Les Vendanges

I’ve just about reached the halfway point in the first part of my Self Care Sabbatical. When I realized this, I was a bit sad at first. This trip all at once feels very epic and long while going by so quickly.

After 5 weeks of traveling on my own, I am now spending a month settled in the Languedoc region of France for the grape harvest (aka les vendanges). The work has been difficult, but also quite fulfilling and fun! Working outdoors and with my hands is such a nice change from sitting at a desk all day and being on conference calls. I love being out in nature, even if it means early mornings and long days, some back pain, and some cuts & scratches on my hands and arms. The days also move by quickly since we enjoy a mid-morning and mid-afternoon break, as well as long lunch and a mini-nap (this is why I love France). After work, sometimes we spend an hour or so at the pool to chill out or relax our aching bodies.

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Typically we’d be working 6 days a week (with Sundays off), but our schedule has been a bit erratic thus far. We worked 3.5 days last week, then had 3.5 days off. The days off may include some work (cleaning out the car, watering trees, etc), but it’s quite relaxed compared to the days when we are harvesting grapes. I’m a bit restless on the days we are not working though. While it gives me time to read, write, and get to know the other people working, I also feel a bit useless! Our work days feel SO productive that these extra days off start to feel a bit frivolous.

Not Sundays though. Sundays are a typical day off, and this past weekend we got to enjoy a nice day at the beach in Port Nouvelle which was just perfect.

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I found this opportunity through WWOOF and this is my first time as a WWOOFer. I feel really fortunate to have found incredible hosts, interesting work, and a fun group of fellow WWOOFers with whom I am living. The house we are in is really cool, an old and big home with quite a bit of character (it immediately reminded me of the house in Call Me By Your Name).

Our hosts, Jimmy and Charlotte, couldn’t be more welcoming. I instantly felt at home when I arrived and have been fed very well at every meal! It has also given me an opportunity to practice my French every day – while there are a number of WWOOFers here that speak English, not everyone does, and I have been able to practice conversational French on a quite regular basis!

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I had no idea what to expect upon arriving here, but I am so glad I decided to come here and work on the vineyard. In fact, I decided to extend my stay here by nearly another week to finish out the harvest (we are a bit behind schedule due to the erratic hours) and also do some sightseeing with my hosts. And I also decided to do another WWOOFing post after my month here, this time on a farm a few hours east where I will be able to help with the olive harvest.

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break time on the vineyard

And after that, I will still have a few weeks before my European travels come to an end…which I have to keep reminding myself as I start to get a bit sad about my trip going too quickly!

Have you ever done a work exchange while traveling?

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