Lifestyle & Culture

Lisa Verberne: Fellow expats, we need your talents restoring the historic École des Vatelottes in France


The historic École des Vatelottes at  No. 1 Rue de Colonel De Baudel in Bourmont, France was constructed in the mid-1600s as a convent that operated as a school until 1960.

Join us next season to renovate this lovely building, set in the most “French” region of France, Haute-Marne. (You can read the full story about my house here.)

The old college is strategically placed next to the church at the top of the rocky overhang that offers exceptional panoramas of the valley. Our intent is to use the building to serve as a meeting point for artists and artisans by creating a cafe-style atmosphere in order to attract and connect visitors with the local population and with what the region has to offer.

Proceeds from the project will go to preserve and protect the building for posterity.

Renovations are from mid-May to the end of October.

We need to rebuild shutters, paint, hang insolation, cook, do light gardening and tidy up. Skilled artisans (plumbers, carpenters, cooks) are encouraged to apply. We plan to trade accommodation and food for skilled laborers to come enjoy the good life and work with us to get the building ready to open as a Bed-and-Breakfast on the upper floors and a cafe on the ground level. Once construction is finished, we will need help in the cafe, again for free room and board. We are looking for longer stays, two to three weeks.

The building has two apartments (for two people each) for workers to use. Both have private bathrooms:

• The four-hour workday program comes with a self-service kitchen.

• Six-hour work days offered with meals included.(Vegetarian meals are available.)

Small animals may be accepted upon interview.

This is a non-smoking environment.

If you are interested, email me at: [email protected].

About Bourmont:

Located about 3 hours southeast of Paris, the rural hilltop village of Bourmont lies between Champagne and Lorraine. Bourmont is a “Petite Cité de Character,” (small town with character), an official distinction for communities blessed with exceptional heritage.

The surrounding French countryside is La France Profonde, where visitors relax amid a panorama of meadows and oak forests. Bourmont even has a Jardin des Roches at the foot of a cliff for rock climbers.

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