Antique shop – Un coin du passé Run by my uncle, Didier Gefflaut, for over 30 years, there are treasures and antiques he has found all over the region. Take your time, and delve into every corner. Porcelain, old dolls and books, eighteenth century earthenware, copper, paintings, antique linen… everything to add to the charm of your own home.
13, avenue Claude Bordenave, Castéra-Verduzan. Two minutes away on foot. Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 6.30pm.
Flea market – Le Village des brocs You drive through Lectoure, a village perched high on a hill surrounded by fortifications. Stop to see the cathedral, and the ancient site of the Château des Comtes d’Armagnac, which was turned into a hospital in the eighteenth century, and where there are about 30 antique dealers in the galleries, arcades and chapel.
127 Cours d’Armagnac, Lectoure. Half an hour away by car. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 2pm to 7pm.
Ceramics – Atelier Christiane Fitzpatrick On the hill in Gouget, this internationally known ceramicist has paid tribute to and reinterpreted Gascon earthenware for over 50 years. Her ceramics are also on sale at the Musée européen d’art campanaire in L’Isle Jourdain.
Le Gouget-La Clé des champs, Jegun. Eight minutes away by car. By appointment only. Tel. 05 62 64 57 23.
Exhibition – Château de Lavardens Stronghold of the Counts of Armagnac, this seventeenth century château perched on a rocky promontory has an exceptional view over the countryside, and regularly hosts exhibitions of art and craft. A stroll through the village, one of the prettiest in France, is well worthwhile.
Lavardens. Ten minutes away by car. Open from Tuesday to Sunday.
Art and heritage – The Abbaye de Flaran This seventeenth century Cistercian abbey and its gardens are a real gem. And apart from that, Michael Simonov (a regular Florida client)’s art collection of 300 paintings and sculptures from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries displayed there includes work by Chagall, Monet, Picasso, Renoir and Rodin.
Valence-sur-Baïse. Ten minutes away by car. Open every day.
Regional specialities – Maison Tête. An address to treasure for anyone who wants to take home magret, foie gras or cassoulet. Pierre Garros works exclusively with local farmers – and he sells my favourite duck sausage with foie gras.
Zone Artisanale Jamon, Valence-sur-Baïse. Ten minutes away by car. Open from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 1230 and from 2 to 6.30pm. Saturday from 8.30am to 1230 .
Domaine Entras vineyards – Since 1964, the Maestrojuans have produced Côtes de Gascogne, Floc de Gascogne, Armagnacs-Ténarèze… and Moutarde de Gascogne! Concentrated Ugny white grape must and crushed Brassica nigra mustard seed, give a sweet, spicy, brown mustard, whose authenticity and simplicity reflect the riches of the region.
Ayguetinte. Six minutes away by car. Open every day but Sunday.
Seasonal produce – Castéra-Verduzan market. It’s a tradition. The Sunday market attracts the best producers in the region. Among the finest are de Pierre and Béatrice Serniguet who have been selling their croustade à l’Armagnac there for four years now, and Monique Cazaubon whose gâteau à la broche, and M. and Mme. Souron’s raw milk farmhouse cheeses are from the Pyrenees.
Rue du Parc and Place Odilon-Lannelongue, Castéra-Verduzan. Sunday mornings.
Relaxation – The Castéra-Verduzan Base de loisirs. A fine sand beach, a skatepark, toboggans for children, padel… the Castéra-Verduzan lake is a stretch of spring water to bathe in, a family paradise.
Rue du Lac, Castéra-Verduzan. Five minutes away on foot. Open all year round. Life guards and activities in July and August.