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Ossau-Iraty Urrugne Lourdes is nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, in the department of the Haute-Pyrenees. For 159 years, millions of the faithful from all over the world have flocked to Lourdes, where, it is said, the sick can be healed miraculously. Marciac – This 13th century bastide village boats the tallest church steeple in the Gers, standing at an impressive 293 ft. Since 1978, the Jazz in Marciac festival has hosted internationally renowned musicians and singers from Wynton Marsalis to Norah Jones. Nérac – Built on a Gallo-Roman villa along both banks of the Baïse River, Nérac prospered as the favorite summer residence of King Henri IV, the most beloved king of France. The remains of his impressive chateau, are now a museum. Its Saturday market is the best in the Lot-et-Garonne department. Nerac Ossau-Iraty goats cheese. Goats were first introduced to Southwest France in the 8th century. Pousse Rapier is a liquor made from wellguarded recipes containing a base of 24% eau de vie, steeped and flavored with orange peel, lemon peel, vanilla and sugar. Quiteria – Saint Quitterie – was a young girl of noble Visigoth blood, who preferred to die rather than deny her faith. According to a medieval manuscript from the 12th century, she was decapitated around 477. Legend says she carried her head in her hands to the pagan sanctuary of Mas d’Aire (now a fountain) above the church which bears her name in the village of Aire-sur-l’Adour. Ravel – Maurice Ravel was a 19th and early 20th century French composer of classical music. His best known works are Bolero and Daphne and Chloé. He was born in the Basque town of Ciboure, France, just across the bridge from the fishing village of St. Jean de Luz. Séviac – one of the largest Gallo-Roman archeological sites in Gascony includes a classic villa dating from the 2nd century, complete with a thermal bath complex, and beautiful, multi-colored mosaics. Terraube – a medieval village that once belonged entirely to Hector de Galard, a renowned warrior during the Hundred Year’s War. His face is represented as the Jack of Diamonds in the French pack of playing cards. Urrugne is a beautifully preserved Pays Basque village which stretches from the ocean along the beautiful Basque Corniche to the first mountains of the Pyrenees. Villa Arnega is in the Pays Basque village of Cambo-les-Bains, and was the home to Edmund Rostand, dramatist of the play, Cyrano de Bergerac. Villa Arnega Woad is a plant in the mustard family native to parts of Asia and Europe, whose leaves have been used since antiquity to produce a “pastel” blue dye. Pastel dye was the only source of blue available until the late 16th century. Blue dyed fabrics became a luxury and many fortunes were made in its cultivation and production, particularly in and around the towns of Toulouse and Albi. When trade routes to the Indies opened, indigo dye extracted from another species of plant, was imported. Both Pastel and Indigo industries declined with the invention of synthetic blue dye. Denise Woad and Henri Lambert of Bleu de Lectoure, in the Gers department, are credited with rediscovering the wonders of the woad plant. Xaintrailles is located on the old Roman road of the Ténarèze (linking Bordeaux to the central Pyrenees). Once home to Poton de Xaintrailles, Marshall of France and companion of Joan of Arc. He left to the village his 12th century castle, which is now open to the public for guided tours. Yquem – a magnificent 16th century chateau wine estate which once belonged to the King of England. Zut alors! I could not find a place, person or word associated with Gascony that begins with a “z”, hence zut alors, which translates, appropriately, to “darn”! Yquem 56 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 57
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