Château de Puissentut is in the commune of Homps in the Gers in South West France. It sits, over-looking the Orbe valley, between the villages of Homps, Monfort and Bives. Fleurance and Mauvezin, both a 15-minute drive, are the nearest towns, with Auch, the administrative capital of the Gers, 35 minutes away.
The Gers is a rural idyl. It's economy is largely agricultural-based and if you arrive in early Summer you'll be bowled over by the vibrancy of field upon field of sunflowers. The air is fresh, the climate is gentle and the pace of life is slow. The combination of good quality, local food, out-door living, and fews stresses has made the region famous for the longevity of its people, and you'll often see elderly farmers still tending their vines, fields and vegetable patches. Local delicacies include foie gras, duck, armagnac and floc.
“The Gers is a place most British visitors haven't heard of, but it's a sublimely beautiful area of rolling hills punctuated by sunflower fields. If I had to describe it in a sentence I'd say "the land of a thousand views", as reaching the top of each hill reveals a new view, different to the last.” Mike
The rolling countryside peppered with medieval villages, with their fortified walls, grid layout and halles, clinging to rocky ridges is evocative of Tuscany. Yet unlike Tuscany the Gers is still largely undiscovered by tourists, which makes staying here a uniquely French experience. The summer is one long party with one village after another holding their fêtes and Marchés Nocturne, where all are welcome to enjoy the regional cooking and produce and dance to traditional music and local discos. And if you fancy something a little more high-brow then there are several music festivals to try out including the famed jazz festival in Marciac.
The larger villages and towns all have their weekly markets which are full of local produce and teem with Summer visitors. They are the social highlight of the week and farmers from all around come to sell and buy and congregate on street corners and in bars to catch up on the news. Amongst the nicest are Fleurance on Tuesdays, Lectoure on Fridays and L'Isle Jourdain on Saturdays.
Lectoure, Condom and Auch are historically important towns in the region, witnessed by their dramatic cathedrals. These relatively small market towns were made rich by pilgrims who stopped here to break their journey on the way to Santiago de Compestela in Spain.`They are still a stopping off point these days mostly for walkers than pilgrims.
Lectoure (25 mins drive) stands prominently on a high ridge, swaddled by its defensive walls. The narrow main street, dominated by the cathedral at one the top, runs the town's length and is full of bars, restaurants and boutiques. The town is known locally for its vibrant music and art scene, while the thermal spa reputedly has healing properties.
Auch is the capital of the province and therefore remains important today as the centre of local government. It has a very pretty historical centre and an impressive cathedral that rises majestically above the town. The outskirts of the new town are easily reached and are very handy for useful shops such as Decathlon and Leclerc hypermarket.
And for those in need of a bit of city buzz Toulouse (just 1 hour away) cannot be beaten. It is famed for being the largest university town outside Paris yet it is small and compact which makes it easy to navigate around and to see all the sites. The streets and buildings are very elegant, with magnificent town houses and lots of independent shops and boutiques making it a unique shopping experience. Toulouse is also famed, of course, for being home to Airbus and is fast becoming an important, innovative business centre.