The town of Eauze
We are delighted that our Literature Festival in October 2020 will be taking place in the charming town of Eauze, in the areas around the main square, and we thought you may like to know a little about it if you are not familiar with the area.
Located in the heart of south-west France, 130 kilometres from the Spanish border, Eauze is a warm, friendly old town that was originally a proto-Basque city that became Roman. It was the capital of the Roman province of Novempopulania until the eighth century. Its Latin name, Elusa, is identical to that of a titular see of Palaestina Tertia, suffragan of Petra. Eauze can be found in the north-west of the Gers department of south-west France, about half way between Auch and Mont-de-Marsan.
From the 4th - 7th centuries, this site was occupied by the town of Elusa, capital of the roman region of Novempopulanie.
The weather is typical of the southwestern French climate, characterized by an oceanic influence and high temperatures in summer. The annual sunshine is around 2,000 hours. In winter, frosts can be large and reach a minimum early morning temperature of -5 ° C. On the other hand, summers are favourable to the strong heat and the proximity of the ocean accentuates the temperatures, which regularly reach 35 to 38 ° C. In spring and autumn, temperatures range from 12 to 27 ° C so you can expect your visit in October to be reasonably warm.
France This Way comments: although this area isn't a major destination with tourists, Eauze has an attractive historic centre and we recommend you make a detour to visit if you are in the region.
Almost everything of interest in Eauze is on and around the main square, where you can also visit the tourist office for a leaflet that explains the highlights in the village. The market on Thursday mornings is typically French and one of the largest in the area. As well as fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy goods, it is worth buying the local charcuterie, pates and foie gras and other souvenirs such as linens, handcrafted and wood items to take home with you. There is also a separate poultry and rabbit market which is interesting even if you are not buying the produce.
A large number of historical treasures dating back to the Roman Empire have been discovered at different excavation sites in and around Eauze. Several museums now have these treasures on display painting a great image of the ancient Elusa.
- Musée du Trésor - Archeological museum on Eauze
Some 28000 coins and 50 magnificent pieces of jewellery from the 3rd century are on display here.
- Domus de Cieutat - Archeological excavations in Eauze
This used to be the residence of an aristocrat during the Roman Empire.
- Villa de Séviac - Archeological excavations in Montréal-du-Gers
At this site large parts of a gallo-roman villa with fantastic mosaic floors have been discovered. This villa is a fine example of a beautiful mansion for aristocrats from those times.
Around the square there are some very lovely medieval houses in ‘colombage’ (timbered beams)- Eauze tourist office is in one of the most impressive of these, a building that was a cloth shop in the 15th century - as well as cafes and the church (originally a cathedral). On one edge of the square is the Maison Jeanne d'Albret, home in the 16th century to the important lords of Albret.
The Roman Catholic Church of Saint-Luperc was originally built here at the end of the 15th century but was destroyed during the Wars of Religion so the church we see today dates from the 18th century. The former cathedral is a national monument. It was the ecclesiastical seat of the former Diocese of Eauze, which was merged into the Bishopric of Auch, probably in the 9th century. The Church is dedicated to Saint Luperculus, who is said to have been a bishop here in the 3rd century before being martyred.
Make sure you go inside: it is one of the lightest most welcoming churches in the region. The stonework has all been renovated, which is very attractive even if not very authentic to the original building, and there is an attractive painting dominating the altar end of the church.
In an adjacent building you can also see the cloisters, although these are now part of a school so can only be accessed during school holidays.
North of the former cathedral you can still see a small part of the ramparts that once protected Eauze (these were mostly destroyed in 1624 under orders from Richelieu) as well as the Maison des Consuls in Rue Bistouquet, another impressive medieval ‘colombage’ house.
It is true that Eauze is in quite a remote location so most places to visit involve a bit of a journey. To the east you can visit Condom to see the cathedral and historic centre, while to the north-west you will want to visit the fortified town of Labastide d'Armagnac. After a week-end at the festival you may wish to stay in the area, enjoying the fabulous countryside, visiting various ‘Domains’ to buy the local wines, the various Armagnacs and of course the red or white ‘Floc’, a local liqueur made of Armagnac and grape juice and which can also be drunk as an aperitif.
Of course, you can also try the wines, Armagnac and aperitifs in the local cafes, so we are looking forward to welcoming you to sit a while, enjoy people watching and relaxing between the various festival events. There are numerous hotels of all classes and chambres d’hôtes in the area and we will be talking about some of these in good time for you to book.