You will doubtless want to sit back and enjoy your new life in France when you have found your new French home. After all, there is plenty to enjoy in this beautiful country! However, whatever age you are, and no matter how wealthy or busy, it’s always good to feel you’re doing some good in the world. A shared endeavour is a great way to give you more purpose in life. That’s why we suggest that after settling in, finding some voluntary work in France will make your life there even happier.
Doing voluntary work in France will help you integrate with your friends and neighbours too
Voluntary work is a great way to keep busy, but at your own pace. By doing some voluntary work, you will not only be contributing to the community, but beginning to integrate with your French friends and neighbours too.
What sort of voluntary work?
Consider what you like doing; chances are that you will be good at whatever this is. If you love cooking, decorating or gardening – all these skills will be useful to someone. Maybe you have some specialist or rare knowledge, such as being able to play a musical instrument or paint pictures? Then you could raise money for a worthy cause. If you have legal or financial expertise, charities and organisations often need help. Then there are the “softer skills”, like just being able to chat to people or look after animals. Could you help out at a local book or clothes sale?
Think of all the organisations that need free help. There will be children’s sports groups, animal sanctuaries, churches, hospitals and clinics. Would your local chateau appreciate an extra guide? Could you help out as a ranger in your nearest national park in France?
Where to look
Okay, so you don’t want to just wander around offering your help to random people, so where do you start? Your local British expat community will be a good starting point. Of course many of us want to avoid the feeling of being in a “Little England”, but your local international community is a ready source of friendship, advice and fellowship. In any case, it won’t just be British – people move to France from everywhere in the world. Most will have suggestions for voluntary work. Indeed you could star with the international community itself. People who have retired to France will often need a hand as they get older. And maybe you’ll appreciate that help yourself one day (now what is the French word for karma?)
If you are heading off for a viewing trip to France, check out the Viewing Trip guide to help you get organised.
Another good place to start your search is at your local Mairie and your local library. They will welcome your desire to get out there and help.
Another way to look for work is to chat to neighbours and suggest a trade of trades! You could, for example, offer to teach basic English to them or their children, perhaps in return for something they themselves may have to offer, such as gardening, pet and house sitting, cleaning etc.
Alternatively, ask a French friend to prepare a simple ad for you stating what you are offering and post it in your local bar/café/bakery/post office/doctor’s surgery. You could also put it in English since the chances are that someone in the expat community may require your services too. Whether this leads to some sort of voluntary work or simply making friends, you will find your network will gradually widen.
Village life is a very close one in France, where people tend to help each other out where needed. Don’t worry that being British or American or Australian will be a problem. The French are used to us coming to live in their country and welcome us. We are, after all, the ones more likely to be renovating property. The international community has been a positive influence, and the vast majority of French people recognise that.
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Most rural villages in France take great pride in their community and welcome newcomers. The key to getting on in your community is to communicate. That can be in basic French with a bit of English, hand signals or whatever it is which allows you to be understood.
Doing voluntary work is rewarding and satisfying. You are your own boss and can rest easy at the end of the day as you sip your “apero” in the French sunshine. You’ve put something back into the community!