Working at a French B&B
“Everyone thinks owning a bed & breakfast is so romantic. Well, it’s not. It’s a ton of work.” -our host Simone
And right she is! I have a huge appreciation for maids. Cleaning a small room is a lot more work than you’d think. But even though it’s a lot of work, it’s very rewarding. Simone has built this business from scratch and the way she has renovated a centuries old building into modern, luxurious rooms is incredible. I loved getting to hear her story and then take part in helping her.
Every day is a bit different here in Saint-Émilion, but I wrote down everything I did on Wednesday, which was another typical day here.
8 am We wake up and get ready for the day. I pull my hair back and put on some sturdy work clothes.
8:30 am We eat breakfast in the kitchen. Simone is out running errands, and the boys have already left for the day. They are working on reconstructing a house about half an hour away that Simone was contracted to design. Simone actually pays them because they are here long term and working extra hours. Anyway, for breakfast Giuseppe and I eat a baguette with thick slices of fresh butter. The butter here is amazing! It’s so creamy and flavorful. We top it off with a yogurt cup, a typical French dessert.
8:50 am We begin the day by doing some light work outside. I start weeding the walkway. It’s very satisfactory work, I haven’t weeded anything in years because I’ve only lived in apartments, Giuseppe cleans the pool.
9:45 am we head into the gîtes, which is the French word for the type of room the guests stay, and begin cleaning. I take all the bedding and towels to the laundry room, and then work on laundry from the day before. It’s a nonstop task of running the washing machine, taking the wet clothes to the line, bringing in the dry clothes, ironing them, and sorting them. It’s a menial task, which is perfect for listening to podcasts! Meanwhile Giuseppe is working on sweeping, mopping, and removing cobwebs from the apartment. He has his headphones on the whole time as he listens to his favorite podcasts.
1 pm We take a lunch break! Giuseppe makes some pasta, and then we eat leftover salad from dinner last night. We relax for a bit and talk, then Giuseppe plays some games on his phone and I check social media and read blogs.
2 pm We finish up the tasks for the day, I continue with the ironing, and Giuseppe clears the patios.
3 pm We are done working for the day! Our host Simone recommended a château tour a short walk away, so we change into nicer clothes and start the walk.
3:45 pm After walking several kilometers through vineyards we arrive at the Château! We introduce ourselves to the host and wait around inside a bit for the next tour to start. I teach Giuseppe some photography tips with my camera and we practice taking pictures in the wine gallery. Then we go outside explore some of the surrounding areas. We take pictures, smell flowers, and chase lizards around.
4:20 pm The tour begins! The woman giving the tour doesn’t speak much English, so I translate everything for Giuseppe. The best part of the tour is when she shows us an ancient road that dates back to FIVE THOUSAND YEARS BEFORE CHRIST. It’s incredible. It used to be a completely enclosed stone tunnel, but a much younger tree grew above it and pushed the stones apart.
5 pm The tour guide goes back inside and we explore the ruined château on a small cliff nearby. It’s a surreal.
5:30 pm We begin the trek back home.
6 pm Minutes before we arrive home it starts to rain. We run back to the house the take the laundry off the line, and then we head upstairs to our bedroom to put on some warmer clothes.
7:30 pm Simone and the boys come home. Giuseppe spends some time with the guys doing carpentry and I chat with Simone for a bit. Then I go to the shed out back to play with the kittens! They are little three week old babies.
8 pm I grab my laptop and head down to the outdoor table to work on my blog.
9:30 pm Dinner is ready! I always ask to help with dinner but the boys tell me they’d rather I just do the dishes. They are Albanian and like to have beans, rice, bread, and salad every night. They prepare it differently each time, and it’s always a very satisfying meal.
9:32 pm This is the exact time we start eating tonight, after the sun has officially set. It’s Ramadan! We begin eating and we sit around the table chatting for almost an hour. We end the meal with some yogurt, and then Giuseppe and I do the dishes.
10:40 pm We get ready for bed, watch an episode of a TV show, and then fall asleep.
And there you have it! A typical day volunteering at a B&B in France.
I love these days! It’s fulfilling to spend so much time doing physical work and listening to podcasts. I like the small amount of touring we get to do each day. Another highlight of the day is the free time I have to work on my blog or read. And it’s fun to have time to play around in nature, as if I’m a little kid. It’s a slow, simple lifestyle. I like traveling like this.