Print Posted By Lost in France on 11 Mar 2010 in French Regions - Midi Pyrenees

Explore the Midi Pyrenees - Auch

AuchA tour of the Gers should logically begin in its capital, Auch, a typical Gascon town with 22,800 inhabitants. Auch's great stairway, with its 370 steps, runs from the top to the bottom of the city and is adorned with a statue of D'Artagnan who was born around 1610 in the Château de Castelmore, 35km from Auch.

Next to the great stairway, the pousterles. These narrow, stepped alleyways wind down towards the river and were formerly used by residents for fetching water.

An impressive group of buildings - the Tour d'Armagnac, Sainte- Marie Cathedral and the Prefecture (once an archiepiscopal palace) - tower above the town. The cathedral is a listed World Heritage monument and is a major restingpoint along the Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle pilgrimage route.

The Place de la Libération is peppered with shops, restaurants and café terraces, as are the narrow medieval streets branching off from this main square. Auch has an active cultural agenda, hosting several wellknown festivals; the CIRCA international festival of contemporary circus in October, Festival Ciné 32 Indépendance(s) et Création film festival (also in October), and the Eclats de Voix song festival in June.

Visit Auch during the Eclats de Voix song festival

Eclats de VoixEvery year in June, Auch resonates with the sound of singing. Opera choirs, sacred and secular polyphony, recitals, vocal and verbal showdowns and jazz concerts: this festival is dedicated to voice-based arts in all their diversity and brings together some of the best international soloists and ensembles. Eclats de Voix also showcases the heritage of Auch and Gers via a different perspective, with their cathedrals, abbeys and other Gascon gems being used as venues over the festival period.

In Auch, audiences will appreciate the staggering acoustics in the Maison de Gascogne, a former grain exchange built in the 19th century from local stone. They will also admire the exquisite Italian-style theatre and the majestic Sainte-Marie Cathedral with its 16th-century stained glass windows created by Arnaud de Molles and its 113 stalls with 1,500 characters, animals and monsters carved into the wood.

Week-end at the Manoir Gascon

Manoir GasconThis hotel is five minutes from Auch, in a 19th century manor and has the regional "Hôtellerie de charme et de caractère" label (awarded to prestigious and luxury boutique hotels). "Une histoire d'amour" weekend package: this weekend package includes: accommodation in a suite with Jacuzzi; candlelit dinner served on the terrace, in the conservatory, in the gardens or by the fireplace; a bottle of champagne and access to six hectares of landscaped gardens (with gazebo, terrace, pool and private tennis court). 2 days/1 night: €460 for 2 people.
Information and booking at Midi-Pyrénées
Vacances Loisirs - Phone: +33 (0)5 34 25 05 00.

From Auch to Marciac via the chemin des écoliers

When you leave Auch, rather than taking the N124 (which crosses the Gers from East to West), take the D943 towards Barran. This will lead you to a series of typical Gascon villages: Barran, with its spiral bell tower; Isle-de-Noé with its 18thcentury castle; Montesquiou with its covered market with wooden pillars and historic houses and Bassoues, with its great five-floor tower built in the 14th century.

This leafy road is locally known as the "bastide and castles route" and is cut into the hillside, undulating in harmony with the curves of the Gers valleys. In clear weather conditions it offers beautiful views over the Pyrenees mountain range. This road also leads to Marciac, another member of the Great Sites of Midi-Pyrénées, which is also a bastide town and is famous for its August Jazz festival. From Auch to Montesquiou, the D943 follows the Chemin d'Arles footpath (GR653), one of the St-Jacques de Compostelle routes that cross the Midi-Pyrénées region.

Further Information

Comité Régional du Tourisme Midi-Pyrénées
54 Bd de l'Embouchure
BP 52166 - 31022 TOULOUSE Cedex 2

More Info

Source: ATOUT FRANCE - France Tourism Development Agency. For more information visit

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