Think of Gers and images of sunflowers, foie gras and Armagnac spring to mind. As one of the most rural areas of France, it is no surprise that agriculture is the mainstay of Gers, with corn and wheat being grown alongside fruit trees, walnuts and chestnuts.
Now in the department of Occitaine, it is as well known for its’ ducks and geese as it is for its Floc de Gascogne, Armagnac and the orange-flavoured Pousse Rapière Armagnac liqueur.
Clear air and healthy living has given Gers a reputation for the good life, even with the copious amounts of duck and goose fat used in traditional dishes such as Henry IV’s 16 th century poulet au pot. In fact, research has shown that the people from this region have more longevity than anyone in France.
Half-timbered, low pitched houses are typical of the region, as are ancient churches, chapels and cathedrals. Beautiful chateaux from the renaissance include Chateau de Caumont, whilst medieval towns such as, Mauvezin Fleurance and Bassoues define the bastides that appeared around the 13th century in a bid to secure more safety for their residents. .
This map shows the churches, museums, chateaux, historic places, places to visit and towns mentioned in the following area information.
At the end of the page you will also find a link to take you to our Business Directory and What’s On pages.
Click on this and you will find more information.
Please note: These maps are for illustrative purposes only and are not to scale.
THE DUCHY OF GASCONY
Dating back to 852, the Duchy of Gascony originally encompassed the Garonne and the Pyrenees but became part of Aquitaine around 1030.
Dominated by the English in the 12th century until the end of the Hundred Years War in 1453, it fell under the ownership of three feudal houses. As a result of the marriage of Henri II d’Albret and Marguerite d’Angouleme in 1527, their daughter, Jeanne d’Albret, inherited all three Gascon territories.
When she died 45 years later, they came under the control of her son, Henri of Navarre, who became Henri IV of France. The lands were returned to France when he was crowned King in 1589.
Created from parts of Guyenne and Gascony as a result of the French Revolution, Gers is named after its 178 km river which flows from the foothills of the Pyrennes through to Lot et Garonne. The river has spawned shallow valleys and gentle rolling ridges, along which ancient royal routes were built. These interesting roads are still in use today.
Auch & Gers River
PLACES OF INTEREST
Chateau Monluc in Saint Puy is where Pousse Rapière is made and the recipe has remained a closely guarded secret.
Delicious when mixed with sparkling wine or champagne, the name is derived from the long, light rapier sword which was brought from Italy by Monluc and his officers during the Gascon wars in the 16th century.
“Pushing the rapier” was an expression of those times. Later, the passionate and chivalrous Three Musketeers were to continue to use a sword of a similar design.
D’Artagnan, who joined up with the original Trois Mousquetaires, Pathos, Athos and Aramis, came from Lupiac. Born Charles de Batz Castelmore d’Artagnan, he was a lieutenant captain in King Louis XIV’s first company of musketeers. As a descendant of the Montesquiou’s, one of France’s most important French nobility, he more than lived up to the family motto of “Deo duce et ferro comite”, meaning “God as guide and my sword as companion”. Sculpted by Daphné du Barry, a 3.5m high bronze statue of D’Artagnan, takes pride of place at the starting point of the Route Européene d’Artagnan. Currently in progress, the route will follow the path he took during his duties as escort to Louis XIV and his military movements, right to the place of his death in Maastricht, Holland at the age of 60 in 1673. For musketeer fans, the D’Artagnan museum is a must and, once a year, the Lupiac village festival reconstructs the life and times of this favourite musketeer.
Auch, otherwise known as Musketeer country, is the capital of Gers. When flying into Toulouse airport you may see the Cathédrale Sainte Marie on the horizon, a 13th century Gothic church with curved oak choir stalls and stained glass windows from 1513. Not far away is the Musée des Jacobins which tells the ancient history of Gascony and houses the second largest collection of pre-Colombian art in France.
For art lovers, the nearby Cistercian Abbaye de Flaran at Valence-Sur- Baise houses the Simonow Collection, 100 works from the 17th to the 20th centuries including those by Monet and Courbet.
Originally known as Condominium when it was ruled by 1st century Vascons, Condom does not shy away from the modern interpretation of its name and, today, one of the first things that summer visitors see is a display of contraceptives.
More popular, however, is the long list of Armagnac producers who are very happy to offer a tasting of their most famous eau-de- vie all year round. The Musée de l’Armagnac looks at the history of this white wine distillation from the middle ages right through to mass production in the 17th century.
Centred around the Baize river which transported Armagnac to Bordeaux in the 19th century,Condom is also known as the town of seven churches and 100 towers because of the number of fortified houses that were built by noble families during various wars.
For a real taste of the middle-ages, Larressingle stages regular medieval battle re-enactments within its sturdy ramparts and circular, high walls. Featuring an authentic siege camp, this 13th century fortified village is true to its heritage and also contains a ruined chateau, a church with a defensive high tower, a museum and quaint village houses.
There are also several Gascon chateaux, such as Chateau du Busca-Maniban in Biscay, which provide Armagnac tastings, visits to the cellars (chais) and a tour of these old Gascon properties. For art lovers, the nearby Cistercian Abbaye de Flaran at Valence-Sur- Baise houses the Simonow Collection, 100 works from the 17th to the 20th centuries including those by Monet and Courbet. The Abbaye was founded by the monks of Escaladieu in the mid 12 th century and proudly shows of its cloisters and gardens to hundreds of visitors every year.
Gers has many more interesting places to visit. You will find a wide selection of other tourist spots, churches, hotels and events in our Business Directory and What’s On pages. Why not take a look, you can search under category type, town or region.
Centred around the Baize river which transported Armagnac to Bordeaux in the 19th century, Condom is also known as the town of seven churches and 100 towers because of the number of fortified houses that were built by noble families during various wars.
For walking and/or hiking paths and cycling routes, visit Tourisme Gers
Pousse Rapier Duck – easy peasy and a bit cheeky!
Roast your duck in the usual way, having pricked the skin (but not the meat) all over to release the fat. Don’t forget to save the fat for roast parsnips and potatoes. It will keep for ages in the fridge.
– Heat ½ pint orange juice – the kind with bits in.
– Add a few pieces of chopped up orange and some finely grated orange peel.
– Add 2tbs maizena cornflour to 2 tbs of water (if it doesn’t thicken up enough for you, add some more).
– Mix well and add to orange juice.
– Add 2 or 3 tbs Pousse Rapier, stir well and, either allow the Pousse Rapier to boil off its alcohol or serve immediately. I know which option I am going for!