My Village – Labretonie, Lot-et-Garonne


Real life stories

My Village – Labretonie, Lot-et-Garonne

The tiniest village in southwestern France, famous for its almonds, provided exactly the rural haven Simon and Gill Webster were looking for…


Why did you choose the village of Labretonie?

MY VILLAGE GITES DE SEVENNE aerial view, Photo: Simon and Gill Webster

We had been living in France for 23 years between Aix-en- Provence and Marseille and were both working in the area. When Gill, a nurse, retired, it was time to consider the next phase in our lives. We had been to this part of Lot-et-Garonne on holiday previously, and liked the area, so we thought why not run some gîtes? We bought Gîtes de Sévenne and moved to Labretonie in April 2021. It’s perfect as it has two units, which is enough for us not to have to get outside help.

What aspects of village life do you most enjoy?

MY-VILLAGE-LABRETONIE-CHURCH, Photo: Simon and Gill Webster

Labretonie is very small with only about 200 inhabitants. Basically, there’s the mairie, the church and that’s just about it, there are no shops or anything. The name comes from after the First World War, when there was a shortage of labour on the farms. People from Brittany were encouraged to come and help. Many stayed on, and the village became known as the ‘Breton‘ village.

We love the events here, when everybody eats together and socialises. In early spring, we had the almond tree festival, the Fête Nationale des Amandiers. The locals took us for a walk through the orchards and gave us a talk on how to grow almonds. Then we came back, and had a lovely meal. We live on the edge of the village, so are also close to St-Barthélemy-d’Agenais. It’s just a 30-minute walk and there’s a shop, bar, restaurant, hairdresser and post office.

How was your French when you arrived?

Back in 1999, Gill’s French was non-existent. Mine was A-level, but as Gill points out, I didn’t want to talk because I didn’t want to make any mistakes.

And how is your French now?

Gill picked it up at work, as a nurse. She knows everything medical, and just on rare occasions lacks a bit of general vocabulary. I just dove in and made myself understood. So, we are now both fluent.

What is there to do in the area?

MY VILLAGE GITES DE SEVENNE pool, Photo: Simon and Gill Webster

The main attraction here is probably the peace and quiet- people like to just relax around the pool. There’s lots of nature, birds and wildlife. It’s very rural. The whole community revolves around farming. We have the two rivers, the Lot and the Garonne, so there’s plenty of water activities: canoeing, swimming and river cruises. We’re on the edge of Lot-et- Garonne, with the Dordogne just next door, which is another reason we like this area.

Tell us about your work…

We run Gites de Sévenne. We have two gites that are open year-round, one for four people, the other sleeps six. We are right in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by fields. The property has very generous grounds of around 2.7 hectares, an old barn and farmhouse, and a lovely 12m-long swimming pool. We even have free-range ducks and chickens – the reason that we welcome dogs as long as they are kept be on a lead at all times – and a vegetable garden where guests can dive in and help themselves.

Any local produce or speciality that you have particularly developed a taste for?

Duck in all its forms: foie gras, confit de canard, duck burgers. Duck hearts seem to be a local speciality as well. Then you’ve got prunes d’Agen – fresh, dried, or soaked in alcohol. The area is also known for nuts: walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. There’s a field of 5,000 nut trees next to us.

What about the local styles of architecture?

As its very rural, there are beautiful farm conversions and tall barns, which were used to hang the tobacco grown locally up to dry out. They are very striking. There’s no tobacco grown here nowadays, but cigarettes used to be made in this part of France.

What has surprised you the most about this part of France?

The people. Compared to where we lived before, they are much more friendly and welcoming. They take the time to talk. You go to the shops and people chat, and farmers get off their tractors to come and say hello. But not just hello. It’s usually a proper conversation.

What is your favourite French saying?

It’s not really a saying, it’s non-verbal. We love the French shrug. They start a sentence, and then they don’t finish it, just the shoulders go up. That says everything!

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For details on Gill and Simon’s Gîtes de Sévenne holiday accommodation in Labretonie,


Lead photo credit : Gîtes de Sévenne Holiday Accommodation, Photo: Gites de Sevenne Website

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