The small French town of Auch is located about halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea, in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. According to the locals, this ancient capital of Gascony is a desirable destination for travelers. The area is famous for its production of Armagnac (a special type of brandy) and foie gras (goose liver pate). The medieval part of the town is perched on a hill, and overlooks the river Gers and the mountains. During our stay, we encountered few tourists and pilgrims, so, needless to say, it was rather quiet.
The Cathedral of Sainte Marie towers over the area and is visible from just about anywhere in the area. Construction began in the mid to late 1400s, and took about 200 years to complete. It has gorgeous Renaissance stained glass windows, and has been designated a Unsesco site as part of the worldwide cultural heritage. This cathedral is part of the pilgrimage route along one of the roads leading to the Camino de Santiago in Spain. When I looked at routes to Santiago de Compostela, I found twelve of them converging there.
One of the most impressive structures in Auch dates back to the 15th century. Today, it houses the Tourist Information office. Quite remarkable to think how well some buildings have held up and been maintained over centuries.
Finding good vegetarian food in the French countryside can be quite a challenge at times! Most restaurants serve meat. Lots of meat: duck, veal, rabbit. They do have salads, but not always great ones, even though they grow all these fabulous vegetables in this region. We did, however luck out and find some great tapas at a small restaurant in Auch. Walking past it, we noticed a guitar laying on a table outside. It belonged to an employee who was kind enough to let my husband strum while we waited for our food to be served. The marinated eggplant, mushrooms, peppers and fries hit the spot that day.
The weather was perfect during our stay, the people friendly and outgoing, the food and beer tasty, and the scenery unbeatable.
There is more to Auch, so stay tuned… for the next chapter …