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The Gers in France’s southwest is a land of rolling hills and medieval bastide towns. Utterly unspoiled by mass tourism and sparsely populated by farmers and secondary residents from Britain and the Netherlands, the region comes alive in summer with a series of top-notch music festivals, notably Jazz in Marciac and Tempo Latino in Vic-Fezensac. In winter, skiing in the Pyrenees is the main draw.
Driving south towards Tarbes, gateway to the ski resorts, a great place to stop for lunch is La P’tite Marmite Gasconne in Mielan. La P’tite offers a daily blackboard menu with a plat du jour at €7.50 and an €11 menu with soup, salad plate, main course, wine, cheese or dessert and coffee.
Pull up a table at the non-smoking alcove behind the bar, or, if you prefer to brave the smoke and the thick Gascon accents, seat yourself in the main dining room alongside an aquarium full of tropical fish and scan the local papers for the rugby results with the locals.
The day we visited there was lentil soup followed by half a coquelet served on a bed of vegetables and couscous perfumed with curry.
La P’tite Marmite Gasconne is located at Place du Padouen, Mielan 32170. It is open for lunch Monday through Friday.