What if the Gers were a separate planet? It is so good to live in this small Gascon department where the hills and cedars take on the allure of Tuscany ... From the Middle Ages, villages have been urbanized: around the castle for the castelnaux, the place for the bastides and the church for the rescued. Abbeys along the paths of Compostela… Halls where shopping is a treat… So many favorites between Lomagne, Armagnac and Astarac.
Bastides and castelnaux
It's hard to make a choice in these listed villages which have all the attractions ...
Near Auch, in the heart of the Gers, groves and fields of sunflowers swarm around the castelnau de A moment. A favorite for this doll village, to be visited on foot between the bell tower-porch, the keep and the Renaissance portico of the church. Push open the door: it hides a spectacular baroque altar in carved marble.
Neighbor, the castle in the bow of Lavardens lights up in summer. To the east, the stronghold of Mauvezin encircles the halls with the sumptuous framework (XNUMXth century). An invitation to take a break, before leaving for the ramparts of Sarrant, where half-timbering and pink facades highlight the artisanal stalls.
In Lomagne, the bastide of Saint-clar remained intact. Close to Condom, Larressingle, dubbed “the smallest fortified city in France”, seems to have changed little since the XNUMXth century. It takes all its charm in winter, without anyone. To the south, the main street of Bassoues passes under the covered market, in the center of this interesting fortified bastide.
Another favorite for Tillac, where the only main street, lined with half-timbered houses on stilts, leads straight to the church. The halls triumph at Miélan and Mirande, capital of Astarac.
Abbeys and rescues
Abbeys and rural churches of the rescued mark the three Gers routes to Compostela.
- On the Puy route (GR 65, Gers north)
The colossal bell tower of Lectoure (XNUMXth century) apprehends the first steps of the Gers pilgrim. And, soon, the octagonal tower of the collegiate La romieu (XNUMXth century) calls out to the horizon, like a lighthouse bringing together backgammon from Rocamadour. Registered with Unesco, this architectural feat dominates this village where cats are omnipresent.
Beyond Condom, the fortified church of the bastide Montreal-du-Gers welcomes pilgrims from Vézelay (GR 654) who head together towards Eauze and Nogaro. Off the road, the jacquaire museum of the Romanesque abbey of Flaran is essential in the harmonious setting of its cloister and monastic gardens.
- On the way to Toulouse (GR 653, Gers center)
L'Isle-Jourdain winds on the banks of the Save, dominated by its bell tower (XNUMXth century). For its part, the Cistercian church of Gimont faces the chapel of Cahuzac.
To the south-west of Auch, do not miss the bastide of Barran. Its twisted steeple, twisted in the slate, is a curiosity in France. The path stops at the church of Montesquiou, a friendly village-street that has remained intact. A curious wooden canopy sits on the high altar surrounded by statues. Isolated on a ridge and a Roman road, the site of Saint-christaud seduced by its panorama. Rustic and brick, the church is nicknamed "la vaco roujo", the red cow, guess why?
- In the south of Gers
Take a detour into Astarac for the stalls of the imposing church of Simorre and the Cistercian abbey of Boulaur.
Halls and gourmet markets
"Here, we eat fat, and we live healthier and older!" ". This is the Gascon paradox, where the discovery of the benefit of certain fatty acids for "good cholesterol" excuses a delicious but rather rich gastronomy.
The ideal would be to do all the markets, most of which are under the framework of historic halls. A stimulating setting to choose white garlic from Saint-Clar, melon from Lectoure or kiwi from Adour.
On the poultry side, the fresh liver is chosen at the weekly market and timed from Monday to Samatan, renowned world capital of foie gras. Duck for the confit or the duck breast, free-range chicken from Gers, goose for the foie gras, you have to have a nose.
To the north, the country of Armagnac around Condom is that of the vineyards. Wine first with tariquet, Côtes de Gascogne, Côtes-de-Saint-Mont, Côtes-du-Brulhois and Sarragachies wine.
In Condom itself, we taste Armagnac, a wine brandy aged in oak barrels. The visit of Armagnac museum and Ryst-Dupeyron cellars familiarize them with the different appellations. A glass of floc de Gascogne AOC, a liqueur made from grape must and armagnac, served with Lectoure melon, will loosen your tongues… in moderation, of course!
In season, mushrooms are part of the stall. And for dessert, an apple croustade with armagnac, served lukewarm, is essential before a well-deserved nap.
Parodying the musketeers and d'Artagnan native of the Gers, we will appreciate this gastronomy "without butter and without reproach"!
Consult our Midi-Pyrénées online guide
A few tips
. The Gers can be visited all year round, its climate being particularly mild.
. Hotels are rare in the department. Instead, choose guest rooms in the countryside. They are numerous but sometimes seasonal and with few rooms. So the international Jazz festival of Marciac shines on the region where the guest rooms are fully booked in August ...
. Pre out of time.
. Flaran Abbey in sur-Baïse and
. Ryst-Dupeyron cellars in Condom and Paris 75007. www.maisonrystdupeyron.com
Where to sleep, where to eat?
"If the Gascon is talkative, he also offers all his hospitality ...", specifies the guide of Compostela.
. Wine and gastronomic stays are organized by the Departmental Tourism Committee.
. Hotel Le Logis des Cordeliers in Condom.
. Les Jardins de la Baïse restaurant in Condom (Hotel Continental), on the Baïse.
. Fezensac room
Hiking ideas: The Gers on foot, ed. FFRP.