Guide to Gascony

The Southern Gers Region

The southern Gers region in the Midi-Pyrenees is the France of many people’s imaginations; sunflowers and gently rolling hills, medieval bastide towns and classic French farmhouses, vineyards and typical French country restaurants, rivers and lakes, castles and historic villages all of which is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Pyrénées mountains.

The Gers, named after the river, is also still often called by its rather more romantic name of Gascony despite the fact that Gascony hasn’t officially existed since 1789. This refers to ancient territories to the west of Toulouse which were renamed after the French revolution. Situated midway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, southern Gascony is one of France’s most tranquil and unspoilt regions with breathtaking views and a relaxed pace of life, often referred to as the Tuscany of France, without motorways, traffic congestion or pollution from industry.

Access to the region however is easy; most of Southern Gascony is within an hour to an hour and a half of Toulouse and a new motorway in neighbouring departments, linking Bordeaux with Pau (Pyrenees Atlantiques) has opened up the area further as has the arrival of low-cost carriers serving Biarritz, Tarbes/Lourdes and Toulouse airports.

The climate is generally mild, with summer temperatures not as excessively hot as in the Mediterranean area, long Indian summers extending well into October and plenty of winter sun. Winters are generally mild and you’ll usually only find snow closer to the mountains.

The property market

The Gers is one of the least populated departments in France and, as a result, property prices have remained stable and affordable. Moreover, this is a part of France which is known for its beautiful stone houses in traditional French style and pretty Bastide villages. The southern Gers offers particularly good value for money and is less developed than the northern part of the region.

Types of Property in the region

The Gers is home to many architectural styles, influenced by the region’s history and its economic activity and this history is reflected in the names, hence Castelnau (houses gathering around a castle to be protected), Sauveté (rural village being an asylum/ protected by the Church) or Bastide (fortified villages).

In terms of materials used in the construction of properties; to the south, river stones are much used to build houses, to the east the architecture is more likely to be farmhouses built from local earth bricks. In the northern part of the department, sandstone is used, whereas to the west, pretty half-timbered properties are a common sight. There are also a huge variety of property styles. Some of the most recognized are:


The Gers has the highest number of Châteaux of any department in France. Early examples were primarily defensive while later examples, from the 16th Century onwards, were built more for comfort and as a sign of wealth. Many of these Châteaux change hands in the region for a fraction of the price of those in other parts of France so, here at least, making your home your castle really is possible.

Maisons de Maître and Manoirs

Maisons de Maître and the typical elegant Manoirs of this region are grand residences usually dating from the 18th and 19th century but designed on a more intimate scale than the Chateaux, often for landowners who lived from agricultural rents. Most are very symmetrical with a grand entrance and hallway, a beautiful wooden staircase, high ceilings and lots of huge windows with either exterior or interior shutters.

The Typical Gers Farmhouse

The Gers is famous for its L and U shaped farmhouses constructed around a central courtyard;  often the outbuildings and barns are larger than the house itself. They are usually built with thick walls and huge timbers, facing south with their backs to the worst weather and hence make excellent conversions for those looking to extend the living accommodation and make the most of the protected situation and usually great views.

Town and village houses

These are often of substantial size, in the style of manor houses or farm houses, often with lovely hidden gardens and are usually very good value. For those looking for a safe place to live within a local community, there are ample lovely villages to choose from and these properties make perfect holiday homes.

See also our guides to Ariège and Haute-Garonne