Gascony, one of France’s best kept secrets
Here’s why you should visit this beautiful region of France
The name Gascony hasn’t officially existed since the Revolution, but refers to the area which forms part of the Gers administrative region.
So Gascony or Gers as it is known, is in the South West of France, near to the Pyrenees, roughly from Bordeaux to Toulouse. It’s a very rural region, the population is spread out in small villages, and it is away from the typical tourist route, so visitors can expect unspoiled countryside, beautiful scenery and an authentic way of traditional, rural life. Vineyards, wild flowers, rolling fields, rivers, forests all form part of the scenery, together with churches, fortified castles and farms.
As you can imagine, the food is pretty rustic, hearty and extremely delicious, you’ll most likely be tasting foie gras, confit, cheeses and Armagnac.
So what is it about this region that makes it a perfect holiday destination? The beautiful scenery and delicious food and drink aside (which should be enough reason alone!) there are some points of interest, which are definitely worth putting on the itinerary.
Across the region, you’ll come across many mentions of the Santiago de Compostela routes, the medieval pilgrim routes, which are marked, among other ways by carved stone shells, which can be found in many places, but particularly above doorways.
In fact, one of our own Compostela routes tours through this region, from Lectoure to Aire sur l’Adour. This area is also known as the land of the Musketeers, due to it being the birthplace of d’Artagnan. This tour is a moderate trek which tours through many pretty fortified towns and the chance to see various monasteries, churches and cathedrals.
This tour also goes through the town of Condom, which, as you can imagine, brings much amusement to visitors. Although there is no link between the town and the form of contraception, a museum was opened celebrating contraception, which attracted visitors from all around the globe although it closed in 2005.
In Northern Gascony there is a group of villages which are said to be among the most beautiful in all France, they include Fources – a circular town and Larressingle, which is said to be a mini version of Carcassonne.
In the southern part of the region is the biggest town – Auch – the historical capital of Gascony. Known for its cathedral, 14th Century prison and statue of d’Artagnan.
Our second tour is a river cruise through Gascony, on the 8 berth Rosa, which can be recognised from its appearance on Rick Stein’s TV series the French Odyssey. The tour sails from Toulouse to Agen, stopping off at sights such as Donzac, a lovely village which was an important trading point on the route between Aquitaine and the Midi Pyrenees, and Auvillar, characterised by an unusual circular market hall. The village also plays host to a popular jazz festival every summer too.
So as you can see, it’s a quirky region to visit, with lots of little rural places to see, tasty food to try, and lots of Armagnac to drink too!
If you think that Gascony/Gers could make a perfect holiday off the beaten track, then get in touch, and we’ll help to arrange your itinerary, we know you’ll enjoy this peaceful, relaxing holiday in a part of France that is untouched and is about as authentic as you can get it!