We are gradually expanding our facilities at La Mandorla, ensuring they remain in harmony with the environment and the landscape.

The yurts:

We’ve built three yurts on the site - two are used by the children who come for summer camps and families coming for a weekend break.

The third is our home throughout the year.

The yurts were imported directly from Mongolia. Nomadic dwellings, they are real little homes and well insulated.

In Mongolia, the temperature can fall to -40ºC in winter. A layer of felt (a sort of thick blanket, 1.5 cm thick, made of wool and compressed and boiled animal hair) protects the yurt from the cold in winter - provided there’s a central wood burning stove. During the night the fire is extinguished and the temperature falls, so mornings are cold until the fire is lit again.

In summer we close the central circle in the roof during the day so that the sun doesn’t overheat the yurt, and remove the felt from the sides to let the air circulate – a natural form of air conditioning.

A waterproof canvas protects the yurt from the rain.

Our traditional yurts have a surface area of 30 m2. 10 to 12 children can sleep in them comfortably on mattresses set out in a star pattern. For a family of 5 they are perfectly spacious.

The yurts are decorated in the traditional way with geometrical colours and motifs.

The colour orange represents the earth or incarnation. Blue is rarely used in the painted decorations as it symbolises the sky, spirit of the world, present each morning in the central circle in the roof.

The Mongolian yurt is a small microcosm with its own traditions (you can’t sit down on the threshold, pass between the central pillars or sit down with your feet showing) and a magical dimension, which we explain to the children in our evening discussions.

The yurt can be taken down in 3 hours and put up again in 5 hours by 3 or 4 people. The Mongolian people move twice a year to find new pastures for their herds.

Putting up the yurt requires some technical knowledge but the principle is simple: it’s a house that stays up without a single nail or a screw.

Before putting the canvas on the outside it looks like a beautiful giant bird cage.




The children sleep peacefully in a soft, white nest. In summer, mosquito nets are essential. For little girls, it’s like sleeping in a princess bed.


The outdoor kitchen:

The outdoor kitchen provides a central meeting point in the summer.

With the Montsant mountains opposite, it has beautiful views over the spectacular landscape. Closed in by windows in the winter, it has a constant connection with the surrounding nature.

This is where we prepare the meals each day, and store the food – organic flour, rice, pasta or lentils - in storage jars or milk churns. The children have breakfast and dinner here. Lunch is often eaten out and about, in nature, under a tree or in a forest clearing …




The handicrafts house:

A small wooden construction on the edge of the woods, the handicrafts house has a workroom downstairs and a sleeping area upstairs. It’s a veritable Aladdin’s cave, bursting with materials of all kinds: paints, beads, fabrics, paper, a microscope and non-fiction books.

This is where the children come to do handicrafts and write their nature diary every evening.



The dry toilets:

So simple, so traditional… and so practical.

The dry toilets are a hole in the ground surrounded by a little wooden hut to maintain privacy.

After using the toilet a saucepan of sawdust is poured into the hole, thus reducing bad odeurs and helping what’s down there to decompose. This is then used as fertilizer for the trees.

There are two dry toilets, one at the edge of the woods (20m from the kitchen), and the other between the two yurts where the children sleep.

In a world where so much precious drinking water is used daily to flush toilets, dry toilets are a completely ecological solution: easy to clean and with zero water consumption.


The shower:

This is also a small, cosy wooden building with a bathtub and a water heater connected to solar panels. The water isn’t yet at the temperature we’d like it to be, but we’re working on it!


The workshop:

The roof is fitted out with solar panels, supplying all the energy needed for La Mandorla.

The carpentry equipment and other tools are also stored here. The children are not allowed into the workshop unless accompanied by an adult.


The barn:

This is where we store grain, straw and gardening tools. It’s also a shady spot for resting between our various farming activities.




The henhouse:

Built with the help of the children (our Easter 2014 project), it now houses 15 hens, several rabbits, 3 ducks and 2 geese.





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