Cheap Stay in French Countryside - Pilgrimage to Taize
What is Taize?
Taize is a small village on the top of a hill in Burgundy, France that serves as a home to an ecumenical community of brothers. It consists of around a hundred brothers who live and work together in peace and harmony, sharing everything they have with each other. Their way of life stands on three pillars: poverty, simplicity and celibacy. They are an open community though who throughout the year hosts thousands of young people from all over the world. It is most visited during summer when each week up to five thousand people come to stay for a week. There they encounter peace and harmony with other people through prayer, team work and Bible discussions. And whether you're religious or not, there is place for you there.
How much does it cost to stay there?
Taize is a community that lives purely on their own work and visitors' contributions. The brothers, or freres in French, do pottery, creating ceramic plates and cups, they produce their own music which is consisted of prayers in a form of songs that they put together on CDs, and they make necklaces in a shape of a dove, which symbolizes the Holy Spirit and in the shape of the letter "t" as in Taize, although some say it also signifies the cross. They also write books on religious and spiritual subjects, amongst other things. These products are then sold in their shops for visitors to buy. Another way of covering the costs of not just their life, but one's stay in this beautiful place, is by contributions from visitors which are different depending on what part of the world you come from. For example, if you're from UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Scandinavia, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium or Switzerland, the suggested contribution would be 7.50 to 10 euros per day. If you come from Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia or Poland, it would be 6 to 9 euros. The cheapest deal is for the countries of Southeast Europe (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Romania) and Russia, which is 5 to 7 euros per day. For adults over 30 prices are a little higher. For more information you can check their website taize.fr.
Would you consider going to Taize?
History of Taize
The community of Taize was founded by the late frere Roger in 1940 when he decided to leave his home in Geneva, Switzerland and move to France so he could help the Jews whose lives were in danger. He bought a house in the small village of Taize which he used as a shelter for the refugees. It is said that he left Geneva and made it to Taize on his bike alone. He asked his sister Genevieve to help him and so they started taking care of people in need of shelter and food. After the war frere Roger and several other brothers committed themselves to a life in simplicity, poverty and celibacy. Soon afterwards they started receiving people who were in need of a quiet place to pray. They built a unique church out of wood as well barracks for pilgrims to stay in. From then on, the community has been growing each year.
Day in Taize
A day in Taize starts early at around 8 am which is when the morning prayer starts. This is the time when everybody gathers in the big wooden church and sits on the floor slightly tilted to the front. The prayers are consisted of quotations from the New Testament and are sang in different languages. Everyone is given a songbook and you can join in singing but don't have to. During every prayer there's a ten to fifteen minute silence which gives everyone an opportunity for personal praying, meditation or just mind resting. After the prayer, at around 9, everybody starts heading towards the eating area where food is served by volunteers. You can also ask to volunteer to either serve the food, cook or do some other type of work, which the brothers would highly appreciate. From 10 to 12 there are workshops where people are divided into small groups and given topics for discussion. It is a perfect way of getting to know people from other countries and share your life experiences with one another. Then there's the noon prayer and lunch followed by another workshop in the afternoon (or work if you volunteered for it) and finally dinner in the evening and evening prayer after which most young people go to a place called Oyak, which is kind of like a going out place where you can buy one (only one) alcoholic drink. You can choose between beer or red wine and then with the cup in your hand (not a bottle, sorry) join the singing and dancing and playing non-electric instruments that are not too loud like guitar and saxophone (drums are not really allowed). Oyak unfortunately closes at 11 pm after which everyone is expected to return to their rooms or tents and keep the place quiet during the night for the sake of the residents of the village.
Benefits from visiting this small village
A week in Taize is a great chance to enrich your soul spiritually. No matter what religion you are, or even if you're not religious, you will be able to find peace in your mind. You will learn of the goodness of people and how you can accomplish many things by working with others in harmony. This will later help you to improve things in your own community, upon coming back home. It is an opportunity to get in touch with other cultures and nationalities. You can learn a new language, maybe not fluently, but certainly basic stuff, as there are always people willing to teach you full sentences until you learn how to pronounce it right. You will experience the simple life in French countryside. You'll enjoy the view of old Medieval type houses made of stone as well as churches from the same period of time, the large green hills, fields of grapevine and forests.