DAY 16: Gascogne, France

On the modern map of France there is no official area named Gascogne (Gascony). Referring to an old language, the name is now typically used in tourism and culture to designate the corner of southwest France, located south of Bordeaux, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Spain. The area is known for its relaxed pace, rolling picturesque landscapes, good food and for making France’s oldest brandy, Armagnac, distilled here for more than seven centuries.

The area’s untouched countryside, where time seems to stand still, is filled with melodic valleys, pure countryside, farm land, golden sunflower fields, green forests, peaceful lakes and beautiful views. Offering a relaxed and rural lifestyle, Gascony is an icon of French joie de vivre. 

Its summer music and local festivals are well known, and bring its towns and villages to life. Music festivals range from an annual jazz festival, to a country music festival and a month long “Nuits Musicales en Armagnac” varied classical program of dance, opera, chamber music, drawing greatest international artists. 

Photos courtesy of Atout France, Gers Gascogne Tourism and Nuits Musicales en Armagnac

In mid August, the unique Musique en Chemin (music on the road) is hosted by five of the most beautiful Gascon villages. The villages feature concerts, markets and activities around charming landmarks – definitely an interesting and creative way to experience the beauty of the villages, their culture and enjoy music and art!

As you can tell, Gascony’s good life is celebrated and openly shared. Local festivals are the perfect opportunity to meet locals and discover their culture and way of life – spending lovely, memorable moments with friends and family, while enjoying exceptionally delicious food and wine. There is even a cooking school in Gascony where you embark on a very pleasurable way to experience the local foods.

In addition to music, gastronomy and wine, you can also enjoy browsing the area’s markets and antique shops. Lectoure is a unique antique village, where the dealers’ shops occupy a former residence of the Counts of Armagnac. And if you desire some city pleasures mixed with those of the countryside, the ancient city of Auch, is in the center of it all. The historical capital of Gascony, the city is a hilly architectural gem on the Gers River, and offers many wonderful restaurants, cafes, shops, museums and activities. 

Gascony is easily accessible from the cities of Toulouse and Bordeaux, and with the area near the Corbieres (see Day 15), the Bordeaux region (see Day 4 and Day 6) and Languedoc region (see Day 9), it can be included in an immersive and “off the beaten track” Southern France itinerary.

WHEN TO GO: Summer festival season, Allow at least 4 to 5 days.

POPULAR TRAVEL STYLES: Small Private Groups, Canal Barge Cruising, Independent Travel, Immersive Travel

IDEAL FOR: Culinary/Wine, Music, Performing Arts, Festivals, History, Antique Shopping

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Published by Cheryl Walton

Travel changes your perspective while creating special memories along the way. My goal is to always help create the vacation experience you imagine - whether it's bucket list travel, a celebration or a special interest vacation - history, WWII, heritage, wine, beer, culinary, language, art, and genealogy (just a few of my favorites). My first trip abroad was to southern Belgium as part of a town twinning program to help keep French culture alive in Louisiana. My host family provided an inside view of their country, lifestyle and culture, creating a friendship now 30+ years strong through 4 generations! That trip definitely impacted my style of travel - getting off the beaten path and engaging with locals - as well as a later career change to travel advisor. I strive to provide similar experiences tailored to your interests and comfort level.

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