alpacas france free range kids

THE NEXT FRANCE BIT…co-operative living, wild swimming and refugee’s

From the Eco Farm, we make the last leg of the journey down to Narbonne.. Well.. actually to the  middle of nowhere in a valley about 40km from Narbonne but that’s the nearest big town where our friends are living in a small Co-Op.

It’s exactly the type of place that should be prescribed for happy simple living. Sunshine, loads of space,  free range children, alpacas etc etc.. In the summer anyway. (Lyla told me the baby alpaca went on the trampoline. I am not sure I believe her?)

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alpacas france free range kids

 Getting back to basics really feels like a  release for me and the more I take away (material things wise) the happier I seem to feel. That might just be me, though!


Our friends live in a small co-op which is still finding its feet but while we there over we went to visit a much more established place. From what I gather co-ops in France are much more popular than in the UK.

Co-ops are a group of people who live together and all have an equal share in the running of the place. Some own it together and some co-ops are owned by others or even councils.

The big one we visited was called Cooperative Craviola and website is here

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Cooperative Craviola is owned by about 10 people and in the summer they open it up for camping, where people can become temporary members for the time that they stay. It’s like a hidden  hippy village in the middle of nowhere with a large old gite with a swimming pool  and then lots of communal areas all made beautifully from the natural resources as well as having a really cool vibe and a bar.  They have all sorts of events and speakers and while we visited we watched a kid circus performance. The children who have been camping with their families for the week as a sort of alternative holiday kids club can learn circus skills in the week and then do a performance at the end of their stay. It was so cool and inspiring. I wish there was something like that near us!


cooperative france alternative holiday
cooperative craviola



No one is paid for any for any work they put into the running of the co-operative.  The whole point is that you are doing for the good of the whole entity. At Cooperative Craviola, everyone who is staying there on a temporary co-operative membership is encouraged to help out with the everyday running of the place as part of their temporary membership.


lakes france wildswimming laungedoc
‘ Lac de Jouarres’ Languedoc region
Burgundy region lake swimming wild swimming
Burgundy region lake swimming
River swiming Languedoc region. South of France wild swimming
River swimming Languedoc region.
Le Franqui beach south of Narbonne wild swimming france
Le Franqui beach south of Narbonne
wild swimming france drome region
Lake Drome region. On top of a mountain

While down south we did a lot of wild swimming in lakes, rivers and the sea. France is full of really good lakes and a lot of the rivers running through towns and villages they slightly dammed up the river to make a natural pool for swimmers. You could just drive anywhere in France and stay in a gite with a local lake or river and be totally happy the whole time.


On the way back we missioned for one stop in Cluny again which is a really nice town in the middle of France.  Then we made the last trip up the road to Dunkirk. We had booked a hotel there for the night as our ferry was early in the morning.

I really wanted to go and give some stuff the refugee’s stuck in Calais but after checking their facebook group it became apparent that what I thought we could bring was not what they needed. I thought there would be women and children their needing stuff but in fact, all though there are some women and children, the majority of people there are men and what they need is winter clothes, waterproof’s, crockery, pallets, tents, wood etc. You can check the situation and see how you can help here

I am not sure why everyone keeps calling them migrants? Is this to make us think that they are coming here for work to steal our jobs or to detract from the fact that they are in fact refugee’s fleeing for their lives, desperate and being treated disgustingly.


….as I could not help when we were in France like I had wanted to do, I am going to run the Bath Half Marathon raising money for the charity

‘ Doctors of the World’ for their Calais appeal.

As a past NHS worker for 10 years, I am extremely passionate about our health care system and how lucky we are. 

Doctors of the world are meeting the health needs of vulnerable people globally and are there in Calais now helping out these people who were unfortunate enough to be born on a different piece of land from us.

If they can make the journey that they have then I can most definately run 13 miles. We went from Dunkirk and there was a few men just standing there in the vast openess of the wasteland before you get to the docks with nothing.  Its a profund image that I dont think I will forget and I am sure will spur me on in training and on the day. What journey had they been on?

You can sponsor me here

Lou Messugo

12 thoughts on “THE NEXT FRANCE BIT…co-operative living, wild swimming and refugee’s

  1. Thankyou so very much for sharing this post with me on #busydoinglife! Such an amazing post! The co-ops look like such a great idea, I’d love to know how you found out about them? Was it through your friend living there or elsewhere? I’d love to do somethinglike this, what an amazing opportunity for your children!! Thankyou also for the info about the refugees in Calais, I know what you mean about the title migrants, I am baffled as to where this came from?? I am so excited to read that you are running the half marathon to raise money to help.. what a great thing to do.. I look forward to hearing more about that in the future! Have a great week, hope to read more from you soon!


    1. Hey Claire. Thanks for your lovely post. We just went there with our friends as its sort of in the same mountain range! but.. today I did come across this place in wales which has summer camping and seems quite similar. I think I want to move to wales or europe. So much easier to live with land.. REALLY feling the urge to be more self sufficient with animals etc.


  2. Thank you for sharing on #justanotherlinky! This looks like great living and I expect visiting is so relaxing – looks so great! Well done on signing up to the bath half – we’re just down from bath so in going to be doing it to 🙂 xx


  3. I am still laughing out loud at your “free range children” line! What a completely interesting trip you guys took! Love all the “wild” swimming ideas and photos! Here in Germany we’re all having the refugee discussion as well. It will be interesting to watch how it all pans out in the end. Good luck in your half marathon!


  4. I am still laughing out loud at your “free range children” line! What a completely interesting trip you guys took! Love all the “wild” swimming ideas and photos! Here in Germany we’re all having the refugee discussion as well. It will be interesting to watch how it all pans out in the end. Good luck in your half marathon!


  5. I agree with Christy (Whatupswags) that your trip sounds amazing, I didn’t know about the prevalence of these cooperative living places, it must have been fascinating to stay in one. France certainly is good for wild swimming, we love it too! Good luck with your half marathon and thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance


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