Volunteer in France

Renovating an ancient fortification in Salins
Salins-les-Bains, Franche-Comté       July 30 - August 19, 2017

Volunteer project: Come to Salins-les-Bains, a small typical town in the French Jura, for an incredible experience! Salins is a welcoming town which has an impressive natural, gastronomic, and architectural heritage, such as the famous Great Saltworks listed in the UNESCO World Heritage sites. You will have the chance to take part in the enhancement of local heritage by taking part in this project!

The town owns a land plot in the centre that the representatives of the Community Center wish to transform into a community garden. In order to secure the access to the future garden, the municipality needs to renovate the fortification wall and stairs under there with the help of an international volunteer team.

You will help renovate an ancient fortification using traditional masonry techniques: removing old coating, jointing, and rebuilding some destroyed parts of the wall. You will be trained and supervised by a specialist who will happily share with you his knowledge and expertise. You will work 5 hours a day, in the morning, 5 days a week.

Language: English

Possible free time activities: Visit of the town, of the Salt museum, hiking in the surrounding mountains, swimming, shared meals and parties with locals, visit of a farm or a vineyard etc. You will be in charge of organizing an international meal for the inhabitants during your stay.

Accommodation: Accommodation will be in the Golden Tower (Tour Dorée), another architectural beauty of Salins. You will have a choice to sleep inside or in the garden in tents. Tents and ground mattresses will be provided, but please don’t forget to bring your sleeping bags.

Location: Located in the charming valley of La Furieuse, in the heart of the Jura region, Salins-les-Bains is a typical little town of Franche-Comté that has over 3000 inhabitants. Overlooked by two ancient forts and the Mount Poupet, the town has a rich cultural and natural heritage, as well as beautiful buildings which show the glorious past of this “saline city”; among them the UNESCO World Heritage “Saline building”. Salins-les-Bains developed with extraction and commercialization of salt and hosts nowadays many spa-goers.

Terminal: Salins-les-Bains

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Volunteering in an Emmaus community
Neuilly-Plaisance, Île-de-France       July 31 - August 19, 2017

Volunteer project: Emmaus is a community that welcomes marginalised and homeless people, mostly men. They are called "companions". The community provides them with a place where they can live and work. It is a place where people live together in a spirit of solidarity. Some companions live there temporarily while going through a difficult phase in life and the community supports them towards social reintegration; others see life in the community as an alternative lifestyle. There are 3 founding principles in all Emmaus Communities: welcoming everybody regardless of their origin and past; rehabilitation through work; sharing and solidarity within the community.

The work will consist in helping the community in their everyday tasks such as: sorting out second hand clothes, sorting out second hand furniture, materials or books, helping to collect second hand items from the people's houses (only strong volunteers can do that), selling the books, clothes, furniture to the public, tidying up the different little “shops” in the community, and finally, any job that can be of benefit to the community.

There are 50 men living in the Emmaüs Neuilly Plaisance community. Most of the companions have had hard times and harsh experiences. They are often tough people in appearance, who won’t talk much at first. Volunteers should be mature and aware of the potential difficulties in communicating with the companions and gaining their trust.
It is important to keep in mind that this is a social project, and that the volunteers will have to adapt their schedule to the one of the companions. Volunteers will have to be really motivated because it is hard work: the team will work from Tuesday to Saturday, from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm. Sunday and Monday are free. Please note that although the project is close to Paris, you will have limited time to visit the city, due to long working hours.

As an additional activity, you will create an exhibition on the topic of tolerance, together with the companions. Your creative talents will be needed!

Special requirements: A motivation letter in English or French is required, to ensure that the volunteers understand the project and explain why they want to participate. Coming to Emmaüs means a commitment to respect both the companions and the rules of the community. You have to show tolerance and open-mindedness. Some knowledge of French would be appreciated.

Language: French

Possible free time activities: Walks along the Seine, visiting Paris or Vincennes, organized activities with the companions.

Accommodation: To facilitate communication and integration, volunteers will take their meals with the companions at the community restaurant. Volunteers will be hosted in basic conditions in a prefabricated building.

Location: Town of Neuilly-sur-Marne, Seine-St-Denis department (Ile de France)

Terminal: Neuilly-sur-Marne

Age range: 20 - 30 years old

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Restoration of an ancient castle in the Pyrenees
Durban-sur-Arize, Midi-Pyrenees       2 projects of 3 wks in August

Volunteer project: The Medieval Castle of Saint-Barthelemy and its chapel stand on a hill just above the gorges of Arize, in the municipality of Durban-sur-Arize. The aim of this project is to go further in the conservation of these buildings and continue the protection of the site, secure access to the castle and complete the development of a permanent visitor and volunteer center. A group of international volunteers is invited to help in this project for the fourth time.

The volunteers will take part in various maintenance and development projects on the site of the Château Saint-Barthelemy. This includes restoration of walls (masonry work), clearing of vegetation, etc.

Language: English

Possible free time activities: Located in the heart of Séronnais, the site offers many hiking opportunities. Local volunteers will offer you an introduction into archeology and rock climbing.

Accommodation: You will stay in tents on the grounds of the castle. Housing conditions are simple and basic (dry toilets and solar showers). The project is for those who love peace and nature. Access to the castle is only by foot (15 minutes up a steep path from the village).

Location: Located halfway between Foix and St Girons, Durban-sur-Arize, crossed by Arize, is a charming village in the Ariège part of the Regional Natural Park of the Pyrenees. With the castle overlooking, the village has a remarkable built heritage with many preserved stone buildings. The Castle of Saint-Barthelemy is an ancient medieval fortress dated back to the 11th century.

Terminal: Durban sur Arize

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

All available dates for this project:
July 31 - August 12, 2017
August 16 - September 2, 2017

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Preservation of the ruins of a castle from the XIIc.
Bramevaque, Midi-Pyrenees       August 1 - August 19, 2017

Volunteer project: The municipality of Bramevaque and the district council of Barousse are mobilized to maintain and to restore the remains of the castle of the Earls of Comminges which attracts many visitors. For 22 years now, the small village of Bramevaque has been hosting international volunteer projects every summer which makes it possible to carry out this task and to create an original event in the village.

Supervised by an experienced mason, the group of volunteers will continue the conservation of the remains of the castle of the Earls of Comminges in Bramevaque. The work activities include clearing the overgrowth, masonry, building small stone walls. The site hosts several hundreds of visitors in the summer months.

Language: English

Possible free time activities: Hiking, swimming in the river, visit of prehistoric caves, the famous abbey of St Bertrand de Comminges, the water sports resort of Antignac, the Barousse museum.

Accommodation: You will stay in tents on the grounds of the castle. The living conditions are very simple and basic. The project is suitable for nature lovers. Access to the castle is only by foot (10 minute walk up a steep path from the village).

Location: Bramevaque is a charming rural village of 30 inhabitants, at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains marking the border with Spain. The site offers beautiful landscapes and view points. The Barousse valley is one of the most remarkable valleys of the Pyrenees; it is also on the itinerary of the “Tour de France” cycling race. The nearest cities are Montrejeau (15 km) and Toulouse (25 km).

Terminal: Montréjeau-Gourdan-Polignan

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Nature experience camp for teens
Vassieux en Vercors, Rhone-Alpes       August 1 - August 14, 2017

Volunteer project: The project is based in an outdoor nature camp in the heart of the Vercors Regional Natural Park, a protected area of forested mountains in the Rhône-Alpes region of southeastern France. All kinds of projects have been hosted here through the years, with one goal: to enable a wider audience to live in the wilderness. The site is meant to become an educational place about energy transition. Since 2011, international volunteers have contributed to this project. In the last five years, the camp hosted groups of young volunteers for an eco-construction project and collective outdoors life, and wishes to repeat the experience this year.

During the project, your mission will be to continue the work done by the volunteers last year. You will be guided by the site’s supervisors and will accomplish varied tasks of eco-construction, such as redoing the primers and making the finishing touches on the roofs of eco-huts and on the paths. Natural/recycled materials will be used. You will also be given other tasks in order to maintain and keep the site running such as looking after the vegetable garden, writing a blog, doing different little improvements and constructions, and realizing a radio podcast. You will take part in leisure activities for the kids hosted in the site. This is the prefect project for nature lovers and creators of all stripes!

Special requirements: This is a French speaking project. French will be the main language of the daily life, the work and the activities. We expect the volunteers to have at least a basic level of French.

Language: French

Possible free time activities: With the help of the group leaders, you can organize numerous activities for leisure and discovery, group games in nature, hiking, visiting local food producers. The Vercors plateau is known for having sheltered great acts of resistance during the Second World War - you can also explore this piece of local history.

Accommodation: The facility is comfy but basic, made for the outdoor life enthusiasts. You will be accommodated in tents on the camp site. Mattresses will be provided, but please bring your sleeping bag. The camp host pays special attention to the management of resources, energy and waste on the site, but also to the source of materials and food. Whenever possible, meals are prepared with local and organic products.

Location: The campsite is located a few miles from Vassieux en Vercors, a mountain village at over 1000m altitude.

Terminal: Vassieux en Vercors

Age range: 14 - 17 years old

Extra fee: 380 Euro

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Preservation of the Saint-Ilpize Castle
Saint-Ilpize, Auvergne       August 6 - August 26, 2017

Volunteer project: This project is about preservation and promotion of Chateau Fort Saint-Ilpize. International volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in the enhancement of this beautiful site and enjoy the local culture. The municipality of Saint-Ilpize is also a partner in this project. The castle is a protected national historic site.

The castle was roughed by nature: storm, winter snow, lush vegetation, and is now in great need of maintenance and rehabilitation. The group will work on the restoration of the staircase to the dungeon. This involves stone and masonry work. The project gives volunteers a chance to acquire skills in traditional masonry. A technical supervisor will be on site to teach you specific restoration techniques. The work is 5 hours a day in the morning.

Language: English

Possible free time activities: You can swim in the Allier which runs right next to the campsite. Hikes are possible around Saint-Ilpize. On August 15, you will participate in the feast of the UFO (Unidentified Floating Object): you’ll build a raft to participate in this fun and creative party!

Accommodation: The volunteers will stay at the campsite near the castle and just next to the Allier River. Mattresses and tents are provided. Please, bring your sleeping bag.

Location: Saint-Ilpize is a village of nearly 200 inhabitants located along the Allier River. The setting is exceptional: the nature is lush and historic sites are numerous!

Terminal: Saint Georges d'Aurac

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Improving access to the medieval castle of Montaigut-le-Blanc
Montaigut-le-Blanc, Auvergne       August 6 - August 26, 2017

Volunteer project: The city of Montaigut-le-Blanc is hosting for the second time a group of international volunteers during the summer of 2017. This project will be in partnership with a local association which is engaged in the preservation and enhancement of the town.

The village is crossed by many byways that provide access to the top of the village where the castle is located. The project will focus on these paths with the creation of a staircase and the implementation of stone. The objective is to facilitate access for people who want to discover this beautiful village. This project is a real opportunity to learn the craft of traditional masonry. A technical supervisor will be on site to teach you specific restoration techniques. The team will work 5 hours per day, in the morning, 5 days per week.

Language: English

Possible free time activities: Many activities can be arranged for exploring the area. You will also have free access to the swimming pool of Montaigut-le-Blanc (located nearby the campsite).

Accommodation: You will be accommodated in tents next to the town center in a green area along the river. Mattresses will be provided, bring your sleeping bag. Shops in the city of Champeix are located 3 km from Montaigut-Le-Blanc.

Location: The village of Montaigut-le-Blanc has an exceptional heritage making it a touristic village. It is characterized by its old houses arranged in tiers around a rocky outcrop which itself is crowned by a medieval castle.

Terminal: Champeix

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Restoration of ancient stone walls in Cantal
La Salve, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes       August 6 - August 26, 2017

Volunteer project: At the heart of an exceptional region with lush flora, let’s come to a colorful town! The municipality of Saint-Mamet-la-Salvetat wants to host a volunteer group, in the framework of development projects and arrangement of its historical heritage. Saint-Mamet-la-Salvetat is 750 meters above sea level, facing the mountains of Cantal and Aubrac, near Aurillac City, where a big festival takes place in August.

You will work at a 1000-year old site that needs to be restored. This site is located in a small village, La Salvetat, where stone and rocks are « the Master ». The work to save this site will focus on the restoration of dry stone walls around the Commandery (the name of the site is from the time it was established and ruled by Knight). You will learn how to build dry stone: the ancestral technique for stacking stones without any binder for making a wall solid and durable. A technical supervisor will show you the restoration techniques. The team will work for 5 hours in the morning.

Language: English

Possible free time activities: In the region, you can admire the landscapes by canoe, you will discover local farms, and hike the many trails through mountains and rivers.

Accommodation: Volunteers will be accommodated in a communal building. Remember to bring your sleeping bags.

Location: Saint-Mamet-la-Salvetat has an exceptional heritage: the bread oven, the cross of Cayre, the farrier shoeing stock, the fountain rack system, the mural of the village from past to present, the orchard with its young transplants, the “secadou” (building where chestnuts are dried), dry stone walls, the workshop (the former center to bottle carbonated water)... Indeed, in 1821 was discovered a source of sparkling water in the area, and it became legendary. A Natura 2000 site (200 hectares) is located nearby, and works to protect bats which hibernate in mining relics.

Terminal: Aurillac

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Heritage restoration project in Auvergne
Herment, Auvergne       August 6 - August 26, 2017

Volunteer project: The village of Herment is hosting for the fourth time an international volunteer project this summer. The project is part of a dynamic program of the municipality and regional agencies to enhance the attractiveness and openness of the village to the world. The aim of the project is very ambitious: the restoration of a historic dry stone retaining wall!

The dry stone wall that you will be working on is essential for maintaining a historical site called "The Walk of the Walls". You will restore this dry stone wall using traditional dry stone techniques. The stone used is a typical local volcanic stone from the Auvergne volcano region. A technical supervisor will teach you specific restoration techniques. The work takes place for 5 hours in the morning. Afternoons and weekends are dedicated to other activities.

Language: English

Accommodation: You will be accommodated in the municipal camping in the center of the village. Mattress are provided, bring your sleeping bag.

Location: Located at 830 m of altitude, the village of Herment has a remarkably rich heritage. The village offers visitors a unique view of the Monts Dore, of Limousin and “Le Plomb du Cantal” from the "Promenade des Walls". In addition, this rural mountainous area benefits from the tourist attraction of winter resorts and hydrotherapy in Massif du Sancy.

Terminal: Laqueuille

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Couvre Feu music festival
Corsept, Pays-de-Loire       August 17 - September 1, 2017

Volunteer project: Couvre Feu is a music festival with rock, reggae, ska, metal, and pop rock concerts, which takes place every year in Corsept in the Loire-Atlantique department in western France. The 16th edition of the festival will take place on August 25, 26 and 27. The organization of such an event requires a lot of time and people available, and from the start, international volunteers have been involved in the organization of the festival to help run the event and accommodate nearly 30,000 visitors.

Supervised by the directors of the organizing team, you will participate in setting up and taking down the festival. This includes the installation of circus tents (where concerts take place), closing the site with fences, arranging parking lots, dressing rooms, refreshment stands and catering, dismantling and equipment storage. During the festival, you will be responsible for welcoming the public and site maintenance. The week following the weekend’s festival will be dedicated to dismantling, equipment storage, cleaning and restoration of the site.
Note: Tasks are a little repetitive but essential. Festival organizers are counting on your motivation to help before, during and after the festival. The work schedule will vary a lot according to the needs. Little time for leisure activities, but the atmosphere is very festive. Volunteers must be especially dynamic and enthusiastic, and of course must be music fans!

Language: English

Possible free time activities: Enjoying the beach and water sports; charming beach resorts like Pornic and Saint-Brevin-les-Pins; large sandy beaches dotted with fishing spots; walks along the coastal footpath in Bourgneuf Bay, along the Loire estuary, or in swamps and thickets of the hinterland.

Accommodation: You will stay, as all the other volunteers and organizers in tents at a camping site. Tents will be provided, you will need to bring a sleeping bag and mattress.

Location: Located on the south bank of the Loire estuary, and northern boundary of the Pays de Retz Atlantic, the village of Corsept has 2,600 inhabitants. Pays de Retz is at the heart of unspoiled landscapes between Brittany and the Vendee, west of Nantes and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Loire.

Terminal: Nantes

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

Extra fee: 50 Euro

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Incredible Edible Billom
Billom, Auvergne       August 20 - September 2, 2017

Volunteer project: After 16 years of partnership with the Municipality of Billom, the locals welcome ever more enthusiastically the international volunteers. The project will take place in the heart of this beautiful medieval town.

The aim of the project is to help enrich the community of Billom by providing easy access to healthy local food. The volunteer work will involve the development of a garden plot in the park in the heart of the medieval town, where local residents will plant different vegetables and aromatic herbs in the spirit of the Incredible Edible movement. A technical supervisor will teach you specific techniques. You will work 5 hours a day, in the morning, 5 days a week, from Monday to Friday.

Language: English

Possible free time activities: Participation in a medieval festival, meeting with the local associations, visiting the medieval city, swimming pool, football, basketball, tennis, hiking in the gorges of Madet, horseback riding, visiting Mauzun Castle and the Castle of La Chaux Montgros, visiting the park Livradois Drill, visiting the cities of Clermont-Ferrand and Issoire.

Accommodation: In the main building of the campsite. Mattresses will be provided; bring your sleeping bag. There's a supermarket, bakery, butcher’s shop, restaurants, pharmacy and café in the village.

Location: Billom is a town of 4800 inhabitants located in the Regional Natural Park of Livradois-Forez, 20 min from Clermont-Ferrand and from Thiers. Originally Gallic village and druidic center, the Romans made of it a stop on the great way connecting Lyon to Bordeaux. Its intense development enabled the village to become one of the first important towns of Auvergne in the XII century and to build its fortifications. Billom is renowned for its medieval quarter in the heart of the city and its architectural and historical heritage. It is a dynamic city that hosts many events throughout the year. Billom is 25 km away from Clermont-Ferrand.

Terminal: Billom

Age range: 18 - 35 years old

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Building a path to the castle of Saint-Floret
St Floret, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes       August 20 - September 9, 2017

Volunteer project: The diversity of the built heritage gives to the town of Saint-Floret a special attraction. Located in the beginning of the Sancy Mountains, people love to come here during summer to have a good time. The local people are expecting the team of international volunteers with a great enthusiasm.

The volunteer work will focus on the enhancement of the former hamlet near the castle that is registered as a Historical Monument. You will participate in the construction of a stone path to create a way among the ruins. The work will be physical but interesting and rich of experience. You will work under the supervision of a technical person who will also teach you the needed techniques. The work takes place in the morning, 5 hours a day.

Language: English

Possible free time activities: Activities will be organized during your stay in partnership with local associations: a guided visit to the local heritage sites, excursions, hiking ...

Accommodation: Accommodation in a big room inside a public building nearby the town center. Mattresses are provided. Please, bring your sleeping bag.

Location: Saint-Floret is a lively tourist town in summer. The village offer a preserved environment and beautiful landscapes.

Terminal: Issoire

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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