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Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Gers

Auch - Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Gers

The historic capital of Gascony and a Great Site of Midi-Pyrénées, 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 Jacobin 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!

Additional information

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.

Things to see and do

Built between the 15th and 17th centuries, the cathedral of Sainte-Marie owes its renown to its stained glass windows, the work of Arnaud de Moles. Classified as a Historic Monument and listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on the roads to Santiago de Compostela, it highlights a flamboyant Gothic style already influenced by the Renaissance. At the end of the 17th century, a façade and a Corinthian style porch were added to the ensemble. In the choir, you can admire a set of a hundred carved oak stalls.

Listed as a Historic Monument, Auch Town Hall faces the Cathedral. Built in the second half of the 18th century, it houses an Italian theater still in operation. Inside, you can discover a room of the Illustrious who presents portraits of Gascons having marked their time.

As you walk through the town, you can also enjoy the Maison de Gascogne, a stone-decorated hall which today hosts many events, or the library that takes place in the former Carmelite convent. This medieval building includes a beautiful classic portal as well as a vaulted nave of 17th century ogives. You will not fail to admire the monumental staircase that connects the upper city with the lower city. In neoclassical style, it has three successive stages, sheltering in particular small gardens and fountains, and forms a very beautiful ensemble with the tower of Armagnac, the episcopal palace or the cathedral of Sainte-Marie. It also houses the statue of the most famous of the Cadets of Gascony, Charles de Batz, alias d'Artagnan. This staircase of the XIXth century of Italian inspiration has been classified remarkable site and inscribed in the supplementary inventory of the Historic Monuments.

Built in the 14th century, the tower of Armagnac used to serve as a prison in the palace of the archbishopric, then as a warehouse for religious archives. High forty meters, it can still be visited today.

Various religious buildings take place in the city of Auch, like the church of Saint-Pierre, the cloisters of the 14th century Cordeliers inscribed in the Historical Monuments, or the former Jesuit college. Built in the middle of the 16th century, it also has a chapel from the 17th century.

Founded at the end of the 18th century, the Jacobins Museum originally presented collections of works of art resulting from revolutionary seizures. Today it also offers a collection of pre-Columbian art which is the second in France, as well as objects dedicated to Egyptian art, local artists, and Latin American sacred art. You can also see many archaeological remains of the region.

On the green side, Auch offers several pleasant spaces such as the Claude-Desbons promenade, a four-kilometer course on the banks of the Gers, or the Quentin-Ortholan garden and its playgrounds for children.

Places of interest

Information points
Leisure centres
Natural sites
Performance halls

Events and festivities

The market is held every Thursday and Saturday morning. Every second Saturday of the month, an antique fair is offered, while the antique fair is held every year in September. A Christmas market is also organized in December.

Every first fortnight of April, Auch organizes a very lively carnival.

Welcome in Tziganie is a festival of gypsy music proposed every year in April.

The Maison de la Gascogne is home to May's Éclats de voix, a classical music festival.

Between the end of June and the beginning of July, the celebrations of Auch are the occasion to discover a fun fair.

The Independence (s) et création festival offers mid-October screenings of films and meetings with directors or other actors.

Also in October, the CIRCA festival highlights current circus arts through performances of artists from around the world.


Cathedral of Auch
Cathedral of Auch
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View of Auch with the bridge over the Gers
View of Auch with the bridge over the Gers
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Auch Cathedral from a distance
Auch Cathedral from a distance
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