Quaint Auch (rhymes with ‘gauche’) is a tangle of narrow lanes and half-timbered houses, with architectural treasures that hint at its former glory. Capital of the Gers département, named for the river sloshing through the Hautes Pyrénées, Auch was formerly a seat of power for Armagnac’s counts.
One monument to Auch's stately past and strategic importance is the 40m Tour d'Armagnac, a 14th-century tower and former prison. Nearby, Cathédrale Ste-Marie, the region's prettiest church outside Toulouse, encompasses a whirl of architectural styles. Auch's snug historic centre, dotted with Gascon restaurants and easy-going bars, is an agreeable day trip and an ideal way station between Toulouse and the west coast of France.