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Long, hot summer days; great walking and cycling; sleepy villages and bastide towns set in rolling countryside; gourmet delights and Armagnac brandy – and all this set against the glorious backdrop of the Pyrenees Mountains. No wonder Gers, in the Midi Pyrenees, is our region of the month.

The Gers is the perfect destination for a leisurely, laid-back holiday. With a small population, no motorways and countryside where life and farming adhere to time-honoured tradition, you simply can’t avoid slowing down. But if you do decide to take in a little leisurely walking or cycling, then you’ll find numerous marked routes and many useful guide books. 

The biggest tourist draw is the collection of vineyards devoted to the production of Armagnac. In fact, the majority are used to produce the famous eau de vie – but local wines are not forgotten, particularly Cote de Gascogne – while the gastronomy makes plenty of use of duck and geese, including foie gras.

The capital is Auch and you’ll also find bastide towns and villages perched on hilltops and fortified with ancient stone. One of the most famous is Marciac, which hosts one of the biggest jazz festivals in Europe. How appropriate a style of music for this relaxed, chilled out region!

This year the festival runs from 26 July to 2nd August and features a veritable galaxy of top international stars including Robert Kray, George Benson, Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis and many more. Some concerts are free and held in the the open air in the heart of the town, enhancing the magical atmosphere of this event.

Gers is 8-9 hours drive from Calais and easily accessible from the busy Toulouse airport, so plenty of travel options. Our places to stay in the area include beautiful farmhouses, manoirs, chateaux and gîtes – most with swimming pool - in lovely rural locations but accessible to amenities.  Our photo shows the village of Montreal, where you can rent Les Mousquetaires, a two bedroom village house that just breathes all the history, character and charm that typifies this sunny corner of France.

More information and accommodation choices in our complete guide to Gers