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Overview

Gascony is a historical region, not a governmental one, much in the way Americans might refer to The Old South. It is therefore difficult to define, but in its broadest it reaches from the mouth of the Garonne north of Bordeaux, south to Bayonne and the Spanish border and west almost to Toulouse. At its southernmost it includes the Basque country, although historically Gascony did not include the small section called Pays Basque. This area on the Bay of Biscay, with classy Biarritz and charming little St-Jean-de-Luz, is now usually grouped with it.

Traveling in Gascony is much easier than defining it. Sparsely populated, its ...

Gascony is a historical region, not a governmental one, much in the way Americans might refer to The Old South. It is therefore difficult to define, but in its broadest it reaches from the mouth of the Garonne north of Bordeaux, south to Bayonne and the Spanish border and west almost to Toulouse. At its southernmost it includes the Basque country, although historically Gascony did not include the small section called Pays Basque. This area on the Bay of Biscay, with classy Biarritz and charming little St-Jean-de-Luz, is now usually grouped with it.

Traveling in Gascony is much easier than defining it. Sparsely populated, its lovely rolling landscapes rise to the Pyrénées, which are visible as a backdrop to its southern hills and their castellated towns. Beautiful beaches line the Atlantic coast around Biarritz, and hikers head for the trails in the Pyrénées. At the picturesque hill town of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Basque Pyrénées, several branches of the medieval pilgrims route, the Way of St. James, converge before continuing over the mountain pass and on to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. For the modern faithful, Lourdes is the goal of pilgrimages, with millions arriving each year seeking cures.

Juliette Rogers
About the Expert

Juliette Rogers is coauthor of the guidebooks Eating New England: A Food Lovers Guide to Eating Locally, Secret Providence and Newport, and two Thomas Cook guides on France.

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Juliette Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Gascony is an area of southwest France. Most definitions put Gascony east and south of Bordeaux.
  • Language: French, Gascon (vernacular, still in use in rural areas)
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, summer and fall for the interior, summer for Biarritz and St-Jean-de-Luz