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help exchange   Host 41812
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Saint Jean de Paracol
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 7
Persons: 2
Category: Non Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 41812
Country: France

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Last Updated: August 7, 2018

We are located in the heart of the Cathar region, rich in history, stunning scenery and a strong alternative scene...

Our Family

Graham and Michelle (Grandparents) live in the main house attached to our barn/workshop/storage. Graham runs his own business and Michelle takes care of everyone, the main house and gardens.
Phil (G&M's son), Mara and their daughter Anika (9yrs old) live in the house next door. Phil runs various projects including an Association (Cthulhu Sound System) that brings together artists from various disciplines to create innovative and bespoke events, he also manages the property. Mara is a massage therapist and primarily looks after the chickens and ducks.
Vanessa (G&M's daughter) and her son Eli (6yrs old) currently live part of the time in a yurt near the hamlet and part of the time in the main house. Vanessa runs a forest school program for home schoolers, is a designer for Naufrage events and tries to pick up the slack around the property.

Our children are homeschooled and so a large part of our activities involve the children. We encourage participation from them around the property and with the animals, as well as with our creative projects. There are often many children in the hamlet and in our homes and we like to see positive, respectful interactions between children and adults.

We very much work together as a family to help each other, teach our children and to help our neighbours and friends. Every day one of us will cook lunch for everyone and we usually all eat together, or at least we know there is always food ready when we need it, allowing us to continue working on a project if needed.

The Hamlet

We live in a small hamlet along with 4 other families in permanent residency. Nestled at the top of a beautiful valley and surrounded by woodland and trails, close to the famous labyrinth of Nebias, the historic Puivert castle and a wonderful local, micro brewery, Les Tougnets is perfectly situated.

The Surrounding Area

We are in the heart of the Cathar country, bursting with history, stories and legends. In the foothills of the Pyrenees we are close to numerous stunning mountain walks, lakes and rivers. On the edge of the Corbiere region we also have easy access to some stunning gorges, rivers and caves.

We love to explore and regularly go caving, climbing, canyoning and hiking (weather permitting) or in winter to the snow for some snowboarding and sledging. We also love to show people this beautiful part of the world and would love to take you with us on our adventures.


We have various projects on the go and so there are opportunities for you to do lots of different things.

There is a lot of work to be done shaping beds in the garden, weeding and mulching to prepare it for planting this spring.
We are inspired by the land around us, replicating natural systems where we can and learning more and more all the time. We have been primarily concerned since arriving here to improve the soil quality as it was hard packed clay. After almost three years we now have a beautiful layer of top soil and slowly we are noticing an improvement in the fungal balance.
The polytunnel needs clearing out, A frames built so we have more surfaces for seeding and everything prepared so we can begin seeding.
We also need to make and monitor some special brews and teas to feed the plants when we plant them out.
The bridge in the lower garden needs rebuilding completely. This would involve carpentry and masonry experience.

We need to plan and build water storage/distribution systems for the gardens and in the further fields so we can begin our plans for reforestation.

They always need mucking out and water changed.
We also need to improve their enclosures and build a second chicken house in one of our enclosures.
We need to build a fence and gate between our poultry area and the neighbours garden so that in winter our chickens can free range.

We need to build an extension on the kitchen, which would involve some reasonable carpentry experience.
The water system needs to be installed for the kitchen which means digging the pipes in from the water box at the top of the hill to the kitchen.
The compost toilet roof needs some more soil and mulch put on it before spring.

Forest Skills:
Assistance building some necessary tables and benches with the kids.
Putting in some stairs along slippery parts of the paths.
Building dams within the stream to slow down the water flow.
Cleaning and pruning the woods.
Making paths and a mini parkour for the kids

We own some areas of woodland that need to be explored further and assessments made on accessibility and viability as a wood source for our fires.
Pruning and cleaning woods plus clearing of pathways.

We regularly have events we are coordinating or assisting with and welcome assistance with props and set building, costume making, setting up and taking down events as well as working the event.

Helping out when you can, and/or taking a turn cooking for everyone is also appreciated, as well as helping out tidying up here and there.

Work hours:
5hrs a day but we are flexible.
No matter what your skill set we can find something for you to do and hopefully something you will enjoy doing. We are happy to give direction, to teach you new skills and/or to let you find your way and to learn from you.

What you get:

Accommodation in a comfortable, small mobile home converted from an old Russian army radio communications truck. It has one double bed, lights, a fridge, sink and radiator and is suitable for a couple. Phil's house has a shared bathroom and there is also a separate WC in the main house.
All your meals are with the family and you have open access to the kitchen in Phil's house plus WiFi (unfortunately there is as yet no signal in the Zil).
If you are vegetarian/vegan or have special dietary requirements (or you don't like our cooking!) you are welcome to prepare your own meals in our kitchen with the ingredients we have available and we will do our best to accommodate you.

We regularly go exploring the surrounding area and we encourage you to join us. We also like to participate in or host games nights with friends, parties, music jams, performances (theatre, flashmobs, characters for events) which again we encourage you to participate in but also understand you may have your own interests and rhythm and respect that.

We hope that everyone visiting us leaves feeling like family.


English is our primary language but one or more of us also speaks Portuguese, French, German and Spanish.

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