It was almost a decade ago that Cool Camping first pulled into the gravel drive leading to Le Poteau Campsite. Situated on the edge of the sleepy village of Castelnau d’Auzan, this charming spot lies in the heart of Gers’ bountiful wine- and Armagnac-producing départment. Hidden among the corrugated corduroy of vineyards, the campsite’s immediate appeal made it a shoo-in for our very first guidebook to France. It also made it a firm favourite with Scottish couple Alasdair and Fiona Downes, who visited the site in 2015 and promptly decided there was nowhere else they’d rather be. Today they’ve packed up the tent and live in the small house across the driveway, tending to all the new arrivals in what is now their garden.
The campsite itself, though kept to a manageable 20 or so pitches, sprawls out to offer ample space. There’s an assortment of shrubbery, small trees and bushes to obscure your tent from your neighbours, whilst across the driveway, a covered dining area and a cute terrace bar are there to be sociable in. Alasdair was a chef in his former years and cooks up a mean four-course meal a couple of days a week, enjoyed in the shaded setting of the orchard. Glance at a menu board on other days of the week, and you can pre-order some of his traditional French food to take away instead.
The church spire of pretty Castelnau d’Auzan peeps above the surroundings. The village is a short walk away and has its own little tourist office and a few bar-restaurants. You get a real taste for agricultural France as you pass tractors chugging along roads lined with tall trees that have grown from either side of the road and entwined together above you. There are as many of these tree tunnels as there are vineyards around these parts and they seem to echo the rustic, picture-perfect atmosphere of the settlements. Montreal-du-Gers, Fources and Larressingle are all designated plus beaux villages and can be easily reached by bike. Or you can simply stay put in the garden-like setting of this plus beaux campsite. Long may its years of secluded success continue.
The Owner Says
We’ve been careful to preserve the things that made us fall in love with Domaine Le Poteau. It’s a friendly, relaxing, quiet and beautiful little site where you can unwind, enjoy the wildlife and forget the hassles of the outside world. The most stressful thing you are likely to encounter is our very disorganised and not very serious boule tournaments. When you do peel yourself off your hammock or lounger, the beautiful Gers region beckons; rich with culture, gastronomy and outdoor activity. A fabulous, friendly, unspoiled region to explore.
Our pitches are large and shaded and carefully spaced to offer privacy and solitude and the two toilet blocks are kept spotlessly clean.
We have a beautiful and stylish Bell Tent. The main tent has a very comfortable bed, lamps, seating and storage. There is a separate kitchen tent with everything you might need. We also have a fully equipped tent. Slightly less glamorous but practical and roomy if you are travelling light.
We also have two gites, located at the far end of the vineyard, far enough away from the campsite to provide solitude but close enough to make participating in the campsite activities an easy walk past the ripening grapes. They are well equipped and have beautiful views over the surrounding countryside and village. Our guests describe them as "magical" "calm" "Idyllic".
We have a seven-metre, above-ground pool, nestled in a little hollow below a meadow and above our woodland. It is an unusual but delightful spot for a dip.
The vineyard, which used to produce Domaine Le Poteau’s own wine and Armagnac, still borders our site, where you may see Jean Jacques, the vigneron, checking his crop. We make sure that as much fabulous local produce is available to visitors as possible – from bread and croissants delivered fresh from the village to the wine you can sip in the orchard and the ingredients used in the traditional French meals served in the evenings.
The local village, Castelnau d’Auzan is just an easy stroll from the campsite and gites. It is a really friendly and very welcoming village where you will be able to eat and drink with the locals. We feel that it is really important to support the excellent local businesses which support the life of our community. The other villages that surround us also offer a wide range of markets, festivals, cafes and restaurants.
Alasdair & Fiona Downes