33 Bvd St Jacques
Good friendly little place.
0900 to 1200 and 1400 to 1900 Monday to Saturday.
Closed Monday and Saturday mornings as well.
Outside these hours there is a public access internet PC at the bar at the Bastillon in Lectoure.
Cross over the bridge and pass the roundabout, forking to the left. On the left is now a huge dyke that obscures the view of the river from the road. The Hotel Continental on the right is one of the longest established hotels in Condom, but many older people apparently will not eat there (despite having an excellent restaurant) for the Continental was the offices of the Gestapo during the Second World War. On the right further along is the very friendly Café de Theatre, with an excellent wine shop two doors further along.
At the junction, the church dates back to the 13th Century, having started life as one of the ‘hopitals’ on the Route de Santiago de Compostelle; the hopital was destroyed by a flood in 1769 and then rebuilt. It always seems to be locked.
Turn right just before crossing the bridge (the Pont des Carmes) and follow the footpath alongside the Baise. We have long admired the single cottage which gazes down the river towards the port. The footpath arrives alongside another church after a few minutes, the active parish church of St Jacques with its simple lines. Walk all around the church to return to the Pont des Carmes along the Rue de la Republique. This is a diverse and friendly part of town with many of the businesses owned by immigrants from North Africa. Where the street is joined on the left by the Rue de la Honlade, head up one of the many little alleys on the north side of the street. There are many beautiful collombage buildings in this area, many of them set off in the summer by pots of geraniums, petunias and bougainvillea. Finally walk the 50 metres back to the Pont des Carmes, cross over it and head back up the slope to the town centre. If you are really taken with Condom, there is an estate agent now just across the bridge! The best way back into town is to turn left at the pharmacist and up the Rue Rocques, admiring the succession of 18th Century hotels lining the left hand side of the street, although some are in a fairly poor state of repair these days.
Most visitors wander around the cathedral and a few make it around the three routes prepared by the Tourism Bureau. Hardly any make it across to the newer part of the town on the left (west) bank of the Baise, which is a pity as this is an interesting part of the town that gives a better feel for the real Gers life, with some remarkably pretty buildings and some nice views of the town. Even though it is newer, it is still a very, very old area with many houses more than 400 years old.
Start at the Pont de Bartet, the lower (northerly) of the two bridges (go down the hill from the cathedral and turn right at the river). The Baise tumbles ferociously over a weir here, and a canal has been excavated for a kilometre. Photographs in a number of books show the mill – now empty – marooned by floodwaters. Although more tamed than in the past, the Baise still has a habit of flooding; unlike many rivers in the Gers, there are no upstream hydroelectric schemes to control the river levels. Looking south from the bridge, the warehouses on the left are still mainly warehouses for the Armagnac trade – their original function – and the loading bays are under the roadway at river level. These days, armagnac is transported by road rather than by boat, which was the reason so much effort was put into making the Baise navigable. Today, boats can reach Valence-sur-Baise, south of Condom. In earlier times, it was possible to head even further south and even today there is a legacy of industry along the river bank at villages like St-Jean-Poutge.