Maison Youkie lies in the heart of Gascony, land of D”Artagnan, Armagnac, Wine and Duck. The Gite enjoys sweeping views across the beautiful Gascon countryside to the Pyrenées some 50 km away. Gascony is a largely agricultural area, and in summer the fields come alive with the colour of sunflowers; vine-covered hillsides attest to another important crop, and the grapes make some very fine and inexpensive wines, not to mention the renowned digestive Armagnac.
Arriving in the winter then good skiing is available at La Mongie/Bareges and other bustling winter resorts – less than 90 minutes drive away.
A variety of other sports are also catered for. There are quality golf courses nearby, including a very challenging hilly course at Auch (which has an excellent restaurant in its clubhouse). If walking is your thing, then within a few minutesâ€™ walk of Maison Youkie (or an even shorter drive) can be found excellent and well-marked trails; several pass through the area including The Way of St James, which will ultimately lead you to Santiago de Compostella if you have a few spare weeks.
Climbing and mountaineering centres can be found in the mountains south of Maison Youkie. You can also get a feel for the trials undertaken by the world’s greatest cyclist, as the Tour de France is a permanent fixture in the summer.
The area really comes alive in summer, with almost every weekend from May to September. In almost all of the villages and towns you’ll find weekly markets where you can pick up fresh bread, cheese, vegetables, and of course the local duck. After you’ve finished your shopping grab a table outside one of the bars or cafés, enjoy a coffee or “une verre” and watch the world go by. You’ll also find regular “vide greniers” or “brocantes” (car boot sales) where you can pick up some interesting old French knickknacks.
The region’s capital, Auch, is just a 20-minute drive away. The old town is steeped in history, and outside its magnificent cathedral is a statue of D’Artagnan, one of Gascony’s famous sons. Not far away in Lupiac you can find the MusÃ©e d”Artagnan.
Tarbes can be found at the foothill of the mountains and lies on the route to the Pic du Midi. You can reach the summit with its observatory by cable car from the ski resort of La Mongie. Descending from La Mongie you come to the impressive Cirque de Gavarnie, east of which lie the famous mountain climbs of the Tour de France, Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aspin and Col de Peyresourde; just as breathtaking when travelled by car rather than bicycle. Further afield you’ll find the pretty spa town of Bagneres De Bigorre, Lourdes and the chic city of Pau with its university and racecourse. The Basque region of Biarritz, Saint Jean de Luz and San Sebastian is only one hour away on the Atlantic coast.
For motor racing enthusiasts, cars, bikes or lorries, the race track Circuit Paul Armagnac in Nogaro holds regular competitions during the year.
If you own a small plane or glider, or want to learn how to fly, there are small airports nearby offering flying lessons and taster flights.
If you’re into jazz, the annual Marciac Jazz festival, two weeks of jazz , is just 20 minutes away! With acts coming from all over the world. Sit in the town square having lunch and listen to live music, or go to one of the evening concerts. The festival takes place from the end July through to early August. for more information and this year’s program visit Jazz in Marciac
The grounds of Maison Youkie extend to 8 hectares, and we are passionate about horses and natural horsemanship. We can arrange courses in natural horsemanship covering groundwork skills, and these are available on demand.
Locally, St Arailles hosts a cheese festival in June, and there are a variety of other festivals celebrating the local food specialities and Gascon wines held in the hilltop villages throughout the summer. And don”t forget the regional digestive Armagnac, and the aperitif “Floc de Gascogne” which comes in both red and white varieties.
In the evenings you’ ‘ll find some excellent restaurants nearby offering local food at very reasonable prices. At lunchtime, don’t hesitate to take the “Menu Ouvrier”, a four-course lunch with wine and coffee for around 15 euros.
Above all Gascony is a peaceful, tranquil area with wonderful opportunities to enjoy nature, wildlife, sunsets, stargazing; altogether a very relaxing ambience to unwind in.
For more information on the region visit the Gers Tourist Office.