Back in the Gers department again we have had another opportunity to experience some of the other areas. The countryside here is dotted with beautiful villages, each with its own individual charm and mystery. Lovely stone built churches and village squares, cafes with sun terraces, and the smell of freshly baked bread coming from the boulangerie.
The area is predominantly arable farming, in the winter it’s wheat and barley, followed by summer crops of maize and the ever spectacular fields of sunflower. We have visited lots of markets full of locally grown produce, including tomatoes, apricots, cherries, melons, figs, apples, pears, honey and eggs.
Its about a 15 minute walk to the village of Cadeilhan from where we are house sitting. With just a church and a few houses, it’s a quiet village. The nearest village which has a shop is Monfort, about 10-minute drive the opposite direction, this too is a quiet village. Montfort has the appearance of a medieval town with its half-timbered walls pierced warheads and Renaissance houses. The 14th-century church next to the square has a high octagonal tower and a beautiful nave. It’s here we go for a coffee or bread, anything else we have to go further afield.
We had visited Auch earlier on during our travels but being the capital of the Gers, it has a lovely old town and great views across the Gers river. This region is also famous for the birth of D’Artagnan one of the Musketeers. He was born as ‘Charles de Batz de Castelmore’ in 1611 in the little village of Lupiac. His statue dominates the vast stone staircase that climbs from the river Gers up to Auch cathedral.
Fleurance is probably the village we use the most whilst in the area. It’s has a lively, friendly atmosphere with a sense of commitment from the locals.
On the edge of this charming village is Bella Italia where we enjoy freshly cooked pizza and the biggest burger John has eaten.
In the centre stands the impressive ” Halle de Fleurance” that houses the weekly market, where we buy fresh dates, prunes and a traditional French basket.
Lectoure is where John meets the cycling group each week.
Every Friday there’s a farmers market where you can sample cheese, olives, wine and other local produce. Walking from one end to the other passing the stalls and old buildings, it’s a lovely place to just watch the world go by. From either side of this village, the views are breathtaking on a clear day the Pyrenees and the Gers valley is visible.
As we walk through the narrow streets we find that St Clar has two squares, surrounded by beautiful old stone buildings. Today there is a Vide-Grenier taking place, a bit like a car boot sale. After a bit of bartering and ”C’est Trop cher!”, ”It’s too expensive!”, we buy some glasses.
Lomagne white garlic is a speciality of Saint-Clar, and today one of the restaurants is giving away free Garlic soup, its a little too strong for us.
We have enjoyed spending time in this area with its stunning scenery. There’s very little noise, just a simple life in a wonderful climate with plenty of ‘joie de vivre’. We have seen the landscape change from summer to autumn where the sky never seemed grey even on rainy days.
We have encountered a real sense of community and tradition, hopefully, we will one day return.