Walking and Wine Tasting Week

You have finally arrived…

…and it is time to relax, with a contented sigh, into a hammock suspended between two 200-year-old oak trees, on the shore of this peaceful lake and sip a glass of the fabulous wine you have just bought at a ridiculously low price. You have certainly earned it, having spent most of the morning ambling through the lush vineyards of this forgotten part of France, where the feisty inhabitants have been cultivating fine wines since the Romans introduced them to the practice such a very long time ago.

What luck that you did not have to walk all the way back with the 12 irresistible bottles of excellent wine that you have just bought! After a scrumptious and copious picnic, consisting of fresh, home-grown and home-made local specialities (and wine, of course!), your host arrived with his customary perfect timing and brought you back safely to this lovingly restored 200-year-old French farmhouse, your home-from-home, for the duration of your well-deserved walking and wine tasting holiday in France.

Relax and absorb the serene beauty of your surroundings, marvel at the startlingly vivid colours of the sunset, savour the bewitching flavour of the wine, consider dreamily how incredibly fortunate you are to find yourself in this unspoiled private paradise, close your eyes and quietly drift off…

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If you are looking for an activity holiday and you are a keen walker, our Walking and Wine tasting Holidays might just be the thing for you. What could be more enjoyable than walking through the vineyards, woods, meadows and sunflower fields of the south of France? Imagine a bright summer’s morning: the sun sparkling on the mighty Adour river, wildflowers scenting the air, the birds singing their hearts out and a welcome breeze cooling you while you walk taking deep breaths of unpolluted air…pure bliss. Just when you think things can not get any better, you arrive at a quaint medieval village, lost in time, where you enjoy a copious and leisurely picnic lunch and taste some of the best wines that the region has to offer. Too tired to walk back? No problem. You host takes you back by car to the 200-year-old farmhouse where you are staying to enjoy a well-deserved siesta in a deckchair beside a private lake.

Walking and Wine Tasting Holiday Details

  • Our holidays start on a Friday and end the next Friday (eight days later). Our guests arrive the afternoon of their first day and leave the morning after breakfast on their last day.
  • Bookings can be made from May to November.
  • We require a 25% non-refundable deposit to secure your booking.
  • Our farm is located near Nogaro, in the Gers department, 90 minutes south-east of Bordeaux and easily accessible by car, train or plane: there are 5 international airports less than 2 hours’ drive from us – Pau, Lourdes/Pyrenées, Toulouse, Biarritz and Bordeaux (see “Travel Options” below).
  • All meals are included except the free day evening meal.
  • Accommodation is in double bedrooms and prices are based on two people sharing a room. Single rooms are available on a first come, first served basis at no extra charge.
  • Walks vary in length from 10 to 20km/day and are not strenuous, but guests will need to be walking fit to enable them to walk this distance daily. The terrain is not rough, but we will be walking through woods, vineyards, orchards and meadows. Paths can be uneven, so walking boots are recommended.
  • Our walks start at the farm or at a short distance from the farm and end where the day’s wine tasting takes place. In the afternoon, guests are brought back to the farm by car – this enables them to buy wine should they wish to, without having to carry it all the way back.
  • We also offer shorter holidays (4-days) – see Short Walking and Wine Tasting Breaks or contact us for details.
  • Guests who would like to explore the region can choose to arrive a day or two early or stay a day or two longer on a bed-and-breakfast basis.
  • Accompanying guests, who might not want to do the walking/wine tasting, are also welcome at reduced cost.

Itinerary

Friday: Guests arrive from 18H00 onwards, in time for a typical gourmand Gascon dinner. After dinner, your host, who has a WSET diploma and an extensive knowledge of the local wines, gives a short introduction/refresher talk about the art of tasting wine.  On this walking holiday, you will have the opportunity to taste a diverse selection of the wines of our region, as well as Armagnac, the local brandy. The video below gives you an idea of the countryside you will be walking through and introduces you to some of the most famous chateaux/cellars of our region.

Walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela

Saturday: We start this walking and wine tasting holiday by walking 2 sections of the Camino de Santiago. Today is the Eauze to Nogaro walk,  20 km (12. miles) long and it takes about 5 hours to walk it. This leisurely walk meanders through woods, vineyards, meadows, orchards and sunflower fields from the Roman and cathedral city of Eauze towards Manciet, a small market town with a beautifully preserved lavoir. It continues past an ancient church that once belonged to the Order of the Knights of Malta and an 18th-century milestone with a Maltese cross to Nogaro or Nogarium, which means ‘a place planted with walnut trees.’ This small town was established in the 11th century and has a fine Romanesque church.

This day’s walk is our most popular walk, an experience that most of our guests cherish and remember for the rest of their lives. It is an unguided walk, not strenuous but 20 km long nevertheless, so we give each of our guests a packed lunch to enjoy anywhere along the road. The walk is very well signposted and walking without a guide gives our guests the chance to enjoy the walk at their own pace and in their own time. We pick our guests up at the end of the day in Nogaro and spend the rest of the day listening to tales of the unexpected encounters, breath-taking beauty and life-changing revelations that our guests had while walking on the 900-year-old paths that tens of thousands of people walk every year. For our less energetic guests, there is the option of starting midway, resulting in a shorter but just as enjoyable walk. View the route HERE.

Sunday: Today is the NOGARO to AIRE SUR ADOUR walk. Our guests can choose to walk the full section 28 km (17,4 miles) or opt for the shorter 23 km (14.3 miles) walk. Depending on the chosen distance, the walk takes from 5-7 hours. The walk is fairly flat: Nogaro is at 100m above sea level and Aire is at 80m above sea level.  The path passes by several ancient farmhouses, along the vineyards towards Lanne-Soubiran and then onwards towards Barcellone-du-Gers, a small town adjacent to Aire. From Barcellone the scenery changes, The vineyards give way to trees: oaks, pines and chestnuts until one finally arrives in the beautiful town of Aire-sur-Adour, on the mighty Adour river.

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Aignan:  On Monday, we walk along the northern ridge of the Adour valley, for 15 km, to the village of Aignan. This vibrant little village really is in the middle of nowhere and because of this it has retained many of its shops, bars and restaurants. There are four restaurants in this minute village, one bar, a small epicerie and even a brocante. A monumental church dominates the skyline, just begging to be explored. Aignan also boasts a bustling fresh food market once a week, a definitely not-to-be-missed event! Along the way to Aignan, we stop at Les Termes D’Armagnac. Part of a medieval château looming challengingly on the ridge, Termes’s guard tower is visible from far and wide. We arrive in Aignan just in time to catch the tail end of the market. We have our lunch on the village green before making our way to the village’s cellars, to taste a variety of the wines of the region: red, rosé and white. After the tasting we return to the farm., offering our guests the chance to escape to their chosen spot for a lazy afternoon nap.

Tuesday: Tuesday is our day off. After three days of walking, this day comes as a welcome reprieve. Everyone can do exactly what they feel like doing the whole day long. Some like to sleep till midday, others get up early so as to be able to spend the whole day sightseeing, to spend the day playing golf, waterskiing, take to the sky in a microlight or glider, test their driving skills on the Nogaro formula 3 racing track, attend a flea market, visit a spa or explore the region on a bicycle or on horseback…there is loads to do and see. Breakfast is included, a picnic lunch provided and in the evening our guests have the opportunity to support our community and try one of our excellent local restaurants. Some of our guests stay put, for a day of blissful relaxation, while others walk to our village’s three own wineries. One of these produces an excellent and affordable Armagnac. All three are less than 3 km from the farm.

Wednesday: Saint Mont: Today we walk to Saint Mont. Saint Mont sits smugly on top of a hill, right in the middle of the Adour valley. It has been sitting there for centuries, probably because is would have been so easy to defend as any approaching enemy would be visible for miles. On the highest’s point of the hill, an abbey and monastery, dating from the 12th century, perch precariously, surrounded by a medieval village clinging tenaciously to the sides of the hill. After breakfast, we walk down into the Adour valley, and then along the Adour river until we get to the foot of the Saint Mont hill. The walk is 13 km long and is not strenuous, but as we avoid roads and stick to footpaths, guests will need well-broken-in walking shoes. We stop for a well-earned rest on the river shore to have our picnic lunch, while the abbey and monastery tower above us. Saint Mont has only recently been awarded an AOC, in recognition of the quality red, rosé and white wines. Before we do any tasting, we explore this enchanting little village and then we make our way to the cellars to the south of the village to sample some of Saint Mont’s best wines. We probably pick up a bottle or two for our evening meal. Any guests who would like to buy some wine to take back home are welcome to do so as they do not have to walk back home carrying their precious purchases. After the wine tasting, we return to the farm by car, in time for an extended siesta before a very generous Gascon dinner.

Thursday: Plaisance: If it is day 6, it means we are walking to Plaisance, another bastide town. This time, we walk into the Adour valley and instead of turning west towards Saint Mont, we turn east towards the collection of lakes at Cahusac-sur-Adour, a paradise for birds and birdwatchers. We continue along the Adour river to Plaisance, a double bastide and thriving market town on both banks of the Adour river. Over the centuries, the natural beauty of the spot has made it a favourite resting place on the road from Marciac to Aire-sur-Adour. Here we sit under 200-year old oak trees, on the shore of a huge fishing lake, to enjoy our picnic. Afterward, we taste the wines of the Plaisance cellars and then head home by car to recharge our batteries.

Friday: Departure after a substantial breakfast

Investment

  • The cost of an 8-day walking and wine tasting holiday, as described above, amounts to £995 per person.
  • Accompanying guests who prefer not to do the walking part of the holiday can still join in at the wine tastings at £925 per person.
  • Also available are 4-day breaks, see Walking and Wine Tasting Short Breaks

Included

  • Accommodation in a single or double room: prices are based on double occupancy.
  • All meals, from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 8, except for dinner on your free day. Wine at lunch and dinner is included and so is tea and coffee during the day.
  • Local transport from the farm to walks (where applicable) and from walks back to the farm.

Not included

  • Dinner on your free day – our guests usually make use of this opportunity to have dinner in a bistro in one of the nearby towns.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Travel costs to nearest airport/train station/self-drive expenses.
  • Travel costs from nearest airport/train station to the farm. We offer transfers at additional cost (see below).

The Gastronomy of Gascony

As our guests use up a lot of energy while walking the Camino, we ensure that they do not go hungry by enticing them to indulge in the best food and wine that our region has to offer: freshly baked, crunchy French bread, wildflower-flavoured honey, jam made from the fruit grown in our orchard, vegetables just-picked in our potager and  pure spring water…we introduce our guests to the famous gastronomy of Gascony:  paella, confit de canard, couscous Gascon and croustade de pommes à l’Armagnac as well as to some of the excellent wines of our region.

Travel

Our farm is located near a small but lively little town called Nogaro, founded in 1065, a stop-over town on the St Jacques de Compostella pilgrims’ route. Nogaro is in the Gers department, in the Midi-Pyrenées region in the southwest of France.

  • Air: The most convenient, if not the most eco-friendly way to travel here, depending on where you are coming from, is by air. Several of the low-cost airlines fly to the 5 international airports closest to us: Pau, (40 minutes) Lourdes (40 minutes) and Biarritz, Toulouse and Bordeaux (all just under 2 hours). For the convenience of our guests, we offer transfers from Pau and Tarbes – at additional cost. From Toulouse airport, there is a train to Auch (50 min from us), and from Bordeaux airport, there is a train to Mont de Marsan (45 min from us). We also offer transfers from Auch and Mont de Marsan – at additional cost. It is also possible to travel from these airports/train stations by taxi or by using the carpooling website BlaBlaCar.fr – we pick up our guests from Nogaro at no additional cost.
  • Train: Another comfortable and much more eco-friendly option is to travel here by train, from Paris/London/several other European cities. Trains go to Toulouse station and from there to Auch station – or otherwise to Bordeaux station and from there to Mont de Marsan station. You can book your train ticket (in English) on the SNCF Voyages website. Prices are often very reasonable, especially if one books in advance. Traveling by train also reduces carbon emissions – much better for the environment.
  • Car: If you are coming from the UK, you can choose to travel in your own car and take a ferry across the channel – very useful if you are planning on buying some of the excellent wine of our region. We also offer additional nights on a bed-and-breakfast basis, should any of our visitors wish to extend their stay and explore the area.

It is crucially important to us that the holidays we offer do as little damage to the environment as possible, while at the same time contribute towards the local community’s economy. CLICK HERE for more information.

A walking and wine tasting tour in this part of the world is a very special experience…the best way to discover why our guests come back year after year is to visit in person.

So seize this exceptional opportunity to spend a few nights with us NOW…to help you make your trip a special one, please let us know you are coming by making a reservation. E-mail us on welcome2gascony[at]gmail.com or fill in the form below:

A Warm Welcome awaits you amidst the Saint Mont, Armagnac and Madiran vineyards in the sun-blessed southwest of France!

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