Beauchamp is a beautiful field on the edge of the Dordogne department in the south west of France. The property was bought twenty three years ago, at which time it was a ruined building with collapsed roof, hay fields with cattle, neglected vines and woods. With the help of hundreds of people Beauchamp has come to life again.
There are 8 hectares (20 acres) - mostly woods, a field and a pond, gardens and an orchard - on the border between the Dordogne and the Gironde, set by itself in woods but within walking distance of the village of Montpeyroux ( Click here for map ). Lifestyle
We have opted for living a simple life that is affordable for many, doing as much as we can to be self sufficient, depending as little as possible on outside resources. Mostly we eat together - vegetarian food, lots of which comes from the garden. If not, it is bought locally and / or organically.
Our woods give us a sustainable supply of construction and fire wood. The building is heated with our own wood - a central heating boiler that runs during the winter months, and a wood stove for cooking and heating water.
We use composting toilets and our grey water is processed by a reedbed system that feeds into a pond full of fish, which is then pumped to water the gardens. We store, filter and use rainwater from the roof. There are no flush toilets and no mains sewage system. We have electricity, a telephone, use computers, are connected to the Internet, have cars and bicycles ( but no television ).
The main building is made up of a house, attached studio apartments and a courtyard. The ground floor has a large living room, kitchen and larder, and an entrance hall cum office. Upstairs there is a large 80m2 space - used as a dormitory or meeting room.
The courtyard was originally a barn but has now been rebuilt as an open-air space with rooms along one wall - a bathroom and bedrooms. Round the outside of the building are three attached "piggeries" which have been converted into studio bedrooms ( see plans - images below right ).
Other constructions include a 20m2 workshop with wood machines and tools, a 25m2 cabin, external compost toilets, a tipi - all built from green wood - and numerous polytunnels.
Beauchamp is consititued as an Association, an officially declared non-profit organisation rather like a British club. The stated aim of the Association is to develop the site following the philosophy of permaculture and to promote permaculture .
"Permaculture" is not a well-understood concept in France; it tends to be considered a gardening technique whereas for us it is more a philosophy, a way of life.
Round and about
Montpeyroux is situated at the eastern limit of the famous Bordeaux vine growing region. The countryside starts to change here - less vines and more woodland, a few fields for cows and sunflowers, market gardens, goat herds - all small scale agriculture.
The village is small, with a Mairie, a sometime postoffice, and little else. The Lac de Gurcon, a lake with beach, is a 20 minute bike ride away. Castillon-la-Bataille and Ste Foy la Grande, local towns with thriving markets and a train service, are both a 20 minute drive away. Libourne is about a 40 minute drive and Bordeaux an hour. Bergerac and Bordeaux airports are easily accessible.