At the crossroads of the Garonne, Gers and the Pyrenees, trace the history of western Occitanie over one week. Toulouse, Auch, Lourdes will never run out of secrets to pass to visitors. Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges and Rieux-Volvestre offer walks in inviting mountain settings covered with greenery.
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Toulouse (centre)Toulouse (centre)
Toulouse, the Ville Rose. Behind its colourful façades hides a multitude of acrhitectural treasures, both civil and religious. Visit Saint-Etienne Cathedral which perfectly blends the gothic styles of the North and South. Head down to Rue Croix Baragnon, lined with luxury shops, as far as Rue Tolosane and its XVII century manasions with their wrought iron balconies. Admire the district of Place Mage and the Hôtel du Vieux Raisin as well as the tympan coloured church of la Dalbade, crossing the Jardins Royal, along the canal du Midi, returning to the banks of the Garonne to visit the medieval Notre-Dame de la Daurade basilica and its Black Madonna. Take in the view of the river from the Pont-Neuf. Spend the evening on the lively terraces of the old quarter after passing through the unmissable Place du Capitole.
Leave Toulouse for a day in Auch and its surrounding area. Auch, the capital of Gascony, is an old Roman city that is reflected elegantly in the Gers, dominated by Sainte-Marie cathedral with its renaissance stained glass windows and Armagnac Tower. Stroll through the city to explore its treasures of southern architecture, as well as its gardens, Cordeliers Convent and its Cathedral Treasury and Jacobins Museums.
In the morning, head back to the Vallée de la Baïse and the twelfth century Cistercian abbey of Flaran, successfully restored by the departement of Gers. Don’t leave Armagnac without tasting the famous drink to which it gave its name in one of the cellars around Condom. You can leave the wheel for a relaxing afternoon alongside the Baise, before heading to Lourdes for the evening.
Spend the day in Lourdes discovering the mysteries of the town of Bernadette Soubirous. A famous pilgrimage site, Lourdes is dotted with buildings and religious sites dedicated to the memory of the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes to the young shepherdess. Discover the Grotto of Massabielle, the crypt, the Basilicas of Rosaire and the Immaculate Conception, as well as the many places that mark the life of the saint. While strolling through the streets of this medieval town, pay a visit to its fortified eleventh century chateau.
Leave the town of apparitions and head towards Saint-Bertrand de Comminges. You will see the imposing cathedral which dominates the village against the background of Piedmont mountains from a distance. From there, you can also discover the remains of the Roman passage on this site. Enjoy an afternoon hiking in the countryside in the Valley of Ourse.
On your way to Rieux-Volvestre, take a detour by Lake Bethmale, an idyllic setting that can be reached by just a short walk short walk that you can choose to extend for visual pleasure and to stretch your legs. At the end of the afternoon you will arrive in Rieux-Volvestre, a charming town with narrow streets lined with half-timbered houses, which is rightfully proud of its magnificent pink brick tower. Bathed in the Arize, this small town offers the chance to visit its beautiful cathedral, its episcopal palace and its treasury preserved in the sacristy of the Canons.
Enjoy a last day of walking, in the heights of Rieux-Volvestre, before heading to Toulouse to complete your visit.
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