Somewhere between pacing medieval streets and standing beneath a superb Gothic cathedral, amusement over Condom’s unfortunate town name quickly turns to awe. It actually derives from the Gallo-Roman word ‘Condatomagus’, meaning a market town at a river confluence (Condom is situated where the Baïse and Gèle Rivers meet). Locals are well aware of the name’s contraceptive meaning, which elicits sniggers among English speakers; town signs are firmly nailed down, to avoid falling prey to souvenir hunters.
While the historic centre needs only a day to explore, Condom is in the midst of Armagnac country, where a potent local brandy has been produced for centuries. This mellow town is a superb base from which to visit distilleries, abbeys and historic ramparts.