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5 reasons Gascony should be on your France must-see list

Fields full of ripe sunflowers, a small farmhouse in the background, in Gascony, France

Gascony is one of the most rural regions in all of France and Gers is at its heart. Tourists rarely find their way there even though you reach its outskirts in just 25 minutes from Toulouse. But once you go, you will always want to return, so great is its charm.

Here are five reasons why you should consider this historic destination for your next French holiday!

Gascon Culture

Gers is far enough off the beaten path to retain its identity but established enough to make visitors very happy. You’ll find it south of the main autoroute linking Bordeaux to Toulouse, a land without mass tourism or high speed rail services. Gascony offers an intimate portrait of French rural life at its most enchanting with year-round convivial farmers’ markets. In the summer towns burst into life with colourful summer festivals and. Gascons are famously friendly and exude an uncomplicated, down-to-earth enthusiasm that is welcoming and contagious.

Magnificent Medieval Villages

Medieval village with stone arches and a covered arcade and half-timbered houses, Gascony

Gascony was England’s first colony, its influence reflected in the historically rich fortified villages, ancient cathedrals, grand châteaux and beautiful gardens which are dotted around the region. Each village has preserved its own architectural identity, from the smallest round, fortified village of France, Fourcès to the arcaded village of Lupiac, birthplace of Charles de Bats de Castelmore, the famed Musketeer D’Artagnan. There are six Plus Beaux Villages in Gers including lovely Larressingle, not far from the city of Condom.

Gascony’s rich Cuisine

The food of Gascony is rich and robust. Duck fat is used in place of olive oil and in a place where food is worshipped it’s easy to find a delicious meal every day. This culinary heartland is famous for its free-range poultry, goose and duck foie gras, confits, patés, garlic, tender asparagus, ripe tomatoes, sweet plums, and succulent melons, comprising a cornucopia of abundance. The local gastronomy is authentically farm to table. Gascons believe good food, carefully prepared, is not a luxury, but a daily priority.

Wine to make you sigh

Vines growing on the hillsides of Gascony

Gascony has been a wine making paradise for almost 2,000 years. For a while it was in the shadow of Bordeaux but is fast becoming a hot spot for producing some of the finest white, red, and rosé craft wines in France. Small, independent Domaines such as Pellehaut, Chirolet, Villa Dria and Uby, as well as the larger Côtes de Gascogne are putting Gascony firmly on the wine map for wine lovers. The earthy, plummy Madiran and the very distinctive Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bilh a sweet white are simply superb.

Armagnac – the oldest brandy in France

Armagnac maturing in bottles on a wall in Gascony

Produced in Gascony since the 14th century, barrel-aged Armagnac, France’s oldest brandy, is lusty and yet remarkably elegant. Its grapes are grown in three distinct areas – Haut-Armagnac, Ténèze and Bas-Armagnac – and are distilled only once. Each domaine has its own unique recipe in contrast to its industrialized, twice distilled cousin, Cognac. No additives are permitted at any stage from grape to bottle. This makes Armagnac the most natural brandy in France.

There’s no better way to explore Gascony than on a French Country Adventures tour. The specialist French tour company offers exceptional adventures in the south of France for individuals and small groups, whether you want to experience the region’s rich culture, exquisite gastronomy or favourite tipples: www.frenchcountryadventures.com

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