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!