La Maison des Lys
Valence sur Baise
Chiambre dhote de charme
Valence sur Baîse
La Maison des Lys is situated in the Bastide village of Valence sur Baïse. Dating back to the 12th century, Valence is perched on a ridge above the River Baïse 35 km north of Auch and just 8 km from the Armagnac market town of Condom in the department of the Gers.
Founded in 1274 by the Count of Armagnac in partnership with l’Abbaye de Flaran, the Bastide was built in a grid pattern on top of a steep hill at the confluence of the Baïse and l’Auloue rivers. It was surrounded by 8 metre high fortified walls with four main gates. For the first 200 years of its existence Valence was a frontier village regularly changing hands between the French and English.
Today Valence is a working village; remnants of the walls remain and from the last standing gate called the Porte d’Espagne or Porte de l’Herisson has wonderful views over the Baïse to the Pyrénées. At night the cliffs and fortifications are illuminated. Valence lies at the end of the navigable part of the Baïse which joins the River Garonne and River Lot to offer 300 km of navigable waterways.
The main square is arcaded on three sides beneath which are shops, a bar and restaurant. The other side of the square is bordered by the 14th century church which was extensively revised in the 19th century and the more modern Hotel de Ville.
Art and Culture
Below the town, l’Abbaye de Flaran was founded in 1151. In the ancient language of Occitan, ‘flar’ means flame and it was this flame which inspired the Cistercians monks to build the Abbey.
Constructed in pale white stone, it has the same scrubbed, ascetic appeal as the World Heritage Site of Fontenay in Burgundy. Its spartan interior has hardly a hint of ornament. After France’s religious wars the monastery fell into disrepair-and was used as an Armagnac store until 1970. Following a fire, the Abbey has gradually been restored and is now an important cultural centre, with art exhibitions and concerts throughout the year.
This short video gives a flavour of the local culture, the bandas music, the Armagnac, the cathedral at Condom together with aerial shots of Valence, Larresingle and the Abbay de Flaran.
Sports and Activities
There are facilities for tennis (two indoor, one outdoor floodlit courts), fishing in the Baïse and l’Auloue rivers, horse riding at L’Ecurie en Armagnac with lessons in English and French, walking and cycling circuits (routes available from the SI, guided walks also available), canoeing on the Baïse from Beaucaire, pétanque, quilles (the Gascon skittle-like game is played every Tuesday evening in the summer), and light aircraft flights from the Aero-Club d’ Herret, and river cruises to Condom every Sunday in July and August. Valence has a successful basketball team (National Division 1) which plays fortnightly in the village in the season.
Restaurant Bar Lucy – Brilliant value and very popular with local artisans – a typical lunch includes a tureen of soup, salad and paté, dish of the day (steak and chips, fish and chips, cassoulet, etc), cheeses, a sweet, bread and wine costs an amazing 12.50 euros.
Bar Massalet – The local bar serves a well prepared three-course lunch for just 12.50 euros.
La Guingette – From June to September Bar Lucy opens this bar and tented restaurant on the banks of the River Baïse. Simple Gascoigne dishes with a choice of menus at 15 and 19 euros.
Ferme de Flaran – Just on the edge of the village, this is a very pleasant Logis de France offering à la carte and menu de terroir dining. The attractive dining room overlooks the terrace and swimming pool.