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Along the Meuse
Food and Terroir
I tested a day's work at this coworking space in the heart of the ardennes
Gare!, the first coworking and hotel complex in Belgian Luxembourg
5 mins OF inspiration
Coworking spaces are appearing everywhere, and rural areas are no exception. At Poix-Saint-Hubert, I had a chance to test a days's work at a new facility that proposes a green approach to boost rural development and activity in the local community. Allow me to introduce... Gare! (French for "station")
Poix-Saint-Hubert: Rooted in the heart of a little valley, surrounded by the vast Saint-Hubert forest range, Gare! comes as a real surprise. This ideal coworking facility combines comfortable amenities and an Ardennes-style green approach. It's name is no coincidence. Indeed, the hotel rooms, restaurant, meeting rooms and coworking spaces, both indoor and outdoor, are all housed in a complex that stands opposite the village train station. This may seem a little strange to the handful of locals, but the project is, in fact, very well thought out!
Naturally, I've chosen to come by train, on the 162 service between Namur and Sterpenich (Belgium-Luxembourg border) that crosses some incredible countryside deep in the Ardennes. I alight at Poix-Saint-Hubert. This old and empty station is filled with a stunning silence. The train moves off, heading into the valley and leaving me with my day's files. I'm about to discover the Val de Poix, via a bridge over a river that forms its entrance.
A project inspired by the train station
Aude Piette and Emilie Wéles soon put me at ease, greeting me with a smile. These two young ladies are united in this ambitious project to provide a coworking space in a rural area. Aude, who founded the Gare! PLC is also manageress of the Val de Poix hotel and the restaurant, Les Gamines. As far as she's concerned, the whole project was clear from the start, it just needed a helping hand to make it a reality.
Aude was one of 13 contract winners under the Digital Wallonia project to develop shared working facilities. She built the project step by step before being joined by Emilie, who works for Saint-Hubert's Local Development Agency. They are both proud to present the facilities to me. While some might think that creating a coworking space in Poix-Saint-Hubert was risky, I was quickly convinced otherwise by the building's level of comfort and proximity to the station. I decide to head straight for my work station and start writing.
In the coworking area, I'm not surprised to come across a few of the region's personalities, like Benoît Dessaucy from Midweeks.net who has been a regular here since he started business in September 2018. "This place is a godsend for me. I come here twice a week by train. It's a change from my usual working environment and the studious atmosphere helps my concentration. I'd love to see more business travellers and remote workers come here, to make this ecofriendly approach even more beneficial thanks to the diversity of encounters!"
Aude shows me to my work station. There are about ten of these alcoves, which provide a degree of privacy as well as the possibility of communicating with other users. Finally, I connect the internet cable, switch on the light and, comfortably seated, begin writing. The atmosphere is casual yet professional. I find it easy to talk to my temporary coworkers and make some good contacts, like Anthony, a photographer, who's wants to know why I have a camera stand.
Emilie, the facility organiser, who drops by now and again to say hello, tells me a little more about the project and the establishment's other amenities. Here, the emphasis is on flexibility. Users can choose the package that suits them best - full time, half time or pay-as-you-go, booking a work station for just a day or even an hour. This enables local entrepreneurs to meet clients here, and workers from abroad can also adopt this green concept, which appeals to me more and more. Aude's restaurant is closed at lunchtime, but coworkers have a very well-equipped kitchen at their disposal! Not forgetting the outdoor areas. I'm already eager to come back when the weather improves for a productive day's work outside. After all, why shouldn't I study my files from a hammock?
Regaining control of your working hours
The very definition of slow-working
No, don't worry, slow-working has nothing to do with laziness. This new concept has emerged with the increase in stress-levels and cases of burn-out, offering workers a chance to regain control of their working hours. Everyone agrees that both the mind and body need to rest from time to time. Working in a studious environment like that of Gare! enables individuals to put the demands of their work into perspective, and brings out their creativity. Say no to anxiety at the office! What's more, Emilie tells me there's even a siesta room! Siesta room? Where do I sign? And there'll soon be a gymnasium as well!
Not forgetting all the benefits to be reaped exploring the surroundings or enjoying a nature walk. It's the ideal place to go green!
Walking in the corridors, it's obvious I'm not the only one who likes this idea. The meeting rooms are occupied by corporate groups. The general atmosphere of this place has convinced me. The people working here, in the coworking space or the meeting rooms, come and go as they please, conversation comes easily, and everyone's happy to break with their usual working day. This boosts my motivation to work and, above all, my creativity. I find it easy to relate to what I'm writing.
Gare! has made an impact. Aude and Emilie have carried it off ! What's more, something tells me this is only the beginning and that the project will soon include an artist-in-residence component! Poix-Saint-Hubert, you have amazed and enchanted me, once and for all!