The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 25

In this issue, visit France from home - Gascony, and Provence, fabulous day trips from Paris, captivating Toulouse and charming Northern France. Recipes, guides and a whole heap more to entertain and inspire...

Auch Auch, the capital

Auch Auch, the capital city of the Gers, was the birthplace of the musketeer D’Artagnan, made famous by Alexander Dumas in The Three Musketeers, immortalised on film and still a symbol of loyalty, military prowess and honour. You’ll find his statue on the Grand Escaliers, the monumental limestone staircase which links the lower and upper towns. At the top of the stairs is the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. On the Route of St James, it was the last stop before the Pyrénées for pilgrims on their way to Spain. Building began in the Gothic style in 1489 and continued until 1678 by which time more of a Renaissance style took over. The stained glass windows created in the 1500s are extraordinary. Designed by Arnaut de Moles (born around 1465), these are not your average religious windows but feature unusual topics such as the Greek Sybilles who are shown presenting the coming of Christ – and even more unusually there are naked bodies galore. The colours are pure and fresh, vibrant as the day they were made with glass from Paris, transported by horse and cart, each pane of glass sealed in wax to prevent breakage. Unusually there are two organs in the cathedral, the original enormous organ was built in 1694. A smaller organ takes centre stage. Donated by Napoleon III as thanks for the Archbishop being his wife’s confessor in Paris. The locals say it’s hard to say no to the gift of an emperor even though they prefer the original.

Top right: 14th century Armagnac Tower, above: Auch Cathedral, right: statue of D'Artagnan, Grand Escaliers Never finished, there are no saints on the facade of the church, but head into the choir for a sight you’re unlikely to see in any other church. The originally reserved for religious members only room full of carved wooden images features amongst the many saints, some rather nubile young women, a man with a bare bottom and other rather worldly sights. It was, says our guide, “because the monks who worked here, wanted to keep it real, to understand their flock, not idealise life but accept it for what it was...” It is an incredible piece of work and worth the couple of euros entry fee to see it. It's a pleasant city to wander, plenty of shops, bars and restaurants and winding little streets with quirky old houses.

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