Why people love the Gers
Why people love The Gers
One of the lesser known jewels of the south-west of France is Gers (32), a department replete with remarkable country houses, distinguished manors, a few grand châteaux, and most importantly, space. It is very lowly populated yet extremely accessible, it has magnificent countryside yet is highly affordable, and is highly reputed for its gastronomical agriculture and its significant wine production.
The Gers is characterised by its rolling green hills, bastide villages, and the stunning Pyrénées mountains – highly visible on clear days – to the south. Nestled midway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, it has all the climatic advantages and distinct seasons of the south of France without the extremes of coastal conditions. The department is peaceful and proud to preserve traditions, festivals and folklore even in its smallest villages, with the emphasis on making the most of the great outdoors and clean air.
The history of the Gers
Gers was derived from parts of the provinces Guyenne and Gascony, becoming a department during the French revolution on March 4, 1790. It is also the name of its main river, flowing northwards through the centre of the department from the Pyrénées to the Garonne.
Auch is the department’s ancient capital with roots dating back to the Roman times during their conquest of the area in the 50s BC. It was first settled by an Aquitanian tribe who were known to the Romans as Ausci. The Aquitanian’s name for their town was Climberrum or Elimberris but was changed to Augusta Auscorum shortly after the Roman invasion. The common term Augusta was eventually dropped and the name evolved into the modern Gascon Aush and French Auch.
Charles de Batz Comte d’Artagnan was born in the Château de Castelmore and written about by Alexandre Dumas in “The Three Musketeers” – his statue stands proudly above the monumental staircase in Auch overlooking the river.
The Gers today
Auch remains small by modern city standards but retains all the trappings and architectural wonders of a departmental capital – the Renaissance Saint-Marie Cathedral, La Tour d’Armagnac (a 14th century prison), the Bishop’s Palace and Préfecture, the law courts, and, of course, D’Artagnan’s statue. Not far away, the village of Lupiac hosts the museum dedicated to the iconic Gersois musketeer.
The department boasts six distinct counties including Armagnac, Val d’Adour, Lomagne, Auch, Astarac, and Arrats et Saves. Located in the north-east of Gers is Lomagne, famed for stunning farm lands and valleys, as well as the Gers and Garonne rivers. Agricultural staples include sunflowers, Lectoure melon and white garlic.
Astarac is the southernmost county of Gers – following the death of García II Sánchez of Gascony his duchy was partitioned and the youngest son, Arnold I, received Astarac. This area comprises hills, vast wide-open spaces and beautiful farmland crossed by the Baïse and Gers rivers and attracts nature lovers from all over.
Eastern Gers is closest to the regional capital, Toulouse, and is crossed by the rich farming valleys of the rivers Save, Gesse and Gimone. Local residents are also supplied with delicious tap water piped directly from the snowfields and aquifers of the Pyrénées. The town of Sarrant is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Gers is not all agriculture, apiculture and wine however. Its key towns are home to much industry, particularly in the agri-food and aeronautical sectors, and a thriving distance-working economy. No motorway disturbs the peace of this department but scores of local markets bustle with activity every day of the week – the Monday morning experience at the Samatan foie gras and country markets will not leave a single visitor unimpressed.
In wine, in spirit – in the Gers
Gers is well known for its high output of very palatable St. Mont red table wines, and increasingly for a number of white wines such as Le Charme Christine Cabri Sauvignon Blanc and Le Charme Philippe Lebrun Chardonnay – even the food and wine store Marks & Spencer in the UK have discovered the wine with their Marks & Spencer Gers Blanc.
The county of Armagnac is most notable for its famous Armagnac Brandy, made distinct by its single distillation in traditional column stills rather than pot stills which are used to produce cognac. Made with a blend of grapes such as Baco 22A, Colombarde, Folle blanche and Ugni blanc, Armagnac is also used to fortify vin de liqueur, thus creating the Gers region’s Floc de Gascogne. As well as giving the world one of its best brandies, the county of Armagnac also produces very high-end foie gras.
Jazz in the Gers (for 40 years) and other attractions
If you are a fan of jazz you must head for Marciac, a 13th century bastide town that holds a major annual jazz festival during the first two weeks of August that has put Gers firmly on the musical map for the past 40 years.In the commune of Montréal there are numerous medieval walled villages and old châteaux which are fantastic tourist locations. The commune also contains many sacred sights relating to the Via Podiensis and the way of Saint James of Compostela which attracts thousands of enthusiasts every year walking some part of this remarkable network of pathways towards Galicia in Spain.
Discover the Gers
Finding a luxury renovated farmhouse for sale can be one of the best ways to make the most of the region since they are often located in the best settings with views overlooking the breathtaking countryside, and sometimes even the Pyrénées.
We recently made the video below where co-founder Michael Baynes is interviewed about the area . . . and about one very special property in particular. Enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Gers . . .!
Maxwell-Baynes Real Estate are real fans of the Gers and are pleased to introduce you to its many attractions. Click here to see our top Gers listing.
For luxury property listings in other areas of south west France please click here.