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The gates of Gascony

Main town and Villages Portes de Gascogne


Portes de Gascogne is a vast territory stretching across 3 departements: the Gers, Tarn-et-Garonne and Haute Garonne. More than 2,000 km2 around 3 big urban agglomerations: Agen, Auch and Toulouse. This territory, which represents a third of the Gers, attracts town dwellers looking for links with nature and quiet living, for short stays... However, there are important cultural reasons to visit the area. There is plenty to keep you busy for one week or two, exploring the treasures of this area. Here, even more than anywhere else in the Gers, there is great respect for the environment, as it is nature which has linked heritage and gastronomy. Agriculture and farming, in this land of history, castles, bastides and castelnaux, is very important. With melons from Lectoure, white garlic, the “marchés au gras” (duck and geese markets), and farm visits, you will always find a savoury snack or a big restaurant to enjoy the local food! 

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LECTOURE

Lectoure is listed "Plus beau détour de France" (most beautiful detour in France). The town is charming and we recommend taking more than a detour to fully appreciate all its wonders! The town overlooks the countryside around it; it is an ancient oppidum (a cluster of fortifications) defined by two valleys (including the Gers river flowing at its foot). It is a “Town and Land of Art and History” rich in sumptuous private mansions. Explore the Tour d'Albinhac, a beautiful fortified house and Tour du Bourreau, the remains of the medieval enclosure. The Fontaine Diane is listed as a Historic Monument and was used in the royal tannery. In the caves of the Hôtel de ville (Town Hall), visit one the oldest museums in France, the Musée Archéologique de Lectoure. This has a collection of taurobolium altars (the Roman cult of animal sacrifices to a goddess) unique to France. The Musée d'Art Sacré (Museum of Sacred Art) is located at the foot of the tower of the beautiful Saint-Gervais Cathedral. Explore the Chapelle des Carmélites (Carmelite Chapel) and the paintings on its ceiling. 


In the heart of Lomagne, Lectoure is also a spa town with a beautiful wellbeing centre in one of the many townhouses of the town. In Lectoure, we see life in blue, thanks to the Isatis Tinctoria, with work and oxydation this plant produces a deep blue which was used to tint the clothing of the soldiers of Napoleon’s army. Visit the workshop and the shop! The town hosts a prestigious festival of photographic art: the 'photographic summer of Lectoure' which takes place in all the streets. Outside the festival, visit the Centre de Photographie de Lectoure, where many exhibitions are on display all year. 


Guide du Gers in Lectoure: Best Tips

  • Explore Lectoure and its region from the sky, take a hot-air balloon tour
  • Have a drink in the “Cochon Bleu” library café, which offers books and board games.
  • At the top of the town, go and see the orientation table close to the Jardin des Marronniers (chestnut tree garden) and discover a breath-taking view of the northeast countryside of the Gers. 
  • The commune is a melon producing centre, thanks to its clay-limestone soils. During the season, taste the melons of Lectoure, they are delicious, with a good Floc de Gascogne (liquor wine)... 
  • During summer, visits to the bell tower are organised by the Tourist Office. This provides a beautiful panorama not to be missed!  
  • A few kilometres away is the town of Fleurance. It has a market hall, a fountain, statues, Saint-Laurent Church and its famous Astronomy Festival which is held at the beginning of August. All year, the Dôme du Hameau des Étoiles organises meetings about the fascinating world of stars. 



The beautiful village of Lectoure

Products originated of blue pastel from Lectoure


LA ROMIEU

La Romieu is a town of astounding architecture. The Saint-Pierre de La Romieu Collegiate is listed as a Unesco World Heritage siteThis vast compound is composed of two towers, a cloister and a church. La Romieu is a stopover town, situated on the Via Podiensis for Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle. Admire the Tour du Cardinal d'Aux, the remains of the manor of the eponymous cardinal and the 16th century Madirac Castle

In the main square, note a curiosity: there are many sculptures of cats... These sculptures originated from the legend of Angéline, an inhabitant of the town who saved a couple of cats during a famine... A few years later, when the famine ended, the fields were providing food again for the population, but they were being destroyed by rats... Angéline then freed her cats, which had multiplied, and the cats saved the village from a new famine!  


Guide du Gers in La Romieu: Best Tips

  • For a purfect visit to the town, go to the Collegiate Church and download the application on your smartphone, explore the town with the cat Rimbô. It is not only geared for children!
  • Explore the Jardins de Coursiana, an arboretum of 6 hectares listed as a Jardin Remarquable (Remarkable Garden) with a beautiful view of the collegiate church.
  • In July, the Festival Musique en Chemin runs for 4 days, it is a musical celebration, run in a spirit of sharing.



La Romieu Collegiate Church

The legend of Angéline’s cats in La Romieu

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SAINT-CLAR-DE-LOMAGNE

Do you need a powerful antiseptic? Go to Saint-Clar-de-Lomagne, the capital of white garlic! It is one of the virtues attributed to this bulb... The clay-limestone soil, combined with a mild climate, make Saint-Clar the biggest garlic production town in France

Saint-Clar is a very dynamic town of approximately 1,100 inhabitants.  On the heritage side, Sainte-Catherine's Church, hosts many cultural events during the year. Wander in the lovely small four seasons garden, close to the neo-Gothic style of Saint-Clar Church and go through the arcaded square. A lovely old washhouse is hidden not far from there. 

On the leisure side, the Musée de l’école Publique (Public School Museum), located in the enclosure of the first school of the village, will immerse you in the past and will remind you good (or bad?!) memories: wooden desks, inkwells, books, old photos and dictation for the most studious! The Maison de l'Ail (the house of garlic) is where you can learn everything about this emblematic condiment of the town: history, culture, production, trade and obviously, the purchase of Saint-Clar garlic braids. 

On the events side: at the beginning of August, it is the Festiv'ail (Garlic Festival) and a farmers' market, there is a gourmet evening and a BIG dictation ... Grab your pens! During this time, a fun and original event also takes place: Le Chemin des Épouvantails (The Scarecrow Route). Many towns (Saint-Clar, Avezan and Mauroux) participate in this event. The inhabitants make colourful, costumed and themed scarecrows that they place all over town. A perfect occasion to wander amongst these amusing straw characters all day!


Guide du Gers in Saint-Clar: Best Tips

  • Are you a running enthusiast? The Trails des 3 Soleils (Three Suns Trails) takes place in February in Saint-Clar every year. A lovely small half-marathon (21km) reaches 418m in height on the Auroue’s loop. Put your shoes on! 
  • In 2010 in Saint-Clar the first (at the time) and the most powerful, photovoltaic plant in France was inaugurated, with 23 hectares of solar panels. Truely a sun city! 
  • Admire the beautiful panorama while walking on Chemin de Ronde
  • La base de loisirs Es Calavès, located 3km from Saint-Clar, is a top destination for families during the summer, with its clear waters, paddling pool, 2 slides, a beach, restaurant, snacks and even some gites!



View from Saint-Clar

Saint Clar de Lomagne Church


SARRANT

This is a beautiful bastide town with buildings amorously entwined around Saint-Vincent's Church. Sarrant is part of the “Plus beaux villages de France” (most beautiful villages in France). Its pleasant circular alleys and colourful cob half-timbered houses, were protected by a solid fortified wall, as shown by the Porte de la Ville (the city Gate) and its 14th century Tour Carrée (square tower). Nearby, a medieval garden has varieties of ancient and forgotten vegetables. 

During summer, the “Estivales de l'Illustration” welcome conferences, debates, exhibitions, concerts and cartoonists/illustrators who share their passion with visitors. In 2017, a new event took place in September: "Sarrant, village de l'illustration" (Sarrant, a village of illustration), which hosts a large group of artists. In the heart of the village, the library Des livres et vous (Books and you) is an institution not to be missed. It has 20,000 reference books across all genres, meetings with authors, concerts and family events... all around a drink or a good hot chocolate... 


Guide du Gers in Sarrant: Best Tips

  • The discovery farm l’Azinet offers donkey tours, all year, every day, but you must book. 
  • The association Quenouilles et Tambourins organises educational activities for children to learn about calligraphy and the Midde Ages, in the Tour Carrée during summer.
  • Do you want to find a secret place which is not shown on any maps? ...The hobio, is a rock shelter with a lovely water spring which can be found by taking a hike of 6km
  • Hunting Treasures: can you find the 7 dovecotes of the commune? There are 13 in all but they are not all visible as some are on private estates. 
  • 5 km away, see the Moulin de Brignemont (Brignemont Mill) dating from 1740. Restored and surrounded by a beautiful park, it produces flour from an ancient strain of wheat! Visits and educational activities are organised during the season. 



The beautiful narrow alleys of Sarrant

A pleasant library/dynamic café in Sarrant

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MAUVEZIN

Don’t be put off by its name: you will see a powerful fortress built on a steep hillside between two rivers. Today, it is a busy, friendly town, perfect for a family holiday. Start with a cup of good coffee near the 14th century hall, on the large Place de la Libération with its architectural buildings, formerly known as the Trépadé. The imposing Saint-Michel Church and its Gothic belltower in the high town, echoes the Tour Jeanne-Albret in the low town. Visit the Musée des amis de l’Archéologie et d’Histoire (Museum of the friends of archeology and history), to see collections of old tools, money and historic documents. The castle walk is a pleasant natural break offering sumptuous landscapes which extend onto the terraces of the castle, an educational trail making the link between the high and the low town.  


Guide du Gers in Mauvezin: Best Tips

  • You will have no problem finding accommodation in Mauvezin. Unoccupied houses have been refurbished and there is a selection of more than fifty gites; you will be spoilt for choice!
  • Beer enthusiasts, raise your mugs! The Brasserie l’Excuse offers boutique beer tasting. You can even leave with your favourites ones! 
  • On the edge of the village, the Mauvezin Lake is 1.5 hectares in size where you can practice fishing and have lovely walks with the family. Nearby, Mitterrand Park has a small playground with games and barbeques.  
  • The traditional market takes place in the market hall on Monday mornings.
  • Should we really give you this information? A great running or mountain bike course takes place in Mauvezin in October, the “Ronde des Foies-gras” (Foie-gras tour). The course is 25 kms around the town which is, in itself, unexceptional... but there are 7 refuelling points on the foie-gras farms!!! The winner is offered a meal made with duck at the market hall. Who wants a bib? 



Mauvezin and its imposing belltower 

Market with many flavours



GIMONT

If you like foie-gras and duck products, go to Gimont, a major spot for foie-gras production in Gers! Here, ducks and goose farming has existed since the 16th century so Gimont inhabitants know what they are talking about... The big Marché au Gras (duck and goose market) of Gimont takes place on Wednesday morning (all year round) and Sunday morning (from November to March - la Grasse matinée...). 

Places of interest are Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Church which dominates the surrounding countryside with its very high brick belltower. The “Conservatoire de la vie agricole et rurale d'autrefois” (The agriculture and rural life museum) is a charming museum which can be visited by prior arrangement, by contacting Jean, a man passionate about his job! The small museum tells the history of the town and the Petit Musée de l'Oie et du Canard des Ducs de Gascogne (small museum of the geese and ducks of Gascony), explains the history of fattening, production and trade of foie-gras (free visit!). One kilometre from the town, you will find the Notre-Dame-de-Cahuzac Chapel, a very old place of pilgrimage in Gascony. 


Guide du Gers in Gimont: Best Tips

  • The internationally famous Ducs de Gascogne and Comtesse du Barryconserve factories are to be found in Gimont.
  • Do you like organic food, artisan products and beer? If you do visit Brasserie Jean Brasse. You can either visit the brewery or participate in a workshop. Either way, you can enjoy the tasting session.
  • The Cahuzac Leisure Centre is a pleasant stop, with its beautiful waterfalls.
  • For a friendly horse riding trip, go to the Ecuries de Charlas (Charlas Stables) listed as "Centre de Tourisme Equestre" (Equestrian Tourism Centre).
  • The Villa Cahuzac organises training and workshop sessions for foie-gras products... This includes training on Foie-gras culinary techniques, cutting workshops and the preparation of a fat duck... 
  • If you are looking for holiday accommodation or restaurants in an exceptional setting, visit the Larroque Castle. Made of pink bricks, its romantic and authentic charm is undeniable. It is also a great restaurant, with chef Olivier Fagedet.



Gimont Church: Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption 

The market hall of the town 


L'ISLE-JOURDAIN

L'Isle-Jourdain, situated at the extreme east of the Gers, is a pleasant town on the Save River and an important economic centre. For the holidaymaker there is plenty to see and do. Visit the Saint-Martin Collegiate and its 14th century Tower. It looks just like a fairy tale castle. The Panat Castle (which is privately owned) faces the Parc de la Marquise (public), a guaranteed quiet and shady stop. The Musée Européen d'Art Campanaire de l'Isle-Jourdain (The Campanaire European Art Museum of Isle-Jourdain) is situated in the former market hall, and displays a unique and surprising collection of sound objects and watchmaking: bells, chimes ... The Claude Augé town house, creator and father of the Petit Larousse Illustré (French Dictionary) will amaze you with its stained glass windows, including the one of La Semeuse, emblem of the Larousse dictionary. 

Atypical and anecdotal, the green way of Isle-Jourdain brings you straight to the assembly factory of the Airbus A380! You can follow it from the cycling path in front of the Tourist Office and stay on it for 32 km. The big leisure activity centre will keep the kids busy and for the sports enthusiast there are tennis, mini-golf, and fishing on the 25 hectare lake. The lake is not authorised for bathing, but the municipal swimming pool, located a few metres away, is covered, heated and opened from Easter to Halloween.  On the events side, the Gascony Carnival of the Isla De Baish takes place in mid-March, the Vélo en fête Festival (Bike Festival) takes place at the beginning of June, the Craft Fair of Saint-Martin in mid-November and the Game Festival, Lislenjeux, mid-February. The weekly market is on Saturday around the market hall. 


Guide du Gers in L'Isle-Jourdain: Best Tips

  • In search of thrills, but not noise or pollution? Try water karting. It is 100% electric and takes place on the lake. Original! 
  • Pass the lovely small brick bridge: the Pont Tourné before getting to the Save riverbanks for a rural walk. 
  • Do you like cycling? Go to Veloscope – Le Pavillon Culturel du Cycle promotes cycling to all ages. There is also a mini velodrome and a Rollapaluza (two bikes linked for a dual of virtual distance)!



Pink brick Church in Isle-Jourdain

Campanology Museum of Isle-Jourdain


SAMATAN

Samatan is the "Capital of pink gold", the "Mecca of foie-gras". The incredible “marché au gras” (duck and goose market) is organised on Mondays and covers a large part of the town from October to April. It is one of the biggest and most beautiful markets in France. It is more like a large animated, lively fair than a classic market. It is a not to be missed experience, for its folklore and incredible vibrancy. The Saint-Jean-Baptiste church houses beautiful mural paintings. In the town centre is the Musée du foie-gras et des traditions populaires (Foie gras and popular traditions museum). For a nature excursion or a good picnic, go to the leisure activity center and lake. 

At the end of July, the Festival du Théâtre d'été (Summer Theatre Festival) takes place, and at the beginning of September, Africa arrives in Samatan with the Sam’africa Festival. In September, there is the gastronomy fair and of course, foie gras has a major role!  


Guide du Gers in Samatan: Best Tips

  • The Bois de Campan is a lovely nature stop in a ZNIEFF (Zone Naturelle d'Intérêt Écologique, Faunistique et Floristique – natural area of interest for ecology, fauna and flora) only few steps away from the lake.
  • For the disabled, a fishing pontoon was especially built on the Save Canal. 
  • A discovery trail of the town has been made for children and their parents, the “Batailles du Prince Noir” (The Black Prince’s battles), offers questions and games for a fun walk.  
  • Not far from Samatan is Lombez and its beautiful Sainte-Marie Cathedral made from pink bricks! 


The famous market in Samatan ©samatan-gers.com

The well located town of Samatan ©samatan-gers.com