Time seems to expand at Camping aux Mêmes. In days gone by, the site was a traditional Gascony farm, set in the heart of the Gers countryside, with rolling hills and magnificent views of the Pyrénées. It was bought by Janet and Peter back in 2003. They made a home of the farmhouse and opened the land to campers. The rolling hills and views are still there, of course, embellished by a lovely blue pool, a kids’ playground and a bar area with a terrace from where you can enjoy the site’s tranquility.
Far enough away from the mountains to enjoy the warmer, more settled climate of the south of France, but close enough for days out in the peaks, it’s a simple, uncluttered site that’s perfect for anyone searching for peace and quiet close to the Pyrénées. Each of the 20 pitches has water and an electricity supply, suitable for tent campers and those in motorhomes or caravans.
Young trees that Janet and Peter planted on their first arrival have now grown to provide spots of dappled shade, while a couple of pleasant pitches on a lower terrace are shielded by mature fig and plum trees. From both areas you get views of the local church and sunflower fields; classic features of the area. Traditional France, in other words, where you can leave behind the stresses and strains of everyday life, and have plenty of time to do all those other nice things.
In this location, ‘those things’ include listening to live, local music on site in the summer, swimming in nearby lakes, visiting vineyards and buying local produce to cook up on the campsite. Further afield, you can spend days trekking in the foothills of the Pyrénées and visiting spa towns like Barbotan-le-Thermes or pilgrimage sites like Lourdes.
Head to nearby Masseube (four kilometres), where there are tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course (00 33 5 62 66 03 10) and a cinema. Lac de L'Astarac, a great place for birdwatching, is nearby (seven km) and Sailing Lac de Thoux St-Cricq (00 33 5 62 65 75 45) is within an hour. At the right times in summer, you can catch live music at the Marciac Jazz Festival (00 33 5 62 09 31 98), Vic-Fezensac Latin Music Festival (00 33 5 62 06 56 66) and the Samatan African Music Festival.
The on-site restaurant serves lunchtime and evening meals in July and August. L’Auberge d’Astarac (00 33 5 62 65 48 81) at Moncorneil-Grazan (six kilometres away) does great local food. O Mon Plaisir (00 33 5 62 66 02 14) at Masseube has good local set menus.