Volunteer and intern go on a trip to Toulouse

La Ville Rose

Toulouse is a capital of a region called Occitanie on the south of France. It’s the fourth-largest city in France (after Paris, Lyon and Marseille). Toulouse is located about 150 km away from the Spanish border. The city was founded by Romans and in the 5th century it was the capital of Visigothic Kingdom. Its unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks has earned Toulouse the nickname La Ville Rose (“The Pink City”). Toulouse is also famous of being the center of the European aerospace industry and having one of the oldest universities in Europe (University of Toulouse founded in 1229).

One of small streets in Toulouse

Three-day French journey

We arrived to Toulouse on Sunday afternoon and immediately started exploring the city. First, we ate a late lunch in the city center and then we headed to Toulouse’s main square – Place du Capitole. Since it was Sunday and pretty much everything was closed, we decided to walk around in sunshine and spend the rest of our evening that way.

Monday started with delicious coffee and some shopping. Buying souvenirs and gifts is a must! Many of local stores enchanted us with their originality. Next, we visited Salle des Illustres inside the Capitole which contains 19th century works of art. Then we went to see the biggest remaining Romanesque church in Europe – la basilique Saint-Sernin. We weren’t disappointed at any moment. The day was long but great. It ended with a delicious dinner in a fantastic atmosphere.

Ceiling painting in Salles des Illustres

We wanted to make the most of our last day and because of that we woke up early and left our hotel at 8 a.m. After a tasty French breakfast we headed to the main point of our Tuesday’s itinerary: Marché Victor Hugo. It’s a historic covered market that takes place everyday and where local merchants sell fresh meats, fish, cheeses, fruits and others. Upstairs, there is a couple of restaurants that serve food made only from the products that are being sold downstairs. It was busy out there, we had to wait for a free table for a while, but it was definitely worth it. An experience to recommend!

Polish Erasmus intern and Singaporean-American volunteer

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Week of local events in south-west France

Market of variety

Last week of July was full of local events in Brossac and its surroundings. Participation in them was the best opportunity to immerse in the French culture and practice the language. The first thing that we attended was Monday market in the town of Chalais. That was the unique experience of tasting and buying local specialties, drinking coffee and talking to people, which made us feel as we were locals. You can read a bit more about our visit to the market in one of my last posts.

Picnic by the lake

The next day also did not let us get bored. In the evening we went to the lake to take part in the picnic. Everybody brought some food with themselves and share it with others. Thanks to that, we could enjoy French, homemade dishes. Sitting on the grass, at one, long table together felt like being a part of the community.

Lights on the picnic improving the atmosphere

Walk & eat

On Saturday (31st of July) we had a chance to get a new experience by showing up at the event called “Marche gourmande” in Châtignac – a village 3 km away from Brossac. The idea of it is to take a walk through charming rural area of south-west France and stopping for a meal every few kilometres. The order of eating is no different than French. We started with aperitif in salle des fêtes in Châtignac and after that we set off on our journey. Every next stop was entrée, plat, fromage and dessert. In total, we went around 12 km. We got back to the place where we started just after it got dark. The timing was perfect, just as the whole concept of the event.

Paul – president of the association, Singaporean-American volunteer and Polish Erasmus intern during the event

South-western France is full of interesting events which enrich our interning and volunteering experience at La Giraudière. We will make the most of it and I will make sure that you will stay informed about everything.

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Erasmus Interns in France take time out

Visiting the coastline of South West France

Pons – Charente Maritime

Hi! My name is Gabriela, I’m from Poland and I am an Erasmus student interning at La Giraudière. Two weeks ago together with others in the group we took an outing to the delightful coastline of South-West France. Our first stop of the car ride was for café at the city of Pons. Pons is located in the Charente-Maritime department in southwestern France. The city is known for its numerous national historic monuments dating from the 12th century on wards. One of the most well known is the 33 meter high Keep (or Dungeon) of Pons which is the official symbol of the city. We spent there about half an hour, grabbing a coffee, admiring the old dungeon and wandering around the park.

Dungeon of Pons

Talmont Sur Gironde

Our next stop was at Talmont-sur-Gironde, one of the Plus beaux villages de France. This is the second plus beau village for me as I had the opportunity to visit Aubeterre-sur-Dronne on a previous outing.

Talmont-sur-Gironde is a village in the Charente-Maritime department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in southwestern France. Its inhabitants are called Talmonais and Talmonaises. Talmont is also a small port where sturgeon were once fished for its eggs (caviar).

We saw there the admirable Romanesque church of Sainte-Radegonde dating from the year 1094. A former bastide founded by the King of England and Duke of Aquitaine Edward I in 1284, this small city camped on a promontory overlooking the Gironde estuary was once a formidable stronghold, of which only a few sections of ramparts and the remains of a medieval tower half ruined (white tower) now remain.

St Radegund church in Talmont-sur-Gironde

Meschers and Saint George de Didonne

After that, we took a ride by Gironde estuary, passing by the towns of Meschers and Saint-Georges-de-Didonne. Then, we headed onto Royan, one of the main French Atlantic coastal resort towns. We left our car just north of there and started long, remarkable walk along the coast.

House in Royan
Vaux and Saint-Palais-Sur-Mer

Our walk was accompanied by lots of sunshine and nice sea breeze. Exceptional hotness of that day didn’t bother us, since we were surrounded by astonishing coastal views. During the tour, we crossed the towns of Vaux-sur-Mer and Saint-Palais-sur-Mer. In that second one we had our very French lunch that consisted of crêpes. After a well deserved meal we had time to cool off by swimming in the Atlantic ocean.

In total, we had walked around 14 km. The route from Royan to Saint-Palais-sur-Mer was a bit longer, because we chose the way along the coast. It was about 8 km. Journey back was 6 km long, since we decided to walk the road.

Intern from Poland taking a trip to the coast in south-west France
Polish intern at French coast
Barbezieux Relais – Truck stop

After the long and intense day, we stopped for dinner in Relais de Barbezieux. It’s a restaurant mainly used by truckers who pass the town on their way to Spain or Paris. We ate very tasty food there, drank some wine and with regenerated strengths we came back to Brossac, refreshed and ready to continue our interning the next day.

This was not our last excursion. Stay tuned to find out how we spend our time with La Giraudière’s program.

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A Singaporean-American volunteer in France

We welcome our new friend

Yanli Muhs, who I am writing about in this post, arrived to France on last Thursday from Guilford, Connecticut. She is only 17 and can amaze you with her ambition. Yanli is going into her final year of high school which she will spend abroad in Rabat, Morocco. Besides that, she is a founder and leader of a registered non-profit organisation empowering young women in Jamaica called Poetreef Summer Term. They organize 2-weeks summer camps during which girls have a chance to enhance their self-esteem and learn how to overcome social issues.

Yanli came here to realize a 4 week volunteer program. She is helping with some cleaning works and a website creation at the moment. It is good to have Yanli here as she is a great company to us all.

Singaporean-American volunteer experiences south-west France in Angoulême
Volunteer experiencing south-west France

Spending time together in south-west France

In general, our free time passes on walks to Brossac and bike rides among vibrant French countryside. On rainy days, playing a 1985 version of Monopoly is also a good idea. Just after Yanli arrived, we decided to visit Angoulême – the closest city from Brossac. We spent whole Saturday there, visiting museums, restaurants and local shops, while practicing our French and gaining a truly unique French experience.

Monday at La Giraudière is a market day so we visited the market town of Chalais which is 8 km from here. Chalais closes it’s main roads to accommodate this traditional market and the crowds of locals and tourists. This again was a great time to practice our French as we purchased some of the local delicacies consisting fromage, saucissons and crêpes. We also participated in the French pastime of sipping café at the local cafés whilst taking in the local gossip.

Yesterday, we took part in a picnic hosted here by the commercants de Brossac at the local lake l’Etange Vallier. It was also a perfect opportunity to participate in French culture and overcome language barriers.

Sunset over the lake in Brossac
Sunset in Brossac – the place of learning and volunteering

Prior to Yanli’s arrival, I have already visited the wonderful coastline of this region of south-west France and several plus beaux villages de France which I will be blogging about in the near future.

This weekend coming, we are planning to take a longer trip and visit “la ville rose” – Toulouse. I look forward to updating you how everything went. Be sure to follow us on this blog and Instagram, where I will post some cool new photos soon.

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Intern arrives from Poland

Erasmus Internship at La Giraudiere

Bonjour, toute le monde ! – My name is Gabriela Kot and I come from Poland. I’m a bachelor student in cultural management on Jagiellonian University in Cracow. I always wanted to use my time on the university to travel abroad and France was first on my list. I decided that I will spend my summer holidays in a different way than I usually did and chose to find an Erasmus Internship. For discovering what suits my field of study best, I used an Erasmus Internship base with offers from all over the world.

Polish intern in France
Gabi interning at La Giraudiere

What drew my attention to internship at La Giraudière was the fact that everything is included. (You can read more about it The all inclusive internship.) Don’t let some paid internships – for example in Paris – fool you. You would still have to find and pay for accommodation and organize meals on your own. At La Giraudière you’ve got everything in one place while being surrounded with splendid countryside of south-west France.

Internship structure

How the days go by – I arrived on a thursday evening at La Giraudiere just in time for the weekend break which normally is from Friday to Monday but due to an arranged excursion on Tuesday, Monday became a work day. I will write about our excursion to the wonderful coastline in my next post.

My duties as an Erasmus intern include, for the moment, office and administration work. I help Paul – the president of Association – with managing the emails and updating information and guides important for our community. The emails includes inquiries and applications from all points of the globe to either volunteer or intern at La Giraudiere. I also take care of the blog, as you can clearly see now. This is the first time I have used the WordPress blogging software so any tips from you would be welcomed. I am improving my skills in communication, marketing, search engine optimization and French language. Living so close to the friendly community of Brossac undoubtedly helps with the last one. All these new skills and experiences will be definitely useful in my future career. I will try to make sure that you receive all the news about how my internship goes here in a very sunny Brossac. It’s 34 degrees today.

Internship in Brossac France
Brossac Village France place of learning for internships

Covid affects internship in France

Come and join us in France – Despite the ongoing pandemic and the imposed travel restrictions we are still receiving internship applications for this year but Paul has been cautious in selecting candidates and as a result our group is smaller than pre-covid. Apart from myself and Paul we also have Bill from Indonesia here as a volunteer. Tomorrow a new volunteer arrives from USA and I will update you in my next post.

Indonesian volunteer in France
Volunteer visits internship library at La Giraudiere

As a result of the vacant accommodation Paul has open the doors to colocaters and we are accommodating an English couple staying in one of the apartments. You’re more than welcomed to join us and contribute to the association with your unique cultural input. We are open until the end of September 2021 and of course you can apply for 2022.

Written by Gabriela Kot a Polish intern in France

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