To the southwest of the great city of Toulouse, Gers is a beautiful land of rolling countryside, vineyards and forests, peppered with tiny hamlets and medieval villages. The capital of the department of Gers, Auch, is also the capital of the historic area known as Gascony.
Auch is a small city but has plenty to do for visitors and it’s a classified “Grande Site Occitanie”…
What to see and do in Auch
Pop to the tourist office to find out what’s on in the town as it has a thriving events calendar including a major circus festival each October.
Start your visit at the great Gothic and Renaissance Cathedral of Sainte-Marie on the UNESCO listed route to Compostela. Building began in 1489 but it took nearly two centuries to complete. The oak stalls are a must see – over 1500 characters are represented and some of them are highly unusual (including nubile young women) and very detailed. The 16th century stained glass windows by Arnaut de Moles are fabulous and just as unusual as the wood carvings. The colours are dazzling and feature naked bodies galore as they tell Biblical tales from the original Sin to the Salvation of Humanity.
Auch was the birthplace of the musketeer D’Artagnan, made famous by Alexander Dumas in The Three Musketeers, immortalised on film and still a symbol of loyalty, military prowess and honour. You’ll find his statue on the Grand Escaliers, the monumental limestone staircase which links the lower and upper towns, right by the cathedral.
Wander the old town of this hill top city with its little alleyways and cobbled streets, Rue Dessoles is especially lovely, lined with authentic bars and bistros. Pop into the Musée des Ameriques to discover am extraordinary collection of pre-Columbian and South American art, local Gascon artefacts and Gallo-Roman remains.
If you’re in the town on a Thursday or Saturday, you’re in for a treat as that’s when the market is held in front of the Cathedral.
Enjoy a delicious lunch at La Table d’Oste (7 rue Lamartine) – food like a Gascon maman makes. Meanwhile at the Hotel de France, one of Gers’ most famous chefs runs the gastronomic restaurant that’s a local legend.
And of course pop into any bar or restaurant to enjoy a glass of the local tipple Armagnac!
What to see close by
The Gers department is home to some of the most beautiful countryside in France. It’s made for touring, visiting medieval villages and “Plus Beaux villages, some of the officially prettiest villages in France of which Gers, though small, has no less than 6. Fourcès, Lavardens, Montreal, Larressingle, Sarrant and La Romieu are all close together and wonderfully pretty. There are castles and abbeys, vineyards and Armagnac houses where you’re welcomed in for a taste. Fabulous cycling routes, hiking, boating and water sports. Wonderful markets and historic cities. You’ll never run out of things to fall in love with in the Gers.
Find out more to see and do in Auch and around: Tourist office: www.auch-tourisme.com
French Connections has loads of lovely holiday rental homes in Gers which you can see here.