1. Broad geography
A historical area rather than an official region, ‘Gascony’ defines the territory from the tip of the Gironde département right down to the Spanish border, passing through major cities Bordeaux and Toulouse and technically covering parts of both the Nouvelle Aquitaine and Occitanie regions. As a result, it’s a highly diverse place presenting a true cross section of south France.
2. Lots to see and do
Thanks to its vast mix of terrain and landscapes, this part of southern France lends itself well to a variety of pastimes. Winter skiing is possible in the Pyrenees, which run along the France/Spain border, while there are plenty of beach resorts along the west coast for sailing and surfing. Of course, Gascony is predominantly rural, so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to places for hiking, cycling and countryside rambles.
3. Large choice of properties
Gascony’s diversity extends to its property market. You’ll find charming half-timbered homes, village houses, farmhouses and even glorious châteaux, which heavily populate the Gers. For a complete overview of the breadth of properties on sale right now, take a look at our listings in and around the area!
4. Strong local economy
Gascony possesses a strong agricultural identity. Roughly half of its employees work in agriculture and the local food and wine industry is thriving, particularly when you consider that Bordeaux is part of the fold. There are job opportunities in this sector, although as a new settler you might be better positioned to find work in tourism and hospitality or as a qualified tradesperson. As always, the stronger your French, the greater your chances of employment.
5. Breath of fresh air
Thanks to its agricultural prowess, the area boasts gorgeous vineyards, farmland and a high proportion of unspoilt countryside, creating a green paradise (peppered with glorious yellow in sunflower season). Another bonus is that there’s a lot less pollution in this neck of the woods!
6. International schools
For many expat families with children, education is one of the most important criterions of choosing where to relocate. There are several reputable international establishments across Gascony, including the International School of Béarn in Pau, the International School of Toulouse and Bordeaux International School.
7. Distinct gastronomy
Foodies will be in heaven here (at least, the meat-eating variety)! Local specialities include foie gras, magret de canard and boar. Gascony also produces some wonderful garlic, wild honey and the Agen prune, which is often paired with creamy Roquefort and other local cheeses. When it comes to drink, the Gers is home to none other than Armagnac brandy, the popular yet lesser-known cousin of Cognac. As well as being a favourite cocktail ingredient, this spicy beverage is used in cooking to introduce a new depth of flavour and richness to puddings.
8. World-famous wine tourism
Bordeaux is renowned for its eponymous wine and is a hotspot for travellers itching to witness the magic behind the scenes. Wine tastings and vineyard tours are numerous with more than 50 appellations to visit, plus the biannual Bordeaux Wine Festival and La Cité du Vin museum are equally unmissable tributes to the region’s favourite tipple. For more ideas, read our lovingly-picked list of the 12 must-see wine destinations in Bordeaux.
9. The wildlife
A utopia of flora and fauna, Gascony is home to pine and oak forests, fields of wild flowers, butterflies, boar and deer. It’s also an ideal base for birdwatchers, with buzzards, owls and woodpeckers among the local feathered residents. You might even be lucky enough to spot the rare mythological-looking bearded vulture around the Pyrenees!
10. Well-rounded seasons
Winter is brief, spring is mild and summer is warm, with an average temperature of 20°C during July and August. Gascony boasts a truly clement climate, particularly nearer the coast. Heavenly!