Mission ‘Pousterles’

A few weeks ago, Anne reciprocated my visit to Paris and came all the way to Auch to bask in my company and some French country charm.

Seven plus hours on trains and in train stations—that’s what I call dedicated friendship.

We visited Auch’s standard sites: the Saturday morning market, la cathédrale, l’escalier monumental, la cimetière, my schools, LIDL (that miserable discount grocery store I love to hate), etc.

And then we undertook “Mission Pousterles.

Les Pousterles

Les Pousterles: Medieval alleyways that led into the walled city and permitted those residing on the hill to access the river, which used to flow in closer proximity. There are five pousterles. They have all retained their tiered stairs, except for the largest: la Vieille Pousterle.”

After learning last summer that I’d be spending seven months in Auch, I did as much research as I could about the ancient capital of Gascony. I scoured the Wikipedia article, Auch’s tourism website, and the city’s official website, among other credible sources.

That’s when I learned about the pousterles.

After stumbling upon one my first weekend in town, I decided that one day I would seek out and find them all.

Saturday, March 23 was that day.

Anne and I began our quest at that first pousterle I’d found way back in October, la Pousterle de l’Est. 

We started at the bottom by the river and decided our best bet for finding the others would be to climb it. Gulp.

Gulp, La Pousterle de l'Est, Auch

On the ascent

We arrived at the top—sweaty, out of breath, and eager for more—and were met by a pleasant surprise. La Pousterle de l’Est joins the Vieille Pousterle (which over the years has lost its terraced steps and nowadays exists as a very steep road).

Intersection of pousterles

From the Vieille Pousterle, we traveled west along rue de la Convention from which branch pousterles three and four—la Pousterle des Couloumats and la Pousterle de las Oumett0s.

The former derives its name from the Gascon word for pigeon.

Pousterle des Couloumats, Auch

Pousterle des Couloumats, Auch

The latter (named for the Gascon word for elm trees) features several maisons à colombages—those picturesquely medieval, wood-beam-laced houses. And one of them just so happens to be for sale! (Twenty-third birthday present, anyone?)

Pousterle de las Oumettos, Auch

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A vendre!

And then there was one.

During my six months in Auch, I had already encountered the first four (though I hadn’t realized the Vieille Pousterle was indeed a pousterle until this specific day). But the fifth and final pousterle had long eluded me.

A gut instinct inspired me to poke around an until-that-point-unexplored corner, and BAM: la Pousterle de Paris. 

Pousterle de Paris, Auch

Pousterle de Paris, Auch

And just like that, I had conquered the pousterles.

Fitting, too that it was with Anne that I would find la Pousterle de Paris, as she’s quasi-Parisian these days.

__________

Click here for Anne’s take on her visit to the Midi-Pyrénées.

And click here for more photos.

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3 comments

  1. Jamie · · Reply

    Wow, I remember coming upon a few of those narrow STEEP stairways when I was there, and just – backing – s l o w l y – away! I can’t believe you “did” them all! Good for you.

    1. Technically we only climbed the first one. The other ones we either ventured part-way down or just gawked at. But we FOUND them all, so the quest was successful.

  2. […] Pousterle de l’est, an old medieval alleyway […]

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