Gers, AKA Gascony, in southwest France is the country’s untouched treasure. The region is home to a spectacular array of beautiful landscapes, outdoor activities, castles, historical sites and the most delicious gastronomy – this is the authentic France you dream of…
Where to stay in Gers?
Champagne House in Condom, Gers is a stunning boutique chambre d’hôte, a b&b, and is the perfect base from which to enjoy the region. The elegantly designed suites are named after various champagnes, and you are served a glass of bubbles upon your arrival. Owners Dale and Martin Proctor have lovingly and tastefully renovated this 7-bedroom townhouse, and decorated the rooms with vintage furniture and décor, and in some cases, lavish freestanding roll-top baths. Downstairs there’s a salon with a grand piano, a library and kitchen, and outside boasts a private pool, sun loungers and a barbeque. Book a room for your getaway or hire the whole house for a luxurious weekend with friends.
With such heavenly accommodation, it would be tempting to spend every waking moment inside, but tear yourself away to discover what Gers has to offer…
Visit Condom: the Cathedral
Condom is a market town and at its heart sits Cathédral Saint-Pierre. Originally dating from the 14th century it was rebuilt over the following 100 years. Its gothic architecture is jaw-dropping, a style known as Southern French Gothic that developed in the 13th century. The intricate carvings of saints and criss-crossed buttresses pattern the arched stone entryways. This flamboyant gothic style extends inside too with the beautifully vaulted ceiling stretching high into the heavens, dimly light from the spectacular stained-glass windows.
D’Artagnan and The Musketeers
In the cathedral’s courtyard stand bronze statues of D’Artagnan and the three musketeers. The region proudly boasts its links to D’Artagnan who was immortalised by Alexandre Dumas in the novel ‘The Three Musketeers’ first published in 1844. The novel was based on true stories of the musketeers’ adventures, and D’Artagnan is a local hero in Gers, born in 1611 in the village of Lupiac… another great place to visit as you will see below!
Out into Gers: Local villages
You can’t visit Gers without stopping by Lupiac, the home of D’Artagnan. Musketeer to Louis XIV in the 17th century, D’Artagnan is celebrated to this day in Lupiac’s town centre. A statue is dedicated to him, depicted astride his horse, frozen in mid-prance, complete with the famous motto ‘One for all and all for one’ etched at its base. During the second week of August, Lupiac throws a festival in his honour. Street theatre shows, play sword fights and musket firing included! And everyone is bedecked in costume. And if that wasn’t enough D’Artagnan for one visit, don’t forget to explore the Musée D’Artagnan as it’s a big hit with children!
Fourcès is a stunning village steeped in both French and British history. During the Hundred Years’ War, the village was the border between the two forces. Yet, its fortified castle battlements could not be conquered, and its villagers lived safely behind its ramparts. The castle was sadly destroyed in the 15th century, however beautiful medieval half-timbered houses remain, transporting you back in time.
Other villages include Lavardens. Perched on a hill with an extraordinarily beautiful castle at its centre, Lavardens is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France. Another is La Romieu, meaning ‘Pilgrim of Rome’. Still along a pilgrimage route today, its colligate church is listed as an UNESCO Heritage Site.
Soak up the local history of Gers
Considered to be the most pivotal cultural site of Gers is L’Abbaye de Flaran, a visit that shouldn’t be missed. Founded in 1151, the abbey was built according to the Cistercian order which followed the strict Christian values of humility and poverty. Its elegant grounds are a perfect spot to picnic. And, best of all, the abbey is now home to the Simonow Collection – an outstanding collection of art by some of the most famous artists of all time kept safe deep in the Gers countryside.
Dating even further back is the Roman town Elusa. On this archaeological site, three buildings have been constructed – a villa, town house and museum. This is a perfect playground for children as there are treasure hunts and creative workshops for them to immerse themselves in ancient Gers.
If you are outdoorsy and active, there are endless activities that will pique your interest in Gers:
For avid cyclists, Gers’ terrain couldn’t be better for adventures. Greenways are abundant for you to traverse by bike and admire the scenery. Roam the Armagnac greenway between Condom and Lagraulet-du-Gers for panoramic views of castles and villages. Or, if you love a challenge, sample the French Divide. This demanding off-road mountain bike route extends from Belgium to Spain and runs through Gascony.
The Camino de Santiago is a collection of pilgrimages to the eponymous cathedral in Spain, and its hiking route in Gers is a stunning walk. This is called the Camino Le Puy. It takes you through key sites of Gascony including medieval heritage sites and ancient fortified villages. Beyond that, towns and cities organise tourist hikes. Those leaving Condom are arranged by theme such as art, history and gastronomy. Choose the sites you wish to see and head out into the Gers countryside.
After cycling and hiking, the best way to cool down is a quick dip. Castéra-Verduzan is a lake and leisure centre stretching over 7 hectares. Woodland and golden sandy beaches surround the lake making it an ideal spot in the summer. Here you can jump around on inflatable sports courses, hire pedalos or enjoy the slides. If you fancy calmer water activities, hire a canoe to tootle down La Baïse. Spot birds and other wildlife in the marshy landscape.
Champagne House retreats
Keeping all those activities in mind, you may be right to think your days are going to be jam-packed! However, before you book your activities, let me just sneakily mention that Champagne House is not only a luxury bolthole, but it also organises retreats.
Champagne House rolls out the red carpet and offers a 3-night luxury retreat. This exquisite repose includes a private tour of their local distillery, an afternoon tea, and of course, a bottle of champagne. This luxury experience is perfect for a honeymoon or an anniversary getaway. Bask in a 3-night stay of sheer opulence.
Writing retreat in France
And if that wasn’t enough, Champagne House also hosts writing retreats each year in June and September. Join a group of passionate writers for a week of creative writing workshops to stoke the fires of creativity. Hearty, delicious breakfasts are included as well as picnic lunches and evening apéro served alongside animated writing discussions.
Find out more information and book your stay at champagnehouse.com