Build & Learn Project:

Earth Building in the French Countryside

--FULL-- (with a short waitlist)

July 26 - August 5, Saint-Hilaire-Fontaine, Burgandy, France

Fee to cover food (3 meals) and camping: €30/day ($40 USD/day).

Limited to 14 particpants

Join us for this hands-on building experience in Burgandy, France, as we work together to build a small bath house and outdoor kitchen on a rural homestead.

Build leader: James
(Instruction will be in English. French translation will be available.)

Pre-registration is required!



This is a "learn by doing" experience, where you will work under the guidance of an experienced builder to help a family with their building goals. It is different from our comprehensive workshops; please read the general description of our Build & Learn projects so you know what to expect. We will be working on a real building project, and will start on day 1 with the foundation, and get as far as we can in the 10 days. You are welcome to come for some or all of the project, with a minimum of 3 days.

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What you will learn


You will learn by doing as you work under the guidance of an experienced builder, assisted by one or more apprentice builders. You will receive instruction in all techniques needed to work on the project, no prior experience is necessary. It is difficult to know in advance how far a project will get in a given time period, but our hope is that the schedule will unfold as follows:

Day 1-3: Foundation building and site preparation:

We will build a basic rubble trench and stone/urbanite stem wall for the building. In addition we will prepare make the subfloor and gather and process building materials:

Day 4-8: Cob mixing and building:

We will learn to mix cob and build straight, load-bearing walls. Doors, windows, and sculptural work will be incorporated. Electric and plumbing systems will be added as needed.

Day 9-10: Rough plaster and finishing touches:

Hopefully by this point enough of the walls will be up and dry that we can apply a first coat of plaster. Any finishing touches needed to bring the project to a good stopping point will be addressed.

Additional side projects: As time allows, there may also be the opportunity to work on renovating a 300 year-old "Torchis" (mud/straw infill) farmhouse, and experiment with a section of earthen floor.

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The daily schedule


We will work about 6 hours per day. All meals will be provided. Please plan to be onsite during the building sessions; there will be plenty of free-time to explore the area if desired.

(Subject to change…)

8:00 Breakfast

9:00-12:00 Morning building session

12:30 Lunch

2:30-5:30 Afternoon building session

6:30 Dinner

After dinner there will be time for conversation, campfires, music making, and informal building discussions.

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About the site


This workshop will be held at “Domaine Neuf,” the home of Liesbeth and Marijn and their children. Liesbeth and Marijn moved to this lovely, quiet corner of Burgundy from Belgium about 2 years ago, and have been working diligently to transform it into a farm and homestead. They have been gardening, growing wheat, raising chickens, sheep, and bees, and renovating several of the old buildings on the land. They are excited to learn more about natural building and grateful to have our help on this project!

The surrounding countryside is rural and primarily agricultural. The nearest store of any size is 10km away. Cell phone reception is spotty. There is no wifi on site, but a computer with internet can be available for emergency purposes. Life in the French countryside is peaceful and quiet!


During this time of year, the days could be very hot and evenings can be cool. Rain is unlikely but possible.


You will be provided with a flat camping spot. A shower with hot water and a flush toilet will be available. Meals will be primarily vegetarian and will incorporate mostly locally grown and/or organic produce and dairy products. We have limited ability to accommodate special diets. Please let us know in advance if you have dietary restrictions, such as gluten intolerance or vegan/non-dairy.

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Bringing kids

We welcome participants of all ages. Children have often been a welcome addition to our group and have participated in the building process at different levels, depending on their age and interest.

  • Children age 0-3 can come along for free

  • ages 4-12 the fee is €15/day

  • ages 13-17 the fee is €25/day

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Project is currently full, with a short waitlist. If you would like to add your name to the waitlist, please complete the form below.

Because we limit the number of participants in the program, pre-registration and payment is required. Fill in the form below, indicate how many days you would like to attend (from 3 to 10) and we will send you more information about how to submit your payment.

Please contact James with any questions about this project. We hope to see you in France!

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