Skip to content

"Gascony's the real France," Jean-Jacques said. "Everywhere else—it's another country."

Jean-Jacques, a local farmer, was leaning from his tractor—behind him, a bright field of sunflowers and the 18th century farmhouse my parents call home.

His sun-beaten face squinted down at me. "Gascony is the hidden jewel of France—it's our best kept secret."

And it's true. If there's one place on earth where you can ski, speak Basque, eat paella, drink Armagnac, watch a bullfight and laze on a white sandy beach—all on the same day—it's Gascony.

When my parents, Jill and Peter Daniel, bought this farmhouse—with its view of sunflower fields, rolling hills, church spires and the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees—they thought they “knew” France.

After all, they were seasoned Francophiles, and had lived in the Hautes-Alpes for 10 years.

But they quickly realized Gascony isn't like the rest of France. "It's more magical, and more mysterious," says Jill.

Home of D'Artagnan and Cyrano de Bergerac, Gascony is a land of ancient traditions, a place of medieval spires, stone abbeys, and 12th-century castles.

Just down the road is the Chateau de Pau, birthplace of Henri IV. And along a valley is a 13th-century prison where they tortured enemies during the Crusades.

Nestled between the Pyrenees to the south, the Bay of Biscay to the west, and Toulouse to the east, it's what “in-the-know” expats call the “French Tuscany.”

As you drive through rolling hills of poppies and sunflowers, you can see why. Spring starts early here, and the summers are long and warm. You feel like you're in another time—not just another country.

The bastides (medieval villages) in this remote region boast their own bull-rings—a leftover from the days when Gascony was more Basque than French. Basque is still spoken by older Gascons—and for many, Spanish is the second language.

Jill and Peter's farmhouse, built in 1760, sits on 4 acres of land. It has four bedrooms, a big farmhouse kitchen, guest rooms, and an outside barn for tractors and hay.

Read on…

Editor’s Choice

Part-Time Living in Guanajuato, Mexico

We discovered our colonial highland home by accident. We were on a year’s sabbatical, exploring the popular expat haven of San Miguel de Allende, when a couple we knew invited us to join them on a day trip to the nearby town of Guanajuato. We climbed the steps from the underground parking lot to a view of lively plazas, colonial-style buildings in bright orange and turquoise, and plentiful pedestrian areas. After an hour’s stroll, we knew this was where we wanted to base ourselves in Mexico. After that first visit in 1999, we kept returning. Read on...


Starting Over in Ecuador in Our 40s

Two years ago Rob Hamm and Tracey Krause along with their two children relocated from Winnipeg to Cotacachi, Ecuador. Their goal as a family was to experience a new culture, travel, and learn a new language—which they’ve successfully done. But, there was a catch. Rob and Tracey are only in their 40s and still needed to earn an income to support their family. In preparing for their change in lifestyle, Rob took his interest in photography to the point where his photos could provide income. Several months before coming to Ecuador he began submitting photos… Read on...

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

We Spent a Year Exploring Latin America to Find Our Ideal Retirement Haven

During our months of preparation, we set about determining the criteria we needed to choose a location. The criteria we chose for ourselves initially were: a good health care system at a much lower cost; a stable government; not wanting a car, a walkable location with a good transportation system; good infrastructure; a Spanish-speaking country because Mike already spoke some but wanted to become proficient; a warm climate year round; and, of course, a lower cost of living. Read on...

Live in Chiang Mai, Thailand for $1,200 – or Less – a Month

There’s no shortage of natural beauty in northern Thailand. There are dozens of rivers like the Mae Ping, which originates in the forest-clad Daen Lao mountain range and flows down through the temple-laden city of Chiang Mai. Waterfalls gush into fertile valleys like Mae Sa, where you’ll find elephant camps, orchid farms, and miles of lush jungle. This is a peaceful—some might say serene—part of the country, where for very little money you can enjoy a high level of comfort. With just $1,200 a month a couple won’t want for much, and that includes rent. Read on...

Pay Nothing for Your Accommodation While You Travel the World

In exchange for looking after the house, garden, pets, and pool, my husband Michael and I have saved around $24,000 in accommodation costs. Whether you want a dream vacation or to sample a retirement destination, the trick to being successful is to stand out from the crowd. Competition is fierce, with many homeowners receiving 20 to 60 responses to their “housesitter needed” advertisements. Here’s how you can join this group of savvy travelers and score the best housesitting gigs around the world. Read on...

10 Reasons to Live in Costa Rica

International Living has been encouraging its readers to choose Costa Rica as an overseas destination since the 1980s. Some things have changed since then, but Costa Rica still remains a beautiful, great-value retirement destination. Long stretches of deserted and undeveloped beaches, on the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts…dense jungles teeming with exotic wildlife…towering volcanoes, lush green valleys, and hundreds of crystal-clear lakes, rivers, streams, and waterfalls…mesmerizing sunrises, sunsets, and star-filled evening skies…all these things… Read on...


My three friends & I spent a month in a Condo in Salinas, Ecuador in January. Loved it. Thanks for all the information in IL. We also visited Cuenca. Donna McCormick Read on...

Thanks for all the Information in IL


  • sheraton-buganvilias

Real Estate

  • France

Your Chance to Retire Overseas Now

Sign up for our free daily Postcard e-letter and we'll immediately send you a FREE RESEARCH REPORT on the most desirable —and cheapest— retirement havens available to you today.

Each day you'll learn about the best places to retire, travel, buy real estate and enjoy life overseas.

Enter your E-mail Address Below

We Value Your Privacy.