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J91 - Friday, January 15: Bassoues - Samatan

70km – 9H08’
Altitude 167m
This morning we leave our hosts of last night, Pascale and Bernard, at the Bed and Breakfast, La Grange aux Arts, near Mirande.  Stopping in a B &B means we have a roof over our heads and are in an atmosphere almost like home.  At the same time, we can learn about the parts of France we cross.  This evening we are staying with Mrs. Morvan, who opened rooms in her house “Latrillote” 20 years ago and has welcomed campers at the farm for 38 years.  This former agriculturist is a pioneer of “rural tourism” in the Gers Department.
We are in the Gers for the entire stage.  The scenery is hilly and the light is beautiful; we are charmed.  It’s the land of foie gras and Armagnac, of Floc de Gascogne (a kind of aperitif), of Pousse-Rapière: a liqueur made of Armagnac with orange to which you add sparkling wine; but Mrs.  Morvan warns us to be careful of the proportions, otherwise it will quickly go to our head!  So Serge refrains from tasting this regional aperitif.
This morning we have the visit of Aurore and Bernard, runners from Mirande who are at the road side to see Serge.  They tell us that at Samatan, our stopping place this evening, there was a 100 km  race organized 2 years ago which was as beautiful as it was difficult, with a 10% positive ascent, which is very rolling for fast runners.
The cities and villages we crossed are magnificent:
•    Barran, with its spiral steeple (On the Internet I learn there are 82 such steeples in Europe, of which 33 are in France).  Will we perhaps see others on our course?
•    Auch, the historical capital of Gascony is the prefecture of the Gers Department, with 22,000 inhabitants.  We admire the Cathedral of Sainte-Marie, resplendent in the sunshine, but we can’t take the monumental staircase with its statue of d’Artagnan because it is being renovated.  I am sure that Serge would have like to go down its 370 steps!  The Captain of the king’s Musketeers was born in Lupiac, in this department.  Unfortunately, his castle is no longer open to the public.
If you don’t know where to go on vacation next summer, think about the Gers, which inspired Louis Malle for his film « Milou en Mai » and Etienne Chatilliez for « Le Bonheur Est Dans le Pré”.  Mrs. Morvan tells me that the farm which was used for the second film could have been sold 1000 times after the film….which proves that the expression “seen on TV” works well.
News of Serge:  there was a bit of stomach acidity this morning, then a return to feeling better, with a 70 km day.  Serge is happy, especially because the route was never flat.
News of the “Dupondt”: The day is sunny so they drop their frogman suits…


Tomorrow : Samatan, Rieumes, Saint Clar de Rivière, Seysses, Cugnaux, Toulouse.
Route for arrival in Toulouse January 16

Town : Samatan (Gers)

GPS : N43.49123° W000.93019°