volunteering in France project

A Unique French Experience

While some projects and programs claim to provide an
opportunity to become immersed in the host country’s
 language and culture, most lack the unique French
that La Giraudière provides.

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What exactly is meant by “A unique French Experience”?

There are many different ways to visit and tour France, each one offering something different. For some a “unique French experience” is achieved by simply ordering a coffee and watching the world go by from a square in centre ville,  or maybe ordering and eating a meal gastronomic in some chic French restaurant. Others prefer the crowded and noisy southern beach towns of the Mediterranean coast, whereas some look for the scenery and the chateaux of the Loire Valley. For those who wish to learn more about French history there are the museums and monuments in Paris.

But what if you are a courageous soul looking for something entirely different - something unique? What if you want a way of getting to know the French and their lifestyle from a place within their life rather than as an observer? It is this very opportunity that waits for you in the rural heartland of southwest France at La Giraudière, Brossac.

Emily British Volunteer work in france
"I have really appreciated the opportunity to see what rural France is realy like and to be part of your community for a time, I will never forget La Giraudiere and Brossac"

Emily Richardson, 19, England,  sept 2011,
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La Giraudière is a ‘place of learning’ in the making where you can indeed experience France from within; a place where unique challenges to interact across the language barrier will be rewarded by the warm hospitality of the French people and a sense of a real community and a real connection with them.  During your stay at La Giraudière you will be encouraged to participate in the weekly events of the village. A game of pétanque, a game that may be as old as France itself, every Monday and Friday afternoon there is practice or rather a gathering where the villagers meet and discuss the weather, the wine and the local politics and the bonhomie between the villagers. The doors are always open for the residents at la Giraudière.

For the more active there is football training at the local village stade on Friday evenings, or maybe the local Badminton club on Tuesday nights. Depending on your dates you maybe fortunate enough to participate in the monthly Lotto or Bingo - a great opportunity for practising your numbers and connecting with villagers. As well there is  the bi-monthly card game Belote which is played  with vigour and enthusiasm in the village.

The other local meeting spots such as the bar and the restaurant also offer an opportunity to meet, converse and interact with the local community and your host at La Giraudière will introduce you to both the locals and the patrons.

Cindra american volunteers in france

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La Giraudiere – a place of learning – and so much more!  To me, it is also a place of discovery and insight…about this ancient and fascinating region of our world, about other people, their cultures and lifestyles, about developing different skill sets, and about broadening my knowledge of myself.  Thank you for your vision, Paul, and for making this unique opportunity available!

Cindra Vargas USA, 2012

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The yearly round of village fêtes offer yet another opportunity for you to be involved in the life of the village.  Year in year out the La Giraudieriens are invited to help with the preparations for the Fête du Muguet a spring fete held in May, and for Bastille Day in July. In October the Autome Fete, which entails a 10 km randonee with stops for roasted chestnuts and grape juice from the recent vendage, is something to which you may  be invited. 2012 saw the La Giraudieriens helping with the South Charente cycle tour a local event  like the Tour De France and participating in the fun of the Jeu Inter Village, a contest between the Brossacaise and the neighbouring villages.

Getting an insider’s glimpse of the French way of life naturally means speaking French – the program at La Giraudière includes French conversation lessons as a service to residents. The teaching is excellent and the goodwill of the local community encourages even the most timid to try talking. The open-hearted and generous welcome given by the people of the surrounding villages as they patiently explain aspects of their heritage to foreigners further stimulates one’s efforts to speak. The sense of accomplishment in discovery through one’s own efforts to talk with the people is exciting and satisfying.

The weekly marchès are part of the rich tapestry of local life into which La Giraudièriens are drawn as an important part of their learning experience. After your first week in Brossac your visit to the Chalais market boosts your sense of belonging to the broader community as you hear bonjour from someone you have met during your first week.

Greg american volunteer as cook in france
I enjoyed the experience, and everyone I met and it opens doors to opportunities culturally that you wouldn't get any other way. The integration into the community, in terms of activities and friends was one of my major likes.

Greg Karle, 60, USA, June 2011
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From La Giraudière a traveller can enter the rich rural traditions of generations of the French. He/she can absorb the serenity and rhythm of a rural lifestyle that has continued over centuries in a landscape still displaying its ancient foundations. It is a uniquely warm, welcoming, rich and earthy landscape. Here in Brossac at La Giraudière you can gain a unique French experience, a true taste of France’s remarkable joie-de-vivre.

While resident at La Giraudière, travellers from around the globe can either contribute to the development of a visionary community through applying their labour, skills and or expertise to the project. Or by enrolling for one of the learning programs. You can read more about the project and it’s programs at  VOLUNTEER in FRANCE or INTERNSHIP in FRANCE

"This article was started by Kelly kean from the USA a volunteer in July/August 2012 and followed up by Merise Riddell from Australia a volunteer in September 2012. " You can read more testimonials at Volunteers Testimonials
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