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help exchange   Host 37026
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Labastide de Virac
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 3500 m²
Persons: 1 to 2
Category: Homestay
Host ID: 37026
Country: France

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Last Updated: March 9, 2018

update: we plan to host helpers again, we now work on the second house

HelpX people with interest in natural building, sustainable living, visiting Ardèche, learning French... are welcome to join us and help with our project.
The three of us (and our helpers!) live in the countryside in south Ardèche in Labastide de Virac (photo 1), a small village from middle ages and near Ardèche canyon natural reserve "Les gorges de l’Ardèche".

Our project is to build two straw bale houses, one for our family and one small house to use for tourist accommodation in the future. Both houses are built according to the GREB technique. The building of the small house is finished, we live in this house for the moment. We now work on the second straw bale house, the carpentry work is completed (photo 4) as are the straw bale walls, we recently installed the photovoltaic solar panels for electricity production on the roof of this house.
We have a reed bed water treatment system for gray-water (photo 3) and we use compost toilets. We use solar collector for hot water. We have a small vegetable garden.
You can visit our blog and our facebook pages for more details of the project!

We appreciate help from volunteers interested in natural building. Working hours are 25h/week and we try to make the work interesting. We do not work elsewhere, we spend most of our time on our land so helpers will not be alone working.
This year we plan to do the indoor work of the big house (installing inner walls, installing floor tails, wall plastering with earth from our land…) but there is also work around the house. In the summer we plan to build the studio next to the house (make the wooden structure, GREB straw bale walls...) We will need help to do the wooden cladding, make a terrace… Helpers can also assist with cleaning the forest next to the house.

We built a wooden cabin (photo 2) for our helpers (dry toilets just next to the cabin) on our land. We used to live in this cabin and spent almost two years in it, it is well insulated and has heating so it is suitable for winter too. The cabin has its own shower and a small kitchen. Volunteers can also stay in our caravan (photo 2) from May to October or in a tent in summer (outdoor composting toilet is nearby).
We all take lunch together (all organic, mostly seasonal and local food). We are not vegetarians, we cook meat occasionally. However vegetarians are welcome, if you have special dietary requirements or specific allergies you can cook for yourself in the cabin. For dinner and breakfast we provide all the food and helpers prepare the meals by themselves.
There is free WIFI access and a possibility to do the laundry at our place. As we use plants for water treatment please do not forget to bring eco-responsible soap, shower gel and tooth paste.

THE REGION (photo 5)
The surrounding area is beautiful, we are very close (walking distance) from the famous GR4 footpath in the natural reserve. You can ride a bike or hike to the river Ardèche and its canyon, visit Pont d'Arc. The Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave is a facsimile of Chauvet cave (with paintings, drawings, and engravings from paleolithic) -UNESCO World Heritage Site is 20 min car drive from our village. We are 10 minutes drive from The Grand Site of Aven d’Orgnac (Cité de la Préhistoire and the cave). You can visit other caves and numerous dolmens nearby …The region is great for people that like exploring nature, hiking, cycling, swimming, caving, canoing, kayaking, rock climbing … On our land just near the house you can sometimes meet some wild animals...
Some websites:

By plane you can come to Marseille or to Lyon airport.
When coming from the south you take the train to Avignon and then you can take the bus "Le sept" line 15 (Avignon - Aubenas). You get off the bus in Vagnas and we come to pick you up by car.
Vagnas is 4 km from our village (Labastide).
If you come from the north you can take a train to Valence (or Montelimar) and then a bus to Vallon-Pont d'Arc where we come to pick you up by car.

You can also use blablacar or hitch-hike to come to Labastide or a nearby village!

* * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * *
We are looking forward meeting new helpers in 2018! We are hosting from 2015, we met throughly nice people among helpers and made some good friends! They are all welcome to visit us again ;-)
Couples as well as single travelers are welcome. We like to meet new people and share experiences, learn about different countries, places, cultures, languages...
We hope our visitors enjoy the stay at our place and get to like our region.
We speak French, Croatian and English. We are no smokers.

Please feel free to contact us! You can also visit our blog and for more recent news our facebook account.

Dagmar, Christophe and Luka


Nous sommes situé en Ardèche méridionale à proximité d'un charmant petit village médiéval. Nous avons depuis 4 ans quitté la vie citadine pour nous installer à la campagne.

Nous avons auto-construit un petit cabanon en bois qui nous a abrité pendant près de deux ans sur notre terrain situé au milieu de la foret. Il nous sert maintenant à accueillir nos bénévoles.
Nous logeons maintenant dans notre première maison en ossature bois et bottes de pailles utilisant la technique GREB. Ce bâtiment deviendra un gîte et sera loué comme tel cet été.
Nous construisons maintenant notre maison familiale en utilisant la même technique de construction. Le gros œuvre est maintenant achevé et nous débutons le second œuvre.
Le projet comprend également une phytoépuration qui est maintenant en service et un potager agro-écologique que nous n'avons pas vraiment le temps de démarrer.

Les bénévoles intéressés par l'éco-construction sont les bienvenus avec à certains stade de la construction, une préférence est donnée pour les personnes qui sont bon bricoleurs. Les horaires de travail sont flexibles, mais nous demandons minimum 25h/semaine et nous tacherons de rendre le travail intéressant et varié.
Nous sommes sur place et vous serez accompagné lors de votre temps de bénévolat.

Nous vous proposons de loger dans le cabanon en bois qui est équipé d’une cuisine et d’une douche, ou une caravane (non fumeur) située sur notre terrain. Vous aurez à votre disposition des toilettes sèches à l’extérieur. La douche disponible dans le cabanon est commune à tous. Nous pourrons également utiliser la douche du gîte en dehors des périodes de locations.
Nous prendrons les repas Bio ensemble le midi et la nourriture vous sera fournie pour le repas du soir et des week-end.
Nous vous mettrons à disposition une connexion WIFI et vous aurez la possibilité d'accéder au lave linge.

La région est réputée pour son cadre naturel préservé. Nous sommes à deux pas du GR4 et des gorges de l'Ardèche dans laquelle vous pourrez vous baigner à la belle saison, moyennant un peu de marche à pied.
Il est possible de visiter la reconstitution de la Grotte Chauvet qui est à proximité.
Nous sommes également à coté de l'Aven d'Orgnac qui comprend un musé archéologique.

Nous avons déjà accueilli plusieurs dizaine de helpers depuis 2015 et nous avons réellement apprécié ces rencontres et échanges sur nos expériences communes. Nous serrions heureux de revoir nos bénévoles et bien entendu d'en accueillir de nouveaux.

Nous parlons le français, l'anglais et le croate.

N'hésitez pas à nous contacter ! Vous pouvez également visiter notre blog qui tarde toujours d'être mis à jour.

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