Station de Tourisme, Spa Resort
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Lectoure, population just over 4000, is one of the oldest towns in the Gers department and the capital of Lomagne historical region. Lectoure’s nowadays location has been inhabited since Gallo-Roman times but it is during the barbarian invasions of the first half of the first millennium of the Christian era the town surrounded itself with fortified walls.
During the high times of the Pilgrimage to Saint James de Compostela Lectoure was a stop on the Via Podiensis, one of the three major French branches of the Ways of St. James(still is to for the present-day pilgrims).
Throughout the Hundred Years Wars Lectoure was temporary under English domination – it is during this time that its Saint Gervais Cathedral with its 45 meters (147 feet) high bell tower construction was started - and even King Edward I of England visited the town in 1273.
In 1473 the town is recaptured by the French troupes and re-attached together with the whole region to the French crown during the reign of Louis XI.
During the religious wars the Lectoure was the theatre of the fights between the Protestants and the Catholics and besieged in 1562 by the Catholics lead by Blaise de Monluc – a marshal of French army that was actually born in the region.
During the 17th century Lectoure was visited by the personalities like Richelieu, the Queen Anne of Austria (who visited the town 2 times in 1632 and 1659) and even by King Louis XIV (in 1659). Lectoure houses even now a Carmelite convent established here in 1623. It is a more piquant story that shuck up the Lecture society of the 19th century. It is the tale of a “demi-mondaine” called Aurélie Soubiran whose father Paul Soubiran was born and lived for a time in Lectour but left behind him an unsavory reputation (Aurélie was not actually born in Lectoure, but she inherited her father Lectoure properties). Aurélie - who was in fact excellently educated and was a writer in her own right – goes to make an excellent – and by love - marriage with the Romanian Prince Grigore Ghica who unfortunately dies young leaving his widow a young rich heiress.
At the time of her widowhood Aurélie decides to return to Lecture but realizes that the doors of the town’s good society are closing in her face. It will take time for this attitude to change but the story has a happy ending and Aurélie manages to integrate herself in the Lectoure society. She dies in here in 1904 and is buried in the local cemetery.
Nowadays Lectoure is known mostly for its thermal spa housed in the former residence of the counts of Armagnac.
Little nice town, good restaurants with the view of Gers river valley