EMPLOYMENT | Grape picking in France

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We can tick another item off from our livelist! We don’t use a bucketlist because we want to live and not put those hopes and dreams away somewhere in a bucket…

Anyway, we did it, picking grapes (also known as the French Vendanges) in France! For me it was already a small dream when I was younger and studying. I just wanted to go abroad and work with my hands instead of working behind a desk. Now that dream came true!

We met Marianne & Kim last year in Porto, Portugal during a severe storm. We had the best evening and ended up celebrating Christmas and New Year’s too! We stayed in touch and they told us they were going to pick some grapes in September. We asked if they could look for a place for the four of us and join them on the work.

On the 26th of August we took off and started driving towards Marianne’s home in Salernes, or better said, her mom’s home. We enjoyed a beautiful week and celebrated my birthday with them. All seemed well until we got a phone call from the first picking address. He told us the picking would start a week later than planned. Marianne called the second address to inform them that we would be a day later than planned. They told Marianne that we weren’t registered and we could not come. We were very sad but decided to search for another address. Michèle and I found one where we could work for two days.

It was a very small vineyard. The family had about 1,5 hectares of trees and we would pick half of them in 2 days. The first hours were okay, we really liked what we were doing. After the lunch the pain kicked in and we got tired. Luckily it was only two days! The second day was harder than the first one and the lady of the vineyard got mad at me for sitting on the ground. My back was really painful and I just couldn’t bend anymore. She told me she did not meant to be mean but she was realistic. After those two days I did not know how to survive the upcoming ten days at the other vineyard. Michèle however did not have as much pain as I did and she stayed positive.

We had a day off before we had to start the longer picking at a farm in Saint-Vérand. The owner, David Vivier-Merle, has about 10 hectares with white, rosé and red wine grapes. We were happy to see Marianne and Kim again and were ready for the upcoming days.

For 9 days we were busy with picking grapes, drinking wine, cooling off in the pool and eating yummy food! Check the images here to see what a day at the vineyard looked like!

Looking back at those days, I have no idea how we did it. We had pain in our backs, our knees, the buckets were heavy, we ate way too much food before going to sleep, we cut our hands multiple times, we got blisters and go on and go on. But we did it. We finished those days, made new friends and worked with 10 Bulgarians and learned a little about their culture.

All  in all it was a very great experience and we might do it again, but for now it’s a no

For everyone who wants to do it, go for it! You’re pushing your boundries, meeting new people, get to know the cultural differences and earning a little money. We have met inspiring persons who were already picking for years. They said that the seasonal work was their holiday while the rest of the year they sit behind a desk. It is beautiful how much passion they have and how they work without complaining about any pain.

Have you already done any seasonal work? Tell us about your experience!