The historic capital of Gascony and a Great Site of Occitanie, the warm and welcoming town of Auch will charm you with its atmosphere and rich heritage. Overlooking the Gers Valley from the top of its hill, the historic centre of Auch is best discovered by wandering along its picturesque side streets lined with old houses, and taking a tour of its flagship monuments, the Cathedral of St. Mary, the monumental staircase and the Armagnac Tower.
Built from the 15th to the 17th century, the Cathedral of St. Mary, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Way of St. James, is one of the biggest cathedrals in France, standing over 100 metres tall and 35 metres wide. Inside, behind the door in its beautiful Renaissance façade, visitors can admire real masterpieces of the 16th century, from the eighteen Renaissance glass walls by the Gascon artist Arnaud de Moles to the 113 oak stalls sculpted with over 1500 figures! A particularly remarkable group...
Near to the cathedral stand the Armagnac Tower, a former 14th-century prison standing 40 metres tall, and Gers Prefecture, based in a former 18th-century archbishop's palace, with a façade decorated with Corinthian fluted pilasters.
Built in 1863, the 370-step monumental staircase, in the middle of which stands a statue of the famous musketeer D'Artagnan, takes pedestrians from the upper town to the lower town. This work of art is also an ideal location to admire the pretty view of the Gers Valley!
At the heart of the upper town, at the entrance to the charming street of Rue Dessoles, stands one of the oldest houses in Auch: the Fedel house, dating from the 15th century.
Starting from Rue de la Convention, be sure to discover the picturesque, steeply sloping medieval side streets known as Pousterles. Residents used to walk along these to reach the gates of the city walls and go to the river to fetch water.
The Amériques-Auch Museum, based in the former Jacobin convent, contains remarkable collections of pre-Columbian art and Latin American sacred art, including an exceptional Mexican feather mosaic, the Mass of St. Gregory, from 1539! Visitors will find Egyptian, Gallo-Roman and medieval collections (an impressive recumbent effigy of the Cardinal of Armagnac), paintings, sculptures and decorative arts from the South-West, as well as popular traditions from Gascony (everyday objects from the 19th century, traditional costumes).
Two big traditional markets take place every week, one on Saturday mornings in the upper town, and the other on Thursday mornings in the lower town. All lovers of regional produce should be sure to pay a visit!
Auch is a municipality in the Gers region of Occitania. Installed in the former Gascony of which it was the historical capital, the city takes place in the valley of the Gers, about seventy kilometers from Toulouse, the famous Ville rose.
Already very important in Gallo-Roman times, the city of Auch was once one of the largest urban centers of Aquitaine. Capital of the counts of Armagnac in medieval times, it joined the crown of France at the fall of the latter, at the end of the fifteenth century. It knows another golden age between the eighteenth and nineteenth century, especially under Louis XV who made numerous constructions on the spot.
Today, Auch is an important tourist point of the region, unveiling a rich and well preserved historical and architectural heritage. Fascinating Gascony gastronomy, the city is also appreciated for its cuisine offering foie gras, smoked duck breast or omelet with ceps.
Built between the 15th and 17th centuries, Sainte-Marie Cathedral owes its fame in particular to its stained glass windows, the work of master glassmaker Arnaut de Moles. Listed as a Historic Monument and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Santiago de Compostela routes, it highlights a flamboyant Gothic style already influenced by the Renaissance. At the end of the 17th century, a facade and a porch in the Corinthian style were added to the complex.
In the choir, you can admire a set of 113 stalls in oak wood, where you can find more than 1,500 sculpted figures.
Listed as a Historic Monument, the town hall of Auch faces the cathedral. Built in the second half of the 18th century, it notably houses an Italian-style theater still in operation. Inside, you can discover a room of the Illustrious which presents portraits of Gascons who marked their time.
As you walk through the town, you can also appreciate the Maison de Gascogne, a decorated stone hall which today hosts many events, or the library which takes place in the former Carmelite convent.. This medieval building notably has a beautiful classical portal as well as a 17th century rib-vaulted nave. You will not fail to admire the monumental staircase that connects the upper town to the lower town. In neoclassical style, it has three successive levels including gardens and fountains, and forms a very beautiful ensemble with the Armagnac tower, the episcopal palace or the Sainte-Marie cathedral. It also houses the statue of the most famous of the Cadets of Gascony, Charles de Batz, alias d'Artagnan. This 19th century staircase of Italian inspiration has been classified as a remarkable site and listed in the supplementary inventory of Historic Monuments.
Built in the 14th century, the Armagnac tower once served as a prison for the archdiocese's palace, then as a warehouse for religious archives. Forty meters high, it can still be visited today.
Different religious buildings take place in the town of Auch, like the Saint-Pierre church, the 14th century Cordeliers cloister listed as a Historic Monument, or the former college of Jesuits. Built in the middle of the 16th century, it also features a 17th century chapel.
Among the must-sees is the Museum of the Americas (a former convent), founded at the end of the 18th century. Its current fame is due to its exceptional collection of pre-Columbian art (it is the second largest in France). Indeed, more than 400 pieces of goldsmithery, ceramics, weaving and wood are exhibited there. It thus offers a complete panorama of the pre-Hispanic cultures of Peru, Ecuador, Central America and Mexico up to the Spanish conquest. The collection of Latin American sacred art, meanwhile, is certainly the rarest and not to be missed, with in particular the exceptional Mass of Saint Gregory, a feather painting produced using an Aztec technique in Mexico City in 1539, i.e. less than 20 years after the conquest of Cortes. It is probably one of the oldest Christian works in the New World. The museum also owns and presents other collections: European and Egyptian antiquities, regional archaeology, medieval art, decorative arts, furniture and popular traditions of Gascony, the Fine Arts collection showcasing the works of Gers painters and sculptors from 18th to 20th century.
In terms of greenery, Auch offers several pleasant spaces such as the Claude Desbons promenade, a 4 km route (8 km there and back) on the banks of the Gers, extended since 2018 by the Michel Combe promenade (7 km path) extending to the village of Preignan. To enjoy a moment in the open air, there is also the Quentin-Ortholan garden and its play areas for children or the Cuzin square.