West of Toulouse, the département of Gers lies at the heart of the historic region of Gascony. In the long struggle for supremacy between the English and the French in the Middle Ages it had the misfortune to form the frontier zone between the English base at Bordeaux and the French at Toulouse, thus the region abounds in fortified villages or bastides
Today nowhere could be more peaceful. What is it that makes one feel so well here, the lie of the land, the gentle light, a countryside steeped in tradition, ancient recipes ? It is no doubt all that which brings a deep-seated happiness and a sense of well being as one observes and experiences a way of life all too remote in today’s fast times. Le Gers is France’s secret garden with its gently rolling patchwork of pastures, woods, vines, arable land and lakes. On the same latitude as Nice, Gascony enjoys a very mild and sunny climate but, as yet undiscovered, escapes the heavy tourist traffic of its more famous neighbours. There are no motorways!
Gascony is a gourmet’s paradise, deservedly famous for its foie gras, confits and magrets. Fresh produce from the local farms are freely available at the weekly markets. A market is close by every day of the week. Excellent wine and armagnac is produced from the vineyards scattered all over the countryside. Many articles have been written about the healthy benefits of the Gascon way of life – unprocessed food, duck and goose fat, red Madiran and St Mont wine rich in polyphenols. All supposedly helping us to stave off heart disease, diabetes and dementia in our old age! Google it!
Gascony’s most famous musketeer, d’Artagnan, lived at Lupiac, 10 minutes away and his spirit emboldens even today the character of the people.
Below is a list of just a few of the local attractions :-
- Marciac Jazz Festival first two weeks of August (one of the top in the world)
- Capital town of Auch with its beautiful cathedral & wonderful architecture
- D’Artagnan museum at Lupiac
- Bastides (fortified villages)
- Vineyards Madiran, St Mont, Tariquet etc.
- Remains of a Gallo-Roman villa at Seviac with excellent mosaics.
- Historic car racing & modern car racing at Nogaro from March to October
- Antique Fairs notably Eauze Ascension week
- Brocantes (antique shops)
- Eclats de Voix Festival at Auch in June
- Bull fighting notably at Pentecote in Vic Fezensac
- Country and Western Festival in Mirande mid July
- Courses Landaises (acrobatics/gymnastics with a cow that doesn’t die!)
- Tempo Latino Festival last weekend of July
- Flamme de l’Armagnac in November
- Golf (6 courses), Tennis
- GR trails of approx. 700km (including 4 pilgrim routes)
- Walking/Riding/Biking tracks of approx. 2500km
- Quad biking
- Skiing in the Pyrenees (1.5h away) at for eg. La Mongie/Bareges, Saint Lary etc.
- Surfing on the Atlantic coast (1.5 to 2h away) notably Hossegor and Biarritz