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  • Countryside Natural born thriller
  • Country life Brandy, bastides and bonhomie

When it came to the natural lottery, the Gers won the biggest prize: a tapestry of colour-rich fields, shimmering shores, lush forests and fertile vineyards.

It’s unclear whether Charles de Batz-Castelmore (the real-life D’Artagnan) and his musketeers ever roared, ‘All for one and one for all’, but the Gers native definitely loved a spot of Armagnac and was a dab hand in a sword fight. The musketeers’ fighting spirit lives on, thanks to the region’s fiery liquors and Spanish influence; the swoop and showmanship of bullfights enliven the village squares, soundtracked by the clash and clatter of the bandas bands. Jazz is also part of the Gers’ cultural tapestry; Marciac’s festival is one of the world’s greatest. The département’s hotspots – Auch, Condom, Fleurance and Eauze, to name just a few – vie with each other for the title of ‘most scenic city’.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes British Airways (www.britishairways.com) and easyJet (www.easyjet.com) fly to both Toulouse and Bordeaux-Mérignac airport.
  • Trains The nearest station is Condom, 15km to the east (don’t be surprised if sniggering thieves have plucked the road signs from their rightful resting place). High-speed trains connect Toulouse and Agen with the whole of France and with the Eurostar, and TGV trains connect the Gers to Gare d’Austerlitz in Paris (+44 (0)8705 848848; www.raileurope.com).
  • Automobiles Expect dreamy driving – the roads are generally traffic- and horn-free. The A62 | A64 motorways as well as the RN 124 main road allow pretty swift access to the Gers.
  • Taxis Taxis are reasonable, and easily flagged from town centres and the main transport hubs.