Aug 27

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€ et comprend 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€, et comprend 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

Aug 27

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

Aug 27

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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Aug 24

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

Jul 31

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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Jul 31

A volunteers journey to La Giraudière France

My Volunteers Journey to La Giraudière France

While spending three weeks volunteering at La Giraudière in Southwest France, I got to wondering how the planets had ined so that a volunteers journey would bring me to this little jewel in Southwest, France. I ‘m not sure when I was struck with the happy disease of wanderlust but perhaps it was during the fourth grade.

The Parthenon volunteers journey

The Parthenon

We studied Geography for the first time in my small Catholic school on the south side of Chicago.  The textbook was written as a travelogue and followed ten year old Peter on his family’s trip around the world. I read with awe as he watched the guards change at Buckingham Palace, climbed the steps of the Eifell Tower and ate gelato on The Spanish Steps in Rome. I would have happily traded places with him as I wiggled in my starched blue school uniform while he took pictures of The Pathenon and floated down The Ganges. Or perhaps it was even earlier when I received a picture book as a very young child called The Land of The Midnight Sun.  It was filled with happy Lap Landers with red puffy cheeks ,wearing colorful coats and hats,

Colorful Lap Landers

Colorful Lap Landers

herding reindeer under The Aurora Borealis.  Under drab Midwestern skies I dreamed of faraway places and knew that I must get there some day. Other than a tornado sweeping me away like Dorothy to Oz, I knew I would have to figure a way to get there on my own. It didn’t take as long as you might imagine, once I started saving my money from my daily paper route.  By the time I was sixteen, I had saved enough money to participate in a month long student tour of Europe sponsored by my high school.  I considered it a survey course of Western Europe; of the variety, snap a picture and look at it when you get home. We have to hurry on to our next country.  Or, if this is Tuesday, this must be Belgium.  It was all wonderful and I still look back at it fondly but it did not slake my travel thirst.  It would be ten years before I returned to Europe, this time to Switzerland to work in a language summer camp.  This

Balloons over Cappadocia, Turkey

Ballons over Cappadocia, Turkey

also afforded me the opportunity to visit The Netherlands, Luxembourg and England once again.  I would follow up my summer adventure with another Swiss tour the following year adding Ireland to the itinerary.  Then life would interfere.  Career and family would become the priority with some magical visits to places closer to home in The United States.  There is so much to see and do there but often when I would see a jet trail high in the sky, I would long to be aboard a jet plane European bound.  It would be over thirty years before I would have my passport stamped again. Two  years ago, I was given an opportunity to travel to Paris to visit a young friend gratuating from The Sorbonne.  I brushed off my dormant French skills and leapt at the chance.  This time I wandered to points south and north visiting Nice and Normandy.  It opened up my eyes that there was much more to Europe than the

major cities.  A trip to Turkey the following year would intervene but I would hang on to the idea that I wanted to see more of rural France.  However, a major trip abroad was putting a strain on the pocket book.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers of La Giraudière

I took on a part time job and started researching volunteer possibilities in France.  This happily brings me to La Giraudière.

Name your poison and there is most likely a volunteer opportunity to meet your needs.  I was attracted to the somewhat communal setting of English and French speakers in rural France.  It’s location in Sud Ouest had great appeal as it was an area I was unfamiliar with and knew it would yield great surprises.  I have not been disappointed in that regard.

My visit to Bordeaux revealed a beautiful ancient city brimming with gorgeous architecture, delicious dining spots and a fascinating history dating back to prehistoric times.

Forays to the Atlantic Coast delighted with beach resorts that rival the Cote D’Azur but with less people.  I have to thank my literary fourth grade friend Peter for opening the doors to such vast fields of exploration.  I don’t know if my travels will bring me back to La Giraudière ; after all Peter made it all around the world. I still have other continents to conquer.

 

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

 

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Jul 29

Holiday volunteering at La Giraudière France

Holiday Volunteering and La Giraudière Volunteers Arrive and Depart

 

After spending three weeks on a holiday volunteering the La Giraudiere Volunteers arrive and volunteers depart. Even on a quiet weekend, La Giraudière is a busy as a hen house on Easter. There are markets in town and car boots in the village (that’s a flea market to our American friends; so named because people sell items out of their car trunks (boots.)

Holiday volunteering in France Marlene and Sal

Sal enjoys a concert with La Giraudiere friends before he departs

One can wander to points north and west, Bordeaux or the west coast, or stick close to home and swim in Etang Valliersfollowed by a terrific meal at Quay Sud.

A good book and a nap is also a welcome distraction; there is no more perfect spot than under a shady tree facing a field of tournesols (sunflowers).  All this and more happens on a typical La Giraudière weekend.

This past weekend saw us wishing a fond farewell to Sal who came to us from Northern Ireland. In the evening we all met for a delicious meal over looking Etang Valliers.  Despite the reality of having to say goodbye to a new friend, the mood at the dinner was kept lighthearted.  Sal is not one to look backwards besides there was still a concert to attend.  The Latin rhythms of the band added to the revelry.  After Sal left in the morning, La Giraudière was hit with a sensational thunderstorm

Holiday volunteering and Dinner at St. Bernard

Volunteers bid adieu to Matthew at Cafe St. Bernard

(or l’orage as the locals call it) that knocked out our internet and threw us back to The Stone Age – or at least to the 1980s.  We all wondered if Sal’s flight to Bordeaux took off or canceled but we couldn’t dwell on it as we had a new arrival to welcome and bid a fond adieu to another.

Richard arrived from Hungary as Matthew was packing his bags for home in The United Kingdom.  After spending a year studying in Toulouse and a month at La Giraudière, Matthew still wanted to extend his stay in France but family beckoned.

Another dinner, this one everyone’s favorite, Cafe St. Bernard in the center of the village of Brossac, again found us toasting a fellow volunteer with a local vintage.  The highlight of the evening however was the trivia contest that followed. Matthew was in his element, able to show off his expansive wealth of General Knowledge. He left home with not only fond memories of a his time in France but with a trivia victory under his belt.

Meanwhile Richard had precious little time to experience being the new kid on the block.  Tina from Austria

Richard plays petanque

New volunteer Richard proves to be quite adept at petanque

was scheduled to arrive the next day.  A secondary student,  Richard was hoping to work on his English and French.  He certainly became proficient in all the forms of hello and goodbye in both languages.   He was also introduced to the French game of petanque in Brossac and despite being a novice, walked away with two victories against more seasoned players.  Tina arrived the next morning with a near flawless American accent.  A native German speaker, she is conversant in English and anxious to learn French.  Despite, living in Belgium for five years, she says, with a giggle, that she didn’t learn any French there. Of course, as an American I’ve heard that all before.

 

A European says she doesn’t speak the local European language and then perfectly orders a meal while discussing options with the server.What they really mean is they couldn’t pass a second level exam in the subject. 

Tina does household chores whilsi holiday volunteering


Tina from Austria spends her holiday volunteering with household chores

As the weekend draws to a close, we look to the upcoming week which will see the departures of intern Jacques, after a month, English couple Marlene and Colin who were our unofficial den parents and then

finally by the end of the weekend, your intrepid travel writer sets off for points northward: Paris, London and Dublin.  One entire crew is replaced by another as more volunteers are scheduled to leave soon after I leave. All the coming and goings are the very nature of La Giraudière.  It’s all very bittersweet but the sadness is replaced by the friends and memories made here.  Some vow to return, others are content to add their tour at La Giraudière to their list of places visited.  Either way, all agree it was memorable and wish their replacements well

 

Terrence Cremin

 

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

Don’t forget to join us on Twitter and Facebook!

 

Jul 29

La Giraudière Volunteers visit the West Coast of France

La Giraudière Volunteers Visit the West Coast of France

After two weeks as a volunteer at La Giraudière, I realized that I had not heard an American accent since my arrival. (That’s not completely true, a volunteer from Austria speaks with a lovely American accent that

West coast of France Tournesols

Beautiful fields odf tournesols dot the landscape of Western France

she claims she picked up when she lived in Kansas for a year as a child; it has a pleasant Teutonic lilt to it so it doesn’t quite count.) Of course, I didn’t come to France to meet other Americans but still, I’ve never traveled far or near without running into some of my compatriots.  So where were they?  It’s really no great mystery.  Americans tend to visit the capital cities of Europe:London, Paris, Rome and then home.  It’s understandable but by bypassing the West of France, they are denying themselves an incredible travel experience.

On our last weekend as volunteers at La Giraudière, program director Paul lead us on a daylong excursion to the beautiful western coast of France.  The first stop along the way was the bustling town of Pons.  It’s windy, picturesque streets feature a market on Saturdays. On this particular sunny weekend, it was hosting the “La Grande Fete de la St.- Jacques.  An annual affair, the shopkeepers dress as medieval merchants while solders in mail, maidens in headdress and mythological creatures roam the

Fete de St. Jacques

A colorful poster announces The Fete de St. Jacques in Pons

streets.  As you shop for local soaps and cheeses, you are treated to the sounds of authentic medieval music played by roaming musicians.  Children in period dress, dance to the music as they dodge the shoppers who fill the streets. Falconry and archery demonstrations on the grand lawn in front of the castle fills out the bill.  It was a wonderful stop fro coffee, croissants and ice cream but soon we were off to the seaside village of Talmon sur Gironde.

As you drive into Talmon you are greeted by a sign proclaiming, “Talmon, le plus beau village en France.”  By the time you leave you will be in complete agreement.  You first must leave your car in the car park as autos are not allowed in the village.  The landscape is dominated by the fortress-like church of Sainte- Radegone that guards the harbor on the Estuary of the Gironde.   Beautiful in its simplicity, the church proudly looks upon the sea on one side and the small village on the other.

Street Dancer

A street dancer escorts her merry band of musicians through the streets of Pons

The tiny, neatly landscaped streets of the village wander through residences and shops alike.  Tidily maintained gardens amidst sun bleached white walls add the color to this most charming of villages.  The town dates back to the 1200s and the carousel on the outskirts of the village adds to the other era feel of the place.

Although, Talmon lies at the mouth of the Gironde estuary, it’s the call of the sea, further up the coast that draws us to Saint-Palais sur Mer.  It is this resort city, unlike any of the other places visited on this trip to France that makes me realize how much Americans are missing by skipping this area.  Graceful palm trees and sturdy stone mansions line its quay along the sea.  Balmy sea breezes waft through the air as beach goers and senior citizens alike,

The Church of talmon on the west coast of France

The imposing church of St – Radegone towers over le plus beau village dans France, Talmon

stroll along to capture the golden rays pouring down from the blue skies.  Large sailboats on their way out to the ocean can be seen in the distance as children of all ages frolic in the refreshing waters of The Atlantic. It only takes us seconds before we peel down to our bathing suits and we are diving in the surf. The pleasant temperatures of the water are a wonderful surprise, especially for anyone who has spent summer holidays on the  chilly shores of The North Atlantic in America.  I am reminded of Nice without the crowds and with better beaches.  No rocky bottoms here but rather the type of sand that invites you to curl your toes into as you prepare to take your first dive into the water.  An English band with a vocalist reminiscent of Adele rehearses along the

St Palais Sur Mer

The beautiful seaside town of St.- Palais Sur Mer boasts warm water despite being on the Atlantic

promenade for their evening concert.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to stay long enough to hear their complete sets but it was easy to imagine the whole seafront lit up while merry vacationers danced the night away to their pop sounds.  A delicious lunch of crepes, omelets and strawberry water readied us for our car ride home.  Although we were a bit tired and all had a touch of the sun, the drive home was only 90 minutes long, reminding us just how close we were to this most beautiful of regions.

La Giraudiere sits among the peaceful sunflower and farm fields of The Charente region but it is only a short drive to the gorgeous western coast of France. I didn’t sign up for this but what a marvelous surprise to find such a beautiful piece of the world in my own backyard.

 

 

Terrence CreminPost Written by Terrence Cremin USA while on his working holiday volunteering in France 

 
 For information on volunteering in France  or A working holiday in France
 
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Jul 29

La Giraurdière Guests Volunteer for Many Reasons

La Giraurdière Guests Volunteer for Many Reasons

 

Learning French and discovering French culture are great reasons to volunteer at La Giraurdière.  But they aren’t the only reasons. I was reading over some of the old posts and testimonials for La Giraudiere and I came across this one from volunteer Tom Clinch that really struck a chord with me.  People come from all over the world to this little corner of France for all sorts of reasons.  Most cited is that they want to improve their French and the next most popular reason seems to be an interest in French culture.  Excellent reasons and I must admit they are at the top of my list.  However, they can be off putting for anyone not confident in their language skills or at least not confident in negotiating a foreign country without being able to speak to the natives.  But Tom’s reason is so simple and clear that it should cast away any fears of traveling to La Giraudière.  He simply wants to get away from it all; to put aside all the worries of modern living and experience a simpler way of living for a few weeks. Learning a new  language and about a different culture all becomes incidental and a by – product of life at La Giraudière.  Read Tom’s post below and see if it doesn’t help to dispel any doubts you may have about not being up to the challenge of living in another country for just a few weeks.

 

Bonjour to all at La Giraudiere.  I’m not a Facebook, Twitter or Google+ user and, yes, I still read books

Tom Clinch

La Giraudière volunteer ha a unique and simple reason for staying at La Giraudière

made out of actual paper! So last century, I know. Anyway I did want to write a few words about my time at LG. You can modify and trim them to post wherever you like.    May of 2014 marked my second visit to La Giraudiere. I had been there the prior year at the same time and had enjoyed my time very much. Volunteering at LG is a very liberating experience in that one is able to put all the distractions and routines of home life and slip into new patterns, new activities and make new friends. The pace of life and the living at LG are so comfortable, not due to luxuries but, rather, the environment that Paul has created both at LG and with the local people in Brossac. You’ll never feel more welcome even if you don’t speak a word of French. Volunteering at LG is a totally different experience than any vacation you’ll ever take. I do recommend that if you’re working in an office or a classroom and are intrigued by the idea of actually living a normal type life in beautiful, laid-back Southwest France you should give La Giraudiere a try.        Hope this is useful. Remind Paul that he owes me a picture of the big piece of furniture set in its place in the old house.  A couple of us worked tirelessly to get it there. Well, not really.

Best regards to Sydney.

Tom Clinch

Terrence Cremin

Travel writer Terrence Cremin writes about his experiences as a volunteer at La Giraudière

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Jul 25

Art exhibition at La Giraudiere 16 August 2014

Balade à la rencontre des peintres

La Giraudiere, with the help of it’s volunteers, will be one of the places preparing for the “Balade à la rencontre des peintres” ,an art exhibition, to be held on the 16th August 2014. Other places taking part in the expo will be La  Maire de Brossac,  salles des fetes de Brossac, Salle Bel Horizon and the Galerie Marmajoux.

Exhibitions will be open from 10.00 to 12.00 and again in the afternoon from 14.00 to 18.30. There will be 14 exhibitors and over 200 paintings.

You can see more information at our Facebook page where there are links to the Charente Libre post about this event.

http://brossac.blogs.charentelibre.fr/media/02/00/2621511607.gif

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