Life in a community in SW France

2 Aug

Living in a community can be interesting, challenging and very rewarding. We have started an Eco community here at the Peace Factory which at present consists of Louise, her brother Richard and sister-in-law Trish and a French couple, Sylvain and Alexa. There are others who are planning to join the community and who stay with us from time to time. Irmtraud who is a German medical doctor is having a new apartment built on the second floor as is Shona who is an educational psychologist currently living in Scotland.

The property we are living in is owned by Louise and is located in Montolieu in the foothills of the Black Mountain in the Languedoc region. It is an old tannery which went out of business and consists of several buildings and gardens, woodland, a river and hillsides. It is situated in a gorge just outside the village of Montolieu which is called the book village as it has many old book shops. In order to maintain the property it has been necessary to utilise the support of volunteers who come from all over the world to experience life here and help to build a small community. There are two main buildings which are lived in presently, the large factory and the little house (as we call it). There is also the big house which does not have any running water or permanent electricity, as the house was wrecked a few years ago (while there was no-one living here for a few months) and electricity and water pipes stolen for their financial value. Then there are a few other factory buildings some of which need to be demolished and others refurbished.

The large factory is being converted into eco apartments which are not quite complete yet. They are built within the concrete frame of the factory in sustainable wood and each one is insulated with an Eco based product which theoretically ensures that they require no heating inside. They will be heated by the heat generated by the people living in them. Within the old factory buildings is a turbine and old generator which will be commissioned to generate electricity from the river for heating a part of the factory. We are also looking at installing solar panels on the roof of the factory. We have a ram pump which may be used to raise water from the river for flushing the toilets. We have also installed a hose extending from up river down to the garden for watering the vegetables. There are two composting toilets situated outside for use when working outside the main buildings.

To qualify to live in our community we all have similar values such as a belief in ecology, peace and living sustainably. We have sought recycling boxes from the mayor’s office which are collected once a week from the end of the track near the village. We also have a communal garden in which we are growing organic vegetables and some flowers such as original stock roses which are chosen specifically for their fragrance.

Coming soon …. Health care in France

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