Posted by: jimndianne | November 5, 2009

Leaving Toulouse for Gers

5 November 2009 France

It’s raining again!! Jumped on a local bus which took us on a winding route to the Toulouse Station, where, after comparing rates at a few of the rental car offices, we chose National Rental Cars because they offered discount for over 60’s! Good for them – and good for us too! Returning to the Ibis Hotel which should in fact have been quite a simple operation but wasn’t, as there was no left turn allowed near the Hotel so we had no choice but to end up on a Motorway heading to Paris! Twenty minutes later our capable driver, Jim, in co-operation with navigator, Di, found his way back via some back streets to the Ibis Hotel. We decided at this point that French drivers are far more calm and controlled than Italians are on the roads, using their indicators and keeping to the right on motorways. They still tend to go over the speed limit but not to the excess of their Italian counterparts.

The area that is of interest to us is the 065Midi-Pyrenees which is in the south west of  France. It is broken up into a number of regions and we will only have time to visit a few of these i.e. Gers, Tarn, Tarn-Et-Garonne and Lot which will give us a good idea of what housing is available. These are very old areas and some of them are relatively untouched in terms of redevelopment, seemingly a deliberate move by the government which has a positive outcome.

Today we are off to look at the Gers region which is famous for its rolling landscape and has no industry of any kind. It also has the best weather within the Mid-Pyrenees which makes it a very popular region for a second home. The countryside viewed from the motorway from Toulouse – Agen (Nth west) proved to be very flat, with scattered stone farm houses and tilled fields due to the imminent arrival of winter. Before Agen, a lunch stop

007was forecast at a service station complete with huge cafe so it was with relish that we downed a Panini Caprice each (foccaccia roll with ham, eggplant, red capsicum and guerkin) plus a  nut tart/choc brownie to share.  006Hanging from the walls all around the cafe were delightful Folk Art animals framed in rough wood as the photo shows.

There is no GPS in the car, nor did we want one as we always use the tried and tested method of travelling, i.e. with a good old map! We had purchased one of the entire Midi-Pyrenees area so are in good hands!

On the road from Agen to Condom we discover we are now into changed surroundings, that of rolling hills and  very pretty scenes of cottages with flowery 039window-boxes and ancient ruined buildings. It really is lovely here and we have decided 036to find a place for the night in Condom (despite its unusual name…). A friendly French lady directs me to the local tourist office and all seems perfect when the English-speaking girl on the desk marks on a map the four Bed & Breakfast homes in Condom. Despite this, and after several circuits of this small town, we are unable to find even one of the B & Bs and it’s getting close to 4pm. My memory reminds022 me that there was a small sign “Gite” several kilometres back up the road from Condom (Gite means Guest House) and with several cars close behind us at the time we were unable to stop and look at it.  Back we go to the area where I remember seeing this sign and sure enough, there it is and we drive up a long, long drive between an avenue of yellow leafed trees. A sign, Chambres, (rooms) directs us  to park  and we discover a wonderful old three-storey building which looks a little like a castle. We are told that there is indeed a room available for us and 012are happy to be taken by the owner’s wife to a building adjoining the main house to inspect it. It is far more than we expected – there is a huge bedroom with fireplace, bathroom and separate toilet, a large lounge/salon with a fireplace, a kitchen, and another huge room for eating meals  and it’s all for us! At 60 Euros for the night it is amazing value and we move in. The owner comes and soon gets a roaring fire going for us (with real wood, none of these fake fires) and because we have no desire to go out for a meal we spend the evening having a nibbly dinner of our remaining bits and pieces – nuts, apples, an orange each, some grapes and mini Mars bars! Great for a change! We both watch some French television trying to understand a quiz show and later a Dating show, then head to our boudoir for some well-earned rest.

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