Les Figues is a spacious and airy two-storey stone house, built at the end of the 19th century amid quiet countryside in the Gers. Five bedrooms can accommodate up to ten guests. It is extremely spacious and built laterally making it a perfect space for families with young children. A mature garden surrounds the house on three sides, with an orchard of cherry, walnut, and a variety of plum trees. Set slightly away from the house is the five by ten metre swimming pool, which is shaded on one side by two tall cedars. A picnic table in the orchard and a stone table on the terrace give plenty of options to dine outside. There is a table tennis table under one of the barns. And a badminton court in the garden.
The owners are art collectors, and all the walls are decorated with their collection, mainly posters and cartoons. The breakfast room has a high ceiling with French windows opening onto the garden.
Adjoining it, the fully equipped kitchen includes a new Bosch stove, and is fitted with antique cupboard doors, collected by the owners. A large stone fireplace dominates the dining room, where up to ten can sit at the wooden table.
Guests may prefer to dine at the outdoor tables in the orchard on on the terrace, or in the stone chai adjoining the house - an outbuilding once used to store wine casks. The chai is accessible from the house and has been adapted as a summer dining and dancing space, complete with a stereo.
In the living room, a large sofa creates a comfortable space to enjoy the television and stereo; the stone floor keeps it cool in summer. Upstairs on the mezzanine is the library, with hundreds of novels for visitors to read. Perhaps the most stunning feature of the house is the 125 sq ft summer dining room. This room is used for games, dancing, and is adjoined to the house. Perfect for lazy long summer evenings.
Four of the five bedrooms are upstairs, while the fifth bedroom is on the ground floor. Each room has a double bed, apart from one of the upstairs rooms, which can be adapted to have twin beds. All of the upstairs bedrooms have their own new ensuite bathroom. The ground floor bedroom has a separate bathroom across the hall with a walk-in shower and toilet.
The laundry room and pantry were recently adapted from the farm's old storerooms, and provide plenty of storage space. The views from the upper floor are of the tops of the surrounding mature trees, which are home to a small community of rare red squirrels. At night the darkness is broken only by starlight, and very little traffic breaks the tranquility. The two nearest neighbours have lived and worked the land here for generations.
The nearest village, Vic-Fezensac, is a ten minute drive. This is a thriving market town with a strong local farming identity. It holds night markets throughout the summer and stages a famous three-day salsa festival in July. Vic-Fezensac is also home to the second biggest bullring in France, where the town proudly maintains its Franco-Spanish ethnic origins. The nearby towns take turns hosting open-air markets selling the local produce.
Condom, 15 minutes’ drive, features a fine 12th century cathedral and a beautifully preserved medieval town centre. It has a good range of restaurants and shops, and its rail link is very useful. The Gers is increasingly becoming known for its music festivals. In Vic there is the annual Salsa Festival held at the end of July. The Marciac Jazz festival in August, about an hour away, is internationally famous. There are innumerable classical concerts held in churches and sales de fetes. Outdoor cinemas are becoming popular - Lectoure is probably the closest. And in every little town there is the local fete where you can dine out under the stars and the chestnut trees.
The Gers is the second least populated département in France. Its lush, fertile countryside is fed by springs from the Pyrénées mountains, which are visible on a clear day. The landscape is rural with gently undulating hills, and its feudal past is still visible in the many fortified towns and ruined castles. The English and French fought over Aquitaine for years, and the relics of the Hundred Years War are everywhere. But older history abounds too: close to the house, just outside the fortress town of Montreal, lies the breathtaking Roman remains of Sevignac.
Every town has its own local summer fête with feasting and dancing. The prettiest of these may be Fourcès, a town which is dominated by its medieval château. It is two hours to the nearest Atlantic beach, but windsurfing and other water sports are available on the local man-made lake at the spa town of Castera-Verduzan.