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Volunteers' frequently asked questions

This notice board is where we have placed your Frequently Asked Questions and our answers.
If you have any questions that are not addressed here, feel free to email them to: volunteer@lagiraudiere.com

How much does it cost?  -  The cost per day starts from €29 for singles and €22 for those sharing.

A 3 week stay would be 3 X €210 = €630. Volunteers are more than welcome to stay for more than 3 weeks. A 6 week stay is the suggested maximum but in the past some volunteers have proven to be irreplaceable and warranted a longer stay!

What is included?  - 
  • Transfers to and from Chalais Train Station on arrival and departure
  • Transportation to and from Chalais during your stay
  • Accommodation
  • Three meals a day
  • Training
  • Advice
  • French lesson: One lesson of 2 hours each week
  • Weekly excursions to Chalais market and group excursion.
  • In addition each volunteer has long weekends to do as they please, go surfing, explore Bordeaux, visit Lourdes, etc
Read more about how La Giraudière looks after its volunteers at The Benefits of Volunteering at La Giraudiere

When do I pay the deposit to reserve my space? -  Only when we have confirmed that you have a place do you pay your reservation deposit.

Why do you ask for a deposit?  -  Prior to asking for the deposit some applicants booked a place and then did not turn up. Apart from the wasted trip to meet them we also lost a place in the group. This is why we ask for a reservation deposit. This way we know you are serious and will be arriving and our journey to meet you will not be wasted.

How do I pay?  -  Your initial payment will be via the secure internet payment system provided by PAYPAL - La Giraudière has a verified PayPal Account and we will send you the link to make your first payment and reserve your place. The balance of your stay is due one week prior to your arrival and you will recieve a request via PayPal.

"Remember to notify your bank if you are travelling abroad and intend to use your bank or credit card."

How long can I stay?    -  The minimum stay of 3 weeks is suggested but as long as you can provide 18 hours per week of volunteering you are more than welcome to stay longer. A 6 week maximum is suggested but volunteers have stayed up to 13 weeks in the past.

Do I need a travel permit / visa?  -   Depending on how long you are staying, your nationality and where you will be going after your stay at La Giraudière you may want to research what permits are required. As regards your stay at La Giraudière remember that you are paying for your accommodation and you are not being paid. Once your deposit is paid you will receive a receipt via PayPal for your reserved accommodation, so you are a travelling tourist with reserved accommodation at La Giraudière.

Visa Applications: Depending on where your are based or travelling from you may need a visa to visit France, even as a volunteer, Once your deposit is paid you will receive a receipt via paypal and we will send you a signed letter confirming that you have reserved accommodation. There is a 50€ charge for this letter which is not refundable.

What type of work is there to do?  -   This will depend on the time of your visit, what is going on at that time and what you may have to offer. You can read more at what is planned at La Giraudière’s Objectives and how volunteers can help

What if I have no experience or skill?  -   Training, advice and plenty of assistance are available and provided no matter what type of work you are interested in doing.

Can I choose what type of work I do?  -   Of course you can. There are many different jobs that need doing here so there will be plenty to go around! Whether it is:

  • Event planning
  • Household management
  • Marketing
  • Internet work
  • Clerical jobs
  • Building
  • Construction
  • Gardening
  • Cleaning
  • Managing accounts

Can I bring my laptop? -  Yes you can, we have Wi-Fi in place and it is included as part of your stay.

Can I bring my phone?  -   Yes, bring it to keep in touch with people back home but please leave it in your bedroom during the working day as there is nothing more annoying than having lunch or trying to work with a group who are constantly on their phones.

Will I be working in a group or as an individual?   -  Depending on what work you are doing and who is here will determine if you are in a group or working alone but either way team spirit is needed.

I paid over US$ 1,000 per week to study abroad last year, how can it only be €210 at La Giraudière?  - With this project you are contributing towards the success of La Giraudière by volunteering and working 18 hours a week which enables the price to be less. In addition, this program is run on a small scale to provide an intimate experience and cut down on the cost of a larger program. Finally, there is no third party to pay.

What are Brossac and the area surrounding La Giraudière like?  -  You would be staying in one of the most beautiful regions of France. Charente is famous for its number of sunshine hours, clear skies and unpolluted air. The countryside is full of rolling hills, grapevines, sunflowers and scattered stone-built villages.

Where is La Giraudière?  -   La Giraudière is 1 km from the center of Brossac. Brossac is in the southern part of Charente and lies 8 km from Chalais. To see for yourself and use a Google interactive map of the location for La Giraudière visit: Location La Giraudiere

How do I get there? -  The main arrival point is Chalais train station which is about 8 km from La Giraudiere. There will be someone there to meet you at Chalais. You are responsible for getting yourself to Chalais station.  Chalais station is on the TER rail line that runs from Bordeaux to Angoulème. Normally there are 3 trains a day so make sure to check how it fits in with your arrival times. It is important to remember when making your arrangements that Chalais is on the TER line and NOT the TGV line.
The nearest international airport is Bordeaux.

How do I get from Bordeaux airport to Chalais station?  -  From Bordeaux airport there is a shuttle bus service that departs every 45 minutes which takes you to the train station at Bordeaux St. Jean where you will have to take the train to Chalais. The line is known as the Bordeaux to Angoulème line and there are 3 trains a day.
More information can be found at: Rail Connections in Charente, France

I have a flight to La Rochelle for €15. If I make my way to Chalais will you meet me? - Yes, of course but I understand that the flights to La Rochelle arrive quite late so you may need to stay overnight somewhere.

Can I get there by car?  -   Yes, of course. Let me know how you are traveling and when you expect to arrive. Make sure you take a note of our telephone number and purchase a French Telecom Card.  If you are delayed or have a problem you can contact us.

Do I need travel insurance?  -   Yes! Do not forget to get travel insurance. Health care and treatment can be very expensive in France and it is your responsibility to have full cover for accidents and illness. If you are a European Union citizen remember to bring the E111 as well. Also remember that your E111 may not pay for all your treatment or medication so make sure you have top-up insurance.

What are the meals like, and how do they work?  -  Breakfast is typically continental - toast, cereal, fruit and yogurt all provided. There is also coffee and tea available at all times.
All the volunteers have lunch together during the working day and it usually consists of a variety of salads, meats, cheeses, pizzas and quiche.
Dinners are a joint effort and are always had together. Normally volunteers take turns to cook so that variety is maintained. There is always wine or beer available with dinner.

What is a typical working day for a Volunteer?  -  The typical working day may vary according to the season as no-one wants to work when it is too hot but basically you are volunteering for 18hours over 3 days. Wake up time is normally about 7.30am followed by breakfast.  We take a coffee break mid-morning and lunch is normally at about 1pm and ends at 2pm. The working day finishes sometime between 4.30 and 5.00pm. Volunteers have the early evening to do as they please and then the evening meal is about 7 or 7.30pm.

Can I drink the water?  -   Residents have been drinking the tap water for the last 16 years and so far there have been no problems.

I require a special diet (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, diabetic etc) can I still come? -  Of course. If you let us know prior to your arrival we can be sure to have the right types of food available. Vegetarians or glutten free? Make sure you tell us in advance.

Are drinks included?  -  Fruit juices are served with breakfast and lunch. Red wine is normally served with the evening meal and there are normally beers in the fridge for after work. All of it is included but please in moderation.

What ages have volunteered at La Giraudiere? Volunteers from 18 years of age to 84 have offered their services. Remember the minimum age is 18 unless you are accompanied by an adult.

Can we apply as a couple?  -  Yes, as long as both partners participate and pay, you are more than welcome. Remember there is a reduction for those sharing.

Can I apply with my child or children?  -   Providing your child is accompanied by a parent ot at least someone over 18 years of age, yes they can come.  They must complete the application form and mark clearly how they would like to help. If your child does not want to volunteer then they can stay as a paying guest. Simply let us know when you apply.

Can I bring my dog?  -  Sorry, no.

Can we apply as a group? -   Providing we have the space. Presently we have 11 bedrooms, some singles, some doubles and some triples. As the program continues more accommodation will become available, so the answer is that it all depends on when you apply and the dates that you apply for.

Is there a reduction in fees for those sharing a room?  -   Yes, if you apply as a couple, two friends or are willing to share a room then the price per person starts from €154 per week.

What is the weather like in Brossac?  -   The summer can be very hot, up to 35+ᵒC and the region of south west France is also known for its storms so it is advisable to prepare for both. If there are particularly hot days, we may start and end work earlier to avoid the heat. Winters can be very cold -10ᵒC recorded this year. A page about the weather in Brossac has been produced and you can see it at- Weather in Brossac.

Once I have arrived at La Giraudière how do I get about? -  There are 8 bikes which can be used and are ideal for getting to and from Brossac. There is also a bus service that runs to Chalais, Barbezieux and Angoulème and the nearest train station is at Chalais (8 km away).

What Language is used at La Giraudière?  -   English is the main language but French is also spoken when local visitors arrive. There are sometimes volunteers from other countries that contribute to the variety as well. When interacting with the local people it is best to speak French and 2 hour French lessons are provided each week by one of our professionally qualified teachers and it is included in the price.

Where is the nearest beach?  -   Brossac Lake has a superb sandy beach and is ideal for swimming. It is just 1 km away from La Giraudière. If volunteers would like to visit a beach on the coast there are several different ones that are only an hour’s drive away.

Is there a tourist office nearby? -  Yes, there is a tourist office annexed to the local Brossac Town Hall and another larger office 8 km away in Chalais.

Are there any paying guests at La Giraudière now? -  Yes, we do sometimes have holidaymakers and travelers if there is space but volunteers and interns always take preference.

Is it possible to only come for one week? -  Yes, it is, but the cost per week is higher. Look at- VOLUNTEERS FEES.

I intend to travel around France for the summer and was wondering if I could split up my stay? -  Another alternative is to book two periods, say for instance you want to tour France and use our project as your base or place of arrival. For example, you could stay at La Giraudière for the first two weeks of July and then do your 4 week tour of France and then return to La Giraudière for the last 3 weeks of August. This is just an example; the dates could be whatever you like providing it fits in with the places we have available at La Giraudière.

Do I have to arrive at Chalais on a certain day of the week? -  We are very flexible and whatever day works best for you is fine. Although, we do know that mid-week flights can be cheaper so yes, go for it.

Can you smoke at La Giraudière?  -  La Giraudière is a no smoking zone but there is a smokers' corner provided under a tree on the other side of the lane.

The 2018 program starts 23rd April 2018 and we are open until the end of October 2018
The recommended stay is 3 weeks but you can apply for 1-6 weeks

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