the best period
Spring and Summer
Central Gascony is all about taking things slow, seeing, smelling, listening, touching and tasting. Your senses come alive. History buffs, foodies, lounge lizards, culture vultures and those who love the peace and quiet... Gers is your next port of call! Prepare for 4 days of adventure on foot, by bike or hot-air balloon exploring an incredible past, mind-blowing nature and outstanding food & drink.
Your Fabulous Voyage in Gascony begins in Castéra-Verduzan, a magical spa village and "Green Resort" that's a joy to visit. Rent your e-bikes from Tourist Information and spend your morning laughing away as you ride on the rolling Gers country roads or race up the hills. A short ride (1 hour - 15km) takes you to the stunning Château de Lavardens, a wonder of military architecture brought to life by exciting year-round cultural events and exhibitions showcasing local artists.
Make the most of your trip to explore the village, one of the "most beautiful villages in France", and settle down on the terrace for lunch at Le Malthus under a fabulous wisteria. Marthe will treat you to one of her specialities made from local produce (and mostly organic too). This is the perfect excuse to sample a dish made from famous Lavardens organic lentils or pick them up from the deli next door.
On the way back to Castéra-Verduzan, stop at Ferme de Bidache, famous for breeding black Gascon pigs. It's yet another opportunity to sample a local speciality (try it served wafer-thin "en chiffonnade"). I've given the "ham royalty" award to a product that holds its own against the best Serrano, Pata Negra and Aoste ham to name but a few. Experience Audrey and Benoît's passion for the rustic local breed that's raised outdoors and tastes delicious.
Once you get to Castéra-Verduzan, settle into Hôtel des Thermes whose prime location puts you just metres from the spa and gym where you can splash around and have a good time before dinner. Or you can stay in one of the many B&Bs dotted around the village's countryside.
Your second day in Gers sees you in La Romieu, a medieval village famous among pilgrims on the Way of Saint James (actually, did you know that "Romieu" means pilgrim in old French). It's nicknamed "the village of cats" and they really are everywhere: real ones and sculptures!
Go on a lovely loop around the vineyards, meadows, plum orchards and thickets and walk part of the via podiensis, one of the paths leading to Santiago de Compostela. It's a great excuse to visit the village outskirts and see the stunning collegiate church whose sleek belltower comes out of nowhere. You may even meet the lord of these woods: the friendly squirrel.
You'll already have stocked up on good local produce at the village deli to prepare your picnic that you'll enjoy wherever you like along this 13km footpath (4 hour walk).
Once your walk is over, head to Mauroux near Fleurance to settle into La Ferme des Etoiles for a night in an astro-bubble. This is a stargazing hotspot designed by astronomy enthusiasts whose team will instantly win you over with welcome drinks where you can mingle and chat.
This is the place to share knowledge and experiences i.e. with a conference about the stars following by a stargazing session with expert professionals. Keep the magic alive in your quirky accommodation whose transparent ceiling will soothe you to sleep as you count the stars instead of sheep.
If you want to take to the skies and drink in breath-takingly beautiful Gers (where we're still as proud to say that "happiness is in the field" long after the film of the same name came out), you'll need to set your alarm early... very early! Daybreak is the best time to take off in one of the Montgolfières de Gascogne hot-air balloons on a trip to remember between heaven and earth.
Soak up the magic of a timeless countryside whose landscapes sculpted by man have probably not changed much since D'Artagnan, the famous musketeer, was born in nearby Lupian in 1611.
Back on solid ground, visit one of the farms or wineries you've spotted from the sky to stock up on foie gras (preferably organic) or sample the so-called nectar of the gods: Armagnac, supposedly the oldest brandy in France!
Or, if you happen to be in Lectoure on Wednesday, join the locals at the farmer's market in the lovely little village. Your senses will come alive with the colourful stands and delicious food and drink to try (Gascon pastis, apple crumble, Lectoure melon in season and Côtes de Gascogne). This is the good life!
You'll struggle to tear yourself away from the traditional market's warm and friendly atmosphere. So settle down for lunch on the terrace at one of the local restaurants. Gascon salad or stuffed goose neck? Duck breast with plums or slow-cooked spare ribs? Decisions, decisions! There's only one rule: treat yourself!
And you're in for a treat in the afternoon and evening as I'd like you to join me at the Bleu de Lectoure studio . Learn the fascinating history of woad, a plant the produces a blue dye. It's back in fashion and quietly celebrated by the fantastic team who can't wait to meet you and share its secrets.
It's a great opportunity to pick up some completely unique and 100% Occitanie souvenirs from your Fabulous Voyage.
End your stay on a high at Hôtel & Spa Le Collège des Doctrinaires which is all about one thing: R & R. Visit the hotel spa and experience original treatments such as the "Rituel Bleu de Pastel" (using woad for its cosmetic properties) as you indulge in the Lectoure hot springs.