BY ROBIN DUNIPACE – EDITOR
This September Blog is part 3 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 first blog was published at the beginning of July and set the scene. The second Blog was published at the beginning of August and recorded some of the places Kat visited and the people she met on days 1 and 2. This final Blog published in September records the rest of the of our travels together around Gascony.
WHAT KAT DID…
In terms of the details of what Kat saw and did, and what she thought about it all, I can do no better than quote from her detailed daily log. What follows are some of her comments from each day, together with related photographs.
DAY 3 – DOMAINE HERREBOUC AND CASTELNAU DES FIEUMARCON
“Visited Chateau Pélat, a fantastic old property that belongs to a British family who rent it out for part of the year. Super unique property, a 12th-century castle of exceptional character and beauty with 7 bedrooms (one of which is in the owlery tower!) and 5 bathrooms across 3 buildings. But don’t forget the grounds… they include a tennis court, pool, rambling trails and walkways, productive fig trees, and its own vineyard…And it’s just a short walk or bike ride into the nearest town, Jegun. https://www.simply-gascony.co.uk/chateau-pelat-gascony
Next stop was a small independent artisan wine estate, Domaine Herrebouc, created by Carine Fitte and Hélène Archidec in 2004. There are 10 grape varieties planted over 18 hectares. Everything here is organic—the management and biodynamic culture promote soil fertility and horticultural development, producing the highest quality grape possible—but with minimal impact on the environment. The “vinification” (i.e. turning the grape into the various types of wine) is done with indigenous yeasts and the bare minimum of inputs—just like the methods used pre-industrialization. The wines, certified organic since 2010 and Demeter since 2020, are available in reds, rosés, and dry, soft, and sweet whites. https://herrebouc.fr/
Tower House at Domaine de Herrebouc
Castelnau des Fieumarcon, known as “The Village”. A ‘Castelnau’ is a castral town that dates to the 12th century, essentially a town created for the service of the chateau. Castelnau des Fieumarcon is a hilltop stronghold dating back to 1143 AC, sitting high on its hilltop surrounded by the agricultural beauty of the Gascony countryside. Today, 16 carefully and stylishly renovated ancient village houses and cottages within the fortress walls are offered for rent, providing a unique venue where you and your guests can take temporary ownership of the entire village for a few days at a time.
The Village was a really fun tour! I was hosted and toured by Frederique and Jean Coustols, the brothers who created, own and manage The Village—which is essentially a massive rental property! The brothers are a hilarious and gregarious pair, and really make this place what it is. Basically, this is an authentic medieval village that you can rent for one-of-a-kind events: Destination Weddings, Corporate Retreats or Incentives and unforgettable Private Holidays. I had such a fun afternoon touring the apartments (individual houses) with the brothers Coustols, who go above and beyond to make this a special venue for guests. They’re currently planning to create an on-site glamping space in an adjacent field! https://thecastelnau.com/
View from a house at Castelnau des Fieumarcon
DAY 4 – LUPIAC, MARCIAC AND AUCH…
Bee and Adam Fitch run two businesses in Lupiac, electric bike rentals (https://evelogers.com/) and holiday rental ‘tipis’ - big, comfortable tents (https://espritgascogne.com/). They have also just expanded the business to include a rental home in Lupiac. They are a great example of expat entrepreneurs in France—which they say is easier than it’s ever been thanks to Macron’s business reforms.
“After visiting the new rental house, we got a private tour of the small, well-presented d’Artagnan museum. I had no idea how popular the Three Musketeers book was internationally! There are countless film and TV remakes and versions, and the name is applied to dozens of products and characters all over the world.
D'Artagnan Museam in Lupiac
Then we had lunch in Lupiac where we met Veronique Thieux the mayor of this small Commune, who is a good friend of Bee Fitch. She was extremely welcoming, urging me to write to her directly if I have any questions—and this was a common theme here: locals would be happy to see more foreigners move in.
On our drive to Marciac, we stopped by a villa near Lupiac recently bought by a Californian couple, looking for a change of lifestyle rather than retirement. They had just gone back to the States for a couple weeks, so I wasn’t able to meet them, but their home looked incredible from the entry gates. A 19th-century Old Presbytery with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 3 reception, additional space to be converted, 2500 sq.ft, mostly single floor. Plus, a mature garden with massive old trees, blossoming bushes, and climbing vines all over, with a swimming pool and woods, a total of 2 acres, perched on a bit of a hill, so the views all around are stunning.
Marciac is a cute little town with a giant main square where the annual 3-week Marciac international jazz festival is held. This year will see such performers as Suzanne Vega, Ben Harper, Lizz Wright, and Norah Jones. We then drove through a few towns and bastides including Bassoues, with its gorgeous old timber built halle, Montesquieu, and Barran on our way to Auch, the historic capital of Gascony.
Jazz Centre in Marciac
Auch is a small city and it’s a step removed from the ruralness of the rest of the towns and villages. It feels a little bit more cosmopolitan. People are dressed stylishly and it generally feels more lively. There’s lots of shopping and cafes, plenty of big, beautiful buildings and monuments.
DAY 5 – AND ON TO TOULOUSE
Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France with a major international airport, and with Bordeaux is one of the gateway cities to Gascony. Although only an hour’s drive from Monfort where Kat was staying, Toulouse has never been part of Gascony and going there is definitely a change of scene. Toulouse is a 21st century city – the hub of France’s Airbus and Aerospatiale industries. Kat had to go to Toulouse to rent a car to drive on to Spain. That sort of service is just not available in Gascony!
Market day in Toulouse
This final Blog, published in September covered days 3, 4 and 5 of Kat’s visit.
It would be fair to say that after a week 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:
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.
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/