There’s no better way to explore Gascony than on a French Country Adventures tour. The specialist French tour company offers exceptional adventures in the south of France for individuals and small groups, whether you want to experience the region’s rich culture, exquisite gastronomy or favourite tipples. Here are five reasons why you should consider this historic destination for your next French holiday!
Gascony is far enough off the beaten path to retain its identity, yet established enough to cater to travellers. Located south of the main autoroute linking Bordeaux to Toulouse, Gascony offers an intimate portrait of French rural life without the distraction of crowds. The only pauses in the region’s tranquility are the many summer festivals and year-round convivial farmers’ markets. Gascons themselves exude an uncomplicated, down-to-earth enthusiasm that is welcoming and contagious.
Gascony was England’s first colony, its influence reflected in the historically rich fortified villages, ancient cathedrals, grand châteaux and beautiful gardens which are dotted around the region. Each village has preserved its own architectural identity, from the smallest round, fortified village of Fourcès to the arcaded village of Lupiac, birthplace of Charles de Bats de Castelmore, the famed Musketeer D’Artagnan.
Gascony is a culinary heartland of free-range poultry, goose and duck foie gras, confits, patés, garlic, tender asparagus, ripe tomatoes, sweet plums, and succulent melons, comprising a cornucopia of abundance. Its local gastronomy is authentically farm to table. Gascons believe good food, carefully prepared, is not a luxury, but a daily priority. In a place where food is worshipped it’s easy to find a delicious meal every day.
Gascony has been home to viticulture for almost 2,000 years. No longer under the shadow of Bordeaux, it is fast becoming a hot spot for producing some of the finest white, red, and rosé craft wines in France. Small, independent Domaines such as Pellehaut, Chirolet, Villa Dria and Uby, as well as the larger Côtes de Gascogne, Madiran and the very distinctive Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bilh, award winning appellations, have put Gascony back on the map.
Produced in Gascony since the 14th century, Armagnac, France’s oldest brandy, is lusty yet remarkably elegant. Its grapes are grown in three distinct areas — Haut-Armagnac, Ténèze and Bas-Armagnac — and are distilled only once. Each domaine has its own unique recipe in contrast to its industrialized, twice distilled cousin, Cognac. No additives are permitted at any stage from grape to bottle, making it the most natural brandy in France.