Plenty To See And Do While In Condom! Drink Armagnac & Hang With D’Artagnan.
Yes, this French town is indeed named Condom. Yes, I chuckle every time I say or write it. Yes, I am immature. And no it has nothing to do with an actual Condom.
Condom, France is a small market town of 7000 inhabitants that you most likely have never heard of unless you have walked the pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James and stayed here for a night. Condom, a somewhat hilly town, became my home for three weeks this past May and after immersing myself in town life, I recommend you stay for a night or drop in for an afternoon visit to enjoy the amenities. Plus, there are no less than 5 French towns within a 10-25 minute drive from here, so no excuse to not want to explore the beautiful Gers Departments of South West France.
WHAT TO DO, SEE, BUY, EAT & STAY WHILE IN CONDOM
CATHEDRAL OF SAINT-PIERRE
I have been inside dozens of French churches and although they are all beautiful, not one has compared in scale and romantic beauty of the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre in Condom. From the outside it looks like any other Gothic church built during the Renaissance era, however the moment you open the large church doors and step inside, you will be stunned.
The substantial height and length of the church are felt, and the light streaming through the many stained glass windows onto the choir and ornate carvings are breathtaking. I came here often as sitting in a pew in the cold church was calming. Often I would walk through the cathedral’s adjacent cloister for a reprieve from the sun. Its unusual cloister has a concrete floor rather than the usual grass or flower garden. It was here where they held part of the Bandas Music Festival.
WALK THE BAISE RIVER
Unfortunately, there were no river activities or boat tours while I was here in May, but I often biked, ran and walked the rivers pathway at sunrise and sunset. There is a huge park where I saw men fish, families enjoy their picnic and children having fun on the playground.
Touring a museum devoted to the production of Armagnac was pretty cool. I tasted Armagnac the previous day at Chateau de Cassaigne and was excited to learn how it’s prepared. Not only were their exhibits that showcased documents, bottles, pottery and even a small cinema with a video about the history of Armagnac, but they had centuries-old distillation equipment, an 18-tonne tapper pressure, cooperage (barrels and casks) on display. While here, I signed up for a free murder mystery night for the following Saturday. It was all in French, but I thoroughly enjoyed the cast of characters who made the evening quite entertaining.
- What: The Armagnac Museum
- Where: 2, rue Jules Ferry 32100 Condom
- Hours: April – October, Monday, Wednesday – Saturdays 3.00 to 6.00 pm (closed Tuesdays, Sundays and public holidays)
- Price: Adult 2.20 €, Child 1.10 €
FLEURONES DE LOMAGNE: FRENCH PRODUCTS
Foie gras, pâté, and duck confit can be purchased at Fleurons de Lomagne. If you are against foie gras, they offer many other products – jams, preserves, cheese, and charcuterie at reasonable prices. Great for a picnic or gifts. A twenty-five-second walk from the front entrance of the church.
THE STATUE OF D’ARTAGNAN – THE 4TH MUSKETEER
A statue of The Three Musketeers and d’Artagnan is found near the side entrance of Condom Church. Erected in 2010, it honors d’Artagnan who was born in this area in 1611 and joined the Musketeers in 1632. A fictionalized account of his life was portrayed by the French author Alexandre Dumas in his popular novel, The Three Musketeers.
LE BALCON RESTAURANT
Next to the church with views of the main square, Le Balcon is a charming French Bistro serving traditional French cuisine but with a modern twist. I devoured their 25€ degustation menu of salad with duck, a rich fig foie gras ravioli for my main and a creme vanille a l’armagnac for dessert. If you can’t get a table on their balcony, make sure to step outside for a breath of fresh air as the views of Condom town are marvelous.
BANDAS MUSIC FESTIVAL
Every second weekend of May, the Bandas Music Festival inundates Condom, France. Brass and percussion bands, amusement park rides, beer stands, and drunk revelers amass the streets for 3 days of continuous partying. Everyone dresses in red and white and like me, if you wear blue, you stick out like a sore thumb, a.k.a. a tourist. LOVE IT!
HOTEL LES TROIS LYS
This charming, boutique hotel offers a refreshing pool in their back garden, a cozy cavernous bar, and a lovely terrace out front. Perfect for a glass of wine or beer on a hot summers day.