Seeing the place where you live through the eyes of visitors is always interesting.

The everyday can get elevated into the extraordinary, things that you take for granted can win new significance and recommendations made by guests are therefore especially valued.

So, here are a few of the things that our guests have enjoyed and highlighted during their stay this year. All are within easy reach of Valence-sur-Baïse and our beautiful chambre d’hôtes. We hope they inspire you to visit to this beautiful part of France. And when they do, we look forward to welcoming you at Le Petit Cochon.

The Abbaye de Flaran. This beautiful Cistercian Abbey is full of surprises. The stunning acoustics of the old chapel host a programme of musical events throughout the summer months and if your senses are more focussed on the visual, then you may well be delighted to find yourself getting up close to works by Dali, Turner, Rodin, Monet and many more of the greats. You can also enjoy changing exhibitions of contemporary artists, sculptors and photographers there. The Abbey can be reached on foot from Valence-sur-Baïse by following a pleasant riverside walk.

Coursiana gardens and La Romieu. From mid-April to mid-October these gardens at the edge of the village of La Romieu are made up of four landscaped areas- an English garden, arboretum, medicinal plants and scented garden and a kitchen garden. There’s a small café and a gift shop too. Once you’ve explored the gardens it’s well worth wandering through the pretty village of La Romieu. Look out for the cat sculptures hidden in the architecture of the buildings and make time for coffee or a meal at Etape Angeline – a lovely restaurant in the centre of the village. Afterwards you can walk off the calories on one of several walks that start and finish at La Romieu.

Eauze market on a Thursday. No visit to Gers would be complete without at least one trip to a market. You can go just to enjoy the visual glory of fresh seasonal produce or give in to temptation and buy the ingredients for a picnic lunch. Markets in France start early and finish around lunchtime- so we’ll be happy to serve you an early breakfast if you want to get to the market with the locals. We can also recommend markets on other days of the week of course!

The swimming lake at Castera Verduzan. During the summer school holidays the leisure lake at Castera Verduzan, with its inflatables, paddle boats, supervised swimming area, small restaurant and sandy beach is a great place to spend a few hours. There’s another open-air swimming pool in Gondrin and Condom also has an open-air pool that’s open in July and August.

Chateau Lavardens is a majestic structure sat high on a hill with commanding views of the Gers countryside. But it’s what’s inside that’s the main attraction here. The chateau hosts regular art exhibition- from glassware, through cartoons, to world class artists and local sculptures. The programme of exhibitions changes regularly and the well-stocked gift shop is an added treat.

Regardless of how long you plan to stay with us- we’ll be delighted to share our love of Gers with you and recommend places to visit, restaurants to try and things to see.

“To travel is to live” – Hans Christian Andersen