Beauchamp is a beautiful field on the edge of the Dordogne department in the south west of France. The property was bought twenty two 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.
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 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.
"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
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. Sadly there is no local bus service.