Nestled in the heart of Gascony, in south-west France, the Gers département in Occitanie promises an idyllic journey through the French countryside, where old-world charm meets a vibrant tapestry of natural wonders. From enchanting sunflower fields that seem to stretch endlessly to quaint medieval towns that whisper tales of a bygone era, Gers is a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences.
1. A French hero: d’Artagnan
Do you know of his bravery and his strong Gascon character? D’Artagnan is without a doubt the most emblematic figure of the Gers. From Lupiac, his native village, to Condom, via Auch, dive into his chivalrous history.
2. Its UNESCO-classified sites
All three linked by the memory of the pilgrimages on the routes of Saint-Jacques de Compostela, do not miss these remarkable sites for their architecture and their history: Sainte-Marie d’Auch cathedral, the collegiate church in La Romieu and the Lartigue bridge.
3. Its beautiful villages
On a rocky outcrop you notice the ochre stone of a church or a château. Take a break and stroll through the medieval lanes and let yourself be charmed by the tranquillity of our villages, six of which have been ranked « Most Beautiful Villages® », one « Most Beautiful Detours in France® » and lastly, Great Auch, deisgnated « Land of Art and History® ». So roam the little roads of the Gers to discover our characterful villages: Sarrant, Lavardens, Larressingle, Montréal-du-Gers, Fourcès, La Romieu, Lectoure, Simorre, Bassoues, Cologne, Eauze, Castelnau-Barbarens, Saint-Clar and many others…
4. Its living heritage
Between history and modernity, cultural places abound in Gers. The Abbey of Flaran houses the exceptional Simonow collection of masterpieces by great artists such as Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Monet, Braque, Courbet, Rodin… The château of Lavardens also holds art exhibitions. For those fond of antiquity and archeology, Elusa Capitale Antique is a treasure not to be missed. If your journey takes you to Auch, it is the Museum of the Americas-Auch that you must discover with the second most significant collection of pre-Colombian art in France. Here, art is everywhere, alive and numerous. So keep your eyes open wide, you will be astonished!
5. Its major festivals
When you have reason to celebrate like the Gascons, it’s not surprising that there are so many events and festivals around music, rhythm and more! Numerous events punctuate the year in so many spheres like artistic circus performances, photography, astronomy, gastronomy, car racing… Many have strong links with the surrounding nature which gives them charm their distinctive Gers character.
6. Its vineyards
Bons vivants and other wine and spirit lovers will appreciate puttering along the rolling roads in the heart of the vineyards to explore the Côtes de Gascogne, Madiran, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh and Saint Mont wines. However, we should let you into a secret, as here we also practice spirit tourism! Come and unravel the mystery of the oldest eau-de-vie in France: Armagnac. Do not miss the distillation celebrations: the Armagnac Flame. Guaranteed warmth and authentic atmosphere! As for Floc de Gascogne, son of Armagnac and apéritif with character, it will tell you about our Gascony better than anyone.
7. Its Gascon gastronomy
Inseparably linked to the Gers art of living, the pleasures of the table occupy a special place in our local habits and contribute to the conviviality so dear to the Gascon spirit. The reputation of our cuisine is well established. Comforting garbure, tasty foie gras, duck breast and confit, airy apple croustade are all delights for the gourmet to discover. Pioneers in terms of a qualitative approach, we cultivate good products here, from hearty rustic dishes and fine cuisine to the Slow Food movement and the promotion of old, rare breeds. Local producers’ markets, good restaurants, farm visits… get ready to enjoy the feast!
8. Its remarkable gardens
The parks and gardens of the Gers are the perfect place for a stroll. In particular, two sites classified as “Remarkable Gardens”. Discover the Gardens of Coursiana with its 700 rare species of trees and bushes from 5 continents, its English garden, the arboretum, family vegetable plot and its perfumed garden of aromatic medicinal plants. The Palmeraie du Sarthou, is an exotic promenade over nearly 8 hectares with palm trees, banana groves, arboretum, lotuses and water lilies, a nursery specializing in exotic plants, an orchard… And to extend the beauty of the garden, it also has permanent art exhibitions. Not to mention the Square Cuzin, a cool garden in the heart of the city of Auch.
9. Its gentle routes to explore
On foot, horseback, on a bicycle, on land or on water, all ways are good ways to discover Gers…at your own pace. Walkers will find themselves on the Saint-Jacques de Compostela routes and many other hiking trails that crisscross the area. Cycling enthusiasts can ride along the peaceful Baïse valley on the V82 cycle path, adapted for them over a hundred kilometres in the Gers or go on the many circuits dedicated to electric or mountain bikes. Finally, the European Route d’Artagnan is not lacking in panache. A transnational equestrian route, it meets the desires of longdistance riders. Set out from Lupiac, the birthplace of the famous Musketeer to follow in his footsteps, and who knows, maybe as far as Maastricht, the city where he lost his life. Discover the 200km Gers loop and its major sites.
10. Its Leisure activities
Tree climbing adventures, visiting farms, air and mechanical sports, canoeing, leisure centres and other water sports, there is no shortage of activities for young and old. If you want to be active and have a blast, while staying in touch with nature, there is certainly something you can do in the Gers: fishing, golf, geocaching, orienteering, rail biking, astronomy…
Lead photo credit : The village of Lavardens © shutterstock
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