...stretching all the way between the exciting cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse....
The Gascony Story...
Gascony is a beautiful, unspoilt and completely rural part of South West France, close to the Pyrenees Mountains and stretching all the way between the exciting cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse. The historic Dukedom of Gascony is now mainly within the modern 'département' of ‘Le Gers’, but for 300 years during the Middle Ages was part of the English Angevin empire. Gascony is ancient ‘Occitan’, the land of Troubadours and Musketeers. Auch, the only (and very small) city, is close to the birthplace of the real-life d’Artagnan, of ‘The Three Musketeers’.
Gascony is different from the better known regions of France such as the Cote d’Azure, Provence or the Dordogne. Gascony is famous for its ‘douceur de vivre’ (sweetness of life). Here you will find real countryside, with endless rolling hills and wooded valleys, very low population density and little traffic, welcoming local people, wonderful star-lit night skies, and on a clear day you will see the majestic snow-capped Pyrenees marching across the Southern horizon. There is very little noise and virtually no air or light pollution – creating a clear, luminous quality of light greatly appreciated by painters and photographers. Summer days are long, warm and sunny, without being painfully hot. May/June and September/October often provide the best weather in the year.
Gascony is one of France’s best-kept secrets, similar to Tuscany in Italy but very French with an added dash of Spain! The land is covered with vineyards, sunflowers and Cypress trees. There are fine medieval churches, iconic ‘pigeonniers’, fascinating ‘bastide’ villages and imposing fortified castles. Many of these ancient places are associated with the 2000-year-old pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain. Hidden amongst these historic treasures are old, stone-built chateaux, country houses, farmhouses and cottages. Some of these special properties are now offered as holiday rentals by Simply Gascony.
Farms in Gascony are typically small, family affairs, many run organically with mixed production and nature-conservation is a habit. There are masses of wild flowers, fine old oak woods, hidden lakes, bees, butterflies, exotic birds, deer and wild boar. There is a flourishing street market somewhere nearby every day of the week, with delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables, superb garlic, wild honey and a vast range of locally produced meats, breads, and cheeses. Gascony produces a rich variety of authentic country wines and liqueurs, including Armagnac which has been produced in the Western Gers for over 600 years.
Driving in Gascony is a pleasure, bicycling and horse-riding are popular and walking a real joy; golf, tennis, fishing, water-skiing, hot-air ballooning and micro-light flying are all available. About an hour South of Auch you will reach the Pyrenees, where there is good, uncrowded skiing in winter and in summer sensational walking, rafting, canoeing and paragliding. Two and a half hours West of Auch takes you to the Atlantic beaches and the same distance East you will reach the Mediterranean. In summer, every village and town has its own vibrant festival, of which the most famous is the Marciac International Jazz Festival.
There is always something for everyone in the family to do – or you can have great pleasure doing absolutely nothing except lying by your pool or watching the world go gently by from one of the many traditional bars and cafés.
Visitors to Gascony can unwind, relax and enjoy that unique sense of ‘bien-être’ (well-being) that affects everyone in this wonderful part of ‘La Belle France’. After a holiday in Gascony you will return home restored and refreshed – and counting the days until you can come here again!