The Cathédrale Ste-Marie at Auch (a 20-minute drive away) is a UNESCO world heritage site containing two spectacular works of art; the Arnaut de Moles stained glass windows and the 113 carved oak choir stalls. South of the cathedral, you can wander through the narrow streets of the Quartier du Caillou, the oldest part of town leading down to the River Gers. There are plenty of shops and restaurants around the cathedral square.

To the north of Laouarde, you will find the pretty bastide (fortified) town of Montréal and at the foot of the hill, the Roman villa of Séviac, with its beautifully preserved mosaics. Not far away is the impressive medieval stronghold at Larressingle and the lovely village of Fourcès, the region’s only circular bastide. At nearby Valance-sur-Baïse you can visit the Abbaye de Flaran, a 12th century Cistercian monastery, now run as a cultural centre.

To the North East, driving through the most beautiful countryside, lie the extraordinary hilltop chateau at Lavardens, which is open to the public and holds regular exhibitions and the ancient bastides of Fleurance, which has one of the region’s best markets, and Lectoure.

For those wishing to take trips further afield, the beautiful beaches of France’s Atlantic coast, the breathtaking scenery of the Pyrenees and the wonderful architecture of the ‘rose’ city of Toulouse, with its lively cultural and commercial scene, are all no more than 2 hours away.

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