Walking and Wine Tasting Weekend

Introduction

When I started writing, I often got stuck. I surfed the net – as you do – and eventually, I found a Youtube video that changed my approach to writing completely. I never got stuck again.

This was the video:

Paulo Coelho explains in this video how walking the Camino de Santiago inspired him to start writing.  He wrote his first book, The Pilgrimage, after he walked the Camino.

It just so happens that the Camino runs past not far from my back door and is thus easily accessible whenever writer’s block strikes. Thousands of pilgrims walk the Camino de Santiago to Spain every year and pilgrims have walked this route for at least a thousand years. Walking the Camino is, more often than not, a life-changing experience. It can certainly inspire writers, just as it did Coelho as well as a host of other authors.

Today, few people can take off several weeks to walk to Camino from beginning to end. Luckily this is not essential – just walking the Camino for few hours nourishes my creative spirit, so much so that I felt the need to share the experience with others. Many of our mindfulness and meditation workshop participants have told us that the days they walked the Camino was the highlight of their holiday. With this in mind,  my husband and I created our week and weekend breaks, as an introduction to the Camino de Santiago (St James’ Way/St Jacques de Compostelle) Pilgrim’s Route.

Practicalities

Who?

Our guests usually arrive on a Friday evening, walk the Camino on Saturday and Sunday and leave after breakfast on Monday mornings. This is the perfect option for

  • those who are touring the region and would like to spend a day or two of their holiday walking the Camino,
  • those who would like to walk a short distance of the Camino before committing to a longer walk,
  • writers, authors, novelists, playwrights, screenwriters, essayists, poets, composers and songwriters in need of inspiration: follow in Paulo Coelho’s footsteps

Our guests appreciate

  • not having to carry heavy backpacks while walking
  • sleeping in the same bed each night
  • the opportunity to taste some of the region’s excellent wines
  • indulging in some of the region’s famous gastronomy
  • a swim in our 2-acre lake after the day’s walk followed by a well-earned siesta in a hammock or sun-lounger on the deck by the lake.

Where?

Our farm is located 10 minutes’ drive from Nogaro, so it makes sense for our guests to walk stage 22, from Eauze to Nogaro on Saturday and stage 23, from Nogaro to Aire-sur-Adour, on Sunday.  As this is a walking and wine tasting tour, we take our guests to one of the local wine cellars on Saturday afternoon, where they can taste a diverse variety of local red, rosé and white wines.

How?

All meals are included, from our welcome dinner on Friday evening to the last scrumptious breakfast on Monday morning. We provide a packed lunch on Saturday and on Sunday so that our guests can walk at their own pace and have lunch where they choose to do so. Transport to Eauze and back from Nogaro on Saturday is also included, and so is transport on Sunday to Nogaro and back from Aire-sur-Adour. Even the wine tasting and the transport to and from the wine cellar is included.

Walking the Camino

Saturday: On the first day, guests walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostella from EAUZE to NOGARO. This section is 20 km (12. miles) long and takes about 5 hours to walk. The 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.

Sunday: The second day’s walk is from NOGARO to AIRE SUR ADOUR. Guests can either do the full walk (28 km 17,4 miles) or opt for a shorter walk (23 km or 14.3 miles). The walk takes 5-7 hours to walk. The full 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 the 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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Neither of these walks is particularly strenuous. There are no steep hills to clamber up nor deep valleys to scale down, but a certain level of fitness is essential to be able to walk for several hours a day. So is a pair of decent, well broken-in walking shoes. The route is very well indicated. The walk is not guided, but if anything should go wrong, help is just a phone call away.

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Details

  • This weekend getaway starts on a Friday evening from 18h00 and ends at 11H00 the next Monday (4 days later).
  • Bookings can be made from May to November.
  • We require a 25% non-refundable deposit to secure your booking.
  • Our farm is located in the Gers department, 90 minutes south-east of Bordeaux and is easily accessible by car, train or plane: there are 5 international airports less than 2 hours’ drive from us – Pau, Tarbes/Lourdes, Toulouse, Biarritz and Bordeaux (see “Travel Options” below).
  • 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.

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 Midi-Pyrenées region in the south-west 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 (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. Travelling 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 at £55/night for a double bedroom, should any of our visitors wish to extend their stay and explore the area.

It is crucially important to us that our holidays 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.

Investment

  • The cost of a 4-day walking and wine tasting weekend, as described above, starts at £395 per person.
  • Guests can choose to prolong their visit with a day or two on a bed-and-breakfast basis at £55 per room per night.
  • Balance of payment is due at least 30 days prior to each holiday.Please note: As our deposits are not refundable and our cancellation policy is firm, we strongly recommend the purchase of adequate travel insurance.  Any cancellation received in writing up to 30 days before the holiday starts will result in a loss of 50% of the holiday price. Any cancellation made in writing less than 30 days before the holiday starts, or once the holiday has started, will result in a total loss of funds. Depending on availability, you can choose to transfer your booking to another date without incurring any additional fees. We reserve the right to cancel the holiday (if we do so your deposit is refunded in full).

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 4. Wine at 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 as well as transport to and from Saint Mont for the wine tasting.

Not included

  • 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 above).

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 to check availability with “Walking and Wine Tasting” as the subject heading.

A warm welcome awaits you amidst the Saint Mont, Armagnac and Madiran vineyards in the sun-blessed south-west of France!

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Walking and Writing in the south of France

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Guided Personal and Professional Growth – Reformed MD, assisted by six talented Horses, hosts Stress Management Mindfulness Meditation Workshops in the south of France