Le Mat Ardèche / Le hameau du Viel Audon


Toute une histoire

Le site du Viel Audon a été habité dès la préhistoire par des populations heureuses d’y trouver un climat doux, une rivière poissonneuse, une source à température constante, une faune et une végétation abondante.

Au début du XIXème siècle, époque dorée du vers à soie, les habitants quittèrent le hameau pour construire de grandes magnaneries sur le plateau qui surplombe le village. Un siècle d’abandon et d’oubli l’ont fait disparaître sous les ruines et le lierre.

Depuis 1972 quelques ” utopistes ” se sont mis en tête de faire revivre le Viel Audon. Ils ont créé en 1976 l’association Le MAT, qui a organisé chaque été des chantiers internationaux de jeunes bénévoles. Plus de 12 000 volontaires ont participé à la reconstruction du hameau, dont certains ont choisi d’en devenir les habitants d’aujourd’hui.

Inaccessible en voiture, le hameau est toujours en chantier, géré par l'association AJC. L’équipe de salariés et de bénévoles anime ce site en tirant sa force de ses coopérations internes et de son esprit de solidarité.


Et maintenant?

L’équipe de salariés et de bénévoles anime ce site en tirant sa force de ses coopérations internes et de son esprit de solidarité.

Une ferme en polyculture élevage valorise le territoire avec un troupeau de 45 chèvres, des vaches, des cochons et des productions végétales. Les produits sont vendu en circuits courts sur le site dans une boutique qui propose une petite restauration d'avril à octobre.

Le centre d’accueil et le gite d’étape (46 lits), ouverts toute l’année, permettent aux séminaires, séjours éducatifs, formations thématiques de vivre concrètement et au quotidien les questions posées par la transition écologique, économique et sociale

Le centre de formation appuie ses contenus sur la pluriactivité, les productions agricoles, les économies d’énergie, la gestion de l’eau, le recyclage des déchets, les mutualisations, le travail en équipe et les choix de consommation qui servent de base à la pédagogie.

Faire ensemble, faire pour de vrai, un mode de vie qui fait réfléchir pour imaginer les gestes-barrières contre le retour à la production d’avant-crise ! C'est pourquoi l'association Le MAT Ardèche a développé son réseau et travailler pour essaimer sur les territoires et partager ces savoirs, son expertise.

It all started 48 years ago…

The site of LE VIEL AUDON has been inhabited since Prehistoric times by people who have enjoyed its mild climate, a river full of fish, a spring with constant temperature as well as rich fauna and flora.

In the early 19th century, in the golden age of silkworm breeding, the inhabitants of the hamlet left it to build large silkworm breeding houses on the plateau overlooking the village.

After being deserted and forgotten for a century, all that was left of it was a heap of ruins buried under ivy.

In the 1970’s, a handful of ‘utopians’ got it into their heads to revive LE VIEL AUDON. They created an association and organised international volunteer work programmes for young people. Over 12,000 volunteers took part in rebuilding the hamlet, and some of them decided to live there too.

Who are we?

Land management:

A farming development company (“SCEA du Viel Audon”) is jointly managed by two farmers who are in charge of the herd of goats and of the market garden production. They have been assigned the important task of restoring the land in line with a sustainable development policy (sylvopastoral management, fodder crop complementarity between ecosystems, intercropping on olive-planted terraces, integrated fertility management).

SCEA du Viel Audon, 07120 BALAZUC, 04 75 37 77 15

Click for information on the farm at Viel Audon

>Accommodation and training:

An association, “LE MAT”, is in charge of volunteer work programmes, environment discovery classes and environment/development training sessions, for which a holiday centre accommodating 25 people and a 21-bed group guesthouse are available. The association employs 6 peaple on a permanent basis plus some seasonal workers. It is accredited to receive  students for complementary training.

The team coordinates all the activities on site.

Click for information on the visitor centre and educational stays

Association LE MAT, 07120 BALAZUC, 04 75 37 73 80

What are the goals of this project?

You have to be a bit mad to think you can revive a hamlet which is in total ruins and has no road access!

It is some kind of challenge that you send to yourself, maybe just to rediscover a seemingly long-lost energy, that which fuels a certain human will…

…The spirit of those who work together towards a long-term goal, with determination and solidarity in times of difficulty, the same strength that made the Ardeche landscapes what they are. A faith which can move mountains!

This energy may well be what we need to build tomorrow’s world..if we want to be more aware of planetary consequences and the impact of our everyday actions, and more solidarity-oriented in our consumption and management of the earth’s resources.

You are all welcome!

If you are between 17 and 25 years old: the volunteer work programme for young people is for you! Every summer, you will learn day to day ecology applications, building techniques, as well as the satisfaction provided by collective work performed with a common goal, and the value of meeting new people and of exchanges. This is an opportunity to experience life within a group where everyone finds their own place and in which solidarity and good humour prevail!

Click for information on the summer workcamps for volunteers

Primary or secondary school children: why not ask your teachers to come here for an environment discovery class, in order to get a better knowledge of nature, of the water cycle, the richness of scrubland, the transformation of goat’s milk, the making of bread…

College or University students: You have questions about rural development, resource and/or landscape management… Tell your teachers that we can organise thematic training sessions here with our local experts.

Click for information on educational stays

Whether you are a single person, couple, family or group… You can make a booking for a stay in our holiday centre or in the group guesthouse.

LE MAT, 07120 BALAZUC, 33 4 75 37 73 80

Under the gaze of the short toed eagle Le Viel Audon is back to life!

The goats clear the scrubland, carefully preserving the future growth of new plants. Everyday, delicious cheese is made from their milk and sold on site and in the local markets. The abundant whey, whose acidity would pollute the river, is used to feed our pigs, whose meat will be turned into pâtés and ham to be tasted by appreciative customers. Our cows graze the plants left over by the goats. Their milk is drunk by the calves and the hamlet inhabitants. Two vegetable gardens are cultivated on terraces and on the bank of the Ardèche river.

They produce fresh vegetables sold in the markets or consumed by the guests staying in our holiday centre and by the village people. The garden soil is ploughed by the mule and enriched with the goats’ composted manure. Peelings and food leftovers produced by the village people are fed to the hens who complete their meals by pecking the grass which grows under the mulberry trees. Their droppings constitute a valuable fertilizer which helps the mulberry trees thrive, for the breeding of silkworms . Non-vegetable refuse is recycled locally or sent to a waste recycling centre in town. On the restored terraces, olive trees have started to produce oil again and a fruit tree conservatory garden has been created to save some old varieties from extinction.

The holiday centre and the guesthouse are heated by retrieving the energy produced by the isothermal source using heat pumps; solar panels provide hot water to the bathrooms in the guesthouse and the house itself. The street lights are powered by a battery charged by photovoltaic panels. A water pump and a windmill improve the irrigation of the gardens.

Managing land resources ensures A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

Click for information on courses about cooperation and connecting with nature

Send an email to the accommodation team

Hameau du Viel Audon 07120 BALAZUC
Tél. 33-4-75-37-73-80