Sightseeing & Culture

La Maison des Lys
Valence sur Baise

Chiambre dhote de charme

Make The Most of Your Holiday

We are here to help our guests make the best of their precious holiday time. If you are flying in to one of the five international airports that are within 2½ hours of Valance sur Baïse, we will e-mail you an itinerary to help you find us as easily as possible.

We will be pleased to tell you what we know about this delightful part of France and make recommendations about how best to enjoy its fabulous countryside.

We can provide you with planned sightseeing circuits together with background information and suggested visits. We can recommend restaurants, places to visit, suggest tours of other Bastide towns and villages, offer information about Armagnac and its vineyards, and inform you about local events, festivals and more.

We can even, for a small charge, prepare a picnic hamper for your day out.

Please let us know how we can help you get the most from your visit to the Gers.

Here are some of the places to visit in the Gers and the neighbouring department of Lot et Garonne

Châteaux, castles and monasteries

The Château de Cassaigne dates from the 13th century and was the residence of the Bishops of Condom. Highlights include the fascinating 16th century kitchen, an 18th century chai with its Armagnac ageing in oak barrels and a pleasant walk in the gardens.

Château Monluc (8 km)

The birthplace of pousse rapière the Armagnac and orange cocktail which is added to sparkling wine and drunk as an aperitif. Visit the cellars and tour the castle in St Puy which dates back to 10th century.

Château de Busca-Maniban (9 km)
Built by Thomas de Maniban in 1649 this is one of the finest 17th century Gascon châteaux with its majestic staircase, guard and armoury room, chapel, Italian room and the gardens, and taste the estate’s Armagnac made in the oldest distillery in Armagnac.

Larressingle (13 km) »
The smallest fortified mediaeval village in France dating from the 13th century with its moat, walls and château, Larressingle is often called Gers ‘petit Carcassonne’. There is a Roman church, a small museum evoking life in the Middle Ages as well as the display of mediaeval fighting machines.

Château Lavardens (20 km) »
By the 12th century Lavardens was the principal residence and stronghold of the Counts of Armagnac. Dismantled by Charles VIII after a siege in 1496, a new castle was started in 1620. This imposing building was however never completed. After the revolution it was divided between 12 families and gradually fell into disrepair. In recent years enthusiasts have begun restoration and now the château holds excellent exhibitions in the summer months.

Chateau Miramont-Latour (34 km)
13th century castle with kitchen, bread oven, cellars, invention room plus agricultural museum, pigeonier and 17th century altarpiece.
La Tour de Termes d’Armagnac (55 km)
Only the north facade and 13th century military tower of this once magnificent château built for Jean, Comte d’Armagnac, remain. Interesting museum of mediaeval Gascon life and regular spectacles are organized through the summer.

La Tour de Termes d’Armagnac (55 km) »
Only the north facade and 13th century military tower of this once magnificent château built for Jean, Comte d’Armagnac, remain. Interesting museum of mediaeval Gascon life and regular spectacles are organized through the summer.

Abbaye de Flaran »
The Abbey is the finest example of a Cistercian monastery in South West France. Dating back to 1115, the rooms and gardens are a popular attraction and occasionally hold major exhibitions. Originally serving as a Daughter-House of the Moribond Order, the Abbey figured prominently in the Hundred Years War and as a pilgrims’ halt on the road to Compostella, although its religious vocation ended with the French Revolution.

Collegiale de La Romieu (21 km) »
Built by Cardinal Arnaud d’Aux in 1312 the Collégiale Saint Pierre and its cloisters stands at the crossroads of the two major pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostella in the Gers. The cloisters, church and towers are designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Condom (8 km) »
The capital of the Ténarèze and commercial centre of the Armagnac region, Condom is an attractive town with a long history. At its heart is the gothic cathedral of St Pierre with its 16th century cloisters. Surrounding it is a large number of 18th century merchants’ houses and palaces. The main street the rue Gambetta has a selection of shops and boutiques as well as a number of delicatessens selling the finest regional produce. The tourist office offers a number of recommended walks and background leaflets are available. Boats can be hired on the river and there are regular pleasure cruises, through the locks and lunchtime dining cruises in the summer.

Auch (34 km) »
A former Gallo-Roman city, the capital of Gascony and the Gers takes pride in its vast and well-preserved architectural heritage.
The Sainte-Marie Cathedral at the heart of the old town was built between the 15th and 18th centuries with marvellous stained glass windows by Arnaud de Moles and an incredible choir sculpted with 1500 characters. The Tour d’Armagnac was the 14th century prison. Auch is the home town of d’Artagnan of Three Musketeers fame-his statue can be found on the monumental staircase with its 370 steps joining the old town and river. As do the picturesque ‘Pousterles’, the steep, narrow lanes built in the Middle Ages to fetch water.
To the left of the cathedral, the main shopping street is pedestrianised and runs along the contours of the hill. The tourist office is on the corner from where you can obtain a list of recommended walks around Auch. There are a good range of boutiques, gourmet and delicatessen shops and an array of cafes and tea houses. Turn right at the end of the street and follow the road downhill and across the river to the second shopping area where there are a number of perfumeries and an excellent book shop. Throughout the year local artisans and speciality food producers market their wares in the Maison de Gascogne, the former 19th century market square.

Eauze (26 km)
The drive to Eauze passes through numerous vineyards and there are signposts to domains, where you can taste and buy the local wines. The best day to visit Eauze is Thursday when there is one of the best markets in the region-fabulous vegetables, plants and flowers, cheeses and spices, tablecloths and quilts, musical instruments and more. Founded by the Romans as Elusa, the fantastic Treasure of Eauze was unearthed on the site of the old city and is on display in the town’s archeological museum. Eauze is also the centre of Bas Armagnac which has the reputation of producing the finest of these eaux de vie, smooth and with a fine ‘nose’ of prunes. Eauze was also an important stop on the ‘Rue St Jacques’ and the Cathedral of St Luperc dominates the town.

Fleurance (25 km) »
An ancient Bastide town with its unique main square at the centre of which lies La Halle, an imposing vaulted market place supported by stone pillars. There have been three similar market places on this site, the last built in 19th century and supporting the town hall and representing the strength of civil power over the church. The statue fountains in the corners represent the four seasons. The gothic-styled Saint Laurent church was founded in 13th century and is almost built to cathedral proportions with a fine organ and stained glass windows in Renaissance style.

Lectoure (25 km) »
Sitting astride a hilltop with commanding views over the Gers countryside it is easy to see why Lectoure started as a Gallo-Roman city and became the military stronghold of the Counts of Armagnac. In the Middle Ages they built the 2.7 km of ramparts and fortifications, the impressive cathedral and religious buildings and mansions, which constitute a rich architectural legacy and give Lectoure its reputation as a town of art and culture. It possesses one of the oldest museums in France, housed in the cellars of the Bishop’s Palace with a unique collection of ritualistic paraphernalia depicting ancient bull sacrifices. The thermal springs have given rise to the development of an impressive new health and spa centre. Lectoure is proud of its gastronomy. The Hôtel de Bastard is considered to have one of the finest kitchens in the Gers. In addition, the region’s melons are considered the best for sweetness and taste and each year, during la Fête du Melon, 2,500 people are fed in the streets.

Vic Fezensac (20 km) »
The seemingly sleepy market town of Vic Fezensac has a reputation for throwing some of the best parties in France. Its festivals are legendary, the Pentecost bullfights and ‘courses landaises’ with bandas music and dancing, the Latin American music festival, Vic’s summer night markets and more. It’s a town of Armagnacs, wines and flocs, fine Gascon fare and a warm friendly welcome.

Mirande (45 km)
A 13th century ‘bastide’ on the pilgrims’ route to Santiago de Compostella. Built in the first years of the 15th century, its cathedral sits beside the pilgrims’ route which passes through a fine gateway adjacent to the bell tower. Mirande’s museum, one of the most important in Gascony, features collections of 17th, 18th, and 19th century paintings and decorative faience. Mirande hosts the annual country and western festival in July.

Nérac (30 km) »
In the neighbouring department of Lot et Garonne, Nérac too was a Gallo Roman city, but it really flourished during the second half of the 16th century when Marguerite of Angeloume, Jean d’Albret and then his son Henri of Navarre, the future King Henri IV who was to unite France after the Holy Wars, set up court here. The château overlooking the River Baïse became an intellectual centre visited by writers, poets, and musicians, as well as a political capital with diplomats and knights. The château and the Church of Saint Nicolas should be visited. A visit to the Saturday market is recommended, followed by a stroll through the Parc de Garenne and the Jardins de Roy. Enjoy a lunch at the old port where there are a number of restaurants with sunny terraces beside the river.

Agen (48 km) »
The department capital of the Lot et Garonne, Agen lies alongside the River Garonne approximately halfway between Bordeaux and Toulouse. It has an excellent shopping centre, a number of good restaurants and some interesting sights like the canal bridge, the Gravier – the promenade beside the river with its fine houses – and the Bishop’s Palace, now the Préfecture and Agen Fine Arts Museum. Agen Rugby Club is one of France ‘s most successful teams. On the outskirts the Walibi amusement park has great rides and attractions.

Some other bastides and villages
Montréal du Gers (21 km) »
Built atop an ancient hill-fort, Montréal is one of Gascony ‘s earliest bastides. Among the many well-preserved sites of architectural interest are a lovely 13th century church aligned with the ramparts of the village, an arcaded square, and picturesque lanes. Just outside the town, at Séviac, is the largest and most luxurious Gallo-Roman villa (4th century) in South West France.

Fourcés (20 km) »
This unique bastide was erected by the brother of Saint-Louis, King of France, and built with a circular marketplace. Very pretty with its colombages (half-timbered) houses, mediaeval castle, clock tower, little museum, antique shops and a cafe and restaurant offering vegetarian dishes. The château is the place to treat yourself to a special lunch.

Jegun (18 km) »
The original settlement was based on the founding of the church of Sainte Candide in the 11th century. The bastide to the west of the church was begun in 1180 by Bernard IV, Count of Armagnac, and consists of four parallel streets enclosed by a wall (now destroyed) with four gates. The annual carnival and masked ball at the end of March/early April and the wine fair in August are the villages premier events.

Castera Verduzan (9 km) »
Just a small village (population 846) but with an enormous array of leisure facilities – thermal baths and treatment centre, parks and gardens, a swimming lake, horse-racing track, restaurants and a casino.

Ordan-Larroque (28 km) »
This ancient castelnau, perched on a rocky spur overlooking the Gers countryside, is a magical village. In the ‘belle saison’ its magnificent floral displays must make it the most floral village in the Midi-Pyrénées. Founded in Roman times, Ordan Larroque has a tranquil air-stroll through the narrow streets discovering the heritage f the buildings and the well-preserved ancienthouses. There is a small archeological museum and the Lou Kinou restaurant is a good lunch stop.

Blaziert (15 km) »
A typical Gersois village standing on a hill overlooking the valley of the Auvignon. Fortified during the Hundred Years War with a 13th century church, it has a long but generally peaceful history. A ‘four flower’ village fleuri it is a delight to wander around during the summer months with its scented walks and flower-lined streets.

Museums and exhibitions
Séviac Gallo-Roman Villa – Montréal
Archeological museum – Lectoure
Bleu de Pastel (The story of woad) – Lectoure
Ecomuseum of Gascon Life – Toujon
The Treasure of Eauze
Jazz Museum – Marciac
Fine Arts Museum – Mirande
D’Artagnan Museum – Lupiac
Jacobin Museum – Auch Armagnac Museum – Condom
Museum of the Preservatif (June – September) – Condom
Musée d’Art Naïf – Château d’Ensoulès Bérault – an excellent original collection of naïve art from around the world.
The City of Space – Toulouse
The Airbus Plant – Toulouse


Les Jardins de Coursiana, La Romieu »

Created in 1974, the gardens house over 700 well-labelled species of trees and shrubs as well as the recently opened medicinal and aromatic plant garden.

Le Jardin Carnivore, Peyrusse-Massas »

An interesting display of carnivorous herbs and plants.

Travelling Futher Afield

There are an enormous number of places of interest within a 3 hour drive of Valence sur Baïse; here are just a few ideas for a full day out with the approximate driving times.

Towns and Cities
Albi (2hr 20) »
Ancient centre of the Cathar heresy – sites to see include Ste Cecile Cathedral, the world’s largest brick building, the cloisters of St Salvy, the Berbie palace and gardens, the old bridge and mills by the Tarn, the Lapérouse and Toulouse-Lautrec museums.

Bayonne (2hr 30) »
Home of the bayonet and Bayonne ham -cathedral city with cloisters, ramparts, ancient half timbered houses, canals, good Basque museum and still important port.

Bordeaux (1hr 50) »
Straddling the River Garonne, historic Bordeaux derives its wealth from the wine trade which funded its numerous important buildings like the cathedral and basilicas. Good shopping around the place des Grands Hommes, excellent restaurants and wine bars.

Cahors (2hrs 15) »
Capital of Quercy, built on a meander on the River Lot, still retains numerous buildings from its rich past including the impressive Pont Valentré and a medieval maze of alleys and lanes with merchants houses and St Etienne cathedral. Known for its intense ‘black’ wines, truffles and walnuts.

Carcassonne (2hr 50) »
Magnificent walled city since early times its fortifications have been manned through the centuries by Romans, Gauls, Visigoths, Arabs, Cathars, Crusaders and Charlemagne. Totally restored in the 19th century it is perhaps the finest remaining example of a fortified medieval town.

Gaillac (2hrs 10) »
1,000 year old wine city on the banks of the Tarn, see St Michel Abbey, les Quais St Jacques, the medieval heart at the Place Thiers and Place aux Arcades with its 16th century fountain and stroll the Parc Foucaud, 5 hectares of French and Italianate gardens beside the river.

Pau (2hrs) »
Capital of the Béarn, birthplace of Henri IV, whose castle stands at one end of the Boulevard des Pyrénees which has great views of the mountains. Popularised by the British aristocracy in the early 19th century who built impressive villas and numerous parks and gardens. Visit the Musée de Beaux Arts and enjoy the good range of shops and restaurants.

Toulouse (1hr 45) »
Centre of the European Space and aeronautics industry, home to Airbus and Space city. Known as the pink city for the way its buildings light up with the setting sun. The Eglise de Jacobins, the Cathedral and the Pont Neuf across the Garonne should not be missed. Browse the daily market in the huge Place du Capitole lined with cafes and restaurants.

Villeneuve sur Lot (1hr 20) »
Founded in 1264, Villeneuve was one of the largest and most powerful bastides in the South West. Numerous medieval passageways, half timbered houses.

The Atlantic Coast
For a day at the seaside choose one of the many Atlantic coast resorts that run fro the Garonne to the Spanish border, here are a few ideas:

Arcachon (2hr30) »
Traditional resort set in huge sheltered bay renowned for its oysters.

Lacanau (2hr 45) »
Surf city France, lively resort with plenty of sporting options.

Mimizan Plage (2hr 45) »
Pine forest backed resort popular with families.

Moliets Plage (2hr 40) »
Attractive resort, long sand beach backed by dunes, golf etc

Vieux-Boucau (2hr 35) »
Modern large resort joined with Port d’Albret

Capbreton (2hr25) »
Busy fishing port, attractive yachting harbour and big sandy beach with ample surfing opportunities.

Biarritz (2hr 45) »
Classic seaside town with elegant 19th century hotels, big main beach and smaller coves, surfing, shopping & coastal walks.

St Jean de Luz (2hr 45) »
Our favourite Basque resort, lovely beach, large pedestrian area with good shops and restaurants.

San Sebastian (3hr) »
Cross the border into Spain and the heart of the Basque country, good beach, busy market, and great old town with the best tapas bars in Spain.

The Pyrenees
Spend a day in the mountains, spectacular scenery, fresh mountain air, forests, mountain pastures, sleepy villages and one of France’s most visited towns.

Lourdes (1hr 45) »

Lourdes was just a small market town when on 11 February 1858 Bernadette ‘met’ the lady that changed it forever. Today 5 million visitors a year visit Lourdes from all around the world. See the grotto and basilica, numerous museums, very commercialised.

Pyrenees National Park (2hr) »

Arreau marks the north east corner of this spectacular park stretching 100 km west to east. The Néouvielle Nature Reserve in the Aure valley is a place to see, take the spectacular scenic Route des Lacs (D929) after St-Lary.

Spanish Pyrenees »

Nearest town across the border is Vielha (2hr 40), an attractive spot with a fair range of shops, sitting in the Aran Valley at the base of the Baqueira skiing area.