Volunteering on an organic farm in France
Spending a part of my childhood on a farm, I was excited to travel to France and doing volunteering work on an organic farm.
At the age of 9 and 14, I traveled to France with my parents and in 2017 I came back for one and a half months.
It was time to settle down for a while again.
Spending time in Midi-Pyrenees and doing organic farming, I could learn a lot about sustainable development and had a fantastic time with my French host family and their son, Oliver.
I love Oliver beyond infinity, but sometimes he was way too attached and clung on me. Therefore, he wouldn’t let me calmly take a shower without kicking against the door. Sigh.
I thought they named him after brave and energetic Oliver Twist, but I was wrong. My host mum loves Olives, that’s it…
Rubber boots and pair of gloves for work became my best friends, I didn’t wear rubber boots for years!
The vegan organic food Chloe (my host mum) cooked everyday was so tasty and fresh from our own vegetable garden!
I am pretty sure Chloe could convince some vegetarians to become vegan with her delicious food.
Three big and healthy meals per day plus hard work on the farm and see there – I gained muscles. Usually, I only gain weight and muscles when I surf, but surprisingly the other option would be farming.
Their house was located in the middle of nowhere, the next neighbours might be at least a mile away. Surrounded by lush green nature, vine yards and fields as if the landscape was arisen from one of Monet’s paintings.
I couldn’t be happier with the location and my family. But the fact that I had the chance to live in a caravan like a vagabond with all the hippie-crap-stuff was one of the best things I could imagined.
All in all it wasn’t easy work, don’t get fooled by my excitement and the surroundings I was living in.
I was weeding, weeding and weeding, did I already mentioned weeding? Whacking away at weeds and ripping out the roots of the ground was my job in particular at first week.
The raspberry field I weeded took me a week. After I finished weeding my hands were swollen to an extent like the fingers of a baby giant.
It was exhausting but for someone who loves nature and planting, nothing is too hard!
They have two wild cats living outdoor, one of them always needed to cuddle and interrupted me at my work by chances. Sigh again.
Did I already mentioned that I like planting? Nevertheless, planting tomatoes is mega cool. Maybe only in my case, but seriously it was a big pleasure to plant the tomatoes. And the feeling of planting your own food is somehow very satisfying.
In my free time – which I had a lot, I tried to improve my French with some vocabularies and simultaneously refreshing my Indonesian.
The best way (in my opinion) to learn a new language is to live with the locals in this country.
Not only vegetables did they harvest, but also wheat and fruits.
Gosh, I will never forget the broad beans I picked up one day and filled up a whole wheelbarrow. For three or four days I peeled them.
This time no giant hands appeared, but the skin under my fingernails bled and hurt every time I peeled a broad bean. The best thing about it is we had meals with broad beans for three days in a row, whether broad bean stew, mashed broad beans or boiled broad beans. You name it!
We could have thrown a broad bean party with all guests coming and dressed up in a broad bean costume.
Likely, I would never eat broad beans after this party in my life again.
Nevertheless, I think now I can face my trauma of peeling off broad beans and eat them again.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t too bad at all. I did it passionately for my host family, because I adore them a lot.
We had a fond time together, especially the talks with my French family about literally everything was one of the highlights during my time in France.
On Saturday was baking-day, Chloe made pizzas, cakes, cookies, brownies etc. On Sunday we usually went to the market in the next town? to sell our organic dainties. All together with their own production of oil and different sorts of flour.
Temporarily, I stayed at their friend’s place in another town.
Estelle and Alex have two cute children. I enjoyed playing with Valentine and taking care of her sweet 7-months-old brother Jonathan.
Jonathan is a baby, which is smirking and smiling 24/7.
Alex is an amazing and intelligent person, he is building an ecological house all by himself. I was so lucky to have joined him before he would finish his project.
More or less I helped them in the household and was sort of the assistent for Estelle, since she is an oblivious person.
I loved being part of Estelle’s daily life.
We would try to make Sushi together or visit her parents, who are running a “Foie Gras” farm with a Foie Gras Museum.
I am not sure if you would ever read it. But thank you for welcoming me in your home and family, I highly appreciated it.
Thank you, Estelle, Alex, Valentine and Jonathan.
Do you know the movie “A Good Year” with Russel Crowe?
I was inspired by the movie since I was 12 to visit South of France.
The flair and surroundings of the Provence in the movie captured me intensively by young age, hence I promised myself one day I’ll be there. And I did it, just 8 years later. Better late than never.
All the stories, laughter, thoughts and everything in between we shared, will be forever in my memories and I will recall them for not so well blessed days. Thank you so much for everything and giving me a home far away from home. Thank you Chloe, Oliver and Jason :)!
Hitchhiking from Cahors, Midi Pyrenees to Grenoble (650km/ 403 miles far away) took me 11 hours. Seven people picked me up from the peages (tools) on the roads. Seven people as different as their ages, cars, appearances and characters. It was such a long drive and I met a guy, Simon, who just came back from South America. We shared many stories and exchanged travel experiences. Guess where I went after France?
Right, I traveled to South America, more precisely Brazil.
My last ride to Grenoble offered me a feast of frigging beautiful landscapes.
Nono and I could only spent two days together. We hiked, we talked, we went out with his friend for dinner and we teased his roommates.
I took only one photo of Grenoble, my main purpose was to see my friend again and not to take photos.
He could have been in Lille or Strasbourg.
Then again, I would have gone to Lille or Strasbourg.
Hitchhiking from Grenoble to Paris was more challenging. I have no idea why, but going up to the north my waiting time extended gradually. Arrived at the evening we hung up at the canal with Val’s friends, with high supplies of beer, food and cigarettes (although I don’t smoke).
I enjoyed talking to everyone, their intellect and cunning jokes were out of the question.
Busy with his work during the day, I explored the city by myself.
I couldn’t resist to go to the hipster and bohemian area “Montmartre”, come on – Amelie is from Montmartre, I had to go.
From Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Basilisque du Sacre-Coeur) you have a great vier over (a small part) of Paris.
I highly recommend the Pablo Picasso Museum, as far as I remember it’s free for every student from an European country.
Some places Val suggested to me, for instance the Père Lachaise Cemetery is one of the largest cemetery in Paris, a burial site with famous names like Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.
I had even time to meet up with Kate, my friend from Taichung!
Paris boasts with little cafés around every corner and the diversity of an extremely multi-cultural city.
So here I make a confession: I do like Paris more than Berlin.
Paris was a great end to my time in France. And it won’t be the last time I come to France, that’s for sure!