I saw this in Shape Magazine of all places and thought it sounded offbeat and cool. There’s a program where you travel to Provence and help restore medieval structures that are rapidly deteriorating. Since I work in international aid and development, I definitely support voluntourism programs focusing on poverty and the environment, but I thought this one was particularly cool for being different.
Rates start at $655 per week for accommodation and meals, which is actually a pretty good deal (voluntourism even in developing countries can be prohibitively expensive). Bonus: you get to live in one of the renovated buildings! Meals are prepared by a chef using local produce and served family-style for all the volunteers. Most afternoons are free for exploring the small town of Saint Victor la Coste, hiking, visiting vineyards, etc.
Volunteers work with craftsmen, helping to preserve not only the physical structures, but also the skills and culture.
For more information, check out: www.sabranenque.com
Since I’m still not allowed to use power tools unsupervised (bad things tend to ensue), I’m not entirely sure that it would be a good idea for someone to let me near ancient ruins with a chisel, but it’s hard to deny my friends the inevitable story — “So, there was this one time that I was working on a rampart…”