at the heart of the Gers countryside
- Samatan : "Marché au gras" market (poultry and foie gras) – listed as "one of the 10 finest markets in France"
- Samatan : "Station Verte" (Natural Tourist Area) and Station Pêche (Fishing Resort)
- Simorre : Picturesque village with its Abbey church
The essential Foie Gras
My journey starts at Samatan, also known as the "Mecca of foie gras". Here, each Monday you must be at "Matin'halles". This is what the poultry and foie gras markets are called in the Gers Département. I walk up and down the rows of stalls where these noble products share the limelight. I overhear recipes being murmured, as well as other advice about preparing food – my mouth is already watering...
What am I going to have with these divine birds? A little detour into the next hall will sort me out! The local producers' stalls are groaning with seasonal produce. Here is real taste! The hardest thing is choosing...
Between tradition and authenticity
A stone's throw away, there are no less than 200 street vendors and 80 local shopkeepers and traders who fill our eyes with colours and our tastebuds with flavours.
The accent, the smiles, the humour, and so on, all contribute to the authentic atmosphere which makes this gourmet stroll so enjoyable. You say hello, you have a chat and do some shopping in a friendly atmosphere. Welcome to Gers, the land of good things to eat!
All this has given me an appetite! My basket full, I go looking for somewhere to have lunch. Not far from there, I decide to go into La Table d'Olivier. This restaurant is like an old brasserie, with a décor that's as cosy as it is modern. The Chef works with fresh, seasonal produce. I discover a delicate, refined cuisine, and from the first mouthful I'm really enjoying it.
Elle nous en parle
« We generally go there on Mondays for lunch after being at the local market. I advise you to book a table on those days. As for me, I'm enjoying a duck carpaccio that is as exquisite to taste as it is beautiful to look at »
A timeless, relaxing break
200m from the centre of the village, towards the green oasis of Samatan Lake. From the Hôtel Club Les Rivages, I gaze at the uninterrupted view of the lake, while enjoying a coffee on the terrace. Time stops ... refreshment guaranteed! Having filled up with coffee, I'm already on the trail of hiring an electric bike and escaping along the local tracks.
Modern art in the heart of nature
Saddle up! Off I go on a 52km trip to explore nature and art. The characteristic valleys of the Gers line my route, before I meet up with two works of environmental art as big as they are surprising. "Yané", in the village of Villefranche and "Kasé" at Saint-Elix-d'Astarac, close by. Real artistic performances demanding a response from our imagination.
The Sauveterre orientation table
It's the highlight, not to be missed on any account! The Sauveterre orientation table offers a viewpoint over the whole of the Pyrenees mountain chain, over 1600m high, that is magnificent and unique in France. Incredible beauty...
Under the spell of the village of Simorre
On my route, I stop by Simorre. An untypical village that surprises and delights me. Along its picturesque little streets, half-timbered houses and shady plots are revealed to me and invite me to visit.
The Paysan d'Émile Museum
The Paysan d'Émile Museum : For real encounters with people from round here! I am talking about passionate volunteers who bring the countryside of yesteryear to life for us, putting today's landscape in context.
Looming up over the roofs of the houses, a remarkable fortified church gives the impression that it will offer a way straight back into the Middle Ages. A visit is essential!
And now music!
Now it's time for me to award myself a well-deserved rest. In the village square, I make a great find: the Le Bouche à Oreille café-restaurant. A cultural bistro, gastronomy with market produce and natural wines – this is an attractive prospect that I would find hard to resist! While I enjoy a glass of wine from the Gers, I hear some notes of music – a concert is being prepared. In the heart of this village, full of life, the evening has only just begun. I get on the road, my head full of memories... What a day – one I won't forget in a hurry...
Elle nous en parle
«Une charmante petite place et un café de village pas comme les autres non plus. Profitez du lieu, de la musique, de la cuisine succulente, des "gens" tout simplement, car ici il y a seulement du VRAI ! Un havre de bonheur où il serait impensable de ne pas retourner. »
Where to sleep and eat, what to do?
Voici les bonnes adresses de Fiona (Tourisme Gers) pour vivre pleinement votre expérience au coeur de la campagne du Gers.
- By car : Samatan is about 50 minutes from Toulouse. From Toulouse, take the N124 towards the D634 at L'Isle-Jourdain. Take the D634 exit and go towards the D4 to Samatan.
- By air : arrive at Toulouse Blagnac International Airport. Then travel by car as listed above.