exciting and interesting experience. As I make the most of the French red wine and sunshine, there’ll certainly be plenty of things to keep me busy!

 

Elain Jones, a student studying Welsh and French at Cardiff University, publishes her first blog entry at La Giraudière.

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Hungarian volunteers in France

Hungarian volunteers in France

 

The last of our Summer volunteers left on Wednesday morning heading home to Hungary. Richard was the first of Hungarian volunteers we have had stay at La Giraudiere.

Hungarian volunteer

Richard Masszi Hungarian Volunteer at La Giraudiere 2014

Richard who was taking time out before going to university hopes to study to become a medic or doctor. During his three weeks at La Giraudiere Richard learnt how to put up plaster boards and the supporting railing for dry lining or doublage as it is known in French.

Richard also helped out in the Park and Garden with weeding, trimming and cutting grass. Repairing the bikes also was something Richard enjoyed and he proved to be a very good cyclist taking off to Aubeterre and as far as Angouleme, which by the way is 50 kilometres from LG,

Cooking for the group was another job that Richard took in hand and he produced some nice evening meals and desserts.

 

Petanque, or boules, is a game that is played twice a week in the village in the evenings and the volunteers from LG are always invited to join in. Richard proved to be a very useful player and tested the French to the line losing on one occasion only 12-13

Volunteer playing petanque

Richard the petanque player representing La Giraudiere

“So thank you Richard for being our First Hungarian Volunteers and for all you did and maybe see you back at La Giraudiere one day.”

Richard is on La Giraudiere Facebook and Twitter

Hosting Volunteers France

Hosting Volunteers France

Ever wonder why someone may leave it all behind to pursue a life hosting volunteers in a quiet little part of France?  Just about twelve years ago, Paul  decided to give up the hustle and bustle of his hometown London, England and search for another way of life.  He took over an old stone maison in rural Southwest France called La Giraudière.

The roots of the house date back to the early 1700s but the original main house had long ago disappeared due to a fire or some other force of nature. What may have been the Gate House to the old estate still survived and in 1904 the family Giraud added an extension and this became La Giraudiere as known today.

It is rumored that the last offspring, 2 daughters, of the Giraudiere family had little or no interest in the property and moved off to Paris in the 1960s.  La Giraudiere fell into disrepair and needed some major repairs.  With nary a French word in his vocabulary, Paul set to rehabilitating the old house, taking on various other building projects in the area to bring in some income.

 

Paul Sidney hosting volunteers France La Giraudiere

Amiable La Giraudière hosts, Paul and Sidney

An afffable man, he soon got to know the locals, and learning the best way possible, through experience, he became conversant in French.  However, he still proudly holds on to a distinct British accent as he believes everyone should recognize their roots.

He was soon joined by a Labrador pup, Sidney who quickly became his right hand dog.  A man of leisurely pace, La Girardière slowly took shape until 2007 when Paul stumbled upon the idea of opening  up the building to holiday visitors in search of a unique experience in rural south west France.

For a small fee, (that basically covers food expense, French lessons, excursions and transfers) folks come from all over the world to volunteer in the effort to restore La Giraudière. Some like me come to help with the blogging or dealing with the ever arriving inquiries that arrive in the mail box each day.

 

Visitors come for many different reasons.  Some come to freshen up their French or English skills.  Others want to learn more about French culture while others just want a quiet getaway from the frenzied pace old modern living.  Whatever the reason, Paul greets everyone  with a smile and welcomes them aboard.

It’s clear Paul has come to love his adopted home.  He is never happier than when he usher his visitors to area markets, festivals or tourist spots.  He enjoys watching his guests marvel at the beauty of the local sunflower fields or the majesty of The Atlantic coast.

Well known in the nearby town of Brossac, the local villagers welcome his guests into the local shops, bar, restaurants and invite them to join in the bi-weekly games of petanque.  Perhaps, though, his favorite activity is sitting at La Girardière at sunset watching the beautiful colors streak across the sky or maybe even better, viewing the night sky, white with stars.  Regardless, wherever you catch Paul, you can count on a lively Bienvenue to La Giraudiere

Terrence Cremin

 

Travel writer Terence Cremin describes his experiences while volunteering at La Giraudière, France

 

 

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