PUBLISHED: 13:15 21 December 2016 | UPDATED: 13:16 21 December 2016
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An insider's guide to in Gers in Occitanie, including the main attractions to visit on holiday, the best towns and villages to live in, the major festivals and events, and buying property in Gers
Home to breathtaking landscapes, a mild climate and picture-perfect villages, Gers is a popular choice for Brits seeking a relaxed pace of life in France. Gers is easy to reach either by direct flights from the UK to its neighbouring departments or local train services following travel on the Eurostar and TGV.
Now nestled in the Occitanie region, Gers is one of the seven departments that made up the former Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France.
Gers is the perfect rural idyll with its blend of rolling countryside, picture-postcard villages and hearty gastronomy, and so it’s hardly surprising that the department is so popular with expats seeking a French property.
This area of France is often referred to as Gascony, which was the name of the former French province, and is still mostly agricultural, with sunflowers one of the most cultivated crops. As one of the least densely populated areas in France, Gers boasts a treasure trove of delightful bastide towns such as Condom and Auch, its capital, and is just as stone’s throw from the majestic peaks of the Pyrénées mountains.
Plane: The nearest airport is in Toulose in neighbouring Haute-Garonne
By train: Eurostar to Paris, jump on the TGV to Agen and then reach Auch by local train services
By road: Auch is 1031km from Calais
Places to visit in Gers
The departmental capital of Auch embodies the Gascon art of living, and is a must-visit while in Gers. The town boasts the impressive Renaissance cathedral of Ste-Marie with a stunning interior including a beautiful organ, stunning stained-glass windows and 113 carved oak stalls. The cathedral also features a statue of D´Artagnan, the famous musketeer from Gascony, from the novels of Alexander Dumas. Auch’s vibrant, bustling Place de la Libération, and its nearby medieval alleyways, are bursting with spots to enjoy fine food and while away the afternoon with a glass of Armagnac.
The quaint bastide towns of Condom, Fluerance and Mirande are a pleasure to explore for a few hours. Make sure to visit the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre in Condom, a Gothic structure with ornate carvings and grand cloisters and admire the medieval houses on the Place du Lion d’Or.
Gers boasts five of France’s Plus Beaux Villages, and four are just a stone’s throw from one another: Larrensingle, Montreal, Fourcès and Lavardens. These charming, picture-perfect villages are steeped in history and boast impressive ruins, cobbled streets and medieval architecture. If you visit in April, make sure you stop at the popular flower market in Fourcès.
Things to do in Gers
For those who enjoy a leisurely stroll, a vigorous hike or cycle through the countryside, the diverse landscape of Gers is perfect. There are plenty of walking routes, and the ‘Heart of Gascony’ cycling circuit to work up an appetite for the fine food on offer in the department.
Embrace a vibrant music scene with the internationally acclaimed summer jazz festival in the village of Marciac and the festival of salsa and Latin music Tempo Latino in Vic-Fezensac.
There are also an abundance of traditional markets found throughout the department which will no doubt introduce visitors to some of Ger’s finest produce. While in Auch, make sure to visit the Saturday market in the heart of the commune’s historic haute-ville where you’ll find an array of traditional south-west France fare.
For foodies Gers is renowned for its delicious food and wine. Local specialities include foie gras which can be found on many a menu. Armagnac is a fragrant and flavoursome local brandy which was once thought to have therapeutic benefits.
Buying property in Gers
For those seeking a more relaxed pace of life Gers is the perfect place to relocate or purchase a second property. Boasting beautiful rolling countryside, stunning scenery and plenty of charming communes and villages, the department has plenty to offer prospective homeowners. There are a wide range of property styles and prices; from half-timbered houses, properties with feature pebbled walls and large, elegant bastide properties with exposed brick.
The average property price in the department is €143,000, a fair amount less than the average property price in the France (€157,600). It is one of more expensive departments in the region, however, property prices do vary greatly throughout the department.
The most expensive area is the department’s capital of Auch with an average property price of €160,000 while the towns of Condom and Mirande have average property prices of €106,500 and €109,300 respectively.
You can find properties in Gers for sale on the France Property Shop website.