BY ROBIN DUNIPACE – EDITOR
This July Blog is part 1 of 3 Blogs which together record why Kat wanted to find out about Gascony, how she went about doing this and what she found when she came here. The next two Blogs record the details of our travels around Gascony.
HOW IT ALL STARTED…
Six months ago, American travel journalist Kat Kalashian had never heard of ‘Gascony’, ‘Gascogne’ or ‘Le Gers’. Then an English colleague of hers, who follows Simply Gascony, suggested to Kat that she might find Gascony interesting.
Kat lives in Paris and is the Europe Editor of a North American online publishing business called LIOS (‘Live and Invest Overseas’ - www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/). As the name suggests, LIOS identifies and promotes destinations around the world which North Americans (USA and Canada) might want to visit, to invest in, and eventually perhaps want to move to. This ‘seniors’ market, identified as those over the age of 50, typically retired or considering retirement, is of increasing economic importance and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Silver Economy’. North America (USA and Canada) has a population of about 375 million, of which about 30% (110M) are aged 50+.
LIOS was established in 2008, is now a very sophisticated online publishing business and one of the leaders in this field of: “…providing opportunities (for North Americans) to live better, retire in style, invest for profit, do business, and own real estate overseas”. Examples of important LIOS ‘destinations’ outside Europe are: Panama, Mexico, Belize and Indonesia.
LIOS has around a million registered subscribers and over 300,000 weekly website visits – which is very impressive by any standard.
Kat’s job as Europe Editor is to identify, research and help promote LIOS destinations in Europe. Currently the most important of these is the Algarve in the south of Portugal, but LIOS is also involved in Cyprus, Spain, and France.
In France, LIOS highlights Paris, Provence, and The Alps – as you would expect – but also more surprisingly the city of Pau and the small area of Saint-Chinian near Beziers. As a potential retirement destination in France, LIOS would like to find a ‘comfortable’ and fairly large rural area in the warmer south of the country; an area with potentially the space and the willingness to welcome visitors from North America…
Engineering triumph – C19 arched aqueduct carrying the Canal de Garonne across and over the River Garonne, which is the Northern boundary of Gascony.
When Kat first heard about Gascony in the Autumn of 2022, she thought she should investigate further and contacted Simply Gascony for advice and information. Having done her ‘desk research’, Kat decided she would like to visit. The arrangements were made by Simply Gascony, and Kat came here in mid-June to stay with us in Monfort for 4 nights.
Roman road stretching many kilometres straight from Agen to Lectoure.
Kat and I spent more than 30 hours together over 4 days travelling around Gascony, from Marciac in the southwest to Saint Clar in the northeast, not forgetting Auch in the centre. We visited 16 villages and market towns, many of them ‘Bastides’ and several among ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de la France’. We met, and Kat interviewed, 14 people involved in business and tourism in Gascony, both owners of rental properties and our SG working partners; we visited five Simply Gascony rental properties. And on our way, we tasted several Gascon wines and became thoroughly immersed in the Gascon part of the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela, in ‘The 100 Years War’ and the life of D’Artagnan.
Restaurant in the ‘Bastide’ village of Solomiac.
Kat was of course especially interested in the stories of people who have come from other countries to live and invest in Gascony, and who are now involved in the changing, and increasingly digital, economy of this area - we were amazed by the frequency of our encounters with work teams laying fibre cables all over Le Gers!
This first Blog has set the scene. The next two Blogs, in August and September, record some of Kat’s detailed experiences travelling around Gascony for four days. August will cover days 1 and 2; September will cover days 3, 4 and 5.
It would be fair to say that after a week in Gascony, Kat is now a fully committed ‘ambassador’ for this area. Kat has started publishing information about Gascony through the extensive LIOS publication network. Her first introductory article gives you a good idea of her LIOS interests:
Dining terrace at La Traddure, where Kat stayed for her visit to Gascony.
Kat’s aim is to increase awareness in North America of this little-known, beautiful, and welcoming part of France; increased awareness will lead to more interest in visiting Gascony, in renting properties here for short or longer periods, and perhaps investing and retiring here for the long term.
Simply Gascony is very pleased to have this opportunity to work with LIOS and to support Kat’s Gascony promotion; we will provide a warm welcome to any LIOS subscribers who choose to visit Gascony.
Tipple the Jack Russell at La Traddure has become Kat’s mascot for her Gascony project!
If you would like to keep up to date on what LIOS is saying about Gascony, follow them on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/liveinvestoverseas/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LiveandInvestOverseas).
And you can follow Simply Gascony on:
SG WEBSITE https://www.simply-gascony.co.uk/
GASCONY LIFE BLOG https://www.simply-gascony.co.uk/gascony-life-blog
SG INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/simplygasconyholidays/
SG FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/simply.gascony/