* good place to meet *

Rainer Pitthan & Cris Oppenheimer LaFrance at ix.netcom.com
Thu Mar 30 03:20:50 EST 1995

I am describing here a small off-beat conference place in France called
Lieu de Rencontre Le Pouget.  If you, like I, are constantly on the
lookout for places to hold work shops and small conferences, you will
love this place.  Especially for anything biologic or geologic it is

The setting:  Le Pouget, a hamlet comprised of traditional buildings with
granite walls several feet thick and slate (schist) roofs, is situated in
the north-eastern corner of the French Parc National des Cevennes in the
Massif Central, just north of Provence.  It is situated on a foot of the
Mt. Lozere, also called France's water work (Chateau d'Eau).  Built
before and around the early 1800s, the outside has been kept in the
original state (it is located inside the park boundaries and a protected
landmark).  Nereby there are creeks and rivers for swimming in summer,
mountains for hiking and cross country skiing in winter.  For Americans
the place which comes to mind as a comparison is the back country of
Yosemite National Park and it surroundings, except there are fewer people

The conceptual purpose of Lieu de Rencontre Le Pouget is to create a
place where people will be able to have intense personal contact and/or
do in-depth work.  Grown out of the former Village Europeenne du
Pouget, people can work here together as a group, helped by the communal
life, based on the fact that one has normally to do ones own cooking and
a minimum of housekeeping chores.

Its size, visual isolation and peace make Le Pouget an ideal spot for
workshops, small conferences, and and group retreats.  Typical groups to
gather here are 20 to 50 people in size.  At present they come
predominatly from the physical and health sciences.  In the past, among
other groups, biologists, geologists, psycho-therapists, have come here
for intenses study and work. But in times without groups Le Pouget has
also proven to be an ideal location for vacations, and family, class and
other reunions.

Le Pouget has the general climate of Provence, yet it is more
comfortable.  Its elevation is 750m above sea level and, therefore, even
in the height of summer the nights are cool.  Being 100m above the valley
floor allows for a magnificent view. Being at the confluence of several
climate zones it hosts a large variety of species. The hinterland is at 
stages imaginable between wild, formerly farmed, and farmed.

Despite its visual isolation the hamlet of Le Pouget is only 3 km from
the nearest town, Villefort, and a major SNCF train station.  Villefort
has shops, banks, cafes, grocers, butchers, bakers, a very good
bookstore, and a post office.

The land is quiet yet wild, reminiscent of its population:  centuries ago
it was the last bastion of the Protestant Huguenots against religious
suppression, today its people are still known for their rugged

Accommodations:  The number of places is deliberately limited to preserve
the intense work environment in a rustique setting; groups of up to 60
can be accommodated.  Two Separate groups of appropriate size can be
housed comfortably.  The basic fee is 100 French Francs per person per
night, including use of seminar rooms and a small granite swimming pool.
Fees for large groups and groups who come on an annual recurring basis
can be negotiated.  Generally groups are required to do their own
cooking, but meals by French (or other) cooks can be arranged if
requested well enough in advance. It is operated on a not-for-profit
basis much like a ski hut in the Alps..

Travel:  Villefort is located approximately in the middle of a straight
line between Clermont-Ferrand and Marseilles on the train line
Paris-Nimes.  For air travelers the shortest autoroute or train ride
would be from the Marseilles-Provence Airport via Nimes (about 120
miles).  From Paris one can take either the Autoroute or the train via
Clermont Ferrand or Lyon.  Either way it is about seven hours.  The train
ride via Clermont-Ferrand is renowned for its spectacular rocky vistas.

If there are more question, contact the addresses given below by voice,
fax, or e-mail.  Good luck with your endeavour.

Internet: LaFrance at ix.netcom.com

US: Computer based Fax and Voice + (415) 327-8256
    Voice                        + (415) 327-8570

Europe: Voice + 49 2408 58917 (English, French, German)
        Fax   + 49 2408 58139 (E,F,G)

Reservations and arrangements have to be made via fax to the European

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