CHRISTMAS VOLUNTEERING IN FRANCE
"I want to tell you about my Christmas in
France volunteering at La Giraudiere".
The winter volunteers have just had a
fantastic Christmas and New Year at La Giraudiere, in the Charente
region of France.
have organised and held Christmas events for people in the village of
Brossac, taken part in local events,visited the Chalais market, made
bonfires, played petanque, been on sightseeing tours
to towns and villages in the Charente and the Dordogne and celebrated
New Year together in the beautiful city of Bordeaux.
What an amazing
experience! I have had.
La Giraudiere in Christmas mood.
I travelled to France with my husband Stephen from
Melbourne in Australia to experience Christmas in the French winter
countryside for three weeks,
improve our French and work with volunteers from other countries,
learning new skills at the same time.
Making a Fire
Christmas Evening at
La Giraudiere - Saturday 19th December 2015
Giraudiere held a fantastic pre-Christmas evening in the newly
renovated entertainment room, beautifully decorated with Christmas bows
and lights. Over 50 people from the local Brossac village and surrounds
came along and were treated to a three course meal, local wine and
entertainment, including pool, darts and cards. Paul, the project
Director at La
Giraudiere, and Aileen, a volunteer from Phillipines, prepared to food.
themselves and the festivities continue well after midnight.
Phillipine, Irish, Chinesse, French and English - what an exchange.
Chalais Carols - Sunday 20th December 2015
The group of us went along to the
annual Carols evening at Chalais
Chapel. A traditional choir from the village sang Christmas songs and
hymns such as 'Ecoutez le chant des anges' (Hark the Herald Angels
sing). There was a trumpet player, flautist and pianist to accompany
the choir. Beautiful church and a great atmosphere in the small market town of Chalais.
A real Christmas build up
Silent night in the small Market Town of Chalais
Christmas Eve at
Brossac - Thursday 24th December
We attended the Christmas Eve Mass at
Brossac (Messe de la nuit de Noel). The 11th Century stone church is
beautiful and luckily warmed with heating pads under the chairs as the
night was cold. The children of the village walked down the aisle
carrying candles at the start of the service. We sang hymns such as 'Il
est né le divin enfant' and
returned to home to LG after 9pm in order to get prepared for Christmas
The village lights for Christmas
Day and Traditional Christmas
Dinner at La Giraudiere
- Friday 25th December
Christmas Day at La Giraudiere is
especially for people from the village who would normally be alone at
Myself, Paul, Stephen and Aileen spent two days preparing the five
course menu and divided up the cooking duties between us. I was
responsible for the prawn cocktail entree and cauliflower gratin,
Aileen looked after the hors d'oevres and dessert, Paul had the
important job of cooking the chapons and Stephen looked after the roast
potatoes and vegetables. Aileen and I also made and decorated
traditional gingerbread biscuits. On Christmas morning we were lucky to
have spectacular weather - blue sky and bright sunshine. Paul poured
the traditional Pineau from the Charente as our guests arrived and we
started serving the first course at 2.30pm. The meal was still going
after 6pm! Highlights were the perfectly cooked chapons, meeting a real
actress (one of our guests),
the Bordeaux wine, great conversations
with local people from Brossac and a magnificent new moon at night.
Aileen from the Philippines had never seen Christmas crackers so we
introduced her to this tradition.
Christmas Table Laid
to Perigueux Marchè de Noel - Saturday 26th December
took us on a day trip to Perigueux to visit a traditional Christmas
market. We sampled hot food from the stalls - Belgian frites, roasted
marrons (chestnuts) and of course vin chaud (mulled wine), watched children at the
skating rink, visited the magnificent St Front Cathedral with its
special nativity and stopped at a café in the Cathedral square. On the
way back to Brossac, we toured the picturesque town of Brantome.
Aubeterre and St Emilion - Sunday 27th December
drove us all to see the historic town of Aubeterre sur Dronne. We
visited the ancient Eglise St Jean which is a subterrainian church
carved out of stone. The next stop was lunch in the square at St
Emilion. This town is famous for its wine tourism and steep cobbled
streets. Thanks Paul - it was a fantastic day out.
Monolithique Church Aubeterre
New Year's Eve in
Bordeaux - 31st December / 1st January
Thursday morning we headed off to Bordeaux to celebrate New Year's Eve,
staying overnight in a local hotel. A magnificent three course lunch at
Cafe Grand (Menu complet) was followed by a tour of the city. Bordeaux
has an efficient tram service and its buildings are beautifully
restored. Heading out for some nightlife to bring in the New Year, we
found a series of bars at the Place de Parliament including Le
Boucherie (Spanish) and the Governor (English) both offering the
perfect atmosphere to welcome the new year . Bonne Annéé 2016! -
Remember to budget for this excusion it is so worth it.
Bordeaux perfect atmosphere to welcome the new year
Read how you can VOLUNTEER
AT LA GIRAUDIERE THIS CHRISTMAS