|Looking out the window at Versailles|
Whew! Who knew that there are so many castles to visit and so many different places to stay in the Loire Valley? I certainly didn't until I started looking for a destination for Stephane's and my romantic weekend getaway at the end of April. Perusing website after website of castles with interesting histories, charming rooms and blazing fires, my eyes glazed over with châteaux fatigue. For those of you who are blissfully unfamiliar with this condition, it occurs when you've seen too many photos of turrets, moats and deer. For some reason there are an astonishing number of deer on castle websites! Deer amongst the flowers, fawns hiding in the forest and deer rambling about the fields. If we hadn't had deer traipsing through our yard and destroying our plants in Ohio, I might be more enthusiastic about the possibility of spotting one. But I digress...
Amongst all the castles, the website that caught my attention was Workaway, an organization that matches hosts with people willing to work abroad in exchange for room and board. While Stephane and I hope to have a relaxing trip to the Loire Valley, I couldn't help but think that we could stay for free if we were ready to devote a certain numbers of hours a day to gardening, teaching English, painting or helping with tourists (oh, that would be us!). It's a great idea that provides owners of organic farms, bed and breakfasts, castles, dog hotels, etc. with extra help. There are even a couple of offers for positions in Paris.
If you're intrigued by the idea of working abroad, learning a new language and integrating in the local culture, take a look at the Workaway website. Alternatively, if you own a castle in the Loire Valley and need a bit of help, I'm very handy with a paintbrush! In the meantime, I've booked a room at the Château de la Villaine.
For native English speakers who like to talk, Pueblo Inglés offers volunteers free room, board and Spanish wine in various locations in Spain and Germany. In exchange, "Anglos" are asked to speak with guests so that they improve their language skills in real-life situations. They also have a teen program.
Do you have a suggestion for our visit to the Loire Valley or know of an interesting idea for travel abroad? I would love to hear about it!
|One job that I wouldn't want - cleaning the chandeliers in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles! Yes, it's possible to take a photo without tourists. You just have to wait until the very end of the day when the guards escort you out the door!|