Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in France

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Free or Cheap Volunteer Work in France

 

The restoration of crumbling buildings seems to be the thing for volunteers in France, though those with limited French language skills may be hampered in their search for projects to join. Of course, such a large and diverse country will have plenty of other ways to offer a helping hand but, again, a lack of French will make finding them more difficult. The good news is that, once found, joining a volunteer project can be a great way to learn the language.

 

Grassroots Volunteering in France

The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:

La Giraudiere

www.volunteer-france.lagiraudiere.com

Help create a learning hamlet in France for school children of primary school age from the UK and USA. The whole idea of the La Giraudiere project is for people of all backgrounds, all ages, all nationalities to have the chance to live together learn about each others lifestyle exchange their knowledge, experiences and skills whilst living and working together in France and at the same time helping, improving and adding to the project for those to come in the future.

Volunteers are expected to give 18 hours a week to work, and are needed to help out with various tasks, from event planning to construction, household duties to office work, article writing to marketing and from landscaping to gardening. The programme starts each April and continues until the end of October. There is also a short Christmas programme.

Where: Brossac Village, South West France in the department of The Charente.
Accommodation & Costs: Covering room and board, fees start from €22 per day for a six week stay in a double or twin room. Prices increase for shorter stays in single rooms. Excursions and French lessons are also included.

 

Other Opportunities to Volunteer in France

One to two week international youth volunteer projects for 18 to 25 years olds revolving around the restoration of the medieval castle at Chevreaux, eastern France, are held each year by Association Les Amis de Chevreaux Chatel in August. Tasks include clearing scrub, stone carving and archaeology. The site is mostly in French with the small chunk of English text pretty much reproduced above. We don't have up to date information on the costs to join in, but they were always reasonable in the past. More restoration projects in France can be found with Club du Vieux Manoir.

Volunteering in France

 

Though the perception might be that France is merely in the way of refugees and economic migrants on the way to the UK, many do stop in the country. See the Volunteering in France Resources below for a link to places where you can help out. To help migrants that are on their way to Britain take a look at Calaid-opedia, a site being developed to become the go-to resource for those involved in the grassroots movement supporting refugees in Calais. WICE, an English speaking expat orientated organisation in Paris, is staffed by 60 volunteers and always welcomes more.

For campsites in France work exchanges are a popular way to save on wages and for travellers to save money on accommodation costs. None of the following campsites mention it on their websites but we have seen each one advertising for volunteers to work for a few hours a day in the summer months in exchange for a pitch, electricity, and perhaps a few other perks: Camping de Montréal, Camping de la Bastide, Camping La Vallée des Vignes, Letang Bleu, Fonclaire, and Camping Pors Peron. Chateau de Lacomte Country Club, a four star adult only touring park in the Dordogne, may also have a few paid jobs for beauty therapists.

 

Help Exchange Networks in France

Workaway - https://www.workaway.info/hostlist-FR.html
HelpStay - http://www.helpstay.com/projects-abroad?keywords=France&XID={XID_HASH}
HelpX - http://www.helpx.net/hostlist.asp?host_region=328&network=3
WWOOF - http://www.wwoof.fr

 

More Volunteering in France Resources

Volunteer Opportunities in Paris: Get Involved! - An article listing a number of useful sites for prospective volunteers.
Winter is Coming: How Parisians are Helping the Refugees (and so can you!) - Another piece by the same site above. It includes a list of organisations helping refugees, some of which accept volunteers.
The American Church of Paris - The American Church has long been at the centre of the expat job hunting grapevine in the city, and the same goes for finding volunteering connections.

 

Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in France

Stay for free in return for caring for local residents' homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). France usually has house sits available but, if not, you can get a free $25 Airbnb credit from us here. In response to increasing housing prices, Roomlala has dedicated a section of its website to accommodation in exchange for domestic help. In theory this applies worldwide but, for the moment at least, in practice we found few such listings outside of France. Joanna Gonzalez suggests an alternative way to save on rent: squatting in Paris. At the bottom of her post she also mentions Shakespeare and Company. Bohemian bookworms can take advantage of their long standing invitation, passed down from father to daughter, to work for accommodation. Over 20,000 people are said to have slept at the bookstore.

 

Volunteer Experiences*

Bamboo Canes and Cannabis Plants - Dawn finds out in France that the WWOOF network attracts the odd eccentric.
The Refugee Crisis: Volunteering in the Calais Warehouse - Flora Baker responds to a Facebook request from a university friend and a week later turns up at the Channel with a mind to help any way she can.
WWOOF France: How Americans Can Live in France - New Yorker Lauren Krzyzostaniak discovers working on organic farms is an alternative to teaching as a way to live abroad.
How to… Find an Internship in France - Naomi Todd could have saved herself a lot of stress and worry had she read these words before she took off to France but, wholesome, selfless person that she is, she passes her hindsight onto you.
A Night In Paris’ Shakespeare & Co Bookshop - Melissa Welham writes about tumbleweeding at Shakespeare and Company: sleeping inside the bookshop in return for a few hours work.

 

* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations

Image copyright Club du Vieux Manoir