Gascony

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{area, part, region}
{country, population, people}
{land, century, early}
{war, force, army}
{island, water, area}
{food, make, wine}
{area, community, home}
{town, population, incorporate}
{village, small, smallsup}

Gascony (French: Gascogne, pronounced: [ɡaskɔɲ]; Gascon: Gasconha [ɡasˈkuɲɔ]) is an area of southwest France that was part of the "Province of Guyenne and Gascony" prior to the French Revolution. The region is vaguely defined and the distinction between Guyenne and Gascony is unclear; sometimes they are considered to overlap, and sometimes Gascony is considered a part of Guyenne. Most definitions put Gascony east and south of Bordeaux.

It is currently divided between the Aquitaine région (départements of Landes, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, south and west of Gironde, and south of Lot-et-Garonne) and the Midi-Pyrénées région (départements of Gers, Hautes-Pyrénées, southwest of Tarn-et-Garonne, and west of Haute-Garonne).

Gascony was historically inhabited by Basque-related people who appear to have spoken a language similar to Basque. The name Gascony comes from the same root as the word Basque (see Wasconia below). From medieval times until the nineteenth century, the Gascon language was spoken, which is a regional variant of the Occitan Language. It is also the land of d'Artagnan, who inspired Alexandre Dumas's character in The Three Musketeers. It is also home to the hero of the play Cyrano de Bergerac (though this character has little in common with the real Cyrano de Bergerac, who was a Parisian) and to Henry III of Navarre who later became king of France as Henry IV.

Gascony is also famed for its douceur de vivre ("sweetness of life"): its food (it is home to foie gras and Armagnac brandy), its medieval towns and villages locally called bastides nested amidst green rolling hills, its sunny weather, the beauty of its landscape, with the occasional distant views of the Pyrenees mountain range, all contribute to the popularity of Gascony as a tourist destination. Due to rural exodus, Gascony is one of the least populated areas of western Europe, and so it has recently become a haven for stressed urbanites of northern Europe (chiefly France, England, and the Benelux nations) who, in search of quiet and peace of mind, are increasingly buying second homes in Gascony.

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