Bourg d’Oueil is a very small village in the central Pyrenees where I escape to every time I can. It is located in the secluded valley of Oueil, 10 miles from Luchon —where I was born and raised— at 4600 feet high. Today the village counts about 10 full time residents. There is one good old fashioned hotel-restaurant “Le Sapin Fleuri” and only one family that still breeds sheep (about 2000 at a time) and a few cows. The rest of the population either works in the town of Luchon or are people like us coming for vacation.
Going to the farm to get lamb is one of the great pleasures and that is what we do as soon as we get there. The first call I make is to Henri Jammes to order 1/2 lamb for our stay (see photo below). Their name is probably of Basque origin, we tease them a lot and pronounce their name the English way, especially Henri! Henri, Roland, Jeremy (Henri’s son) & Marie Jeanne run the family farm. I used to take Gascon lessons with the father, François Jammes, sadly he passed away this winter at the very honorable age of 89. I really miss hanging out with him this year.
My connection to the village goes way back. The chef and co-owner of the “Sapin Fleuri”, Jean Toucouère, apprenticed cooking under my grand father. Joseph Garces, Maitre d’H for 15 years at the family hotel, whom I consider family, is also from Bourg. In 2002 he lend me his barn for 2 weeks and it is at that time that we decided to try get a place there. An other event of significant importance for me is that it was in Bourg d’Oueil in 1971 that I earned my first and only victory in a ski race!
In the summer the sheep are in the mountains above the village. While Roland Jammes cuts the hay with Jeremy, Henri is the shepherd. They used to hire a summer shepherd but in the past few years they do it all by themselves. I feel like they are working way before I wake up and way after sundown. So we are here for a few weeks and to sum up how I feel I will say: this place makes sense to me!