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Cheap Stay in French Countryside - Pilgrimage to Taize

Updated on October 11, 2014

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.

Taize from afar.
Taize from afar.
Necklace symbolizing a dove, cross and letter "t" for Taize.
Necklace symbolizing a dove, cross and letter "t" for Taize.

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?

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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.

Common prayer is sung in different languages.
Common prayer is sung in different languages.

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.

Team work keeps the dishes clean.
Team work keeps the dishes clean.
Typical house in a French village.
Typical house in a French 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.

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    • Gordan Zunar profile image
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      Gordan Zunar 2 years ago from New York

      Sorry for the late reply, the way things work in Taize is that it's all about donation and those 6-9 euros is a suggested donation with 6 being the minimum suggested and 9 maximum suggested. You can always pay more or less than suggested, depending on your financial situation, people there are very understandable. When I was there the last time on my own, I was told that my donation goes to those who don't have enough money (or any money) to contribute, so they can get food too. Also, it is best if you register online first just to let them know that you're coming and when you're planning to come. How long were you planning to stay? Because if you're staying longer than a week usually you will have to pay only for the days in the first week that you come (the week is considered Sunday to Sunday), meaning that if you arrive on Tuesday, you will only pay for Tuesday to Sunday, and not for the time you stay after that. This goes usually for those who stay for 3 or more weeks (or some months). If you have more questions let me know :)

    • profile image

      ivanaana 2 years ago

      I am from Croatia and my friend and I, we are thinking about visiting Taize this summer. We were just wondering how much would we have to pay for a day? On official Taize page it says for Croatia 6-9 euros. So, will we have to pay 6,7,8 or 9 euros ? And if you don't know do you know who knows? And who decides about that and how?

    • Gordan Zunar profile image
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      Gordan Zunar 2 years ago from New York

      Yes, you should definitely visit it. Taize is a perfect place to enjoy the beautiful countryside of France.

    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 2 years ago

      I have travelled a lot in France, but I didn't know about Taize. It is now on my list "To Do".

    • Gordan Zunar profile image
      Author

      Gordan Zunar 2 years ago from New York

      Thank you, Ron, for reading it. Although Taize attracts thousands of people each week during summer, it is still not as popular as some other pilgrimage places, like Lourdes, France. There are churches throughout Europe that organize trips to Taize every summer. There are some churches in the US that hold Taize prayers on certain days during week, although there are very few who organize trips. I've been there many times (while I still lived in Europe though) and I only met one group from New Jersey who came with their church. Otherwise, most people from outside of Europe come to Taize on their own (or they're referred there by their church). For some reason, it is quite hard to hear about it unless you know someone personally who's been there to tell you about it.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E. Franklin 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      When I was backpacking through Europe some years ago, I would have loved to have spent some time in a place like Taize. But I didn't know about it. In fact, this is the first I've heard of it. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Gordan Zunar profile image
      Author

      Gordan Zunar 2 years ago from New York

      I share your view and opinion, Harald. It's a really good place exactly for that reason, because of all the conflicts that happened or are still happening in Europe (and world). Taize brings together people from all over the world, of all nationalities and religions, and it promotes peace and living in community. It is something we rarely see in other religious communities. Thank you for reading and sharing it!

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 2 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I am not religious but this sounds like someplace I would really like to visit and reconnect with humanity after all the horror stories we see/read day after day. It's interesting that Taize is a relatively "new" community, forming in 1940 during the war. Voted up, interesting and shared.