“A stylish Gers retreat which marries the traditional craftsmanship of Gascony with top contemporary design”
The decorative care-and-flair of Lous Grits' jazzy bar, sitting room and dining room is also on show in its 6 guest bedrooms, 5 of which is named after a different Gascon wind, while the Tisserand room is named after its former purpose - 'the weavers room'. The 2 ground floor rooms, Balaguero and Miejournal (the only twin) give onto a decked inner courtyard - these 2 rooms can be connected to make the Family Suite. Up above them, accessed by way of a spiral stone staircase or a swish stainless steel lift, Soulano is the only suite. This room has a private terrace and measures in at a whopping 57m². But our favourite rooms were on the top floor, Armarijo and Cantoleso, which both have decked terraces looking to the distant peaks of the Pyrennees.
The decoration of the rooms was a labour of love for owner Martine, who drew on the combined nous of the region's finest stone masons, carpenters and artists. A decorative palette of soft pastel colours provides a subtle backdrop for the warm tones of the terracotta-tiled floors or, in the case of the ground-floor rooms, shining oak parquet. Cut flowers and a series of paintings inspired by La Corrida add a zestier note whilst antique dressers and wardrobes evoke the building's past life. The overall vibe is warm and feminine, conceived to appeal to all of your senses: you're greeted by the aroma of essential oils and are encouraged to listen to the CD of classical music that you're given at reception.
All rooms are comfortable with a capital 'C' and reflect Martine's love of fine fabrics (courtesy of Pierre Frey, Elitis and Sahco if you're au fait with the names). Top-of-the-range mattresses are bedecked with fine cotton sheets and silk bedspreads and you're treated to a triple bank of pillows, an alpaca throw from the Camargue and a cotton dressing gown with the Lous Grits logo. Subtle lighting ups the intimacy factor and bathrooms are just as keen to please. They come with heated towel rails, handpainted tiles and all but one have double sinks of the freestanding or surface-top variety. Expect a pile of snowy-white towels and stacks of bathroom goodies, including make-up remover pads, tissues and herbal shampoo, soap and gel.
Gascony's famed douceur de vivre (sweetness of life) stems not only from its gentle climate, but also from the quality of its regional cuisine. Happily, Lous Grits pays full lip service to the cult of Good Food in the Gers. You dine in the diaphanous dining room, which has 4 huge windows opening out to the courtyard, or when the weather allows, out in the decked courtyard. Soleado crockery, Pierre Frey napkins and glassware courtesy of Villeroy & Boch are as good-looking as the rest of the house.
Breakfast, which is served any time from 7.30 through to midday, could be better described as brunch and will include the local fromage blanc served with honey, homemade cake or crêpes, a choice of breads and croissants straight from the oven of the village bakery, freshly squeezed orange juice, a big range of organic jams and, if you fancy one, a boiled egg. The best teas and coffee are on offer, the latter of the espresso variety.
At breakfast you'll be asked if you intend to eat dinner at Lous Grits. Marie or Martine will run through that evenings's table d'hôtes menu, which always sticks to a classical, Gascon 4-course structure. The culinary brief is to buy all ingredients fresh from the local markets, to source organic produce and to stick to the time-tried recipes of the Gers whenever possible. Some variant on the foie, magret or confit theme will always be part of the menu, as will a selection of the region's cheeses and a homemade dessert. You can choose from a small wine menu, which lists a selection of mid-range wines from Gascony and Bordeaux.
If you prefer the idea of dining out you could hardly be better placed, with half a dozen of south west France's top gastro venues within easy driving range. The Pain Adour et Fantaisie has a superb restaurant overlooking the river at Grenade-sur-L'Adour. The food is both creative and gourmet, aiming to rework the traditional recipes of the Bas Armagnac. La Table des Cordeliers at Condom would be a great choice if you've got something to celebrate; with a 13th-century chapel as its backdrop, Eric Samprieto's superlative modern Gascon cuisine has been fêted with a Michelin star. Auberge le Prieuré at Moirax has also recently been awarded a Michelin star or, closer to Lous Grits, there are a number of good restaurants in Lectoure, which include Le Bastard and the Auberge de Bouviers.