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Plum Village, France

What's on this page...

This page is taken from Joel's Home Page (July 1997)
Thanks to Joel Gluck for this information.

About Plum Village

Plum Village was founded in 1982 by the Vietnamese Zen master, Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh. Plum Village is a monastery for monks and nuns and a Buddhist practice centre for lay people. During the course of the year Plum Village welcomes more than a thousand visitors from all over the world. Due to its rapid expansion in recent years the community is now comprised of five hamlets: Upper Hamlet, Middle Hamlet, West Hamlet, and Lower Hamlet are located south-east of Sainte Foy la Grande; and New Hamlet lies just west of Duras.

Every year there are two main retreats:

Summer Opening - from 15 July to 15 August. A time for families and friends to practise joyfully together, to create peace in themselves and in the world. It is also a time to water our cultural roots and express gratitude and joy in several festivals: the Rose Festival, Ancestor's Remembrance Day, Hiroshima Day and the Full Moon Festival. A programme for children between 6 and 15 years of age is offered during this retreat.

Winter Retreat - from 15 November to 15 February. A time for studying and deepening our understanding of mindfulness practice, and for applying the practice in our daily activities.

These retreats are led by the venerable Thich Nhat Hanh. If you would like to attend please write for detailed information and registration papers about 3 months prior to the retreat. If you would like to visit Plum Village at another time please write to us in advance to find out about current activities and the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh's schedule.

The practice at Plum Village is meant to help us weave mindfulness into all daily life activities rather than to focus just on sitting meditation in the meditation hall. This enables us to meditate throughout the day: while eating, walking, working, or enjoying a cup of tea together. All visitors are invited to help in the communal activities, such as preparing meals, cleaning bathrooms, washing dishes, watering plants, etc. as a way of continuing mindfulness practice while performing everyday tasks. Our guests are encouraged to observe the Five Wonderful Mindfulness Trainings, and thus to refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol. The principal languages used in Plum Village are English, French and Vietnamese. Simultaneous translation of the teachings into several other languages is also available.

Sample Daily Schedule

5:00 Wake-up 12:30 Personal Time
5:30 Sitting meditation / Mindfulness-Trainings recitation 15:00 Dharma Discussion, Tea Meditation, etc.
7:30 Breakfast 17:30 Dinner
8:30 Working Meditation
Dharma Talk (Thursdays & Sundays)
19:30 Sitting meditation / Beginning Anew
10:30 Outdoor walking meditation 21:30 Bedtime
11:45 Lunch    

Casual clothes may be worn outside, but inside the meditation halls please wear shirts with sleeves, and long trousers or calf-length skirts.

One day a week at Plum Village is "Lazy Day," when there are no scheduled activities and no bells are invited except to announce the mealtimes. Lazy Day is an opportunity to let the day unfold in a natural way while still maintaining mindfulness. As well as being enjoyable and relaxing, Lazy Day can be a deep and meaningful practice.

The Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh is not available for personal interviews with students or guests who come to Plum Village. However, you are encouraged to write down your questions so that he can respond in his lectures or Question-and-Answer sessions. Resident teachers are available for consultation.


Plum Village is about 85 km. east of Bordeaux (which has an airport), and four hours from Paris by train. There are high speed trains (TGV) leaving for Bordeaux from Montparnasse station in Paris (and there is at least one TGV per day direct from Charles de Gaulle airport to Bordeaux). Some of these trains stop in Libourne (one stop before Bordeaux) where you may get off, otherwise continue on to Bordeaux. From Bordeaux or Libourne take a local train in the direction of "Bergerac" or "Sarlat" and get off at Sainte Foy la Grande. During the Summer Opening there is only one arrival and departure day per week. During the rest of the year we provide transportation to and from Ste. Foy la Grande station, but only on Tuesdays and Fridays (to allow you time for resting and settling into Plum Village before the Dharma talks on Thursdays and Sundays). Taxis are available by phoning (05) 57-46-02-47. The fare is about FF150, and is 50% higher at night and on Sundays and holidays.

Housing, Contribution, and What to Bring

The lodging in Plum Village is simple with only shared rooms (double, triple, quadruple, or dormitory). Not all sleeping accommodations are close to the toilets and showers. Throughout the year, except during the Summer Opening, men stay in Upper or Middle Hamlet; women stay in Lower Hamlet (women who come for less than a week stay in New Hamlet); and couples and families stay in Lower or West Hamlet. It is possible to camp during the Summer Opening provided you bring your own tent, sleeping bag, and camping mattress.

In the rooms, you are provided with a 3-inch foam mattress, a fitted sheet and 1 or 2 light nylon sleeping bags. Please bring your own towels, alarm clock and flashlight, as well as clothing and footwear appropriate to the season. Trips into town are infrequent so please bring with you any items that are necessary for your comfort. If possible, please bring your own earphones with a long extension cord to be used with our translation equipment. The food is vegetarian. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate practitioners who have special dietary and/or medical needs, or who wish to bring their pets along.

The contribution for lodging and food is from FF1200 to FF1500 per person per week, depending on your choice of housing . For the art of mindful living to take root during your stay in Plum Village, so that it can become a vital part of your daily life, we suggest a minimum stay of one week. Practitioners wishing to stay longer than two weeks can do so if the community is in agreement. If you have made a reservation at Plum Village but then are unable to come, please let us know. Plum Village is not open to guests from 30 June to 14 July, the preparation time for the Summer Opening. Nor are guests received during the ten days following the summer and winter retreats, as this is a time for clean up and there are few if any scheduled activities.

For Information and Registration

To facilitate organisation, there are three offices for information and registration in Plum Village:


Upper Hamlet
Le Pey
24240 Thénac
tel: 05-53-58-48-58
fax: 05-53-94-75-90/
New Hamlet
13 Martineau
33580 Dieulivol
tel: 05-56-61-66-88
fax: 05-56-61-61-51

Lower Hamlet
47120 Loubès-Bernac
tel: 05-53-94-75-40
fax: 05-53-94-75-90

May peace and joy be with you.
Plum Village Registrar

P.S. We regret that we cannot send information or answer inquiries by fax. If you send us a fax please make sure it contains your address so that we can respond by post.

See also:
- Plum Village web site at:  http://www.plumvillage.org/

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