Armagnac, like its more famous sister Cognac, is also produced in the southwest of France. However, most people are not aware that this region, located less than two hours’ drive from Bordeaux, is one of the gems of the region, priding itself with charming medieval villages ancient chateaux, and family-owned distilleries. this beautiful region. Bas Armagnac (the lower Armagnac) is located in the heart of the Landes department, about 120 km to the southwest from Bordeaux, which makes it a perfect day trip. In this article, you will discover the best things to do in the Bas Armagnac area in the Landes department. I’ll take you to the most beautiful villages in Armagnac, help you find distilleries to visit, and suggest the perfect day trip to the Landes. Let’s start!
Armagnac is actually produced in three different departments in the southwest of France: Les Landes, Gers, and Lot et Garonne, representing a large part of the old Gascony. The whole 15,000 hectares region is divided into three producing districts: Bas-Armagnac, Armagnac-Ténarèze, and Haut-Armagnac, each with their appellations and methods of production. I’m not going to dwell on the details of how Armagnac is made as I’m not an expert, that is something you will learn by visiting one of the distilleries I write about in this article. What I will talk about is how to have an amazing day visiting Armagnac. For the sake of this article, I focused only on the Bas Armagnac district which is the closest one to Bordeaux (or Bayonne for those coming from the Basque country). Armagnac-Ténarèze and Haut-Armagnac are equally beautiful and interesting to visit for those who have more time.
If you need more information about traveling in these regions or any other part of the southwest join my group “Travel in the southwest of France” on Facebook. You can find plenty of other ideas for day trips from Bordeaux in my article about the best day trips from Bordeaux.
Visit the beautiful villages of Landes d’Armagnac
La Bastide d’Armagnac
La Bastide d’Armagnac is a classic bastide town with a central arched square (Place Royal) that was built at the end of the 13th century by the Count of Armagnac, Bernard VI. This is one of the more lively villages in this part of the Landes department. In the main square, you’ll find several restaurants and coffee places as well as an Armagnac shop so if you don’t have time to visit a distillery, this is a good place for tastings. The main square is surrounded by many narrow streets with old wooden houses, most of which are the original houses, adding to the authenticity of the village.
Apart from the beautiful center, there are a few things to do around La Bastide d’Armagnac. When visiting there don’t miss the Chapel Notre-Dame de Cyclistes, a cute little church located in a very serene setting and dedicated to cyclists. Also just next to the village you can find the Ecomusee de l’Armagnac. The museum is dedicated to the history of Armagnac making and will help you discover all the techniques, tools, and different crafts that went into making this lucrative spirit over the centuries. It’s also a fun place to visit with kids as you can take them for a walk in the beautiful park on the domain.
Less than five km from La Bastide d’Armagnac you’ll find another beautiful village called Saint Justin. Here the central square is quite simple and doesn’t give away the charm of this little town, but a short stroll will make you fall in love with Saint Justin. My favorite part is the string of beautiful houses covered with flowers peacefully overlooking the little river that crosses the town. The calming sound of the stream can bring you into a very deep level of tranquility, which is something all of us badly need right now 🙂
If at this point you’re starting to be hungry, Saint Justin is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner. Along the main street, Allée Gaston Phoebus, you’ll find several good restaurants. One that I particularly liked was Le Cadet de Gascogne.
Mauvezin d’Armagnac is a small village located just next to La Bastide d’Armagnac. It’s very small without any specific monuments but there are a few beautiful old houses with wooden fronts in the center and it’s worth a short stop on the way.
Another beautiful town in Lower Armagnac is Roquefort, not to be confused with the famous blue cheese that is produced in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in Aveyron (I’m sure plenty of visitors pass by wondering where all the Roquefort producers are hiding). This little town is somewhat overlooked but it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re traveling to the Bas Armagnac region. Roquefort, founded in the 10th century, is a fortified town situated on the road to Vézelay (one of the roads to Camino de Santiago). There are a few points of interest I recommend seeing when visiting the town, among them the beautiful Eglise Saint Marie, the bridges, and the 1949 art deco building, the foyer municipal. The best day to visit Roquefort is Saturday when the weekly market takes place on Avenue des Arenes.
Visiting distilleries in Armagnac
If you made it all the way to the Bas-Armagnac region I would highly recommend visiting at least one Armagnac distillery. Unlike Cognac, here in Bas – Armagnac most of the distilleries are still owned by small families which are usually eager to host and talk about their Armagnac. It’s always inspiring to meet people who are so devoted to the complicated process of producing Armagnac and the visits are usually quite enriching.
I should warn you that visiting an Armagnac Chateau is a bit more complicated than visiting wineries around Bordeaux, which are more tourism-oriented. Here they don’t have a lot of visits and so they don’t have people to welcome visitors. This means that you usually need to call them in advance and ask for a private visit, especially if you are visiting outside the touristic season. Having said that, many of them will gladly welcome you to their distilleries so don’t hesitate to call. Here are two places I recommend visiting (there are many more of course).
Chateau de Lacquy
The beautiful Chateau de Lacquy is the oldest Armagnac house in the Bas-Armagnac region. The Chateau is owned by the de Boisséson family that has been producing Armagnac since acquiring the property in 1711. We were welcomed by the owner, Gilles de Boisséson, who gave us a very interesting and extensive tour of the vineyards and the cellars and served us so many glasses straight from the barrels that my husband finished the tour quite “pompette” as they say in French. On our private tour, Gilles shared a few fascinating family stories with us, including the part his grandmother took in the French resistance during WW2. You can contact them through their site to book a tour. The owner speaks English which makes communication very easy.
Chateau de Ravignan
Chateau de Ravignan is a family property, built in the 17th century in the Louis XIII style and is labeled a historic monument. The Ravignan family has been occupying the place and producing Armagnac there since 1732. Apart from tasting Armagnac and visiting the cellars, you can also take a guided tour in the impressive chateau and discover the history of the family through their art, furniture, and decorations. The chateau is surrounded by beautiful French gardens that can be visited separately from the chateau.
This chateau is open daily in the summer so you don’t need to call ahead if you want to visit the chateau itself. However, if you want to do some tastings it’s better to contact them in advance. All the details are here.
Taste Floc de Gascogne
Before I end my article about a day trip to Armagnac I want to talk about another spirit you should taste there. While Armagnac is quite a familiar name among spirit lovers, Floc de Gascogne is a much more local drink that’s popular mostly in the Southwest of France. Floc de Gascogne is a regional aperitif, a vin de liqueur fortified with Armagnac which is mostly consumed in the old Gascony region where Armagnac is produced. Many of the Armagnac houses produce Floc de Gascogne as well so if Armagnac is a bit too strong for you, try this drink. I’m sure you’ll love it!
La Fete de la Distillation
In case you missed the summer season, you can visit the region in November during Fete de la Distillation. The Fete de la Distillation takes place every November when the new Armagnac is being born after the harvest season. This year (2020) Chateau de Ravignan will celebrate la Fete de la Distillation on November 21-22, see all the details here. For more details about these events in other domains please contact the tourist office of Bas Armagnac directly through their site.
The Bas Armagnac (lower Armagnac) is best visited during summer as it’s not very lively outside of the tourist season and many places tend to be closed. However, some of the villages are still nice to visit on Saturdays and most chateaux will welcome you if you call them a bit in advance.
Hope you enjoyed this article and marked Armagnac in your to-go list. When you go there, don’t forget to tag me in your posts and stories on Facebook (@Lostinbordeaux) and Instagram (@Lost_in_Bordeaux).
If you’re looking for more ideas for day trips in the Bordeaux region here are a few other articles you might want to read:
The best beaches around Bordeaux
Day trips around Bordeaux – wine, beaches and villages
10 day trips from Bordeaux by Public transport
A weekend in Medoc – Bordeaux wine tours
What to do and eat in Saint Emilion
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here: