So here we are in October. The camping season is over (bit of a shame really as we have had some stunning weather in the past couple of weeks). The gites are available all year round so we aren’t sitting around doing nothing – honestly – but we do have time to look back on a pretty amazing year.
It has been a great start for us. Better than we could have hoped. Now that we’ve hung up the rubber gloves we have taken time to reflect on the stuff that has worked well and the stuff that we need to change. .
We listen carefully to all our guests and you told us that you like: the warm welcome (which includes a welcome drink on arrival), the natural layout of the site (big pitches with lots of sun and shade), the wildlife, Joel the donkey, the quiet (sometimes shattered by Joel the donkey), easy access to the village, the evening events (good food and the opportunity to socialise), the beauty of Gers rolling, mixed landscape, the pool by the vineyard and clean facilities. Please let us know if we have missed anything. It has been a real pleasure meeting so many lovely people. We can do all sorts to make people feel welcome, but it is our guests who have made Le Poteau special. We loved seeing people chat and laugh together like old friends after dinner and a late-night drink around the fire pit.
We’ve taken on-board the clear message from our visitors not to change the feel and ‘essence’ of Le Poteau but keep it quiet, friendly and relaxing. However, we do have plans! Our first mission is to completely replace the roof on the toilet block, kitchen and barns. Once this is sorted we’re adding an additional toilet and shower for the top campsite. When it’s too wet for roofing we are going to work on replacing the floor in Hirondelle (our smallest gite).
There are several other possible projects in our heads but more on them later. Basically, that means they depend on the completion of aforementioned projects, as being complete novices we have no idea how long things will take. One thing is sure, there is always a job to do so we won’t get bored.
One other project we are considering is to provide secure caravan storage. Is this something that you might find useful? We would love to know you views on this (or anything else for that matter). If you’d like to let us know your thoughts, you can drop us a line by clicking here.
Our most exciting news is that we will soon have a new addition to the Le Poteau Family. We’ve been searching for some time for a suitable companion for Le Poteau’s most pampered resident, our lovely donkey Joel. Our search has been more difficult than we thought, but we’ve finally found a lovely young girlfriend for him called Noelle (yes – it will be Joel and Noelle!) She is due to arrive next week, so fingers crossed for love at first sight.
To say that we love it here is a bit of an understatement. In season it was great and out of season, it’s just as good. Autumn has brought figs and sweet chestnuts in abundance. We were a bit more successful with the figs than chestnuts which are a right old palavar to prepare. They are, however, an important part of the traditions around the grape harvest as they are always eaten with the young wine from the first pressing of the grapes when families celebrate the end of the harvest. Hence we had a few locals gathering them which was great. We hate waste! The figs were delicious for breakfast and made great jam and chutney. We discovered, however, that we need to be more proactive in picking the higher fruits, as one morning, after a bit of a windy night the tree was completely bare. The mystery was that there were no obvious windfalls. A neighbour cleared that up by saying that the local deer come in and feast. So at least they weren’t wasted.
The vendange is now over and very speedy it was too. In a way it is sad, but inevitable, that this ancient tradition has been modernised significantly. We must admit to a lingering hope that we would see some hand picking of the grapes. Completely unrealistic! The vines at Le Poteau were harvested over 2 days, taking a total of around 5 hours. We had one very early wake-up at 4 am at the end of August when the Chardonnay and Sauvignon grapes were harvested (they harvest early to keep the grapes cool) and then a more respectable (just as well as Alasdair’s mum was here) 7:30 start for the Petit Manseng (a very regional grape) (apologies for all the brackets) (it’s very annoying) in early October.
We’ve had quite a few visits from family which has been wonderful. It has been a great excuse to down tools and get out and about more. It has to be said that this season, we were not brilliant at recommending places to visit as we hadn’t the time to go anywhere. We particularly enjoyed a visit to a local vineyard Domaine Lagajan. It’s not far from Le Poteau and has been in the same family for 11 generations (always passed through the female line). Monsieur Georgacaracos , Constantin, provides a highly entertaining talk about the ancient Armagnac Still (1907) and explains the process. Then he will bemuse and amuse you with his treasure trove of ancient items from the family home, farm and vineyard in a quirky museum. After all that, Madame Georgacaracos, Gisele, offers generous tastings of Armagnac, Floc and wines and will sit and chat with you around the table. Monsieur and Madame Georgacaracos and the family are extremely welcoming and very kind.
We also love The Abbaye de Flaran near Condom. It is fascinating, successfully combining the beauty of the building and its history with a fabulous art collection which includes some surprising names (Dali, Rodin, Lautrec, Monet and Reynolds to name a few)
So, watch this space for updates on Le Poteau. We will keep you informed on our adventures and would love to hear from you over the winter.
We very much look forward to welcoming friends old and new to Le Poteau.
Alasdair and Fiona