We arrived in the Gers department in the Occitanie region by car following our main goals: Discover, feel and get a good idea of the atmosphere. Could we see ourselves living there? Well, it is very beautiful, the land and villages are quite charming, and there are a few nice alternative efforts here and there.
But… There is always a but! The area is known for armagnac brandy and foie gras. It is everywhere, miles of grapes growing and lots of industrial farming for those poor animals that are going to be stuffed, then killed on a chain factory by zombies, all to end up in cans and tins that are transported all over the world. Buy Faux Gras guys, it looks and taste the same and it doesn’t kill anybody!
Sorry, I (Jean) get lost… The stay in Gers is also about meeting nice people that seem happy, and that welcome even humble campers as part of the family.
Discover some of the towns and villages we came across:
Mouchan is the first place we stopped to camp. We had a tip to go at “La Pachère” which is a communal green area in the village with lots of space to camp. We stayed for free and were welcomed by a fisherman living in the village, and he gave us some tips of things to do around and told us about the public toilet near by.
We loved the spot so much that we decided to use it as a base, where we’d come back for several nights after driving around visiting other places. One day we met Bernard and his family, and after 10 minutes of discussion he invited us for “apéro” and then dinner. We had a good time and were so pleased to meet such lovely people.
We had a little stroll in Vic, just enough to discover Le Musée de l’Artiste, an old house on the corner completely customized with art.
Condom, ahh Condom, what a funny name for a French city. Over there our goal was to have a feeling of a bigger sized town, is it a ghost village like most villages around? Is there any vegan-friendly restaurants, at least vegetarian, and an organic shop maybe?
We arrived during the preparation for “Les Bandas”, a big festival with music, wine and salami – or maybe wine, salami and music, I am not sure… We were surprised to see all the shops closed with cardboard in their windows. Later we learned that this was a precaution to prevent any broken glass or worse. Locals call the attendees “la viande soule”, meaning “the drunk meat”. We came back after the war and could testify of the madness, cadavers of beer and wine bottle smashed everywhere, rubbish on the streets etc… And part of the cleaning had been done already! So the region keep on hosting this festival year after year, because of the traditions? Rather because of the economy, I would say.
Damn, I got lost again, is anyone going to read that? Anyway, stay positive, positive! We found an organic shop (yeahhh!), and even more incredible, we met my mum who happened to be in the same town at the same moment; big coincidence. So we spent the rest of the day in a nice guest house for the Camino pilgrims where my mum were welcoming people and taking care of them with nice foot massages. We even got a bed for the night. We are a kind of pilgrim after all, if not Christian.
Thanks to an old phone and its crappy GPS, we took a wrong turn and arrived in this ridiculously charming village! Another empty village with nice small gardens, flowers everywhere, very well maintained houses and no human lives, except one old lady that managed to speak more than Jean (!), poor thing, she barely see anyone here. So we learned that the village is very international, the houses belongs to Americans, English, Germans, Dutch and even a Norwegian. But it is mostly holiday houses so we enjoyed the place on their behalf. We wandered around, gave some joy to the only resident, picked some cherries and took a few nice photos. Enjoy !
La Romieu is another village crossed by pilgrims. It is clean and very well renovated. You’ll see on the pictures several different representation of cats. Why?
Once upon a time, there were the cats and an orphan girl named Angeline. The story takes place after a famine, when people were starving and started to eat the cats for dinner. Angeline loved cats so much that she decided to hide her two cats in a house with the help of her foster parents. Not long after all the cats were gone, and rats started to invade the new crops. At this time the orphan girl now had 12 cats that she released to save the village.
The artist Maurice Serreau was inspired by this story, and decided to give tribute to those cats and created art pieces to display everywhere in the village.
Lectoure is located on a hill that offers nice 360° views. It has beautiful architecture and some places to accommodate travellers, like a book exchange at the entrance of a parc, nice table area for picnics, drinkable water… But the newest attraction is Le village des Brocanteurs, which means “flea market village”. Beware, when you pass the gate you enter another world.
À la prochaine !