Volunteer in France

Restoration of an old path and dry-stone walls in Auzon
Auzon, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes       July 1 - July 17, 2020

Volunteer project: It is with great enthusiasm that the inhabitants and the local council of Auzon are hosting this year’s international volunteer project. Auzon is a historic fortified city characterised by its narrow alleys and built heritage. The fortifications demonstrate the city’s vast medieval history. At Auzon, you will discover a beautiful village of character and a part of French history.

The project carried out by the city concerns the restoration of the old round path of Auzon (protected raised walkway behind a castle battlement). It connects the upper and lower parts of the village. You will have the mission to rebuild dry-stone walls on the side of the path. You will learn techniques of wall building and how to place the stones to solidify the final structure. You will need all your focus and you will learn a wall building technique typical of French villages. Thanks to your work, the access to the village will be nicer. The dry-stone walls will also recover their original state and beauty. You will be supervised by municipal officers who will be happy to share their knowledge with you. You will work 4 to 5 hours a day.

Language: English

Leisure activities: The city is really dynamic and will offer many activities and cultural events: visiting the city museums (the Vespa museum and ecomuseum), tours of 2 of France’s most beautiful villages Lavaudieu and Blesle, visiting the Collégiale of Auzon (the Saint-Laurent d’Auzon church). You will also participate in the village’s medieval festival and its activities: parade in traditional costumes, craftsmanship workshops (stone cutting, weaving, pottery, foundry). You will also meet local craftsmen and discover local products. For those who like hiking, you will find many hiking trails starting from Auzon and particularly the GR 300, one of the longest hiking trails in France, which aim is to link the Puy-en-Velay (a city located at 70km south east of Auzon and a special place for Santiago de Compostela pilgrims) and the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy (located at 730km north west of the Puy-en-Velay, by the Channel sea). An activity to discover this hiking trail will be offered by the village. You could also relax at the lake of Champagnac-le-Vieux. You will find there, in addition to swimming, other sport activities: basketball field, fitness circuits, pétanque grounds. Pétanque is a French sport played with heavy balls. The purpose of the game is to throw the balls and bring them as closely as possible to another smaller ball.

Accommodation: You will be accommodated in tents on the football field located 3km away from the heart of the city. You will have access to the locker room where you will find showers and restrooms. Inhabitants of Auzon will drive you to the worksite, bikes could also be provided. The football field is at the edge of the river Allier. You will learn how to manage collective life and share the living space with the other volunteers.

Location: Auzon has 924 inhabitants and is located in the French department of Haute-Loire in the Auvergne region. It is located at 60km south east of Clermont-Ferrand. The city holds a rich architectural heritage. Crossing the paved streets, you will discover the history of Auzon.

Terminal: Clermont-Ferrand

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Restoration of heritage sites in Etoile
Etoile sur Rhone, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes       July 5 - July 18, 2020

Volunteer project: For more than 30 years, the municipality of Etoile has hosted international volunteer projects. This year, in close collaboration with the young people of the youth house, we will welcome an international group of teens from 14 to 17 years old, for a discovery experience and exchanges with local young people. So if you want a first volunteering experience, you want to exchange with French people while discovering this beautiful corner of Drôme, this project is for you!

You will work 4 hours a day, in the morning on the work site: it will mainly be traditional masonry work. With a mason to guide you, you will carry out during these 2 weeks the cleaning of an old city wall. It will first be necessary to remove the stones in poor condition, redo the joints to consolidate the frame. Then you will restore the wall according to traditional techniques: it will then be necessary to make a lime mortar, cut the stones, position them. Your group will work jointly with a group of young French people, residents of Etoile. This will allow exchanges and common learning. The site is a 10-minute walk from your accommodation. Volunteers are required to comply with the safety instructions.
Supervision: 2 qualified campleaders will be present on site to supervise the group.

Language: English

Leisure activities: On site, you will have many exchanges with local young people and interactions with local associations. You can visit Valence, Crest or even the Château de Crussol, depending on the tastes of your group. Be ready to introduce other volunteers to your country and your culture!

Accommodation: In a building or under tents in Etoile. The building is a former chapel which has been restored and has been hosting groups of volunteers for 20 years. The chapel has a large common room, dormitories, a kitchen, a washing machine.

Location: Located 12 km south of Valence and around 35 from Montélimar, in the Drôme department, Etoile (5,000 inhabitants) is a town which overhangs the Rhône valley. Its village, at the heart of an enclosure of the 15th century, reveals an architectural heritage of quality: a church, stone houses, a chapel and a castle. As for its countryside, it is characterized by very diversified landscapes (the banks of the rivers Rhône and Véore, agricultural and fruit-tree zones, hills and woods).

Terminal: Valence

Age range: 14 - 17 years old

Extra fee: 400 Euro

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Restoration and promotion of the historic heritage of Viviers
Viviers, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes       July 5 - July 18, 2020

Volunteer project: International participants will join efforts with French volunteers to safeguard and enhance the heritage, in particular the architectural heritage, of the town of Viviers and its surroundings. For the past five years, the municipality has hosted an international volunteer project every year as part of the rehabilitation of part of the « Maison des Chevaliers » (House of Knights) called « Aile Sud » (south wing). The House of Knights is the former home of Noël Albert, a former salt merchant, art lover and man of power, he is an illustrious figure of the Vivarois Renaissance. Located in the old center of the town, this monument is today the subject of numerous rehabilitation and safeguarding works. If you have a passion for architectural heritage, Viviers awaits you!

The work on the south wing of the House of Knights is part of phase 1 of a major heritage rehabilitation project, the culmination of which is the construction of a cycling stopover lodge, enabling the safeguarding and enhancement of the monument on a long-term basis. Various restoration works are planned. You will carry out stone cutting, masonry and landscaping work. The works are a continuation of the 2019 volunteer project: cutting of the covers of the various levels, installation of covers (2nd and 3rd floor bearings), demolition of a railing (waterproof protection on top of walls) and stone reconstruction (1st floor), sealing of a staircase step and rear courtyard layout (removing and sorting of stones). To carry out the work, you will be supervised by a professional stonemason, a mason specializing in the restoration of old buildings and local volunteers. They will share their know-how with you with enthusiasm and pedagogy. Local young people from the youth service and an educational center will work with you, exchanges and conviviality guaranteed. The site is located 10 minutes from the accommodation on foot, and you will work 4 to 5 hours per day.

Stone cutting is a very important craft in the context of heritage restoration. You will learn to transfer the size marks on a block of stone, to handle the specific tools, to make moldings, to have the gestures and the handling positions necessary for the installation of your cut stone. These skills will be complemented by masonry techniques: making a plumb, making a lime plaster and applying it, bringing up a stone wall. On the project, you will learn to work in team, to be adaptable, to follow safety instructions, to be attentive and to show solidarity. These skills will be reinforced by group life where listening, respect, tolerance and open-mindedness will be necessary.

Language: English

Leisure activities: You will have the opportunity to make many meetings with the local population: breakfast on site offered by local associations, homestay meal, republican meal (national holiday of July 14), introduction to bow shooting and participation in various cultural events (concert, exhibitions, etc.). You will also be offered tours of the old center of Viviers, the Lafarge cement plant and its old workers accommodation. You will also have free access to the Viviers swimming pool. Finally, you can hike to "La Joannade", a protective statue of the city and an unmissable viewpoint. Other hiking trails may also be shown to you.

Accommodation: You will be accommodated in the old Parish House of the town, located near the Cathedral and the belvedere where you can enjoy an unmissable view of the town and the Rhone valley. You will have amenities on the ground floor and a sleeping area on the 1st floor.

Location: Located in the south of the Ardèche department, Viviers is an ancient episcopal city overlooking the Rhône Valley. Over the centuries, the town of Viviers has grown around the old center, outside of the fortifications, and today has 3,700 inhabitants.

Terminal: Montelimar

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Maintenance of river banks and church grounds in Pontaumur
Pontaumur, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes       July 6 - July 24, 2020

Volunteer project: Pontaumur is a village in central France located in the Puy-de-Dôme French department, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The town is 40 km from Clermont-Ferrand. It is crossed by the Sioulet river, a high place for trout fishing. The town wishes to host a group of international volunteers in order to maintain the banks of the river and provide assistance in the devegetation of urban buildings.

The municipality has identified two areas of work. The first relates to the maintenance and clearing of the banks of the Sioulet river. A bridge allows the passage of cars over the river. Your mission will be to highlight the banks under this bridge. You will remove the moss on the stairs that go down from the street to the banks, you will clear the banks and remove the invasive plants. A little masonry is also expected on the stairs. Your work will benefit the residents of the town who will be able to enjoy a stroll along the banks.
In a second step, you will participate in the maintenance of a wall and stairs located below the Pontaumur church. Today overgrown with plants, you will have to clear the wall and clear the stairs to allow an easy passage to the church. The village is located on the GR 4 footpath and passing hikers will be able to appreciate your work and access the church more easily. You will learn how to use the tools for maintaining green spaces. The technical supervision will be carried out by a staff from the municipality who will be delighted to pass on his knowledge to you. You will work 4 to 5 hours a day.

Language: English

Leisure activities: This summer, you will have the opportunity to participate in the patronal feast which takes place on July 17, 18 and 19. You will be able to meet the inhabitants of the town, fair organisers, discover regional products and participate in the entertainment program. The associations of the municipality will be delighted to share a moment with you. Not to be missed in the church, the monumental organ, a replica the Arnstadt organ on which played Johann Sebastian Bach (organist, and famous German composer). Nearby, you can visit the castles of Pontgibaud and Miremont. You can also go to the Fades Viaduct and swim in the Fades-Besserve lake which has 3 equipped beaches. For lovers of panoramas, you can also go to La Roche Sauterre, the highest peak of Combrailles, at an altitude of 977m. It’s a basalt flow from a volcanic eruption. We discover blocks with geometric shapes resulting from the cooling of the lava. A place for hikers! Several short hiking trails run around the village. You can also take the GR 4 which crosses Pontaumur. This long-distance hike leaves from Grasse (southern French town located at the frontier with Italy, on the coast of the Mediterranean sea) to join Royan ( western town located on the Pacific ocean coast). It crosses 13 departments and has a total length of 1470km. You can also go to Puy-de-Dôme, a volcano symbol of the department. It peaks at 1,465 meters. Today it is a dormant volcano that was shaped 11,000 years ago. It is in the heart of the Chaîne des Puys, made up of around 80 volcanoes, a unique geological feature in the world.

Accommodation: You will be accommodated in tents on the municipal campsite, located 10 minutes walk from the work place. You will get there on foot. You will have access to the campsite sanitary facilities equipped with showers and toilets. A kitchen area will be set up under a barnum (open tent) on the campsite. You can also use the campsite’s barbecue. The municipality’s supermarket is a 15-minute walk from the campsite. There are also several shops in the village: butcher shop, bakery, organic product store.

Location: Pontaumur is a municipality of 800 inhabitants.

Terminal: Billom

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Restoring the old sawmill in Violay
Violay, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes       July 6 - July 25, 2020

Volunteer project: Thirty years have gone by since the last international volunteer project in Violay, the Matagrin tower which was the subject of the work still remembers it! Attached to this memory, the village of Violay again wishes to welcome a group of volunteers. The municipality recently acquired the buildings of an old sawmill. You will be responsible for restoring part of the facades.

Organized in the shape of a U around a central garden, the building of the old sawmill includes a residential building, a storage space (barn type) and a workshop. Located in the heart of the village, the municipality wishes to make this complex a lively and creative place (co-working space, local for local youth). Partly embedded in the urban context, only two facades are visible. You will work on replastering these stone facades. Replastering the walls consists of scraping the damaged joints between the stones and replacing them in order to safeguard the structure. A large part of the work will therefore be done in high position on a secure scaffolding. A retired mason specializing in old buildings will supervise you on the site. At the same time, you will be responsible for cleaning the old storage building still full of sawdust. Finally, a second work project could take place on the village chapel. One of the side walls, located at the edge of the road, is marked by significant traces left by cars. You will need to apply a coating in order to reunify the wall. The work site is in front of your accommodation and you will work 4h to 5h per day.

This project will allow you to acquire skills specific to masonry and building restoration. You will have to follow the safety instructions related to working on high position and on scaffolding. You will learn how to remove damaged joints using specific tools (hammer, chisel, wire brush), then how to make them, arrange them and replace them. During this project, you will develop adaptability, versatility and solidarity specific to teamwork. These capacities will be strengthened during group life where listening, respect, tolerance and open-mindedness will be necessary.

Language: English

Leisure activities: The highest point of the Forez plain, the summit of Mont Boussuivre is occupied by the Matagrin Tower. Attached to this monument, the inhabitants organize festivities on this site each summer, in which you can participate. Activities planned: pétanque competition, shared picnic, craft activities, music group! From the top of the tower, a panorama will allow you to appreciate a breathtaking view of the surrounding departments. Labeled "Green Station", the village of Violay offers many hiking and educational trails, allowing you to discover the pond of Fontbonne or the traces of the old prehistoric village. Activities with the local population will be organized: basketball and ping-pong, visit to an educational and cattle farm, visit to the Museum of Weaving and Silk (Buissière), visit to the first aid station).

Accommodation: You will be staying at the local gymnasium. You will have a living space, toilets and a kitchen area on site and sleep on mattresses. Located on the hillside, you will have access to a breathtaking view of the valley. Located in the center of the village, you will be close to shops (bakeries, pharmacies, laundromat).

Location: Violay is a village of 1,300 inhabitants located in the east of the Loire and bordering the Rhône department. Located on the hillside, Violay is between 530 and 1000 m above sea level at Mont Boussuivre.

Terminal: Tarare

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Upkeep and protection of the Vareze Canal
St Alban du Rhône, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes       July 6 - July 24, 2020

Volunteer project: In this project, supported by 3 municipalities: Auberives sur Varèze, St Alban du Rhône and Clonas sur Varèze, you will work for the upkeep and protection of the Canal of the Varèze. Dug in the Middle Ages, its water made it possible to turn mills, operate sawmills, a tack mill, a rope factory, to feed a settling tank for kaolin... but also to irrigate the meadows by simple gravity, using "locks".

Today the canal no longer irrigates the meadows but it waters the vegetable gardens and fruit gardens thanks to pumps. Its usefulness remains undeniable. Recognized for its faunistic and floristic importance for the natural area, the canal has a precious environmental interest. You will participate in the clean-up of the site with respect for biodiversity and will install a fence to protect it. You will work 4 to 5 hours a day and will be supervised by volunteers from a local association who will pass on their techniques and knowledge to you.

This project will allow you to acquire technical skills mainly related to green spaces and river management. You will assimilate the handling of the different pruning tools. You will learn the techniques of pruning, but also of maintaining and protecting a river while preserving the biodiversity in place. You will apply the safety instructions related to the work. Adaptability, attentiveness and solidarity will be your best allies on the work site and in the living space.

Language: English

Leisure activities: On both sides of the Varèze, you will have access to the leisure area composed of tennis courts, pétanque, a city-stadium, a skate park and a fitness trail. You can also use the barbecues in this area. The municipality plans to rent a minibus to help you discover the territory (Vienne, Lyon). A time will be organized so that you can meet the local young people and exchange with them. You can be introduced to the game of local pétanque (boules lyonnaises). Many hiking trails pass through Saint-Alban du Rhône and allow you to discover the surrounding villages. You can also stroll along the Varèze canal. The local people will take you to some tours and visits.

Accommodation: You will be accommodated in tents at the former local football grounds. You will use the shower and the sanitary facilities in the changing rooms. A kitchen will be set up under a barnum. Your technical leaders will take you to the work site every day, or you will walk when the work is close to St Alban. Another international volunteer project is taking place during the same period in St Alban and, even if your work will be different, you will share daily life all together!

Location: Located in Isère at the confluence of the Rhône and the Varèze rivers, Saint-Alban du Rhône is a dynamic town of 849 inhabitants.

Terminal: Saint Clair du Rhône

Age range: 18 - 30 years old

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Nature experience camp for teens
Vassieux en Vercors, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes       July 13 - July 24, 2020

FRENCH SPEAKING PROJECT
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 allow everyone to discover life outdoors. The site is meant to become an educational eco-place about the biosphere and renewable energies. Since 2011, the camp has hosted groups of young volunteers who have come to carry out work in the context of transition and renewable energies while living a collective outdoor experience.

Your mission will be to continue the eco-construction work started by volunteers from previous years for the creation of an outdoor kitchen on the site. You will also participate in the construction of a collective garage in collaboration with volunteers from the local recycling store. This work will allow you to learn about natural (straw, earth) and eco-responsible construction techniques. At the same time, the camp allows volunteers each year to create an artistic creation (play, concert, puppet show, song).
You will be supervised by two campleaders as well as volunteers. Two former volunteers will also join the young participants.

Special requirements: This is a French speaking project. French will be the main language of the daily life, work and activities. We expect the volunteers to have at least a basic level of French. Please note: this is not a language study trip.

Language: French

Leisure activities: With the help of the group leaders, you can organize numerous leisure activities: group games in nature, hiking, visit to local producers, visit to a recycling centre. The Vercors plateau was a major site of the French Resistance during the Second World War. A museum dedicated to the history of the maquis will allow you to discover this part of local history.

Accommodation: You will be accommodated in tents on the camp site and you will have sanitary facilities and showers on site. An outdoor kitchen and living space will also be available. The facility is comfy but basic, made for the outdoors enthusiasts. With the help of your campleaders, you will actively participate in the organization of daily life. As much as possible, meals will be prepared using local and organic products corresponding to the special attention paid by the camp to the management of resources, waste on site and the origin of food. In this context, you will certainly reduce your consumption of meat during the project, and thus your impact on the planet.

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

Terminal: Die

Age range: 14 - 17 years old

Extra fee: 380 Euro

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Long-term projects in France