Few cities in France can compare with Auch for its gentle charm, its simple elegance and its laid-back attitude to life. In a recent newspaper interview, an international rugby player was asked why he stayed in Auch rather than moving to seek fame at a bigger club in a bigger city: he explained that it was because nowhere else is life so perfect.
The city has been settledsince the early Vascon tribes settled on the river banks, and then later moved to the upper slopes, high above the River Gers. Today, the old town - formerly fortified - looks over the city below. The cathedral sits on a rocky bluff, surrounded by the narrow streets, cafes and old-style shops.
The real treasure of Auch is the cathedral, one of the last Gothic churches to be constructed, and home to two marvels: Arnaud de Moles series of stained glass windows and the wooden carved choir stalls. The former is one of the best free shows in France and the latter one of the best at E1.50!
To the south of the cathedral is the oldest part of the city, extremely narrow streets and tightly packed houses - and the last remaining fortified gateway. To the north the quarter is newer but still feels medieval, and the area is full of good restaurants and cafes (despite what the 2007 Guide Routard may say).
Auch is a town of good food, good walks, good architecture and several excellent museums. There are more exciting cities - possibly most, in fact - but few are so welcoming and relaxing as Auch.