Today we’re flying to Toulouse, excited to be returning to our new home. We received the keys last November, but we only had a couple of weeks in the house before we had to head overseas to work on other projects.
We’re thrilled to be back, and to have the time to properly unpack and settle into the house, get started on the remodel, meet our neighbors, and explore the countryside and villages throughout the region.
I thought I’d share some of the things that we love about Occitanie in the South West of France, and why we chose to make this region our home...
Our house is situated near the small market town of Beaumont-de-Lomagne, in Tarn-et-Garonne, overlooking the rolling hills of the Gers. The area around us is predominantly agricultural; we’re surrounded by farms, many of which cultivate sunflowers in the summer months, as well as vineyards growing grapes for Armagnac. If you’re the kind of person who appreciates wide open spaces and fresh country air, you’d love it here.
The region is also sometimes described as “Little Tuscany” because of its undulating landscape dotted with cypress trees, Romanesque architecture, and picturesque medieval towns.
The South West is known to be the heartland of gourmet produce in France, and it has a bold culinary identity with mouth-watering regional specialties.
“The Atlantic coast supplies fine seafood; Bordeaux produces some of France’s best wines to complement its rich cooking; geese and ducks provide the fat that is key to local cuisine; and regional produce includes delicacies such as foie gras, truffles, and wild mushrooms. The Pyrenees offer beef and lamb grazed on mountain pastures, cheese, and charcuterie, and the Basque country adds the spicy notes of red pepper and dark chocolate.” Eye Witness Travel Guide France
Given the gastronomic bounty this region offers, it's no surprise that the farmer's markets are a paradise for foodies. They take place on different days of the week in different villages, and we adore bouncing between them and enjoying the divine produce for which the region is famous.
We really appreciate the beauty of the changing seasons in France, especially because we don’t experience seasons in tropical Bali, where we live for the other half of the year. Having said that, there were some parts of France with weather we wanted to avoid. Areas of Southern France near the Mediterranean can get extremely windy, and other areas, particularly as you go further North, suffer bitter winters with lots of snow.
In the South West, the summers are balmy and hot, the Fall is colorful, the seasons are distinct, and the winters are relatively benign.
Some of the more famous parts of rural France, like Provence or Dordogne, have become very touristy. It’s understandable, because these regions have a lot of charm and have therefore received a lot of publicity. However, we chose a pocket of the French countryside that isn’t really on the tourist trail.
We love the fact that we rarely hear English spoken, and there is never a tour bus in sight. The visitors that our area does attract tend to also be seeking an authentic rural French experience, and invariably have a passion for food and the beauty of the countryside.
Rural Calm & Connectivity
Our village is very small, with a population of around 80 people, and we can’t see our neighbors from our property. The house feels very peaceful and private, but in reality, we’re less than a one hour drive to the international airport in Toulouse.
It’s an ideal spot to enjoy everything the French countryside has to offer, while also being close to a dynamic city and well-connected travel hub.
Within half an hour’s drive of the house we can go boating on the Canal du Midi, visit one of the hundredsof Armagnac producers for a tasting, or explore a handful of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France”, the most beautiful villages in France.
On a clear day we can see the Pyrenees mountains from our garden, and within a few hours drive we can be on the slopes to ski. One of my best friends lives in Andorra, a small country bordering France and Spain, and I can be at her house in the mountains within a few hours.
Bordeaux, the world’s most famous wine region, is just two hours away, and there are various other delicious and interesting wine regions even closer. From our perspective, there's a lot to love!